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World economy will lose trillions if poor countries shorted on vaccines: OECD – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
As the Trudeau government is forced to explain delays rolling out COVID-19 vaccines, some of the world’s economic and health leaders are warning of catastrophic financial consequences if poorer countries are shortchanged on vaccinations.

At a video meeting convened by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on Monday, Secretary-General Angel Gurria predicted that rich countries would see their economies shrink by trillions of dollars if they don’t do more to help poor countries receive vaccines.

The leaders of the World Health Organization and others also bemoaned the long-term damage of continued “vaccine nationalism” if current trends continue — rich countries getting a pandemic cure at a much higher rate than poorer ones.

It was a message that could provide some political cover for the Liberals, who have been widely criticized for shortfalls in deliveries of vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna while also facing international criticism for pre-buying enough doses of vaccines to cover Canada’s population several times over.

Some international anti-poverty groups have also criticized Canada for planning to take delivery of 1.9 million doses from the COVAX Facility, a new international vaccine-sharing program that is primarily designed to help poor countries afford unaffordable vaccines, but also allows rich donor countries — including Canada — to receive vaccines.

Trudeau and his cabinet ministers on the vaccine file have repeatedly said that the pandemic can’t be stamped out for good if it isn’t defeated everywhere, a point the prime minister reiterated on Tuesday.

They say Canada is a trading nation that depends on the welfare of others for its economic prosperity — especially with the emergence of new variants of the virus in South Africa and Britain.

But their protestations are usually drowned out in the domestic clamour that tends to highlight unfavourable comparisons of Canada’s vaccine rollout with the United States, Britain or other countries.

On Monday, Gurria — the veteran Mexican politician who has led the OECD for 15 years — brought the full force of his political gravitas by offering up a pocketbook argument that eschewed any pretence of altruism.

“It’s a smart thing to do. It is ethically and morally right. But it is also economically right,” said Gurria.

“The global economy stands to lose as much as $9.2 trillion, which is close to half the size of the U.S. economy, just to put it in context ΓǪ as much as half of which would fall on advanced economies, so they would lose around $5 trillion.”

The OECD is an international forum of more than three dozen mainly democratic and developed countries, including Canada, that aims to help foster economic growth and trade. It also conducts comprehensive economic research and issues the world’s most authoritative annual report on what rich countries spend on foreign aid.

Canada’s former finance minister Bill Morneau, who resigned last summer during the WE funding scandal, had said he was leaving politics because he long wanted to pursue the OECD leadership when Gurria departs later this year. In January, Morneau abandoned that ambition, saying he didn’t have enough support among member countries.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada remains committed to helping poor countries cope with COVID-19.

“We continue to work with partners around the world,” he said at a news conference outside his Ottawa residence. “We understand the pressure that every government is feeling to vaccine as many of their citizens as quickly as possible.”

Canada has pledged $220-million to COVAX, and $865-million to the ACT Accelerator, which tries to ensure low- and middle-income countries have equitable access to medical treatments during the pandemic.

But Jorge Moreira da Silva, the OECD’s development co-operation director, said COVAX is underfunded by US$5 billion, while the World Health Organization is predicting at US$27-billion shortfall for the ACT Accelerator.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director-general, said 75 per cent of vaccine doses are being administered in 10 wealthy countries.

“It’s understandable that governments want to prioritize vaccinating their own health workers and older people first. But it’s not right to vaccinate young, healthy adults in rich countries before health workers and older people in low-income nations,” Tedros told the OECD forum.

“We must ensure that vaccines, diagnostics and life-saving therapies reach those most at risk and on the front lines in all countries. This is not just a moral imperative. It’s also an economic imperative.”

Trudeau said the government is working hard to vaccinate all Canadians as quickly as possible because of the emergence of the new variants.

“There are real questions about what impacts these variants will have both on the spread of COVID-19 and on the impact of the vaccines,” he said.

At Monday’s forum, a spokesman for the pharmaceutical industry said the bumps and grinds of vaccine delivery to poor countries would be transformed into “a huge success” in the coming months.

“I think it’s dangerous to talk about, you know, this is a huge moral injustice already now because ΓǪ you will have significant rollout to developing countries,” said Thomas Cueni, the director-general of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations.

