Pandemic lays bare global welfare gap leaving 4 billion unprotected – dpa international

At work in a mall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a so-called middle-income economy, shortly after the relaxing of the county's first pandemic lockdown in May 2020 (Simon Roughneen)

DUBLIN — More than half the world’s people lack “social protection coverage” and have been left wide open to “economic shock waves” since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). The ILO, a United Nations body, said in its World Social Protection Report 2020-22 that the pandemic has shown up how billions of people are vulnerable to “high levels of economic insecurity, persistent poverty, rising inequality, extensive informality and a fragile social contract.” While most Western countries and others such as Japan and Singapore “marshalled social protection as a front-line response to protect people’s health, jobs and incomes” as the pandemic spread and related curbs on economic activity were imposed, many low and middle income countries have struggled to emulate wealthier counterparts.

OECD says most big economies yet to shake off virus effects despite recent growth – dpa international

In Dublin, the capital of Ireland, where the government has been slow to lift coronavirus restrictions compared to neighbours (Simon Roughneen)

DUBLIN — Most of the world’s big economies are running below pre-pandemic levels despite “accelerating” growth in the second quarter of this year, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Overall gross domestic product (GDP) across the OECD remains 0.7 per cent below that reported at the end of 2019, shortly before the coronavirus pandemic was declared, the Paris-based OECD said on Monday. That’s despite GDP expanding 1.6 per cent across the Group of 7 (G7) economies in the second quarter, up from 0.4 per cent in the first three months of the year. There were “strong variations” among what the OECD calls the “Major Seven” economies, which does not include China, which does not inclide the world’s second biggest GDP after the the US. Britain grew growing the fastest of the 7, at almost 5 per cent from April to June, after a near 2-per-cent contraction during the previous three months, when, like in many Western countries, economically-debilitating pandemic restrictions were in place.

OECD sees uncertainties and moderating growth ahead for world’s big economies – dpa international

Outdoor dining resumed in Ireland far later than most other OECD member-states (Simon Roughneen)

DUBLIN — The pace of growth in “major economies” is likely to moderate, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said on Tuesday, warning of “persisting uncertainties” despite the lifting of pandemic restrictions in many countries. The Paris-based OECD said China could expect “steady growth” in industry, while Britain, much of the European Union, Japan and the US face a general “moderating pace of growth at above-trend level.” For India, which recently was hit with a huge coronavirus surge, “stable” growth prospects have been forecast, but France and Brazil respectively face “below trend” and “slowing” growth. The forecasts came after lower-than-expected second-quarter gross domestic product growth (GDP) numbers for the US and China, by far the world’s two biggest economies.

Multinationals in Ireland outdid rest of economy combined last year – dpa international

US multinatonal's Baxter Healthcare operations in the west of Ireland (Simon Roughneen

DUBLIN —  For the first time on record, multinational corporations in Ireland last year produced more gross-value-added (GVA) than all other parts of the economy put together. According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), “sectors where foreign-owned multinational enterprises are dominant grew by 23.1 per cent,” pushing their share of GVA from around 45 per cent in 2019 to almost 53 per cent in 2020. But, with Ireland’s government imposing some of Europe’s longest-lasting pandemic restrictions, domestic-focused sectors, including construction, farming and retail, shrank by almost 9 per cent. The CSO said in June that around three-quarters of Ireland’s smaller enterprises reported falling turnover last year.

NASA team creates satellite-run system aimed at slowing deforestation – dpa international

DUBLIN — A NASA-led research team has developed a “unique” satellite-based deforestation tracking system they hope could avert a “tipping point” for the world’s shrinking jungles. The plan is for the new “tropical vulnerability index” to enhance “early warning” about rainforests facing destruction. According to Sassan Saatchi of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, “frequent droughts, higher temperature and longer dry seasons, along with increasing pressures from deforestation and degradation in the last two decades, have pushed the tropical rainforests to the verge of a tipping point.”

Majority in most resource-rich countries set to remain poor – dpa international

DUBLIN — Despite often living in some of the world’s most resource-rich lands, people in many developing countries face continued poverty due to reliance on commodity exports, according to the UN. In a report published on Wednesday, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said many of the world’s poorer nations depend too much on exporting natural resources and are seemingly “locked into this undesirable state.” A “commodity-dependent” economy gets 60 per cent of merchandise export revenues from sales of goods such as coffee, gas, metals and oil, according to UNCTAD – trade which is “strongly associated with low levels of technology” and “low levels of labour productivity, low productivity growth.” In 2019, two-thirds of developing countries were commodity-dependent, compared to 13 per cent of wealthy or developed economies.

Tourism collapse could cut 4 trillion dollars from global economy – dpa international

Galway in the west of Ireland is a popular with visitors to the island (Simon Roughneen)

DUBLIN — The global economy is facing losses of up to 4 trillion dollars due to the collapse of international travel, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The coronavirus pandemic and ensuing containment measures have caused a “crisis with devastating effects on developing countries, especially those dependent on tourism,” UNCTAD said on Wednesday.” The worst affected region is likely to be Central America, where gross domestic product (GDP) could shrink by almost 12 per cent by the end of the year in a worst-case scenario.

Pandemic restrictions pushing coffee prices up and undermining production – dpa international

Sign outside a Dublin coffeeshop. Cafes in Ireland have been restricted to takeaway services, and more recentky, offering outdoors dining, since December 2020 (Simon Roughneen)

DUBLIN — Even as the coronavirus pandemic has receded in some parts of the world, coffee drinkers might not be able to sip in peace anytime soon: According to a recent analysis, coronavirus restrictions have likely spurred a crisis across the global coffee industry. In a study published by the National Academy of Sciences in the US, researchers led by academics from Rutgers University said “socio-economic disruptions” since the start of the pandemic “are likely to drive the coffee industry into another severe production crisis.” Lead author Kevon Rhiney warned of “serious implications for millions of people across the globe” if there is turmoil in the sector.

Global foreign investment to recover lost ground this year – dpa international

The centre of Dublin, the capital of Ireland, which received the world's 7th-most foreign investment in 2020 (Simon Roughneen)

DUBLIN — Foreign direct investment should revive in 2021, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said on Monday, after a 35 per cent global drop last year when lockdowns “slowed down existing investment projects.” According to UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2021, global investment should “recover some lost ground” by growing 10-15 per cent, as multinational enterprises resume work paused due to “prospects of a recession” last year. The global economy shrank by over three per cent in 2020 but is expected to rebound this year with 5-6 per cent growth, according to recent World Bank and OECD estimates. Though overseas investment is expected to bounce back in tandem with GDP expansion, it will remain 25 per cent below 2019 levels after a tough 2020, according to Unctad’s James Zhang.

Singapore cedes top spot to Switzerland in competitiveness index – dpa international

Singapore harbour seen from Marina Bay, a popular vantage point for visitors (Simon Roughneen)

DUBLIN — Wealthy city-state Singapore is no longer the world’s most competitive economy, according to the Institute for Management Development (IMD), which on Thursday put Switzerland top of its 2021 World Competitiveness Ranking. Singapore topped the list for the previous two years and was the sole Asian representative in the top five, which was rounded out by Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands. Though most European countries were hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, measured by lives lost and case numbers, the Lausanne-based IMD said the continent’s economies “weather[ed] the health crisis better than most other regions,” with Switzerland ranked highest after it “kept a disciplined financial strategy.” Singapore’s fall from first to fifth came despite being it being relatively lightly hit by the pandemic – and was down to “problems with job losses, lack of productivity and the economic impact of the pandemic,” the IMD said.