The European Union presented new emergency rules that will most likely severely cut exports to Britain and other countries to ease supply shortages at home.
BRUSSELS — The European Union is advancing emergency legislation that will give it broad powers to curb exports for the next six weeks of Covid-19 vaccines manufactured in the bloc, a sharp escalation in its response to supply shortages at home that have created a political maelstrom amid a rising third wave on the continent.
The legislation unveiled Wednesday includes new rules that will make it harder for pharmaceutical companies producing Covid-19 vaccines in the European Union to export them and are likely to disrupt supply to Britain.
The European Union has been primarily at loggerheads with AstraZeneca since it drastically cut its supply to the bloc, citing production problems in January, and the company is the main target of the new rules. But the legislation, which could block the export of millions of doses from E.U. ports, could also affect the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Britain is by far the biggest beneficiary of E.U. exports and will stand to lose the most by these rules, but they could also be applied to curb exports to other countries like Canada, for example, the second-largest recipient of E.U.-made vaccines, as well as Israel, which gets doses from the bloc but is very advanced in its vaccination campaign and therefore seen as less needy.
“We are in the crisis of the century. And I’m not ruling out anything for now, because we have to make sure that Europeans are vaccinated as soon as possible,” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said in comments last week that paved the way for the new rules. “Human lives, civil liberties and also the prosperity of our economy are dependent on that, on the speed of vaccination, on moving forward.”
The legislation is unlikely to affect the United States, which has so far received fewer than one million doses from E.U.-based facilities.
The Biden administration has said it has secured enough doses from its three authorized manufacturers — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — to cover all adults in the country by the end of May. The overwhelming bulk of that supply is coming from plants in the United States. The country also exports vaccine components to the European Union, which is reluctant to risk any disruption to the supply chain of raw materials.
The European Union allowed pharmaceutical companies to fulfill their contracts by authorizing them to export more than 40 million vaccine doses to 33 countries between February and mid-March, with 10 million going to Britain and 4.3 million to Canada. The bloc has kept about 70 million at home and distributed them to its 27 member nations, but its efforts to mount mass vaccination campaigns have been set back by a number of missteps.
Exporting liberally overseas when supply at home is thin has been a key part of the problem, and the bloc has come under criticism for permitting exports in the first place, when the United States and Britain practically locked up domestic production for domestic use through contracts with pharmaceutical companies.
The outcome has been a troubled vaccine rollout for the world’s richest group of nations. The impact of the failures is being exacerbated by a third wave that is sending health care systems across the continent into emergency mode and ushering in painful new lockdowns.
The European Commission, which ordered the vaccines, and individual governments in member states responsible for their national campaigns have come under severe criticism for their failures by voters tired of lockdowns and growing Covid-19 caseloads. Public anger and its political cost have grown as the bloc has fallen behind several rich world peers in advancing vaccination campaigns despite being home to major manufacturers.
The bloc has seen recipients of vaccines produced in its member countries, as well as in other rich nations, race ahead with their inoculation campaigns. Nearly 60 percent of Israelis have received at least one vaccine dose, 40 percent of Britons and a quarter of Americans, but only 10 percent of E.U. citizens have been inoculated, according to the latest information published by Our World in Data.
The export curbs are being pushed through by the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union and are expected to be put into force Thursday.
E.U. officials said the rules would allow a degree of discretion, meaning they won’t result in a blanket ban on exports, and the officials still expected many exports to continue.
“With this mechanism we have a certain leverage, so we can engage in discussion with other major vaccine producers,” Valdis Dombrovksis, the bloc’s trade czar, said at a news briefing Wednesday. “And when we are engaging in those discussions, one important element is that we need to preserve the functioning of the global supply chains,” he said. He declined to specify how the bloc would benefit tangibly from these stricter export restrictions.
Youmy Han, the spokeswoman for Canada’s minister of international trade, Mary Ng, called the measures “concerning.”
“Minister Ng’s counterparts have repeatedly assured her that these measures will not affect vaccine shipments to Canada,” Ms. Han said.Canada depends on the European Union for nearly its entire vaccine supply: All of Canada’s Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have come from Europe, though the country received a small shipment of the AstraZeneca vaccine from India.
The new rules come after months of escalating tensions between the European Union and AstraZeneca, in a situation that has become toxic for the bloc’s fragile relations with its recently departed member, Britain.
The trouble began in late January, when AstraZeneca told the bloc it would cut its deliveries by more than half in the first quarter of 2021, upending vaccine rollout plans. In response, the European Union put in place an export-authorization process, requiring pharmaceutical companies to seek permission to export vaccines and giving the European Union the powers to block them if they were seen as running counter to a company’s contractual obligations to the bloc.
Since Feb. 1, the European Union blocked only one out of more than 300 exports, a small shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines to Australia, on the grounds that the country was nearly Covid-free while the bloc was struggling with rising infections.
The new rules introduce more grounds to block exports. They encourage blocking shipments to countries that do not export vaccines to the European Union — a clause clearly targeting Britain — or to countries that have “a higher vaccination rate” than the European Union “or where the current epidemiological situation is less serious” than in the bloc.
In recent days, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain has sought to strike a conciliatory tone in a bid to avert an E.U. export ban that would deliver a major blow to his country’s fast-advancing vaccination campaign.
After the new rules were announced Wednesday, a spokesperson for the British government said: “We are all fighting the same pandemic — vaccines are an international operation; they are produced by collaboration by great scientists around the world. And we will continue to work with our European partners to deliver the vaccine rollout.” The spokesperson added that the British inoculation campaign was on track.
Benjamin Mueller contributed reporting from London, Sharon LaFraniere from Washington and Ian Austen from Ottawa.
