- China Blasts G-20 for Retreat on Trade as Trump-Putin Talks Loom
Chinese President Xi Jinping took a swipe at the U.S. for retreating from globalization, exposing the tensions before a meeting of world leaders divided over everything from trade and climate change to handling North Korea’s provocations.
Xi, speaking in Hamburg on Friday at the start of one of the most highly-anticipated summits of Group of 20 nations in years, slammed unnamed “major” developed nations for stoking geopolitical risks through calls to reverse globalization and return to protectionism. China and others must respond by stepping into the leadership vacuum and pressing for their interests, he said.
“Major developed countries have significantly backtracked positions on trade, climate change and other issues,” Xi said before a meeting with fellow leaders from the so-called BRICS group of major developing nations. These developments affect the BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India and China — and reinforce the need to step up coordination “to speak in one voice to steer the world economy in right direction,” he said.
Xi’s outspoken remarks hint at the difficult task ahead for German Chancellor Angela Merkel as she chairs the two-day G-20 summit. Already overshadowed by violent clashes between police and anti-globalization protesters, the talks began with an informal session on terrorism. The event will also see the first official meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, which will take place around 3:45 p.m.
“I look forward to all meetings today with world leaders, including my meeting with Vladimir Putin,” Trump said in a tweet. “Much to discuss.”
The summit is set to highlight the tensions that are reshaping global politics as the world adjusts to Trump’s election last year. The U.S. will be represented for the first time in decades by a president who embraces protectionism, forcing Germany and China into an informal alliance pushing the merits of free trade and action against climate change.
Participants also face a U.S. leader much more unpredictable than his predecessors, which may concern the Chinese as tempers fray on how best to curtail North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
“We won’t paper over discord, but rather recognize when there is discord and different views on various topics,” Merkel said Thursday.
So far, the summit in the port city has been dominated by clashes between protesters and police. Protesters harried police on Friday, as they tried to disrupt the summit hours after the authorities used water cannon on a group of about 1,000 people seeking to march to the site of the meeting.
The summit’s official agenda will be dominated by discussions about terrorism, financial regulation, global trade, climate and migration. But the real highlight will be the first meeting between Trump and Putin, which is expected to last about 30 minutes. The U.S. president’s initial months in office have been dominated by the fallout from Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election and allegations about collusion between his campaign officials and the Kremlin.
Issues between the nations include Russian sanctions, halting North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and managing frictions over Syria and Iran. Amid suspicions of further Russian interference, this time in U.S. power plants, it’s still not clear whether Trump will raise the hacking issue.
Both sides played down expectations, portraying the meeting mostly as a chance for the leaders to take the measure of each other. The goal of improved ties has met fierce resistance from some in the Washington establishment.
Trump’s meeting with Xi, scheduled for Saturday, is also one to watch. Chinese officials have struck an optimistic tone — even going so far as to single out the “Art of the Deal” as a book to be read “with respect,” in a press conference Thursday. But Xi’s latest comments underscore how the friendship struck up with Trump at Mar-a-Lago in April is fraying.
Trump initially backed off campaign threats to declare China a currency manipulator following his shock election victory in November, seeking China’s help on North Korea. But he has since shown signs of losing patience as Pyongyang tests missile after missile, including what the U.S. said was its first intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday. “So much for China working with us – but we had to give it a try!” Trump said in a tweet Wednesday.
Ultimately, Merkel will have the toughest job at the summit as she tries to steer a path through the divisions to produce a communique everyone can agree on. She is reluctant, for example, for the U.S. to seem too isolated after a G-7 summit in Sicily that was marred by a bitter disagreement between Trump and other leaders over climate change. The president declared his intention to pull out of the Paris Accord just days later.
“I will do all I can to find compromises and answers to the questions that are important for shaping globalization,” Merkel told reporters on Thursday. “Naturally climate will also play a role here, and as you can imagine, there will be discussions here that won’t be all that easy.”
SERAP Urges FG to Slash Politicians’ Allowances
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Chairman of Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Elias Mbam, to urgently review upward the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for Nigerian Judges, and reduce the remuneration of President Muhammadu Buhari and other political office-holders in order to address the persistent poor treatment of Judges, and improve access of victims of corruption to justice.
The appeal came on the heels of a nationwide industrial action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to press home their demand for financial autonomy for the judicial arm of government, and the federal government silence on the judiciary workers’ strike that has grounded court activities across the country.
In a letter dated April 10, 2021, which was signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said Judges should get all they are reasonably entitled to, and that it is unfair, illegal, unconstitutional, and discriminatory to continue to treat Judges as second-class people, while high-ranking political office holders enjoy lavish salaries and allowances.
