DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — Finance officials at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos said Russia’s war in Ukraine has been a major setback to global economic recovery.
Gita Gopinath, first deputy managing director of the IMF, told a panel on global growth on Wednesday that “a confluence of shocks” is hitting the world.
She says there is a cost of living crisis as prices for fuel, food and other basics soar. On top of that, central banks are raising interest rates to combat high inflation, China is experiencing a slowdown amid COVID-19 lockdowns, and the real estate sector is facing weaknesses.
European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said the war in Ukraine revealed that the problems are particularly acute in Europe.
During a panel titled European unity in a messy world?, she said: “Europe is 20% more open to vulnerabilities in global value chains” than other global markets. For this reason, says Lagarde, “it is not surprising that the breakdown and bottlenecks of global value chains affect European companies and us more than others”.
The World Economic Forum has unveiled an initiative to develop the Metaverse, a virtual reality construct that many tech companies are betting will be the next big thing for the internet.
The Metaverse will merge virtual life with real life and create endless new playgrounds and workspaces for users equipped with virtual reality headsets, augmented reality glasses, smartphone apps or other devices.
The forum said Wednesday it will work with businesses, regulators, civil society and academic experts to help define and build the metaverse. The focus will be on the governance of the metaverse as well as the creation of economic and societal value.
During a roundtable on the Metaverse, Chris Cox, chief product officer of Facebook parent company Meta, said he considered the need for standards and governance. Meta is betting big on the Metaverse as the next big source of business growth.
He says there will “probably be something like a rating system” for movies, music, and other content in the metaverse so that parents and youngsters “can get an idea of the rules in the environment in which they will enter”. ”
Cox compared it to entering a bar versus a playground, each of which has a “different expectation” of the rules that govern those places.
A senior Saudi official has touted a dual strategy of increasing oil production capacity for overseas export while advocating for domestic emissions reductions in line with Saudi Arabia’s net zero commitment.
Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal al-Ibrahim told a panel at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos that “these two points do not contradict each other”.
He said Wednesday that focusing on climate change without focusing on energy security could cause more countries to burn “the dirtiest kind of coal when needed.”
Climate activists and many scientists and energy experts argue the opposite, arguing for an immediate end to increased investment in fossil fuels to prevent global temperatures from rising further.
Al-Ibrahim said that “oil energy demand will continue to rise and rising oil prices and revenues will help the country reach its 2060 net zero goals faster.
The World Economic Forum and leaders of some of the world’s largest companies announce an expanding partnership to power green technology.
The First Movers Coalition includes companies that make significant purchases around green technologies and down their supply chains. The idea is to send market signals that lead to more investment and the scaling up of technologies such as green steel, green hydrogen and carbon capture.
On Wednesday, US climate envoy John Kerry was joined by Bill Gates, Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff, Google CFO Ruth Porat and several others to announce in Davos that the number of companies had risen from more than 30 to 55.
Sweden, India, Japan, Denmark, the United Kingdom and other countries have also joined the partnership, initially launched by the United States and the World Economic Forum.
Gates says that “so many green products have a higher price tag” compared to established fossil fuel technologies and that “the way you get rid of them is to increase production.”
The world’s top climate scientists warn that greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut sharply this decade to keep the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 F) since pre-industrial times.
The CEO of Ukraine’s largest private energy company has said he will not buy energy from Russia while he is in charge and insists the European Union can start catching up with its ” terrible mistake” to become dependent on Russian oil and natural gas by buying energy from Ukraine.
Maxim Timchenko of the DTEK Group told The Associated Press at the World Economic Forum gathering in Davos that consumption of its services in Ukraine has fallen by 35% since the Russian invasion on February 24. He says some of that excess electricity could be shipped to Europe.
Millions of Ukrainians fled their homes during the war, which also disrupted business operations and their electricity needs.
Hours before war broke out, DTEK disconnected from the networks in Belarus and Russia as part of a trial, and Timchenko says he did not reestablish the connection. In mid-March, he said the company had “synchronized” with the EU network, but only in “emergency mode”.
He says that this does not allow the country to derive income from the export of electricity and that “Ukraine needs this income to support the financial stability of our energy system”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said his country will not give up its territory to end Russia’s war.
Speaking via video link Wednesday at a “Ukrainian breakfast” at the World Economic Forum rally in Davos, Zelenskyy said he did not believe Russian President Vladimir Putin fully understood what was happening in Ukraine. .
Responding to a question from CNN’s Fareed Zakaria about the possibility of negotiating an end to the conflict, Zelenskyy said through an interpreter that “Ukraine is not going to cede our territory. We are fighting in our country, on our land.”
He added that this is not a war against anyone but “for our land, for our freedom, for our independence and for our future”.
As a first step in diplomatic negotiations, Zelenskyy said Russia should demonstrate its desire to engage in talks and “should demonstrate at least something like steps to withdraw its troops and equipment to the position by February 24.” , when the invasion began.
Pfizer says it will provide nearly two dozen products, including its top-selling COVID-19 vaccine and treatment, at not-for-profit prices in some of the world’s poorest countries.
The drugmaker announced the program Wednesday at the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland, and said it aims to improve health equity in 45 low-income countries. Most of the countries are in Africa, but the list also includes Haiti, Syria, Cambodia, and North Korea.
The products, which are widely available in the United States and the European Union, include 23 drugs and vaccines that treat infectious diseases, certain cancers, and rare and inflammatory diseases. Company spokeswoman Pam Eisele said only a small number of drugs and vaccines are available in all 45 countries.
Eisele says New York-based Pfizer will charge only “minimal” manufacturing costs and distribution expenses. He will comply with all penalties and all other applicable laws.
This month, the head of the World Health Organization called on Pfizer to make its COVID-19 treatment more widely available in poorer countries.
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