- EU may block the export of coronavirus vaccines worldwide
- US economy contracted by 3.5 percent in 2020
- Biden’s fight with the fossil fuel industry
EU May Block the Export of Coronavirus Vaccines Worldwide
The EU plans to instruct its customs authorities to block the export of vaccines if they do not have prior authorization two EU officials said Thursday. It was reported that on Thursday, January 28, Brussels decided to introduce a mechanism according to which EU countries can block the export of vaccines.
Under the scheme, the EU will instruct its customs authorities to block vaccine exports unless they come with prior authorization. That will allow the EU to prioritize shipments to its own countries before authorizing exports.
“Any exporting company would send into the national authorities their plan, what to export, when, to whom, and what amount,” said the first official. “And the national authorities would then be allowed to check that and to give an authorization or a refusal.”
It is reported that discussions on customs control measures over vaccines continued for several days, but the supporters of tight control won, which became possible after tensions arose in relations with the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca. Apparently, this is about the fact that the company said it was impossible to get vaccine supplies in the previously announced volumes.
EU countries will only issue such approvals after they are satisfied that the vaccine manufacturers are delivering the vaccine doses promised in their “previous procurement agreements” with the EU.
Since both Pfizer/BioNTech and Astra Zeneca are below their delivery targets, this would permit the EU to block exports up to the level of weekly delivery targets.
Pharmaceutical company Pfizer previously announced that it was slowing its vaccine supply due to a production upgrade.
The firm said it is expanding its production capacity with plans to produce 2 billion instead of the 1.3 billion doses per year that its factories are capable of now. According to preliminary forecasts, the situation will change in February.
Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Sweden, and Estonia have sent a letter to the European Commission, in which they are outraged by the reduction in the supply of vaccine companies Pfizer / BioNTech.
One EU official was asked about whether the scheme meant countries such as Canada, which are getting their supplies from Europe because the U.S. has imposed similar restrictions, would lose out, but he said this was the responsibility of vaccine makers.
“It’s up to the companies themselves to ensure they can satisfy demand,” the official said. For the EU, the new export control “is a question of ensuring that the money that we spent produces vaccines for our citizens.”
US Economy Contracted by 3.5 Percent in 2020
The US economy contracted 3.5 percent in 2020. However, this contraction is considered to be less than expected and not as severe as the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on the economies of other countries.
The growth recorded in the US economy in the last quarter of the year was 4 percent, below expectations. It is stated that the acceleration of the coronavirus epidemic is effective in this.
The gross domestic product, which increased by 33.4 percent in the third quarter of 2020, remained low in the last quarter, according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Commerce on Thursday.
The data show that the shrinkage in 2020 was the biggest after the Second World War.
Despite the increase in the unemployment rate and poverty, the impact of the pandemic on the economy is less than expected compared to other countries.
The USA is among the countries most affected by the epidemic, with 25.7 million cases and over 431 thousand casualties from Covid-19.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) data, the UK economy contracted by 10 percent last year, while Canada, Japan, and Germany shrank by more than 5 percent.
China, on the other hand, was the only major economy to achieve growth with a 2.3 percent gross domestic product increase.
Support packages with trillions of dollars in aid to households and businesses have had a major impact on the growth of the US economy in the last two quarters.
Last week, 847,000 more people were added to those applying for unemployment benefits, according to data released by the Labor Ministry on Thursday. Although this figure, compared to the previous week, indicating a slight decrease, it is still well above the pre-epidemic level.
Economist Tim Quinlan says these figures are a symptom of the “dark winter” that many officials have noted.
Earlier US President Joe Biden said that the economic crisis in the country caused by the coronavirus pandemic is only deepening, so decisive and urgent measures are needed. On the same day, the head of the White House National Economic Council, Brian Dees, said that the US authorities must take urgent measures to stimulate the economy in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, otherwise they will have to get out “from an even deeper pit.”
President Joe Biden has proposed a new $ 1.9 trillion package to boost the economy. However, the package is expected to be met with the resistance of the Republicans in Congress.
Biden’s Fight with the Fossil Fuel Industry
US President Joe Biden signed a decree to end the issuance of new licenses for the development of oil and gas fields on state lands and offshore. Such a measure was taken to combat climate change, writes CNBC.
Biden also wants to double the production of wind power. “We have waited too long to cope with the climate crisis. We cannot delay any longer,” he said. The US President is pushing for a $ 2 trillion climate plan.
Oil and gas producers are angry and opposed the new decree, they plan to challenge it in court.
“This is a punishment that will destroy jobs, damage the economy, and make the country more dependent on foreign energy sources,” said Anne Bradbury, President of American Exploration. The budget will lose a lot of money, market players are sure.
The president said there is increased bipartisan concern about climate change, though many Republicans have criticized Biden’s actions, claiming they will eliminate jobs.
Biden emphasized work in agriculture and manufacturing to advance energy conservation. He also promised 1 million new jobs in the auto industry as federal agencies aim to lead on a transition to electric vehicles.
“We’re not going to lose jobs in these areas; we’re going to create jobs,” he said.
Biden promised that the program would focus on disproportionate health, environmental and economic effects on colored communities and that 40 percent of the federal benefits for clean air and water resources would go to climate change-affected communities disproportionately.
“These aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams. These are concrete, actionable solutions,” Biden said at a signing ceremony for the executive orders.
Biden also ordered government agencies to prepare for the impact of climate change on their activities and improve citizens’ access to information on this issue. At the same time, Biden’s decrees say that the authorities must make decisions based on facts and “using the best available scientific evidence.”
During the presidency of Barack Obama, the United States promised to cut emissions by 26-28 percent by 2025 compared to 2005 levels, but could not even come close to this goal. Progress on reducing emissions has largely stalled during the presidency of Donald Trump.