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Corporate DispatchPro

Issue No.14 | Novembr 2020

Corporate DispatchPro The Journal of CI Group

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Issue No.14 | November 2020

Corporate DispatchPro The Journal of CI Group EDITORIAL TEAM Managing Editor - Jesmond Saliba Editor – Nathanael Muscat CONTRIBUTORS Denise Grech Isabelle Micallef Bonello Jennifer Hughes Keith Zahra Michelle Attard Tonna Peter Thal Larsen Robert Cyran Tonio Galea

CONTENTS America makes up its mind

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The world in pictures

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Education without end

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Education for a changing society

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The panacea to a technology enabled future

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Stoking embers in Ethiopia

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Malta Insights

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Malta Roundup

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PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Laura Grima Shirley Zammit

ComuniqEU 45

DESIGN TEAM Matthew Borg Nicholas Azzopardi

Moderna success is a win for poorer countries

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Britain’s Brexit dilemma outlasts its architect

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Walmart sale is nod to Japan

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SOURCES

Published By

ADDITIONAL SOURCES

Design Produced

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Corporate DispatchPro Cover Story

America makes up its mind Georgia and North Carolina were the last states to be called in the US Presidential race, ten days after the election. Democratic nominee Joe Biden won 306 Electoral Votes in total, flipping five states along the way. President Donald Trump improved on his 2016 performance, gaining 1.4 percentage points in the share of ballots, and attracting a huge 73.2 million individual votes. That number is second in the history of US elections only to the 78.9 million popular votes obtained by Biden. The result makes Donald Trump the first one-term President since George H.W. Bush in 1992. That year was also the last time that Georgia had turned blue, delivering a win for Bill Clinton. But unlike Mr Bush, President Trump has refused to concede, instructing instead his personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani to launch a flurry of lawsuits challenging election results in multiple states. Experts, however, are doubtful that the legal actions will have any significant impact on the election results. Influential people in the Republican Party including Sente Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have closed ranks with the President, claiming that the election is not over yet. Others, such as Michigan Representative Paul Mitchell and former Trump advisor John Bolton urged the President to concede. Surveys in the weeks before the election suggesting a big blue wave rising to Congress were wide of the mark, and although Democrats held on to their majority in the House by winning the 218 seats to put them in control, Republicans made inroads and narrowed down 3

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Joe Biden delivered his acceptance speech on November 9th, vowing to work for unity in a deeply divided nation. He placed the fight against the coronavirus as the first priority of his administration and said the effort will be led by scientists.

the gap. In the Senate, the GOP arrived first to the halfway mark with 50 seats secured. The Democrats slightly increased their share from 2018, adding one seat to reach 48. And now it comes back to Georgia for the two seats left undecided. Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Purdue will face run-offs against the Democratic challengers after none of them obtained an absolute majority the first time round. The election will be held in the first week of the new year and the two parties are expected to go all in, pushing the south-eastern state into the centre of the political universe for a second time in as many months. Meanwhile, congratulations to President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris have been flowing in from all around the world including statements by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Turkish President Recep Erdogan, and Saudi King Salman al Saud. China extended its congratulations through a foreign ministry spokesperson, which is still more than Russia’s silence two weeks after the elections. Joe Biden delivered his acceptance speech on November 9th, vowing to work for unity in a deeply divided nation. He placed the fight against the coronavirus as the first priority of his administration and said the effort will be led by scientists. The President-Elect closed his address by reciting the hymn ‘On Eagle’s Wings’ in memory of his deceased son, Beau, and of the victims of Covid-19 across America. 5

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6 MONTHS OLD JOSEPH, WHO DIED IN LATEST MIGRANT TRAGEDY IN THE MED LAID TO REST 6 months old Yusuf (Joseph) Ali Kanneh, exhibited in the mortuary of the cemetery of the island of Lampedusa, Italy, 13 November 2020. The child died in the shipwreck off the coast of the island.

VETERAN DRUMMER OF ITALIAN BAND POOH DIES AGED 72 Stefano d’Orazio, historic drummer of the veteran Italian band Pooh, died aged 72. D’Orazio died in Rome after a career in the world of music, not only as a drummer, but also as a lyricist and singer.

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Corporate DispatchPro LONDONERS HIT THE TOWN ONE LAST TIME BEFORE NEW LOCKDOWN Londoners shrugged off a resurgent COVID-19 pandemic and flocked to pubs and restaurants on Wednesday night, hours before the introduction of a new month-long lockdown across England.

UNDER ITALY’S NEW RESTRICTIONS, RESTAURANTS AND BARS ARE TO CLOSE AT 6PM The Italian government, late at night confirmed a decree to impose more measures nationwide such as shortening the opening hours of restaurants and bars and closing gyms and swimming pools to curb the further spread of COVID-19.