“I haven’t seen a single industrialized country, maybe with the exception of Israel, where young and healthy people are vaccinated.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 9, 2021.

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CBI calls for 'lasting budget boost' to protect UK economy – Yahoo Movies Canada

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A street poster 'Stay Safe - Make Space' seen in Dublin during Level 5 Covid-19 lockdown. 
On Saturday, 30 January, 2021, in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The CBI outlined three key areas for the chancellor to focus on to give businesses the boost they need to exit the lockdown. Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has outlined three areas for chancellor Rishi Sunak to focus on in next week’s Budget to help businesses out of lockdown.

It comes after prime minister Boris Johnson announced a step-by-step roadmap out of lockdown, which could see England return to “normal” by 21 June.

The CBI has called on Sunak to focus on jobs, confidence and investment to give firms the “boost they need to bring the UK back to growth.”

CBI, which represents 190,000 businesses of all sizes and sectors across the UK, is urging the chancellor to hone in on “policies that will catalyse business investment” in key areas like jobs, skills and innovation.

It said that business is also looking to Sunak to incentivise green investment to set them on track to net zero.

The group warned that firms that are still in “emergency mode” are “sounding alarm bells” that any significant tax rises in the short-term will “stifle their ability to invest, hamper UK competitiveness and hold back our recovery.”

Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Chief Economist, said that “this Budget is like no other, with many businesses still on their knees” after the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The prime minister’s roadmap for easing restrictions and the chancellor’s forthcoming Budget represents two parts of the same story — bookending the immediate COVID-19 crisis by relieving firms under pressure and setting the economy on a path to recovery,” he added.

The three key areas that the CBI has identified are:

  1. Protecting jobs, firms and livelihoods in the immediate term by extending furlough, providing further VAT deferrals and giving firms (including in vital supply chains) a further business rates holiday.

  2. Get businesses investing, by using incentives to spur investment in skills, jobs and innovation. This includes vouchers to get SMEs investing in digital technologies; unlocking investment in training by reforming the Apprenticeship Levy; and setting up the new National Infrastructure Bank to crowd-in investment.

  3. Provide the vision for a long-term plan for economic growth. From green investment incentives to laying the groundwork for a fundamental reform of the unfair and uncompetitive business rates system, businesses want a signal of intent about the future of the economy.

READ MORE: Britain readies ‘fast track’ fintech visa for highly-skilled workers

Newton-Smith continued: “But this can’t just be about the here and now. We need to match the urgent need to protect jobs and firms with giving everyone a glimpse of an ambitious vision for the future of the economy. That means giving firms the confidence they need to invest by committing to the kind of pro-business environment that would help them to compete with the world’s best.

“Consumption and government spending alone can’t set us on the path to recovery. We need a dynamic and competitive business community powering us forward. That means avoiding any moves in the short-term that would hold business back from doing what it does best: innovating, creating jobs and delivering greater prosperity for all.”

CBI’s calls follow a slew of plans the Treasury announced ahead of the chancellor’s second Budget on 3 March to help get the country back on track post-Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic.

“Now we’ve left the EU and taken back control of our borders, we want to make sure our immigration system helps businesses attract the best talent from around the world,” Sunak said.

On Friday evening, it announced a £126m investment to bolster traineeships and create 40,000 new posts to help people back into the jobs market.

The Treasury also unveiled a mortgage scheme to help first-time buyers with low deposits buy a home. Under the plans, buyers will pay just 5% deposits to buy homes worth up to £600,000 and will offer lenders the guarantee to provide mortgages covering the remaining 95%.

Additionally, it has also revealed plans to create a task force to crack down on fraudsters exploiting the UK government COVID-19 support schemes. Sunak will unveil at the Budget on Wednesday a £100m investment to launch the task force.

WATCH: What UK government COVID-19 support is available?

