📈 Future Trends — COVID Innovation, Michigan Riots, Remittances Fall

Welcome, Future Trends readers. This series, curated by the Institute for Economics & Peace, takes a look at global news which may provide insight to the future. Here’s what you need to know this week:

After the virus — what are Africa’s chances of recovery? McKinsey finds that in the absence of significant fiscal stimulus, Africa will experience a three to eight percentage point cut to GDP growth, up to a US$200 billion decline. 
It will take the UK economy three years to fully recover from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a leading forecasting group. The report warns that half of all UK consumer spending in 2020 will be delayed or lost completely.

Shell CEO says pandemic may change the oil business forever. Europe’s largest oil company is bracing for permanent change in customer behaviour, signalling demand may not fully recover once the coronavirus pandemic is over.

The World Travel and Tourism Council estimated over 100 million job losses in the travel and tourism sector and alerted G20 countries to the scale of the crisis. WTTC analysis also shows a sharp increase in the economic loss to the world economy, up to US$2.7 trillion of GDP in 2020.

The Eurozone economy shrank at the sharpest pace on record in the first quarter as the COVID-19 pandemic forced countries into lockdown. A first estimate of GDP change between January and March showed a contraction of 3.8%, worse than during the financial crisis.

Drone-to-door medicines trial takes flight in Ireland. A drone company that had to abandon its fast-food delivery tests has partnered with Ireland’s health authority to deliver prescriptions instead.

China fails to stop racism against Africans over COVID-19. African people continue to be barred from hotels, shops and restaurants in Guangzhou, despite Chinese officials assuring governments across Africa that discrimination resulting from efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak would stop.  

COVID-19 will not be one of the biggest killers of 2020. This year its global toll exceeds that of breast cancer or malaria. Weekly covid-19 deaths are now falling. For the week ending April 29th, they were down to under 40,000. The worst may be over in the rich world, for now, and there is great uncertainty about how hard the virus will strike poor countries.

The state we’re in: will the pandemic revolutionise the role of government? There are already some signs that the COVID-19 shock may challenge existing attitudes of small Government. Disease and mass unemployment have always been far better at highlighting the need for Government than in times of plenty. There are already some signs that the COVID-19 shock may challenge historical attitudes.

Protesters at the Michigan Capitol highlight divisions. Protesters stormed the Capitol Building in Michigan while carrying assault weapons to protest against the lockdowns. These protests have strong support of many far right organisations.

US tightens export restrictions to keep tech out of Chinese military’s hands. Licenses will be needed to export any products to China that can be used to support or contribute to military operations and the installation, maintenance, repair, overhaul, refurbishment, development or production of military items.

The world embraces contact-tracing technology to fight COVID-19. China, South Korea and Singapore have led the way in developing contact-tracing systems. Some governments already had systems in place, having learned from the SARS epidemic 15 years ago. The major question is will the government use these technologies to undermine freedom of association.

Life in the Philippines amid one of the world’s toughest coronavirus lockdowns. More than 30,000 people arrested for violating strictly enforced curfew and quarantine restrictions. New prisoners entering jails risk infecting current prisoners, risking further spread of COVID-19.

Chinese government report warned of harsh international backlash. The Ministry of State Security warned leaders, including president Xi Jinping, that global animosity toward China is at its highest point since Tiananmen Square and, worst-case scenario, could lead to armed conflict with the US.

Protester killed in Tripoli as Lebanon hit by unrest. A collapse in the currency, soaring inflation and spiralling unemployment have left Lebanon in deep financial crisis. A shutdown to fight coronavirus has made matters worse. Protests against growing economic hardship erupted in Tripoli, and spread to other Lebanese cities with banks set ablaze after a night of rioting.

Global arms spending is rising, but COVID-19 will trim budgets. Governments globally are prioritizing science, health, and emergency food supplies over traditional military spending.

UNDP says the coronavirus could lead to Positive Peace. The UN has launched the COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP). It notes that UN agencies are probably at their best during a time of crisis, and that tragedies are often the wellspring of opportunities and innovation, and the possibility of greater Positive Peace emerging from this pandemic.

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) cautioned that the number of people facing acute food insecurity could soar from 135 million in 2019, to 265 million in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 stops many migrants sending money home. Remittances are falling sharply across Africa. One payments company said transfers from Britain to east Africa have fallen by 80%, while flows from Italy to Africa dropped by 90%. Remittances are the main source of foreign capital for many developing countries.

The pandemic is liberating firms to experiment with radical new ideas. The pandemic is an unmitigated calamity. But in some quarters it is spurring innovation, as firms come up with new ways to keep making existing products despite disrupted supply chains, or, as demand collapses amid self-isolation, create new ones.

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