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TRUMP LEADS IN FLORIDA AND OTHER BATTLEGROUNDS, BIDEN COUNTS ON RUST BELT ‘BLUE WALL’ President Donald Trump took the lead over Democratic rival Joe Biden in the vital battleground of Florida and other U.S. swing states on Tuesday, but Biden pinned his White House hopes on Arizona and a “blue wall” of three Rust Belt states that could take days to count their votes.

AUSTRALIA POST BOSS RESIGNS OVER LUXURY WATCHES SCANDAL The boss of Australia Post has resigned after authorising a A$20,000 (£10,500; $14,000) gift of luxury watches to four employees as a work reward. Christine Holgate, chief executive of the national postal service since 2017, had been strongly criticised for what many saw as a waste of public money.

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Corporate DispatchPro MERKEL WARNS OF DRAMATIC CORONAVIRUS SITUATION, CRITICISES POPULISTS WHO SAY VIRUS IS HARMLESS German intensive care units risk being overwhelmed in a few weeks due to a surge in coronavirus cases, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday.“We are in a dramatic situation,” Merkel told the lower house of parliament a day after announcing a circuit-break lockdown to curb the spread of the virus.

FRANCE’S MACRON ANNOUNCES NEW NATIONWIDE LOCKDOWN STARTING FRIDAY TO COMBAT VIRUS OUTBREAK French President Emmanuel Macron has announced a second national lockdown, banning travel between regions. Mr Macron said under the new measures, starting on Friday, people will only be allowed to leave home for essential work or medical reasons. Nonessential businesses, such as restaurants and bars, will close.

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SANTA CLAUS VILLAGE IN ARCTIC CIRCLE ALMOST DESERTED DUE TO CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC Only a few visitors stroll the snow covered but almost empty streets in the Santa Claus village at the Arctic Circle, near Rovaniemi, Finland.Santa Claus village on the Arctic Circle has been struck hard by the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in tourist staying home and leaving the streets of the village almost empty.

FRANCE URGES MIDDLE EASTERN COUNTRIES TO STOP BOYCOTT OF FRENCH PRODUCTS 26TH OCTOBER 2020 France urged Middle Eastern countries to stop retail companies from boycotting French products. The foreign affairs ministry said in a statement that in recent days there had been calls to boycott French products, notably food products, in several Middle Eastern countries as well as calls for demonstrations against France over the publication of satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.

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Corporate DispatchPro TRUMP CARTOON EXHIBITION IN SWITZERLAND Photos from the new exhibition “It’s shaping up for the White House” at the House of Press Illustration (in French Maison du dessin de presse), in Morges, Switzerland.

POLICE, PROTESTERS INJURED AS PROTESTS TURN VIOLENT IN CAMPANIA Naples witnessed a night of violent protests in view of the restrictions in the Campania region, aimed to curb the recent Covid-19 cases spike. Around 11 pm a revolt broke out, in front of the headquarters of the Campania Region, against the announcement of a new lockdown by Governor De Luca.

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Corporate DispatchPro Editorial

Education without end Industry 4.0 is still a realm in the making, but restless keynoters are already heralding the coming of Industry 5.0. Economies will change, societies will adapt, and education systems will fill in the blanks.

Here lies an elementary lesson of the modern era: education equals the addition of future society and economy. Logically, social and economic transformations must mean renewal in the educational sphere, too. Before we indiscriminately dismiss the current schooling process as a relic of the “factory model� established during the industrial revolution period, two important considerations have to be made. Firstly, that the education system has changed radically since the ill-famed Prussian prototype which introduced state-funded compulsory schooling in the late 18th century. Curricula have continued to expand both in specialisation tracks and in learning years from decade to decade. Indeed, the concept of continuing education is today a staple of knowledge-based societies. A second point about the systemic approach to education is that debates about the quality and purpose of schooling have raged fiercely within the education sector since those first experiments with formal teaching. Proponents of different ideas have successfully made the case for specially-trained teachers, for methods that stoke critical thinking, and for new technologies that facilitate learning. Education is not a static arrangement. While the basic formula of a ladder of classes has persisted through the centuries, the schooling process itself has changed with the evolution of society, the economy, and shared priorities. Seen from another perspective, 13

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Corporate DispatchPro educational transformation has itself driven change in these same areas from one generation to the next. The system is designed to cultivate the skills that are expected to be in demand when students come of working age. Employability and highvalue jobs, in turn, promise to create more prosperous, more dignified communities. But educational reform reveals less about the predicted future and more about the reality today. There is a clear connection between education and the development of societies, but any aspirations to engineer new and improved versions of the economy or the country are contingent on the prevailing values of the time. After all, modifications to the system are implemented by those who have themselves graduated from it. The eagerness to update the educational process is an acknowledgment of the standard of skills and capabilities that a generation feels it lacks as well as the ambitions it harbours. In this sense, the primary objective of education reform is neither the economy nor the country, but the student. JESMOND SALIBA

