A Muslim call centre operator at a COVID-19 ‘war room’, who once saw himself a COVID-warrior, is now unemployed after being falsely branded by a top politician as a key member of a bed-for-bribe scam. He is a victim of the rise in Islamophobia in India as the country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic – with scant evidence of condemnation from the authorities, say activists.
Last year, the Asia-Pacific region recorded its worst economic performance in decades. With the pandemic far from over, the region’s recovery is slow, fragile and highly uneven both across and within countries. As the region struggles to recover, how can countries rebuild their economies and revive their development?
Pandemic relief measures in developing countries have been limited by modest resources, fear of financial market discipline and policy mimicry. COVID-19 has triggered not only an international public health emergency, but also a global economic crisis, setting back decades of uneven progress
, especially in developing countries.
Failure to sufficiently accelerate comprehensive efforts to contain COVID-19 contagion has greatly worsened the catastrophe in developing countries. Grossly inadequate financing of relief, recovery and reform efforts has also further set back progress, including sustainable development.
Last week Ministers of Finance met virtually at the Spring Meetings
of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to discuss policies to tackle the pandemic and socio-economic recovery.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has urged
all governments to support a global minimum corporate tax rate of at least 21%. The US is working with other G20 nations to get other countries to end the “thirty-year race to the bottom on corporate tax rates”.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to take an unprecedented human and economic toll, wiping away years of modest and uneven progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Developing countries now need much more support as progress towards the SDGs was ‘not on track
’ even before the pandemic.
Illicit financial flows (IFFs) hurt all countries, both developed and developing. But poor countries suffer relatively more
, accounting for nearly half the loss
of world tax revenue.
IFFs refer to cross-border movements of money and other financial assets obtained illegally at source, e.g., by corruption, smuggling, tax evasion, etc. This often involves trade mis-invoicing
and transnational corporations’ (TNCs) transfer pricing
via ‘creative’ accounting or book-keeping.
The inability of developing nations to spend on post COVID-19 recovery and resilience has placed the world on the "the verge of a debt crisis". “We face the spectre of a divided world and a lost decade for development,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said on Monday, Mar. 29, during a high-level meeting on financing development post COVID-19.
COVID-19 has set back the uneven progress of recent decades, directly causing more than two million deaths. The slowdown, due to the pandemic and policy responses, has pushed hundreds of millions more into poverty, hunger and worse, also deepening many inequalities.
Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, Juan Somavia, Jeffrey Sachs, Jose Antonio Ocampo and more than 100 high-level development experts have issued a statement protesting insurance corporations suing Argentina and Bolivia over the reversal of their failed pension privatizations at closed sessions of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) of the World Bank. If Argentina and Bolivia lose the disputes, it means that impoverished citizens and elderly pensioners will have to compensate wealthy financial corporations. Read their letter:
It’s now almost three months since the United Kingdom entered into a new trade agreement with the European Union.
During that time, we’ve seen traders struggle to get to grips with the new arrangements. From lorry drivers having their sandwiches confiscated
by Dutch customs officers to estimates of additional paperwork costs of $7 billion a year
, and pig breeders watching their meat rot on the quayside
for want of the correct forms.
Developing country governments are being wrongly advised to use their modest fiscal resources to pay down accumulated debt instead of strengthening pandemic relief and recovery. Thus, debt phobia risks deepening and extending COVID-19 recessions by prioritising buybacks.
The trend of the Mexican economy during the last two years has not been positive. INEGI, the official bureau of statistics, has just reported that GDP registered a fall of 8.5 percent compared to 2019 with seasonally adjusted figures. But in 2019 GDP also receded, although in far less measure, less than one percentage point. However, it must be considered that the Mexican economy has been falling for 6 quarters (compared to the previous year). Considering the population growth rate (1.2 percent per year), the fall in the GDP per capita is close to 11 percent. This figure matters because it gives a more accurate idea of the size of the downturn. It is also necessary to take into account the two years, since our interest should be now to try to figure out how long the recession will be the endure, that is, when will Mexico reach the pre-pandemic level of GDP.
After being undermined by decades of financial liberalisation, developing countries now are not only victims of vaccine imperialism
, but also cannot count on much financial support as their COVID-19 recessions drag on due to global vaccine apartheid
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is adversely impacting most developing countries disproportionately, especially the United Nations’ least developed countries (LDCs) and the World Bank’s low-income countries (LICs).
Years of implementing neoliberal policy conditionalities and advice have made most developing countries much more vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic by undermining their health systems and fiscal capacities to respond adequately.
Vaccine developers’ refusal to share publicly funded vaccine research findings is stalling broader, affordable vaccinations which would more rapidly contain COVID-19 contagion. The pandemic had infected at least 109 million people worldwide, causing over 2.4 million deaths as of mid-February.
Humankind is no stranger to the destabilizing events of 2020. The state of the global economy and the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic hit the headlines. In this ever escalating global crisis, Lebanon, has been facing what can only be described as unimaginable hardships. For the past year the country has seen challenges which have resulted in an utter state of hopelessness and rapid deterioration in mental health of many of its citizens.
Covid-19 infection and death rates in the Western world and many developing countries in Asia and Latin America have long overtaken East Asia since the second quarter of 2020. Perhaps unsurprisingly, considering prevailing Western accounts of the Asian financial crises, there have been no serious efforts to draw policy lessons from East Asian contagion containment.
The incoming Biden administration is under tremendous pressure to demonstrate better US economic management. Trade negotiations normally take years to conclude, if at all. Unsurprisingly, lobbyists are already urging the next US administration to quickly embrace and deliver a new version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
As the people of Kiribati, Samoa and Tonga gear up as the first nations to welcome 2021, communities around the Asia-Pacific region and beyond look forward to bidding farewell to the most tumultuous year in recent decades.