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EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 26/03/2021

EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 26/03/2021

The Guardian – Michael Safi / Suez canal: fears grow that efforts to free ship could take weeks

  • Salvage teams from the Netherlands and Japan have been enlisted to redraw plans to free a giant container ship blocking the Suez canal, as fears grew that the operation could take weeks.
  • Tailbacks of oil and gas tankers and bulk grain vessels have developed at both ends of the canal, according to tracking data, creating one of the worst shipping jams for years, of 206 large container ships. The blockage comes on top of the disruption the Covid-19 pandemic has caused to world trade in the past year. Trade volumes have been hit by ship cancellations, container shortages and slower handling at ports.
  • Peter Berdowski, CEO of Boskalis, a specialist dredging company that has sent a crew to the scene, said data so far suggested “it is not really possible to pull it loose” and that the ship may need to be unloaded. “We can’t exclude it might take weeks, depending on the situation,” Berdowski told Dutch television.
  • In addition to the economic implications, security experts said idling ships in the Red Sea could become targets, after a series of attacks against shipping in the Middle East amid tensions between Iran and the US.
  • The New York Times – Peter S. Goodman In Suez canal, stuck ship is a warning about excessive globalization

South China Morning Post – Eduardo Baptista H&M under fire in China over refusal to buy Xinjiang cotton

  • Swedish multinational clothing retailer H&M is facing a backlash within China for not buying cotton produced in Xinjiang, as Beijing battles claims of genocide and forced labour in the region.
  • Mainland Chinese media reported that H&M products were removed from all major Chinese e-commerce platforms, including JD, Taobao, and Pinduoduo. Taobao is owned by Alibaba which also owns the South China Morning Post.
  • China produces 22 per cent of the world’s cotton, of which 84 per cent comes from Xinjiang, according to a report by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. The backlash against H&M came just a day after a flurry of sanctions between China and the United States, the European Union, Britain and Canada over treatment of people from ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.
  • The H&M saga is the latest in a string of disputes that foreign multinationals have encountered in China in recent years.South Korea’s decision to allow the US to install an anti-missile system known as THAAD resulted in South Korea’s highly popular K-pop bands being frozen out of the Chinese market.
  • Quartz – Annabelle Timsit Beijing’s European sanctions are also a bid to control who tells the China story

Financial Times – Michael Peel, Mehreen Khan, and Sam Fleming / EU leaders clash over vaccine distribution in tense summit

  • Leaders clashed during a marathon videoconference which ended with no resolution to demands from predominantly poorer eastern member states for part of 10m in additional BioNTech/Pfizer vaccines.
  • Kurz was leading efforts to ensure that Austria is part of a group of EU countries given extra doses after being affected by AstraZeneca’s delivery shortfalls. But his demands to hand out a majority of the jabs between Austria, the Czech Republic and Croatia were rebuffed by leaders who questioned Vienna’s need over more stricken countries in eastern Europe that are trailing the rest of the bloc.
  • The dispute underscored growing disunity within the EU over the vaccine rollout as leaders also debated tighter export curbs and heard an address from US President Joe Biden. Many EU countries are struggling to contain new cases of the virus, with Belgium and France being forced into fresh lockdown measures this week. 
  • The EU has exported 77m vaccines to more than 40 middle- and high-income countries since December 1, according to commission figures published on Thursday — almost as many as the 88m delivered within the bloc. About 21m doses have gone to the UK, EU officials said, including about 1m AstraZeneca jabs that were sent before the EU export regime came into force in late January. 
  • Quartz – David M. Herszenhorn, Maïa de la Baume, Hans von der Burchard, and Jacopo Barigazzi Joe Biden, honorary EU leader for a day

The New York Times – Jeffrey Gettleman, Emily Schmall, and Mujib Mashal / India cuts back on vaccine exports as infections surge at home

  • The government of India is now holding back nearly all of the 2.4 million doses that the Serum Institute of India, the private company that is one of the world’s largest producers of the AstraZeneca vaccine, makes each day.
  • India is desperate for all the doses it can get. Infections are soaring, topping 50,000 per day, more than double the number less than two weeks ago. And the Indian vaccine drive has been sluggish, with less than 4 percent of India’s nearly 1.4 billion people getting a jab, far behind the rates of the United States, Britain and most European countries.
  • “Serum Institute of India has been directed to prioritize the huge needs of India and along with that balance the needs of the rest of the world,” Mr. Poonawalla tweeted in late February. “We are trying our best.”
  • with many poorer countries already unlikely to get broad access to vaccines until 2023 or 2024, an extended halt on exports from India could push those dates back even further, said Olivier Wouters, a professor of health policy at the London School of Economics who has been studying the global vaccine supply chain.
  • The Economist / India and China are finding vaccine diplomacy tricky

Long reads for the weekend:

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and EsadeGeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.


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