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Corporate DispatchPro DR MICHELLE ATTARD TONNA

Education for a changing society It is often said that that education shapes social change, but it is also true that social change shapes education. In many ways, education is the space where one generation fades into the next. As the world spins faster and becomes more globalised, the education sector is transforming its methods, focus, and performance. Educators today are more than masters of their academic subjects. The social function of educators has changed drastically and many of the responsibilities that were traditionally carried by households have now shifted to the classroom. More students today seek stability, care, and social affirmation in their educators. At the same time, educational programmes themselves are evolving to match the aspirations and opportunities of the future. Many countries around the world are tailoring new educational systems according to the Sustainable Development Goals set out by UNESCO, giving rise to a global citizenry grounded in diversity and understanding. We find ourselves at an infection point that will not only transform the educational process, but the human story itself. Education is the most effective agent of social mobility because it gives individuals the opportunity to develop their skills and acquire new ones that will help them become engaged members of their communities. But it is unfair to expect everyone to succeed in life simply because they are provided an education; families present children with different networks, cultural milieux, and possibilities. 17

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YOUR PURPOSE IS YOUR BIGGEST ASSET

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Corporate DispatchPro

Students do not all stand on the same starting line and educational journeys need to consider the different backgrounds and circumstances of children. Education is inherently oriented towards an improved future, but there is a danger in building an economy-centric system. Students need to adopt the necessary tools to carve out a living for themselves and the qualifications, knowledge, and skills learned at school contribute significantly towards employability. Economic growth, however, is only a second priority of education. Students need comprehensive development to succeed in areas beyond the purely financial, and subjects such as philosophy, the arts, ethics, music, or literature open new horizons for self-expression and fulfilment. As monolithic populations give way to more heterogenous communities, education is even more vital to the network of relationships that supports social development. The dynamics of the new era require education to be personal in approach but collective in vision. 19

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Corporate DispatchPro ISABELLE MICALLEF BONELLO

Education – The panacea to a technology enabled future The pandemic has accentuated the need for digitalisation in all spheres of society and economy. From home schooling to teleworking to interacting with our older family members to purchasing our daily needs, technology has been the tool that enabled us to wither the discomforts of the pandemic and adopt to a new norm. The relationship between digital technologies and education is quite broad. At one end, technology is a valuable tool for the delivery of education both in class and remotely. On the other end of the spectrum, our education system has to guarantee the right output of graduates and skills in order to sustain the proliferation of use of digital technology in our everyday life and in the way business is conducted. The use of technology for the delivery of education goes beyond online learning. Technology improves the experience of the student while in formal education. At primary level for example, the use of the tablet has greatly increased the availability of learning applications making the teacher – student experience a more interactive one where students can use technology while learning languages, humanities, maths and other non-IT subjects, which until the recent past where delivered only through textbooks. The experience is even more enhanced with interactive boards, the use of technology-enabled applications for the posting of assessments, homework, and other resources. Considered by many a silver lining of the pandemic, the use of technology was pushed further by the contingency of home21

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Corporate DispatchPro schooling and, now, the need to limit the physical interaction leading to online parent’s day meetings and teacher’s development. The pandemic has been a turning point in the use of technology, including in the education sector. What was talked about in the recent years was implemented within a few weeks. The pandemic has driven the online availability of courses at different levels, from vocational to tertiary university degrees. Old, traditional universities with a long history and an international reputation have had to shift their degree programmes online. This is a permanent shift, and as such this online availability has increased the accessibility to audiences who previously had no access to such knowledge. Specialised education programmes offered by universities and other institutions in places away from the home country are now increasingly available. The choice of courses

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via online learning has never been wider. The increase in online educational programmes also led to better price offerings. As a result of the pandemic earlier this year, the 900-year old University of Bologna moved its delivery online reaching its thousands of students. It was a mammoth task done in few days, by an institution who would have taken much more time to shift online, but which now will operate in a future of a hybrid delivery. The ubiquitous use of technology has increased the demand to digital and other skills. As technology is increasingly used in business processes across all economic sectors, from retail to manufacturing, from the financial services industry to hospitality, job descriptions change and employees and new recruits need to be equipped with the right skills to work alongside technologyenabled applications. Although in the past there was the fear that the increase use of technology will result in redundancies, actual

