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Nur Yasmin

Nur Yasmin

19
January

The head of the International Monetary Fund on Monday said the global lender needed more resources to help heavily indebted countries, citing a highly uncertain global economic outlook and a growing divergence between rich and poor countries.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, who has long advocated a new allocation of the IMF’s own currency, Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), said doing so now would give more funds to use address both the health and economic crisis, and accelerate moves to a digital and green economy.

Under outgoing President Donald Trump, the United States, the IMF’s largest shareholder, has blocked such a new SDR allocation, a move akin to a central bank printing money, since it would provide more resources to richer countries since the allocation would be proportionate to their shareholding.

Swedish Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson, the new chair of the IMF’s steering committee speaking at an online news conference with Georgieva, said it was clear the need for liquidity remained great, and she would consult with member countries on options for expanding liquidity.

Andersson, the first European to head the International Monetary and Financial Committee in more than 12 years and the first women, started her three-year term here in the role on Monday.

Georgieva said the IMF had rapidly increased concessional financing to emerging market and developing economies, including through donations by member countries of some $20 billion in existing SDRs. That would continue to play an important role, but further steps were needed, she said.

“It will continue to be so important, even more important, for us to be able to expand our capacity to support countries that have fallen behind,” Georgieva said.

She said a new SDR allocation had never been taken off the table by IMF members, she said, adding that some members continued to discuss it as a possible move. A possible sale of gold from the IMF’s reserves would have “some opportunity costs” for the IMF, but would be up to members, she said.

She said she expected the Group of 20 major economies to extend the current moratorium in official debt service payments by the poorest countries, now slated to end in June, but much would depend on the pace of vaccinations in coming months. (reuters)

19
January

An independent panel said on Monday that Chinese officials could have applied public health measures more forcefully in January to curb the initial COVID-19 outbreak, and criticised the World Health Organization (WHO) for not declaring an international emergency until Jan. 30.

The experts reviewing the global handling of the pandemic, led by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, called for reforms to the Geneva-based United Nations agency.Their interim report was published hours after the WHO’s top emergency expert, Mike Ryan, said that global deaths from COVID-19 were expected to top 100,000 per week “very soon”.

“What is clear to the Panel is that public health measures could have been applied more forcefully by local and national health authorities in China in January,” the report said, referring to the initial outbreak of the new disease in the central city of Wuhan, in Hubei province.

As evidence emerged of human-to-human transmission, “in far too many countries, this signal was ignored”, it added.

Specifically, it questioned why the WHO’s Emergency Committee did not meet until the third week of January and did not declare an international emergency until its second meeting on Jan. 30.

“Although the term pandemic is neither used nor defined in the International Health Regulations (2005), its use does serve to focus attention on the gravity of a health event. It was not until 11 March that WHO used the term,” the report said.

“The global pandemic alert system is not fit for purpose”, it said. “The World Health Organization has been underpowered to do the job.”

Under President Donald Trump, the United States has accused the WHO of being “China-centric”, which the agency denies. European countries led by France and Germany have pushed for addressing the WHO’s shortcomings on funding, governance and legal powers.

The panel called for a “global reset” and said that it would make recommendations in a final report to health ministers from the WHO’s 194 member states in May. (reuters)

19
January

Two Indonesian Air Force (TNI AU) planes transported 14 tons of relief aid on Monday for victims of the 6.2-magnitude earthquake that struck Mamuju and Majene
Districts, West Sulawesi Province, last Friday.

The two airplanes, a CN-295 and a Boeing 737, belonged to Air Squadron 2 at the Halim Perdanakusuma Airbase in Jakarta.

Air Force Chief of Staff, Marshal Fadjar Prasetyo, said the TNI AU is ready to transport aid for quake victims from various agencies in Jakarta.

He said the TNI AU had earlier sent relief aid for the quake victims from President Joko Widodo.

TNI AU has transported more than 87 tons of logistics supplies to Banjarmasin for flood victims and to Mamuju for quake victims, as well as dispatched 216 medical workers and volunteers to the affected areas, he added.

"We have sent assistance in the form of fast food, blankets, medicines, and tents (as well) as personnel to help (people) in affected areas," Prasetyo informed.

The powerful earthquake rocked the districts of Majene and Mamuju early on Friday last week. The epicenter of the quake was located on land, six kilometers northeast of Majene, at a depth of 10 kilometers.

The shallow quake, which the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) believes was caused by a local fault, destroyed several buildings, including the governor's office, a military office, and the Maleo Hotel.

The earthquake damaged many houses and a public health center and even triggered three landslides along the Majene-Mamuju road section, disrupting the transportation of people and goods, Chief of the Center for Disaster Data, Information and Communication at the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Dr. Raditya Jati said at an online press conference in Jakarta on Sunday.

The death toll from the 6.2-magnitude earthquake stood at 73, with 27,850 people taking refuge as of Sunday evening, according to the BNPB.

As per BNPB records, a total of 826 people sustained injuries in the quake, while 27,850 people fled their homes as of Sunday evening, Dr. Raditya said. (antaranews)

19
January

The Malaysian Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) officially halted a safeguard investigation into Indonesian ceramic floor and wall tiles on January 11, 2021.

"The safeguard investigation was halted only four months after it commenced on September 13, 2020. The Malaysian authorities decided to stop the investigation on three considerations," Indonesian Trade Minister Muhammad Lutfi said in Jakarta on Monday.

First, there was no absolute rise in import volume during the investigation period, he said. Second, the impact of import volume hike on Malaysian ceramic products could not relatively be ascertained, he added.

Third, the Malaysian authorities could not ascertain the linkage between an import surge and serious losses suffered by Malaysian ceramic producers, he continued.

The ceramic products that are exempt from safeguard duties belong to HS codes 6907.21.21, 6907.21.23, 6907.21.91, 6907.21.93, 6907.22.11, 6907.22.13, 6907.22.91, 6907.22.93, 6907.23.11, 6907.23.13, 6907.23.91, and 6907.23.93.

Malaysian ceramic manufacturers have claimed that there was a surge in ceramic imports which resulted in losses or potential losses for the domestic ceramic industry.

The safeguard investigation was launched in September, 2020, based on a petition from the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers – Malaysian Ceramic Industry Group. However, the Malaysian authorities could not find evidence supporting the claim.

The investigation was then terminated without the imposition of temporary safeguard import duties.

According to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), Indonesia's ceramic exports subjected to the investigation were valued at US$7.12 million in 2019, a decline of 27.21 percent compared to exports of US$9.78 million a year earlier.

In the January-November, 2020 period, Indonesia exported US$8.35 million worth of ceramic products, an increase of 24.41 percent compared to exports of US$6.71 million the year before.

Indonesian ceramic products, which have very competitive quality, are believed to have the potential to disrupt the performance of the Malaysian ceramic industry. Indonesia is also one of the main suppliers of ceramic products to Malaysia.

"Statistical data of Malaysian imports in 2019 shows Indonesia was ranked second after China as the largest country of import origin for Malaysia. The MITI's decision creates large opportunities for Indonesia to increase ceramic exports to the neighboring country," Minister Lutfi said. (antaranews)