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G20 to discuss post-pandemic world, back debt relief

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BRUSSELS — Leaders of the 20 biggest world economies (G20) will debate this weekend how to deal with the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic that has caused a global recession and how to manage the recovery once the coronavirus is under control.

High on the agenda are purchases and global distribution of vaccines, drugs and tests for low income countries that cannot afford such expenses themselves.

The European Union will urge the G20 on Saturday to invest $4.5 billion to help.

“The main theme will be to step up global cooperation to address the pandemic,” said a senior G20 official taking part in the preparations for the two-day summit, chaired by Saudi Arabia and held virtually because of the pandemic.

To prepare for the future, the EU will propose a treaty on pandemics.

“An international treaty would help us respond more quickly and in a more coordinated manner,” the chairman of EU leaders Charles Michel will tell the G20 on Sunday.

While the global economy is recovering from the depths of the crisis earlier this year, momentum is slowing in countries with resurging infection rates, the recovery is uneven and the pandemic is likely to leave deep scars, the International Monetary Fund said in a report for the G20 summit.

Especially vulnerable are poor and highly indebted countries in the developing world, which are “on the precipice of financial ruin and escalating poverty, hunger and untold suffering”, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Friday.

To address this, the G20 will endorse a plan to extend a debt servicing moratorium for developing countries by six months to mid-2021, with a possibility of a further extension, said a draft G20 communique seen by Reuters.

European members of the G20 are likely to push for more.

“More debt relief is needed,” Michel told reporters on Friday.

Debt relief for Africa will be a main theme of the Italian presidency of the G20 in 2021.

United Nation Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, conducts virtual press briefing from his office in New York ahead of the annual G20 Summit World Leaders to take place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 20, 2020. The Saudi G20 Presidency Media/Handout via Reuters

United Nation Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, conducts virtual press briefing from his office in New York ahead of the annual G20 Summit World Leaders to take place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 20, 2020. The Saudi G20 Presidency Media/Handout via Reuters

Trade and climate change

European nations in the G20 will also seek fresh impetus to the stalled reform of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), hoping to capitalise on the upcoming change of U.S. administration.

Outgoing President Donald Trump favoured bilateral trade deals over working through international bodies.

The change of U.S. leadership also raises hopes of a more concerted effort at G20 level to fight climate change.

Following the example of the European Union, already half of the G20 members, including Japan, China, South Korea and South Africa, plan to become climate- or at least carbon-neutral by 2050 or soon after.

Under Trump, the United States pulled out of the Paris Agreement on fighting climate change, but the decision is likely to be reversed by President-elect Joe Biden.

“We expect, of course, new momentum from the new U.S. administration on this issue, thanks to the President-elect’s declaration that the U.S. would join the Paris Agreement once again,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

To help finance the fight again climate change the EU will push for the G20 to agree common global standards on what constitutes “green” investment.

This would help attract the massive private investment needed because many investment funds are keen to invest in environmentally sustainable projects, but there is no agreed way of selecting them.

The EU is already working on such standards with the aim to have them in place by 2022.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20201121/g20-to-discuss-postpandemic-world-back-debt-relief/57881.html

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Five killed, including baby, as car ploughs into pedestrian zone in Germany

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BERLIN — Five people including a nine-month-old baby were killed and up to 15 injured on Tuesday when a speeding car ploughed into a pedestrian area in the western German city of Trier in what authorities said appeared to be a deliberate act.

Witnesses said people screamed in panic and some were thrown into the air by the car as it crashed through the shopping zone.

“We have arrested one person, one vehicle has been secured,” police said, adding that a 51-year-old German suspect from the Trier area had been overpowered within minutes of the incident and was now being questioned.

Prosecutor Peter Fritzen later told a news conference the suspect had drunk a significant amount of alcohol, and authorities were not working on the assumption that there was any Islamist militant motive to the incident.

Trier Mayor Wolfram Leibe said: “It looks as if we are talking about a suspect with mental issues, but we should not pass premature judgement.”

Authorities said a more thorough assessment of the suspect’s mental health would be necessary to determine whether he could be held criminally liable.

The suspect had spent the last few nights in the vehicle and did not seem to have a fixed address, Trier deputy police chief Franz-Dieter Ankner said. He had borrowed the vehicle, which was registered in someone else’s name, and did not appear to have a police record.

Mayor Leibe said a nine-month-old baby was among the dead.