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Corporate DispatchPro As technology is increasingly used in business processes across all economic sectors, from retail to manufacturing, from the financial services industry to hospitality, job descriptions change and employees and new recruits need to be equipped with the right skills to work alongside technology-enabled applications. practice has confirmed that digitalisation leads to new revenue opportunities and a smarter way of doing business, leading to the need of reskilling – often upskilling – of the workforce. The OECD estimates that one-third of the global workforce need re-skilling in the next 10 years. Most primary school children will be in jobs that do not exist today. The solution to keep up with this challenge lies in a nation’s education system. The formal education system has the task of a constant supply of ICT graduates while continuously steering the awareness on the needs of tomorrow, including the perennial challenge of attracting students to the STEM subjects which are calculated to be needed by one-fourth of the jobs in the near future. This output must be complimented by the efforts of the ICT industry and its private certification providers who are key to the acquisition of on-the-job skills and re-skilling of our workforce. While formal education provides the platform, the private industry educational system is key to the continuous upskilling of employees. All the efforts of our educational system in ensuring that the country is ready to adopt new technology, including the smarter applications which are mimicking human behaviour, will be futile unless our workforce embraces lifelong learning. In an increasingly dynamic external environment with global challenges such as climate change, a nation’s competitive advantage is in a constant flux, and the quality of human resources is key to economic performance. The availability of the right skills and the readiness of the workforce to upskill is even more pertinent in an island economy highly reliant on foreign investment and the hospitality industry. The agility of our workforce to adopt to seize new opportunities will be key in a new norm driven by smarter technology-enabled solutions. 25

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Corporate DispatchPro TONIO GALEA

Stoking embers in Ethiopia A year ago, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace after formally ending a two-decade conflict with neighbouring Eritrea. Some weeks ago, the same Prime Minister delivered a televised address to the nation declaring armed action by the state against one of Ethiopia’s own regions, Tigray.

Abiy’s message came after the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) mounted an attack on a federal military base last month, evoking scary memories of the civil unrest that swept through the country in the 1980s. Relations between the government in Addis Ababa and the Tigray region in the northernmost tip of Ethiopia have been frosty ever since Abiy came to power in 2018. Until then, the TPLF had been in effective control of the county’s ruling coalition for nearly three decades. Established in 1975 in reaction to the Marxist junta that ran Ethiopia, the TPLF grew into the most powerful armed group in the country leading the popular uprising that eventually overthrew the dictatorship in 1991. The front morphed swiftly into a political party and dominated Ethiopia’s political scene until voters turned to Abiy in the last elections. The TPLF leadership conceded, but the transition has not been smooth. In September this year, the Tigrayan people ignored warnings by the federal government and held regional polls without permission. The Abiy administration responded by cutting direct budgetary support to the region. Tensions have been rising rapidly, causing alarm across the entire Horn of Africa. Trouble in ethnically diverse Ethiopia could quickly 27

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Corporate DispatchPro spill over into surrounding countries, throwing nations into all-out war. In his TV address, Abiy Ahmed announced a six-month state of emergency but it is doubtful that the time will be enough for the two sides to reach a compromise. The TPLF’s military power is thought to be superior to that of the central government, thanks to decades of combat tradition, and federal troops may be prepared to mutiny and join the Tigrayan cause. Moreover, most of the country’s heavy weaponry is based in Tigray, which was the frontline during the standoff with Eritrea. On the other hand, bordering regions that have longstanding territorial disputes with Tigray might pounce on the opportunity for war. Eritrea in the north, for its part, also bears grudges against the region from which it has suffered rocket attacks and could now be ready to tear up the Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship signed with Abiy. Meanwhile, the central government remains engaged in numerous battles in other states across Ethiopia. Recently, armed separatists carried out a massacre in the Prime Minister’s home region Oromia, just hours after the government moved troops out to position them closer to Tigray. Since the 1990s, Ethiopia has been slowly moving towards a more integrated democracy, but the infrastructure that holds the country together remains fragile. A crisis in Ethiopia, which is home to some 110 million people, could spread beyond its frontiers and destabilise volatile countries such as Sudan and Somalia. The conflict with Eritrea created more than 30,000 refugees. The global pandemic has exacerbated the perils of civil war as the international community is busy dealing with the health and economic wreckage at home. Meanwhile, sabre-rattling between the federal government and the TPLF is threatening to push the whole east of Africa over the edge.

