- The World Health Organization chief called Monday for the world to pull together and make the difficult decisions needed to end the Covid-19 pandemic within the next year.
- “2022 must be the year we end the pandemic,” WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva.
- As the end-of-year festivities approach, the UN health agency chief acknowledged that “all of us want to spend time with friends and family. All of us want to get back to normal”.
- But, he said, to get back to normal, we need to protect ourselves now as cases, fuelled by the fast-spreading Omicron variant, surge.
- Foreign Affairs – Nicole Lurie, Jakob Cramer, Kate Kelland and Richard Hatchett / How vaccines can get ahead of variants
Financial Times – William Langley / China locks down 13m to contain Covid outbreak ahead of Olympics
- China has locked down 13m people in the central city of Xi’an, as the country battles to contain increasingly frequent coronavirus outbreaks that threaten its economic recovery in the run-up to the 2022 Winter Olympics.
- The Xi’an city government ordered all residents to stay at home and designate one person per household to collect essential supplies once every other day. Non-essential travel outside the city has been banned, China’s official news agency Xinhua reported.
- The lockdown is one of the most severe imposed in China since authorities restricted movement in Wuhan in early 2020 at the start of the global pandemic. It comes just months before the Beijing Winter Olympics, a politically sensitive event at which the government has banned visitors from overseas.
- Leo Poon, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong, said that Chinese authorities wanted to ensure there was “zero risk” of the virus spreading across the country in the lead up to the Winter Games.
- Foreign Policy – James Palmer / How will China respond to the Omicron variant?
Politico – Bjarke Smith-Meyer / Bid to set a global minimum tax rate gets underway in EU
- The European Commission unveiled a bill Wednesday that will introduce a global initiative for a minimum effective corporate tax rate of 15 percent for companies with annual revenue of €750 million or more.
- The tax rate is part of a two-pronged accord that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development brokered in October to obliterate tax havens and ensure multinational firms pay their fair share of dues.
- The OECD accord also includes a levy on the world’s 100 biggest companies. The global standard-setter will flesh out the levy in the new year and the Commission will then move to introduce it in another EU bill. The 15 percent tax rate is set to be operational from the start of 2023.
- “By moving quickly to align with the far-reaching OECD agreement, Europe is playing its full part in creating a fairer global system for corporate taxation,” Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said in a statement. “Putting the OECD agreement on minimum effective taxation into EU law will be vital for fighting tax avoidance and evasion while preventing a ‘race to the bottom’ with unhealthy tax competition between countries.
- European Commission / Fair taxation: Commission proposes swift transposition of the international agreement on minimum taxation of multinationals
Financial Times – Laura Pitel and Funja Guler / Turks wary of ‘Erdogan dollars’ despite hard sell
- Within hours of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announcing a new scheme that promised to guard savers from volatility in the value of the Turkish lira, the state-owned Halkbank began urging its customers to put their faith in the national currency.
- In a slickly produced advert, set to rousing Ottoman-inspired music, a well-known television actor walks a young friend through a museum exhibition and tells him that, just as the Turkish flag, the Turkish language and the parliament represent the country’s pride, “the Turkish lira is our power”.
- Erdogan hopes that the message — combined with an attractive new investment proposition — will persuade millions of Turks to turn their backs on dollars and gold and put their savings in lira.
- The currency, which had lost 50 per cent against the dollar before his announcement, enjoyed its strongest day’s trading in decades in the wake of the news, albeit one that came with the help of a multibillion intervention by the country’s central bank.
- Project Syndicate – Anne O. Krueger / How Erdonomics sank Turkey
Our suggested reading for the Christmas holidays:
- Bloomberg – Tim Quinson / Why green stocks are slumping during an ESG boom
- Council on Foreign Relations – James M. Lindsay / Ten most significant world events in 2021
- Foreign Affairs – Eric Brewer and Nicholas L. Miller / A redline for Iran?
- Financial Times – Michael Stott, Bryan Harris and Michael Pooler / Brazil: Bolsonaro embraces the politics he once vowed to abolish