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:
The European Commission recommends reopening borders which will help tourism. A gradual reopening of internal borders within the European Union has been recommended by the Commission, in particular to aid Southern European countries, whose tourism industries are suffering. Whether this causes a resurgence of COVID-19 remains to be seen.
The coronavirus pandemic could cost the global economy between $5.8tn and $8.8tn (£4.7tn-£7.1tn), according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB). That’s more than double last month’s prediction and equates to 6.4%-9.7% of the world’s economic output.
Lloyd’s of London says claims will cost it $3bn to $4.3bn – the biggest payout since 9/11. The global insurance industry is paying out on “a very wide range of policies” to support business and people affected by the pandemic. The estimated 2020 underwriting losses covered by the industry as a result of COVID-19 are approximately $107bn.
Apple is reportedly planning to relocate iPhone production to elsewhere in Asia. India is very hopeful that it can benefit greatly from China’s growing problems. The government plans to lure American manufacturers, with generous pledges, from China to India, which in particular relies on Apple as a model company.
China has directed food companies to stockpile food. Beijing urged grain traders and producers to boost their stores of soybeans, soy oil and corn because the coronavirus outbreak in Brazil could disrupt global food supplies.
This virus may never go away. The World Health Organisation this week commented that COVID-19 could become endemic like HIV. They warned against any attempt to predict how long it would keep circulating, and called for a massive effort to counter it.
Environmental regulations are likely to be the first casualties in post-pandemic recovery. As the world is plummeting into what may be the worst recession in history, return to rapid growth may take priority over strengthening environmental legislation.
Is ‘vaccine nationalism’ spreading? Sanofi – the largest pharmaceutical company in the European Union – has signed a preliminary contract with the United States securing the US rights to the largest pre-order of the COVID-19 vaccine it is developing. After government criticism, Sanofi declared that the vaccine would be for all.
Many companies predict that the pandemic will lead to more homeworking and less demand for office space. The need for workers to cluster together in offices has shaped every aspect of modern life. If the pandemic has weakened the offices hold on society, the implications will be profound. This week, Twitter has announced ‘work from home’ forever for their employees.
Netanyahu’s new Israeli government approved, eyes West Bank annexations. Israels parliament has approved Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus new unity government. This opens the way for Netanyahu to proceed towards a pledged annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank, land that Palestinians seek for a state. Israel will extend sovereignty to Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank.
As coronavirus crisis saps his popularity, Brazil’s President Bolsonaro turns to former foes for support. Bolsonaro’s persistent attempts to play down the coronavirus epidemic in Brazil, along with a criminal investigation, have hurt his popularity with voters. This has turned former political allies against him. Brazil has one of the worst outbreaks of any developing nation.
EU and China clash over assertive diplomatic and propaganda campaigns by China. Tensions between member countries of the EU and China are increasing as China takes a more aggressive approach to establishing its global narratives and exploiting divisions within the EU member states.
Social conflict on the rise in Europe. The pandemic in Europe is not just an economic crisis, as elsewhere in the world. It is fast becoming a political and constitutional crisis. This is solvable in principle, but the EU’s members cannot agree on what is needed to make their union more resilient, nor on how to bring about reform.
Pandemic causes some democracies to falter. In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has obtained indefinite extraordinary powers, instituting heavy restrictions on political freedoms. Other democracies are facing increasing political turmoil – how they respond will determine future trends in democracy.
Peace process in Afghanistan in danger. There was a serious setback for the peace process in Afghanistan after two devastating attacks leave countless dead. President Aschraf Ghani and the Taliban rebels have assigned each other responsibility for the possible military escalation. Meanwhile, the US is continuing to draw down its troops in accordance with the timeline agreed upon with the Taliban.
COVID-19 measures likely to lead to an increase in migrant smuggling and human trafficking in the long term. COVID-19 travel and movement restrictions are not stopping the movement of people fleeing conflict, starvation and economic deprivation, with the UNODC forecasting increases in human trafficking and smuggling.
Africa’s Sahel becomes latest al-Qaeda-IS battleground. West Africa’s Sahel region has become the latest scene of jihadist in-fighting, after Islamic State group (IS) revealed it is engaged in fierce clashes with al-Qaeda militants in Mali and Burkina Faso.
COVID-19 is disrupting rice production and distribution. Rice is the staple diet for 60% of the world and it is already being affected by climate change. Lockdowns and logistic blockages are causing shortages of supply, leading to substantial price increases, which disproportionately affect the poorest people.
The pandemic is laying bare a global water crisis. Insufficient water for washing is likely to worsen the coronavirus in the poorest nations. The primary way to prevent the spread of coronavirus is regular hand-washing and good hygiene. However this is out of reach for millions of people living without adequate access to clean water.
Mexico fears pandemic pushing millions into poverty. Increased hardship could translate to at least 70 million Mexicans, which equates to 56% of the country, not earning enough to cover their basic needs. That would be an increase of about 50% from 2018, says CONEVAL, the autonomous public agency that measures poverty.