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YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT RATE LOWEST IN A YEAR The rate of unemployment among the 15-24 age group stood at 8.8 percent in September, the lowest in the twelve months under review by the National Statistics Office. Before the September 2020 results, the youth unemployment rate was smallest in July 2020 and September 2019, reaching 9.1 percent in both months. The latest data shows that the overall unemployment rate for September 2020 fell to 4.0 percent from 4.1 percent the month before. Compared with September 2019, the rate increased by 0.4 percentage points. The unemployment rate among women was 4.2 percent, higher than the 3.8 percent registered among men. At the same time, there were almost 1,400 more unemployed men in September than the 4,672 unemployed women. The unemployment rate climbed to 4.5 percent in April and May this year from 3.5 percent in February, before dropping gradually in the following months. The rate stood at a consistent 3.6 percent in the final third of 2019.

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INTERMEDIATE GOODS PUSH PRODUCER PRICE INDEX DOWN The annual variation in the producer prices of intermediate goods dropped by 3.06 percent in September, pulling the Producer Price Index down by 0.99 percent. Data by the National Statistics Office shows that, compared to September 2019, industrial prices for intermediate goods grew by 0.39 for the domestic market but fell by 3.97 percent for the non-domestic market. Total Indices for the domestic market rose by 1.60 percent, registering increases in consumer goods (+4.93%) and capital goods (+0.22%). The industrial capital goods Index for non-domestic markets, also grew by 0.39 percent but consumer goods dropped by 1.95 percent. SOCIAL BENEFITS BILL UP BY â‚Ź63 MILLION THIS YEAR Government expenditure on Social Security Benefits rose by 8.4 percent between January and September compared to the same period in 2019. Figures by the National Statistics Office show an increase in both Contributory and Non-Contributory Benefits, reaching a combined total of â‚Ź816.2 million in the first three quarters this year. 33

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Corporate DispatchPro Contributory Benefits amounted to €670.5 million until September, 75.4 percent of which were allocated for Old Age allowances. The outlay for Contributory Benefits was 9.7 percent higher than the in the corresponding months last year. The Two-Thirds Pension absorbed €377.1 million of the expenditure, the Contributory Benefits category with the biggest number of beneficiaries: 52,595. Non-Contributory Benefits increased by 2.7 percent from 2019 reaching €145.6 million. Family and Children Benefits made 34.5 percent of the total, the largest share, followed by Old Age Benefits (20.3%) and Sickness Benefits (19%). The biggest number of beneficiaries fell under the Children’s Allowance category, with an total expenditure of €29.2 million disbursed to 44,404 beneficiaries. UNEMPLOYMENT REGISTER SHEDS 600 PEOPLE IN SEPTEMBER Registered unemployment stood at 3,385 in September, down from 3,672 the month before. Figures by the National Statistics Office show a decrease in people registering for employment across all age groups. Compared with the same month last year, however, the unemployment register grew by more than double from 1,668. The year-on-year increase was observed among both women and men, and across all age groups. Clerical support workers made up more than a quarter of the unemployment register in September, the highest share among job categories even if it decreased by 0.5 percentage points from August. Occupations in the Professionals category, on the other hand, registered the biggest month-on-month increase climbing to 9.9 percent of total unemployed. The number of unemployed persons looking for work for up to 21 weeks stood at 1,534 in September, less than the 2,080 in August but more than twice the annual average for 2019. 605 people have 35

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been on the register for over a year, seven more than in August but 135 less than the annual average recorded last year. Compared with August 2020, the industrial producer price index decreased by 0.56 percent, recording declines in consumer goods (+1.0%) and intermediate goods (+0.60%). Capital goods rose by 0.02 percent and there was no change in energy production. In August, the Producer Price Index was down by 1.00 from the previous month, the biggest drop registered this year. Inbound tourism dips by over 70 percent in first three-quarters Between January and September, there were 583,776 inbound tourists, a decrease of 72 percent from the same period in 2019. Figures by the National Statistics Office show that expenditure per capita also fell from â‚Ź822 per capita last year to â‚Ź673 this year. In September 2020, inbound tourism fell by more than 80 percent compared with the same month the previous year. A total of 49,966 visited for holiday purposes while 2,074 came for business during the month. Just under 35,000 inbound tourists were from the euro area, with Germany emerging as the biggest market with nearly 11,000 arrivals. The UK accounted for almost nine in every ten non-EU tourists, with 9,375 visitors.