SERAP expressed concern that the remuneration and allowances of Judges have fallen substantially behind the average salaries and allowances of political office-holders such as president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as members of the National Assembly.
The letter read in part: “According to our information, the last review of the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for political, public and judicial office holders carried out by RMAFC in 2009 shows huge disparity between the remuneration and allowances of judges and those of political office holders.
“Judges’ work is very considerable but they cannot give their entire time to their judicial duties without the RMAFC reviewing upward their remuneration and allowances, and closing the gap and disparity between the salaries of judges and those of political office holders such as the president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as lawmakers.
“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the RMAFC to comply with our requests.”
COVAX Delivered 38m Vaccine Doses To Over 100 Countries, Says WHO
The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday announced that more than 100 countries have received life-saving COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, the global mechanism for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
It said the milestone comes 42 days after the first COVAX doses were shipped and delivered internationally, to Ghana on February 24th.
In a statement, the United Nations’ Agency revealed that COVAX has now delivered more than 38 million doses across six continents, supplied by three manufacturers – AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Serum Institute of India (SII).
Of the over 100 economies reached, 61 are among the 92 lower-income economies receiving vaccines funded through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).
It, however, said despite reduced supply availability in March and April – the result of vaccine manufacturers scaling and optimising their production processes in the early phase of the rollout, as well as increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines in India – COVAX expects to deliver doses to all participating economies that have requested vaccines in the first half of the year.
According to the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Dr. Seth Berkley, “In under four months since the very first mass vaccination outside a clinical setting anywhere in the world, it is tremendously gratifying that the roll-out of COVAX doses has already reached 100 countries.
“COVAX may be on track to deliver to all participating economies in the first half of the year yet we still face a daunting challenge as we seek to end the acute stage of the pandemic: we will only be safe when everybody is safe and our efforts to rapidly accelerate the volume of doses depend on the continued support of governments and vaccine manufacturers. As we continue with the largest and most rapid global vaccine rollout in history, this is no time for complacency.”
The WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “COVAX has given the world the best way to ensure the fastest, most equitable rollout of safe and effective vaccines to all at-risk people in every country on the planet.
“If we are going to realise this great opportunity, countries, producers and the international system must come together to prioritise vaccine supply through COVAX. Our collective future, literally, depends on it.”
Approved Ibom Deep Sea Port, Proposed $1.4B Fertilizer Plant Will Change Akwa Ibom’s Economic Status – Gov. Udom
Akwa Ibom State Government has said the approved Ibom Deep Seaport and the proposed $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia Plant are expected to change the economic status of the state.
The State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, made the assertion in an Easter message to the people of the state.
He maintained that with the recent approval and take off of the federal government’s approved Oil and Gas Free Zone and the ongoing construction of the Sterling Petrochemical Plant at Eastern Obolo, the state would be ready to dump its status as a civil service state.
The governor said the fertilizer and ammonia plants should be supported by all indegenes and residents irrespective of political affiliation because of its capacity to change the economic fortunes of the state.
The governor who commended President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the industrial projects in the state said construction work on the Ibom Deep Seaport would commence very soon.
“In recent past, we have been blessed with life-changing projects such as Sterling Petrochemical Plant in Eastern Obolo, where construction is in an advanced stage.
“Two months ago, the Federal Executive Council, (FEC) approved the license for us to commence the construction of our long desired Ibom Deep Seaport. Work would soon commence on this gigantic project. These are huge achievements for our State and our people.
“Ibom Deep Seaport will open up our economic fortunes; create employment and wealth opportunities for our people and throw open our State as a major maritime hub in our nation.
“We thank the President and the Commander in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) for this kind approval,” he said.
Continuing, Emmanuel said: “About three weeks ago, we signed a $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia plant with our Moroccan counterparts. The plant will again create huge employment and other supply chain activities for our people, which will transform us from a civil service oriented state to a fast industrialising one.
“These are huge achievements that should gladden the hearts of every Akwa Ibomite irrespective of political affiliations.”
He reminded the people of the state that the essence of Easter would be lost if the resurrection of Christ is not allowed to illuminate their souls through love and sacrifice to one another.
“Let the fishermen in the ocean fronts of Mbo, Okobo, Eastern Obolo and Ibeno love one another. Let the farmers in the rice plantations at Ini, Ikono, Ika, Onna and Nsit Ibom love one another.
“Let the civil servants and public servants, politicians in all political parties, members of all denominations, preachers of all faiths, love one another.
“When we let love drive our every action and every thought, when we let it drip from our lips and from our hands, then shall the joy of Easter be complete, and our State shall surely attain the lofty height set for it by our ancestors when they named it Akwa Abasi Ibom State.” the Governor stated.
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