The interior minister of Rhineland-Palatinate state, Roger Lewentz, said two women aged 25 and 73 and a man, 45, all from Trier, were also killed. Later, police said a fifth person had also died, with German media reporting that the latest victim was a 52-year old woman. Several of the injured were in critical condition.

Police officers are seen at the city center, where a car crashed into pedestrians in Trier, Germany, December 1, 2020. Photo: Reuters

Police officers are seen at the city center, where a car crashed into pedestrians in Trier, Germany, December 1, 2020. Photo: Reuters

Truck attack

The incident shocked residents of Germany’s oldest town, founded by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago.

“We have a driver who ran amok in the city,” Leibe told public broadcaster SWR.

“I just walked through the city centre and it was just horrible. There is a gym shoe lying on the ground, and the girl it belongs to is dead,” he said. He told broadcaster N-TV that people who saw the incident were “totally traumatised”.

The Trierischer Volksfreund quoted a witness as saying a Range Rover was driving at high speed and people had been thrown through the air. It said the car had Trier plates.

Officers scoured the area in search of evidence, backed by police carrying automatic weapons. In the streets, Christmas lights twinkled incongruously.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a statement: “The news from Trier makes me very sad. My sympathy goes to the families of those whose lives were so suddenly and violently torn away from them. I am also thinking of the people who suffered injuries, in some cases very serious ones, and I wish them strength.”

Germany has tightened security on pedestrian zones across the country since a truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market in 2016 that killed 12 people and injured dozens.

In October 2019, a man opened fire on a synagogue in the city of Halle. After failing to get into the building he went on a rampage outside, killing two people.

In February this year a racist gunman killed nine migrants in Hanau near Frankfurt before killing his mother and himself.

Germany has closed bars and restaurants as part of steps to fight the coronavirus, but shops and schools are still open.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20201202/five-killed-including-baby-as-car-ploughs-into-pedestrian-zone-in-germany/58073.html

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UK approves Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, first in the world

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LONDON — Britain on Wednesday became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use and said that it will be rolled out from early next week.

A vaccine is seen as the best chance for the world to get back to some semblance of normality amid a global pandemic which has killed nearly 1.5 million people and upended the global economy.

“The government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use,” the government said.

“The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week.”

Britain’s vaccine committee will decide which priority groups will get the jab first such as care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and people who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

Both Pfizer-BioNTech and U.S. biotech firm Moderna have reported preliminary findings of more than 90% effectiveness – an unexpectedly high rate – in trials of their vaccines, which are both based on new messenger RNA (mRNA) technology.

Pfizer said Britain’s emergency use authorization marks a historic moment in the fight against COVID-19.

“This authorization is a goal we have been working toward since we first declared that science will win, and we applaud the MHRA for their ability to conduct a careful assessment and take timely action to help protect the people of the U.K.,” said CEO Albert Bourla.

“As we anticipate further authorizations and approvals, we are focused on moving with the same level of urgency to safely supply a high-quality vaccine around the world.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the programme would begin early next week. Hospitals, he said, were already ready to receive it.

“It is very good news,” Hancock said.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20201202/uk-approves-pfizerbiontech-covid19-vaccine-first-in-the-world/58070.html

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Vietnam says recent typhoons caused 192 deaths, $1.3 billion damages

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HANOI — Natural disasters in the past two months caused Vietnam 30 trillion dong ($1.3 billion) in economic damage and killed 192 people, with 57 still missing, authorities said on Wednesday, with its central provinces bearing most of the losses.

Vietnam’s central region has had a tough year, with its important tourism industry crippled by the coronavirus pandemic long before the arrival of nine typhoons that wiped out crops and damaged homes of hundreds of thousands people.

The two-month toll surpassed losses for the whole of last year, when disasters killed 132 people and caused 6.2 trillion in damage, official data showed.

“We embraced nine typhoons and two tropical depressions in just two months, from mid-September to mid-November. Those abnormal weather events cost our country 30 trillion dong,” said Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong in a government statement.

“We have to make sure our residents are not homeless, suffering from hunger or lacking fresh water post-typhoon,” Cuong added.

Vietnam’s economic growth is expected to slow to 2%-3% this year after expanding 7.02% in 2019 due to the wider impact of the coronavirus pandemic and natural disasters.

Vietnam is prone to destructive storms and flooding due to its long coastline.

About 11.8 million people in Vietnam’s costal provinces are exposed to the threat of intense flooding, with 35% of settlements located on crowded and eroding coastlines, a World Bank report said in October.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20201202/vietnam-says-recent-typhoons-caused-192-deaths-13-billion-damages/58069.html

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