Drive for cross-border solidarity to beat pandemic

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Latest news

  • The US has tightened export controls, targeting Huawei and its US suppliers, escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing

  • Care home Covid-19 deaths in England and Wales could be double the official toll, adding pressure on the government to increase testing and PPE supplies

  • Swiss luxury group Richemont says there will be no quick rebound for the luxury sector, with Covid-19 having “grave economic consequences” for up to three years

Drive for cross-border solidarity to beat pandemic

Countries are seeking to boost cross-border solidarity to tackle the coronavirus pandemic with the procurement of medical supplies, despite a rise in vaccine nationalism.

African nations are developing a platform to pool orders to strengthen their bargaining power in the struggle for access to diagnostics and medical equipment.

In an open letter this week, three of the continent’s leaders and more than 140 public figures called for any vaccine to be patent-free, produced at scale and made available at no cost to people everywhere.

Policymakers have been balancing the interests of their own citizens and the need for cross-border solidarity to better tackle the pandemic. In the absence of clearer international guidelines, companies have been caught in the middle.

Sanofi’s chief executive Paul Hudson has been summoned to the Elysée Palace after he said the US “has the right to the largest pre-order because it’s invested in taking the risk”, sparking angry reactions in France. President Emmanuel Macron warned that a vaccine should be a “public good for the world, and not subject to the laws of the market”.

But as Gayle Smith, chief executive of the One Campaign against poverty, argued: “It’s a very bad time for multilateralism to be under siege.”

Markets

European markets rose as investors’ optimism about the easing of lockdowns increased, tempered by concerns over US-China trade tensions. “Investors are seeing a dichotomy between the bullish views being expressed in many markets and the ongoing output of bad economic data,” said James Ashley, head of international market strategy at Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

A new coronavirus bond market has raised $65bn in just a few months as companies and governments rush to issue debt to ease the effects of the pandemic. It could reach $100bn by the end of 2020, according to an analysis by Axa Investment Managers.

Investors are banking on ESG during the pandemic, suggesting the crisis has only reinforced fund managers’ belief that sustainability is worth worrying about, writes Billy Nauman in our On Wall Street column. Many ESG indices have held up better in the downturn than their broader counterparts. 

Business

Canary Wharf, a London financial district, has drawn up plans to bring part of its 125,000-strong workforce back after the UK government unveiled back-to-work rules. New guidance issued to tenants includes lift capacity limits, controlled walkways and daily deep cleaning.

Apple supplier Foxconn’s profits fell almost 90 per cent in the first quarter as the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer was hit by supply chain disruptions in China caused by the pandemic.

Fine dining returned to Switzerland this week as the country’s hospitality sector became the first in Europe to reopen. One restaurant had to remove just one table from its main dining room. “We are normally very generously spaced anyway,” said Linda Mühlemann, owner of Michelin-starred Mesa. “We have many people . . . who don’t want to be overheard.” 

Global economy

The fight against Covid-19 is an opportunity for governments to promote a green economic recovery, argues the FT’s editorial board. Efforts to rebuild stricken economies should also seek to mitigate the effects of global warming by scrapping fossil fuel subsidies and encouraging carbon border taxes.

The German economy has fallen into recession as lockdown hits activity. GDP shrank by 2.2 per cent in the first quarter — its biggest quarterly decline since the financial crisis. But the country has been hit less than other major European economies, which imposed stricter lockdowns.

Greece has been a rare coronavirus success story, having taken early, drastic action to stem the outbreak. But without tourism, the country’s GDP could drop by as much as 8 per cent, warned Yannis Stournaras, the central bank governor.

Get in touch

How is your workplace dealing with the pandemic? And what do you think business and markets — and our daily lives — will look like after lockdown? Please tell us by emailing [email protected]. We may publish your contribution in an upcoming newsletter. Thanks

The essentials

Coronavirus tracked: has the epidemic peaked near you? Find any country or US state in the live-updating and customisable version of the FT’s Covid-19 trajectory charts.

Australia’s pubs are taking the first steps to reopening after seven weeks — a momentous moment for a nation of beer drinkers, who can again enjoy their first post-lockdown “schooners” as long as they remain 1.5m apart. “The beers are here and the jobs are back,” said Michael Gunner, chief minister of Northern Territory.

In Turkey, men had their first expert snips in two months as barber shops reopened across the country. Strict hygiene rules prohibit the traditional straight-razor shave. “Our customers are nervous and so are we, but this is essential work. Most people cannot cut their own hair,” said Ibrahim Birer, a barber in Istanbul.

Final thought

People have been predicting the demise of the office for decades, writes FT contributing editor Lucy Kellaway, but we will miss it if it dies. Covid-19 has made workplaces expensive and dangerous, yet they are a leveller, a source of spouses, of routine and fun. “Even in interesting jobs like journalism, meaning comes largely from physical proximity to your colleagues,” she writes.



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