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SEVEN CRUISE LINER CALLS ALL SUMMER There were seven port of calls by cruise ships during the third quarter this year, down sharply from 122 in the same period last year. Figures by the National Statistics Office show a total cruise passenger traffic of just over 7,018; all except two were in transit. The number is a decrease of 97.3 percent from Q3 2019. The average number of passengers per vessel between July and September was 1,003; it was 2,108 in the same quarter the previous year. More than nine in ten incoming visitors were from EU countries, with Italian tourists accounting for 78.9 percent of total passengers. The UK represented the largest non-EU market, contributing to 0.2 percent of total arrivals. Slightly more than a third of passengers were between the ages of 40 to 59, the largest age group as in 2019 and 2018. The 60-79 age group, however, held a share of 12 percent – a marked drop from almost 50 percent in both of the previous two years. On the other hand, the 20 to 39 age bracket rose to the second-largest cohort with 30 percent of total passengers, even if arrivals fell compared to both 2019 (-94.3%) and 2018 (-92.4%). Between January and September this year, there were 47,193 cruise liner passengers, 61 of whom landed while the rest were in transit. In the first nine months of 2019, 118,844 passengers landed and 479,993 were in transit with a combined total cruise passenger traffic of 598,837. 37

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Corporate DispatchPro DENISE GRECH

Malta News ROUNDUP US defence secretary Mark Esper held a brief meeting at Castille in October. Reports said that the Maltese government is under pressure to sign a Status of Forces Agreement for American servicemen, but the Foreign Affairs Ministry denied the claims. MEP Roberta Metsola was elected First Vice President of the EU parliament, the second highest role in the institution. The MEP, who sits with the European People’s Party, described her election as a proud moment for Malta. The CEO of the Malta Financial Services Authority, Joseph Cuschieri, suspended himself following allegations that he travelled to Las Vegas on the invitation of businessman Yorgen Fenech in May 2018, one month into his role.

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The government imposed a 30-day shutdown period on bars and clubs until the end of November. The SME Chamber said that a month is a long time for businesses and called for strong measures to support the affected businesses. The number of Covid-19 victims in Malta has risen to more than a hundred since the beginning of the pandemic in March. The first fatality was announced in April and the 100th death was recorded in November. Opposition MP Jason Azzopardi suspended himself from parliament after admitting to accepting a stay at a Tel Aviv hotel in 2017 paid for by a member of the Fenech business group. The ethics committee within the PN is investigating the matter. The launch of a ‘Christmas in the City’ initiative in Valletta by the Malta Tourism Authority drew sharp criticism from the Medical Association and the Nurses Union. The MTA later clarified that no mass events would be held. The financial crimes department interrogated former chief of staff Keith Schembri and former minister Konrad Mizzi, who spent a night in custody. No official details were given but it was reported that Schembri was questioned about chats with businessman Yorgen Fenech last year. 40

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Corporate DispatchPro Cyrus Engerer was elected to the European Parliament in a casual election to fill the seat vacated by Miriam Dalli. In October, Dalli stepped down from the EP before she was co-opted to the House of Representatives by the government. The Malta Stock Exchange emerged among the worst EU performers in the pandemic, losing some 30 percent since March. The CEO of Mapfre MSV Life plc, David Curmi, said that Maltese investors are ‘suffering silently’. A journalist with The Times reported that he was offered hundreds of euros at the end of a 20-minute meeting with members of businessman Yorgen Fenech’s legal team. Lawyer Gianluca Caruana Curran confirmed the incident but said it was ‘remuneration’ for the journalist’s time. The government announced a new scheme to help SMEs and family business adapt to transformations in the market. Economy Minister Silvio Schembri said the €2.5 million project will facilitate efficiency and sustainability.

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BRIDGING THE INVESTMENT GAP

SUPPORTING SMEs, INNOVATION, INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIAL INVESTMENT

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Corporate DispatchPro KEITH ZAHRA

COVID-SUPPORT

Commission disburses €14 billion in SURE funds The European Commission has disbursed €14 billion to nine EU countries in the second instalment of financial support to Member States under the SURE instrument. As part of today’s operations, Croatia has received €510 million, Cyprus €250 million, Greece €2 billion, Italy an additional €6.5 billion, Latvia €120 million, Lithuania €300 million, Malta €120 million, Slovenia €200 million, and Spain an additional €4 billion. This support, in the form of loans granted on favourable terms, will assist these Member States in addressing sudden increases in public expenditure to preserve employment. Specifically, they will help cover the costs directly related to the financing of national short-time work schemes, and other similar measures they have put in place as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, including for the self-employed. The SURE instrument can provide up to €100 billion in financial support to all Member States. The Commission has so far proposed to make €90.3 billion in financial support available to 18 Member States. The next disbursements will take place over the course of the months ahead, following the respective bond issuances.