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Bond Rout Shows Risk of Uneven Recovery in World's Top Economies – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — The U.S. economy appears primed to recover from the Covid-19 slump much faster than others, causing havoc on bond markets this week and potentially exacerbating the kind of imbalances that caused trouble after the last crisis.The prospect that the U.S. recovery could decouple from developed-world peers and the implication of that for global currencies and trade is likely to figure high on the agenda when finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 major economies meet online later today.“A multi-speed rebound in the global economy continues with a strong U.S., a moderating China and a choppy euro-area,” said Catherine Mann, chief economist at Citigroup Inc. “For 2021 at least, the U.S. as global locomotive is back on track.”

The speed differences are the result of economic policy choices as well as variance in the severity of virus outbreaks, rules for containing them and rollout of vaccination programs. If the gaps persist for too long, it could stir up tensions over trade and currencies like the ones that followed the financial crisis — as well as deepening inequality between countries.The U.S., where President Joe Biden is pushing another $1.9 trillion in pandemic relief measures through Congress, appears most committed to running its economy hot. U.S. officials are calling on others to keep their foot on the gas too.“I urge G-20 countries to continue to take significant fiscal and financial policy actions and avoid withdrawing support too early,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrote to fellow attendees before today’s meeting. “Together, our efforts will be greater than the sum of our individual responses.”

The U.S. will expand 6.2% this year, recouping all its 2020 losses and then some, JPMorgan economists forecast. By contrast, the euro area, Japan and the U.K. aren’t expected to reach their pre-Covid GDP until 2022.While all major economies boosted government spending to shore up growth in 2020, hardly any except the U.S. will be running expansionary fiscal policy this year, according to JPMorgan’s calculations.

In the near term, everyone gets a lift out of rapid growth in the U.S. –- because it’s the world’s biggest importer.For countries that have weaker economies or are less willing to stimulate them, “it basically means more external demand,” said Alicia Garcia Herrero, chief Asia-­Pacific economist at Natixis SA in Hong Kong.She sees no problem for the rest of the world if the U.S. embarks on a big stimulus, provided it doesn’t trigger the kind of inflation that would lead investors in dollar assets rushing for the exit. “That is the big if,” she says.In the longer run, the perception that other economies were taking advantage of the U.S. role as consumer of last resort can fuel trade conflicts, like it did with China under President Donald Trump. Even before that, in the early 2010s, U.S. officials would complain that Europe was running too-tight policy and not contributing enough to global growth.The same kind of tensions could await in a post-Covid world if policy support is withdrawn “in an uncoordinated or haphazard manner,” wrote Neil Shearing, chief economist at Capital Economics, in a Chatham House paper published last week.“Countries that under-stimulate their economies must rely on demand from the rest of the world,” he wrote. “There are already ominous signs that the recovery has become unbalanced,” like growing current-account surpluses in China, Vietnam and Taiwan, and deficits in the U.S.

Currencies may be another cause of contention. The dollar has been declining steadily after a spike early in the pandemic, causing anxiety among countries that don’t want their exports to become less competitive. Yellen has said the U.S. will let markets determine the greenback’s value.“The U.S. is likely to push back against other countries’ intervention in foreign exchange markets to weaken their currencies, despite other major advanced economies being in worse economic straits,” said Eswar Prasad, a professor at Cornell University.Australia’s central bank has argued the local dollar would be stronger if it weren’t for its latest stimulus measures. In Japan, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he’s watching foreign exchange rates more closely than any other financial or economic indicator.

China’s yuan has gained about 10% against the dollar since June, spurring the government to consider relaxing restrictions on taking money out of the country in order to take the pressure off. Bloomberg Economics’ yuan stress indicators suggest the currency’s strength is set to continue in the near term.As well as addressing the uneven recovery in their own economies, G-20 leaders are also under pressure to prevent the gap with the world’s poorest nations from widening further. Those countries haven’t been able to ramp up government spending to fight the virus like their wealthier peers did, and they struggle to obtain vaccines.The G-20 has been working on a debt forgiveness plan that would involve private creditors. Yellen praised the effort in her letter, though she said implementation would be the real test. She also signaled support for boosting the International Monetary Fund’s lending power.“Without further international action to support low-income countries, we risk a dangerous and permanent divergence in the global economy,” Yellen said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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Bond Rout Shows Risk of Uneven Recovery in World's Top Economies – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — The U.S. economy appears primed to recover from the Covid-19 slump much faster than others, causing havoc on bond markets this week and potentially exacerbating the kind of imbalances that caused trouble after the last crisis.The prospect that the U.S. recovery could decouple from developed-world peers and the implication of that for global currencies and trade is likely to figure high on the agenda when finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 major economies meet online later today.“A multi-speed rebound in the global economy continues with a strong U.S., a moderating China and a choppy euro-area,” said Catherine Mann, chief economist at Citigroup Inc. “For 2021 at least, the U.S. as global locomotive is back on track.”