Canadian Business During the Pandemic
In 2019 the world was hit by the covid 19 pandemic and ever since then people have been suffering in different ways. Usually, economies and businesses have changed the way they work and do business. Most of which are going towards online and automation.
The people most effected by this are the laymen that used to work hard labors to make money for there families. But other then them it has been hard for most business to make such switch. Those of whom got on the online/ e commerce band wagon quickly were out of trouble and into the safe zone but not everyone is mace for the high-speed online world and are thus suffering.
More than 200,000 Canadian businesses could close permanently during the COVID-19 crisis, throwing millions of people out of work as the resurgence of the virus worsens across much of the country, according to new research. You can only imagine how many families these businesses were feeding, not to mention the impact the economy and the GDP is going to bear.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said one in six, or about 181,000, Canadian small business owners are now seriously contemplating shutting down. The latest figures, based on a survey of its members done between Jan. 12 and 16, come on top of 58,000 businesses that became inactive in 2020.
An estimate by the CFIB last summer said one in seven or 158,000 businesses were at risk of going under as a result of the pandemic. Based on the organization’s updated forecast, more than 2.4 million people could be out of work. A staggering 20 per cent of private sector jobs.
Simon Gaudreault, CFIB’s senior director of national research, said it was an alarming increase in the number of businesses that are considering closing.
“We are not headed in the right direction, and each week that passes without improvement on the business front pushes more owners to make that final decision,”
He said in a statement.
“The more businesses that disappear, the more jobs we will lose, and the harder it will be for the economy to recover.”
In total, one in five businesses are at risk of permanent closure by the end of the pandemic, the organization said.
The new sad research shows that this year has been horrible for the Canadian businesses.
“The beginning of 2021 feels more like the fifth quarter of 2020 than a new year,” said Laura Jones, executive vice-president of the CFIB, in a statement.
She called on governments to help small businesses “replace subsidies with sales” by introducing safe pathways to reopen to businesses.
“There’s a lot at stake now from jobs, to tax revenue to support for local soccer teams,”
“Let’s make 2021 the year we help small business survive and then get back to thriving.”
The whole world has suffered a lot from the pandemic and the Canadian economy has been no stranger to it. We can only pray that the world gets rid of this pandemic quickly and everything become as it used to be. Although I think it is about time, we start setting new norms.
Shopify shares edge up after falling on executive departures
By Chavi Mehta
(Reuters) -Shopify Inc shares edged higher on Thursday, recovering partially from the previous day’s fall, with analysts saying the news of planned senior executive departures may have limited impact due to the company’s deep talent pool.
Chief Executive Officer Tobi Lutke said in a blog post on Wednesday the company’s chief talent officer, chief legal officer and chief technology officer will all leave their roles.
“We remain confident it (Shopify) can continue to execute at a high level, despite the departures,” Tom Forte, analyst at D.A. Davidson & Co said, pointing to the company’s “deep bench of talented executives.”
Shopify, which provides infrastructure for online stores, has seen its valuation soar in the past year as many businesses went virtual during the COVID-19 lockdowns, turning it into Canada‘s most valuable company.
Shopify declined to comment further on Lutke’s statement suggesting current company leaders would step in to fill the three roles. After chief product officer Craig Miller left in September, Lutke took on the role in addition to CEO.
The Ottawa-based company is Canada‘s biggest homegrown tech success story, founded in 2006 and supporting over 1 million businesses globally, according to the company.
Jonathan Kees, analyst at Summit Insights Group, called the timing of the departures “a little alarming” but said the specific roles make it less concerning, given that the executives leaving are “more back-office roles.”
Lutke said each one of them had their individual reasons to leave, without giving details.
“I am willing to give Tobi’s explanation the benefit of the doubt,” Kees added.
Toronto-listed shares of Shopify were up 3.5% at C$1526.41 on Thursday, giving it a market value of C$188 billion ($150 billion). It ended down 5.1% on Wednesday.
“While we would refer to the departure of three high-level executives as ‘significant,’ we would not refer to it as a ‘brain drain,'” Forte added.
($1 = 1.2541 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Dan Grebler)
Almost half of Shopify’s top execs to depart company: CEO
By Moira Warburton
(Reuters) – Three of e-commerce platform Shopify’s seven top executives will be leaving the company in the coming months, chief executive officer and founder of Canada‘s most valuable company Tobi Lutke said in a blog post on Wednesday.
The company’s chief talent officer, chief legal officer and chief technology officer will all transition out of their roles, Lutke said, adding that they have been “spectacular and deserve to take a bow.”
“Each one of them has their individual reasons but what was unanimous with all three was that this was the best for them and the best for Shopify,” he said.
The trio follow the departure of Craig Miller, chief product officer, in September. Lutke took on the role in addition to CEO.
Shopify, which provides infrastructure for online stores, has seen its valuation soar in the last year as many businesses went virtual during COVID-19 lockdowns. It has a market cap valuation of C$182.7 billion ($146 billion), above Canada‘s top lender Royal Bank of Canada.
It is Canada‘s biggest homegrown tech success story, founded in 2006 and supporting over 1 million businesses globally, according to the company.
“We have a phenomenally strong bench of leaders who will now step up into larger roles,” Lutke said, but did not name replacements.
Shopify said in February revenue growth would slow this year as vaccine rollouts encourage people to return to stores and warned it does not expect 2020’s near doubling of gross merchandise volume, an industry metric to measure transaction volumes, to repeat this year.
Chief talent officer, Brittany Forsyth, was the 22nd employee hired at Shopify and has been with the company for 11 years. She said on Twitter that post-Shopify she would be focusing on Backbone Angels, an all-female collective of angel investors she co-founded in March.
Shopify shares fell 5.1% while the benchmark Canadian share index ended marginally down.
($1 = 1.2515 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto; Editing by Aurora Ellis)
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