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Corporate DispatchPro KEITH ZAHRA

GOVERNANCE

European Parliament warns against abuse of power through Covid-restrictions The European Parliament has warned against “risk of abuse of power” in the light of restrictive measures taken amidst the coronavirus pandemic and called on the European Commission to step up its efforts by taking legal action where necessary. In the resolution, Parliament stressed that such measures must be necessary, proportional and of a temporary nature when they affect democracy, the rule of law, and fundamental rights. National governments should “not abuse emergency powers to pass legislation unrelated to the COVID-19 health emergency”. Furthermore, MEPs called on EU countries to end their “state of emergency”, or at least clearly define the delegation of powers to their executives, and ensure appropriate parliamentary and judicial checks and balances; refrain from unduly restricting the freedom of assembly or banning demonstrations to adopt controversial measures; and refrain from adopting measures that profoundly impact on fundamental rights, at a time where public health concerns do not allow for due democratic debate and safe protest. The resolution’s rapporteur, Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES), said that “this pandemic is turning out to be the worst crisis in the history of the European Union. Nevertheless, the European Parliament is fulfilling its duty towards citizens by fighting for their rights and freedoms, especially where governments are using the pandemic as an excuse to attack EU values. The Commission and the member states must step up their efforts to uphold fundamental rights, democracy and rule of law during this crisis and ensure that governments uphold democratic principles in their measures”.

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Corporate DispatchPro KEITH ZAHRA

GENDER EQUALITY

European Institute for Gender Equality finds increased domestic violence during lockdown In two new studies commissioned by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), researchers identified an increase in domestic violence and exposed overall shaky support systems for victims of gender-based violence. The EIGE also assessed the measures each EU country took to protect women during the pandemic and shows how governments can amplify the role of people witnessing violence. “Women usually face the most danger from people they know. EIGE’s research shows EU governments recognise this: every single country has introduced special measures to protect women from intimate partner violence during the pandemic. Yet persistent under-funding of shelters and domestic violence hotlines has resulted in sometimes patchy support,” said Carlien Scheele, EIGE’s Director in the lead up to the international day to eliminate violence against women. To raise awareness about violence against women and kick-off the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence campaign, important buildings around the world will be lit up in orange. EIGE will light up Europe House in Vilnius on 25 November. In Brussels, the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament, and the European External Action Service will be lit up the same day. The theme of this year’s campaign is Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect! 49

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Corporate DispatchPro KEITH ZAHRA

INTERNAL MARKET

New mechanism to fight barriers to trade in the EU The European Commission has launched a new complaints system for reporting market access barriers and breaches of Trade and Sustainable Development commitments in the EU’s trade agreements and under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences. The new complaints system reflects the Commission’s increased efforts to strengthen the enforcement and implementation of trade agreements. It follows the Commission’s appointment in July of its first Chief Trade Enforcement Officer (CTEO) to oversee its tougher action on enforcing trade policy, as well as the Commission’s 15-point Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) Action Plan of 2018. This Plan reflects the consensus of promoting close long-term TSD engagement, on the one hand, and of stepping up monitoring efforts – and more assertive enforcement – on the other hand. Complaints will be channelled through a new centralised Single Entry Point system in DG Trade to allow for a responsive, focussed and structured process.

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Corporate DispatchPro KEITH ZAHRA

ECONOMY

Eurozone facing doubledip recession The euro zone is on track for its first double-dip recession in nearly a decade, according to a Reuters poll of economists which points to a more muted recovery next year despite expectations for 500 billion euros of additional monetary stimulus. As most of Europe grapples with a resurgence in coronavirus cases, and resorting to new lockdowns and restrictions, forecasters who last month predicted the recovery would continue now expect the euro zone economy to shrink 2.5% this quarter after expanding a record 12.6% in Q3. That is a dramatic turnaround from expectations of 3.1% quarterly growth as recently as July and compares with 2.1% predicted in last month’s poll. Over 80% of economists surveyed by Reuters, or 44 of 55, said a double-dip recession was now underway. “As downside risks continue to materialise and the health situation keeps worsening, it now looks evident the recovery in place in the euro zone economy since May has ended,” according Angel Talavera, head of European economics at Oxford Economics.

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Corporate DispatchPro ROBERT CYRAN

Moderna success is a win for poorer countries Moderna’s success in producing what appears to be a highly effective Covid-19 vaccine is a win for everyone, but especially for poorer countries. The U.S. drug company’s achievement, and Pfizer’s before it, raises the odds that rivals will be able to do the same. The less scarce such drugs are, the sooner hard-hit emerging economies will gain access to them and the quicker their growth will rebound.