The speed differences are the result of economic policy choices as well as variance in the severity of virus outbreaks, rules for containing them and rollout of vaccination programs. If the gaps persist for too long, it could stir up tensions over trade and currencies like the ones that followed the financial crisis — as well as deepening inequality between countries.The U.S., where President Joe Biden is pushing another $1.9 trillion in pandemic relief measures through Congress, appears most committed to running its economy hot. U.S. officials are calling on others to keep their foot on the gas too.“I urge G-20 countries to continue to take significant fiscal and financial policy actions and avoid withdrawing support too early,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrote to fellow attendees before today’s meeting. “Together, our efforts will be greater than the sum of our individual responses.”

The U.S. will expand 6.2% this year, recouping all its 2020 losses and then some, JPMorgan economists forecast. By contrast, the euro area, Japan and the U.K. aren’t expected to reach their pre-Covid GDP until 2022.While all major economies boosted government spending to shore up growth in 2020, hardly any except the U.S. will be running expansionary fiscal policy this year, according to JPMorgan’s calculations.

In the near term, everyone gets a lift out of rapid growth in the U.S. –- because it’s the world’s biggest importer.For countries that have weaker economies or are less willing to stimulate them, “it basically means more external demand,” said Alicia Garcia Herrero, chief Asia-­Pacific economist at Natixis SA in Hong Kong.She sees no problem for the rest of the world if the U.S. embarks on a big stimulus, provided it doesn’t trigger the kind of inflation that would lead investors in dollar assets rushing for the exit. “That is the big if,” she says.In the longer run, the perception that other economies were taking advantage of the U.S. role as consumer of last resort can fuel trade conflicts, like it did with China under President Donald Trump. Even before that, in the early 2010s, U.S. officials would complain that Europe was running too-tight policy and not contributing enough to global growth.The same kind of tensions could await in a post-Covid world if policy support is withdrawn “in an uncoordinated or haphazard manner,” wrote Neil Shearing, chief economist at Capital Economics, in a Chatham House paper published last week.“Countries that under-stimulate their economies must rely on demand from the rest of the world,” he wrote. “There are already ominous signs that the recovery has become unbalanced,” like growing current-account surpluses in China, Vietnam and Taiwan, and deficits in the U.S.

Currencies may be another cause of contention. The dollar has been declining steadily after a spike early in the pandemic, causing anxiety among countries that don’t want their exports to become less competitive. Yellen has said the U.S. will let markets determine the greenback’s value.“The U.S. is likely to push back against other countries’ intervention in foreign exchange markets to weaken their currencies, despite other major advanced economies being in worse economic straits,” said Eswar Prasad, a professor at Cornell University.Australia’s central bank has argued the local dollar would be stronger if it weren’t for its latest stimulus measures. In Japan, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he’s watching foreign exchange rates more closely than any other financial or economic indicator.

China’s yuan has gained about 10% against the dollar since June, spurring the government to consider relaxing restrictions on taking money out of the country in order to take the pressure off. Bloomberg Economics’ yuan stress indicators suggest the currency’s strength is set to continue in the near term.As well as addressing the uneven recovery in their own economies, G-20 leaders are also under pressure to prevent the gap with the world’s poorest nations from widening further. Those countries haven’t been able to ramp up government spending to fight the virus like their wealthier peers did, and they struggle to obtain vaccines.The G-20 has been working on a debt forgiveness plan that would involve private creditors. Yellen praised the effort in her letter, though she said implementation would be the real test. She also signaled support for boosting the International Monetary Fund’s lending power.“Without further international action to support low-income countries, we risk a dangerous and permanent divergence in the global economy,” Yellen said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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