Taiwan more than doubled its forecast for export growth this year, but sounded a warning that the global scramble for computer chips is going to add further upward pressure on the local dollar. Stocks and the currency gained. Exports will likely rise 9.58% this year, compared with a previous estimate of 4.59%, the statistics bureau said Saturday. Gross domestic product may expand 4.64%, more than previously expected and up from a revised 3.11% in 2020, when it was one of the few significant economies to register growth. For more updates, here’s Mint Lite.
It is Merrick Garland’s day to shine
The once snubbed Merrick Garland now reflects the US President’s goal of restoring the department’s reputation as an independent body. During his four years as president, Donald Trump had insisted that the attorney general must be loyal to him personally, a position that battered the department’s reputation. Garland’s high court nomination by President Barack Obama in 2016 died because the Republican-controlled Senate refused to hold a hearing. Garland will inherit a Justice Department that endured a tumultuous time under Trump and abundant criticism from Democrats over what they saw as the politicizing of the nation’s top law enforcement agencies. The department’s priorities and messaging are expected to shift drastically in the Biden administration, with a focus more on civil rights issue, criminal justice overhauls and policing policies in the wake of nationwide protests.
China urges US to stop interference
China’s top diplomat called Monday for new US President Joe Biden’s administration to lift restrictions on trade and people-to-people contacts while ceasing what Beijing considers unwarranted interference in the areas of Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet, reports AP. Foreign minister Wang Yi’s comments at a foreign ministry forum come as Beijing presses the new administration in Washington to drop many of the confrontational measures adopted by former President Donald Trump. Trump hiked tariffs on Chinese imports in 2017 and imposed bans and other restrictions on Chinese tech companies and academic exchanges as he sought to address concerns about an imbalance in trade and accusations of Chinese theft of American technology.Trump also upgraded military and diplomatic ties with Taiwan, the self-governing democracy claimed by China as its own territory.
Germans still remain confident
German business confidence improved in February, a key survey showed on Monday, as the robust industrial sector of Europe’s top economy bears up despite the impact of coronavirus restrictions. The Ifo institute’s monthly confidence barometer, based on a survey of 9,000 companies, climbed to 92.4 points from 90.3 points in January, when the index slipped as tougher measures to fight the pandemic were introduced. Analysts surveyed by Factset had expected a smaller increase of 0.4 points. The manufacturing sector recorded its highest score since November 2018, surging to 16.1 points. Germany this month extended orders for bars, restaurants, and non-essential shops to stay closed until at least 7 March while allowing schools to partially reopen.
Indonesia warned of forest fires
Indonesian president Joko Widodo said local authorities should get prepared for potential forest fires later this year as hot spots had been detected on the island of Sumatra. The South-east Asian country has suffered some of the biggest tropical forest fires outside the Amazon and Congo in recent years, putting at risk endangered animals like orangutans and tigers and sending choking haze across the region. Farmers often used fire as a cheap land clearing method, the president said, calling on local governments to get forest fire containment infrastructure ready. Fires, sometimes set to clear land for palm oil plantations in the world’s top producer of the commodity, were the most damaging in years in 2015, with the World Bank estimating they caused $16.1 billion of damage. Meanwhile, fires in 2019 caused total damage and economic loss amounting to at least $5.2 billion, the World Bank said.
Pandemic of human rights abuses
The world is facing a “pandemic of human rights abuses”, the UN secretary general António Guterres has said. Authoritarian regimes had imposed drastic curbs on rights and freedoms and had used the virus as a pretext to restrict free speech and stifle dissent.Guterres told The Guardian that the pandemic had rolled back years of progress on human rights, and that abuses had “thrived because poverty, discrimination, the destruction of our natural environment and other human rights failures have created enormous fragilities in our societies”. There has been a global crackdown on opposition activists and human rights defenders, increased attacks on journalists and moves to curb free speech, censor the media, roll out invasive tracking apps and put in place extreme surveillance measures, many of which are likely to far outlast the virus.
Curated by Sohini Sen. Have something to share with us? Write to us at feedback@livemint or tweet to @shohinisen