Moderna’s success is stunning: The vaccine was 94.5% effective in preventing disease. Perhaps equally important, side effects appeared moderate, and all cases of severe infection occurred among placebo recipients. And unlike Pfizer’s apparently similarly-effective vaccine, Moderna says its drug can be stored in a conventional freezer for six months and in a fridge for up to 30 days. Pfizer’s counterpart must be kept far colder, complicating distribution. Two spectacular results in a row brings up the prospect of more to come. There are 46 other vaccines in clinical trials, according to the World Health Organization, and most target the same part of the virus. That probably increases the chances of further successes. Moreover, the rapid spread of the disease means many trials may finish quicker than expected. Vaccines may soon become plentiful on the ground as a result. Moderna alone expects to produce somewhere between 500 million and 1 billion doses of vaccine next year, albeit patients will need two shots. Pfizer and its partner BioNTech said they expect to produce up to 1.3 billion doses next year. And nearly every other big pharmaceutical firm is readying massive production. The 55

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Corporate DispatchPro

United States alone has ordered 600 million doses from the likes of AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and others. A surplus of vaccines, especially easily distributed ones, will help the developing world. Poorer countries are more likely to be able to buy vaccines, or be given them, if there is an excess supply in rich countries. Some of the same countries that have inadequate hospitals and limited money to spend on public health are also exporters of resources, whose prices fall during economic downturns. Many of these developing economies are also dependent on foreign capital, which can dry up when investors panic. Add it up, and widespread vaccination will remove a big risk factor from emerging markets. 57

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Corporate DispatchPro PETER THAL LARSEN

Britain’s Brexit dilemma outlasts its architect Britain’s dilemma over Brexit will outlast its architect’s grip on power. Dominic Cummings, who masterminded the campaign to leave the European Union, will step down as Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top adviser by the end of the year. Joe Biden’s election as U.S. president makes the prospect of exiting the EU without a trade deal look even more foolish than before. But with just a few weeks left to forge a compromise, that could still happen.

It’s easy to overstate the significance of political advisers. Yet it’s hardly an exaggeration to say that, without Cummings, Britain would probably have voted to remain in the EU, and Johnson would not be prime minister. The departure of such an influential and divisive figure from the heart of government may therefore signal a broader shift in direction. A much stronger reason for Johnson to change tack is the result of the U.S. presidential election. Donald Trump was determined to undermine the EU; Biden views it as an important ally. The former vice president’s victory also means the United States is less likely to prioritise trade talks with the United Kingdom. A deal with America would be no substitute for a UK agreement with the EU but it was symbolically important for Brexit supporters. Johnson has little time to rethink. Without a compromise, Britain will face tariffs and other barriers on all its trade with the EU in just seven weeks’ time. The prime minister has already strained relations with its biggest trading partner by proposing domestic legislation that potentially breaches a legally binding agreement he signed with the EU in January. Even if Johnson backs down, other European leaders will be less trusting of any promises he makes about respecting labour laws or rules governing state aid for businesses. 59

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Stay safe... Stay connected!

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Corporate DispatchPro The coronavirus pandemic has left Britain even more exposed to the economic shock of Brexit without a trade deal. But widespread unhappiness among his party’s backbench parliamentarians mean Johnson is also poorly positioned to sell any compromise. The prime minister has few clear policy priorities beyond his pledge to “Get Brexit Done”. Even though Cummings is going, the worst outcome is still possible.

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Corporate DispatchPro JENNIFER HUGHES

Walmart sale is nod to Japan’s online Suga rush Walmart’s sale of a majority stake in its Seiyu supermarkets is an example of how a global health crisis can accelerate change even in the stodgiest of markets. The U.S. retail giant is offloading 65% to private equity shop KKR and 20% to Seiyu’s Japanese e-commerce partner Rakuten, retaining 15% for itself and valuing the business at $1.7 billion. The new owners are betting that an increase this year in online buying by Japan’s picky shoppers is only the beginning of a good growth story.

The deal ends years of speculation over the future of Seiyu, which has 333 stores. The U.S. titan first invested in 2002 and took the 57year old chain private in 2008. Last year its local head told staff it was planning to list a minority stake. At least this format allows Walmart to benefit from any upside generated by its new partners. Japan’s retailers have long suffered from a shrinking population and years of deflation that have squashed margins. Supermarkets have also contended with customers whose interest in only perfectly fresh produce had made them wary of shopping in fresh ways: A mere 2.5% of total grocery sales were online before the pandemic, according to a Reuters report in June citing industry estimates, compared with 7% in Britain and 15% in China. But online is now a bright spot, accounting for up to 5% of grocery sales since the pandemic began. Sales growth for Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper, the joint venture launched in 2018, grew 30% in its first year of taking over from Seiyu’s solo effort. KKR is new to the Walmart-Rakuten party, but it has history with Rakuten though other joint investments. That will help with what’s likely to be a lively board with representatives of all three. 63

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Corporate DispatchPro The deal comes as Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s new prime minister, has shown himself willing to shake up industries – a push to lower mobile phone bills encouraged NTT to reacquire NTT Docomo for $40 billion - and to spur digitisation of backward-looking sectors. If KKR’s move can capitalise on that as well as changing shopping trends, it may just be able to profit from a sector where so many others struggled.

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CorporateDispatch PRO - Edition 14