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Corporate DispatchPro

Issue No.23| September 2021

Corporate DispatchPro The Journal of CI Group

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Issue No.23 | September 2021

Corporate DispatchPro The Journal of CI Group EDITORIAL TEAM Managing Editor - Jesmond Saliba Editor – Nathanael Muscat CONTRIBUTORS Denise Grech Ed Cropley Jennifer Saba Jesmond Saliba Dr Julian Zarb Robyn Mak Sharon Lam PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Laura Grima Shirley Zammit DESIGN TEAM Matthew Borg Nicholas Azzopardi

CONTENTS Where is Afghanistan?

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Month in Pictures

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A break from tourism

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A place for the community

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Travelling with Covid-19

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Malta Insights

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Malta News Roundup

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Member states may not always fully respect fundamental rights in migration, MEP says

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The EU still feels far away and complicated

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Maersk’s green ships have first-mover disadvantage

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Xiaomi is primed to scale Mount Microchip

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Pfizer makes good on Covid M&A capacity

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SOURCES

Published By

ADDITIONAL SOURCES

Design Produced

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Corporate DispatchPro Cover Story

Where is Afghanistan? Google searches for Afghanistan exploded by ten times in August as foreign affairs made a rare foray into mainstream news across the globe. The Taliban stunned the world with its rapid takeover of the South Asian country, the second time in 25 years. The intelligence community was aware of the risks but expected the US-trained and equipped Afghan forces to hold down the Taliban for at least 18 months. Instead, the army capitulated without a fight and the Islamist group captured Kabul in less than three months. The turn of events left the US and its allies to coordinate a complicated exit in a hostile environment and against a nearimpossible deadline. Tens of thousands of foreign nationals and Afghan citizens are scrambling to flee the country before the door shuts on them on August 31. To the Afghan people, this is the fifth major shift in five decades. The country was declared a republic when a non-violent coup abolished the monarchy in 1973, but unrest soon gripped the country and another coup – a bloody one this time – installed a new MarxistLeninist administration by 1978. The new revolutionary agenda clashed with traditional Islamic values that had flourished for centuries and the discontent spread to almost all provinces. The tension led Soviet Russia to cross the border and invade its southern neighbour in 1979, at the height of the Cold War. Wary of the threat posed by the Red Army in the region, the United States threw its support behind some factions of the Mujahideen openly fighting the new occupiers. The situation led to untold 3

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Corporate DispatchPro killings and destruction, robbing the Afghans of a whole decade until the USSR finally withdrew from the territory in 1989. The country made up of 14 different ethnolinguistic groups and many more tribes, was thrown into a civil war while other forces in the region sought to impose their influence on the outcomes of the violence. Around the mid-1990s, an Islamist movement emerged as a new powerful force in southern and central Afghanistan. The Taliban, as the politico-religious group came to be known, mounted a swift assault on the capital, Kabul, and eventually conquered it in 1996. The new rulers enforced a degree of authority that extended to most of the country, but the international community was growing anxious that the Taliban was harbouring new jihadist networks, among them Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. The 9/11 attack was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Within less than a month, a US-led operation launched military strikes against the Taliban, overthrowing the regime. The counterterrorism effort soon transformed into a reconstruction project and the US is believed to have poured over $2 trillion into the country in the last 20 years. In 2020, President Donald Trump negotiated a peace deal and agreed to take America out of Afghanistan. His successor, Joe Biden, announced that all troops would be withdrawn before September 11. The events in the last few weeks have drawn the world into Afghanistan just as international forces were getting out. The dramatic changeover is all but an old story to many Afghans, who have grown to understand that any political system is a temporary and fragile arrangement. And yet, that repeated story only hints at an uncertain future.

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RESIDENTS FLEE AS FIRES REACH ATHENS SUBURBS Yorgos Papaioannou spent four hours using a garden hose to try to save his newly-built home from a blazing wildfire, until police patrolling his suburb north of Athens ordered him and his girlfriend to leave.

PERSEID METEOR SHOWER OVER KUKLICE Two hundred stacked digital images of long exposures show Perseid meteors crossing the sky over the stone pillars in Kuklice, near the eastern city of Kratovo, Republic of North Macedonia.

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Corporate DispatchPro CARGO SHIP ‘CRIMSON POLARIS’ BREAKS IN TWO A handout photo made available by Japan’s 2nd Regional Coast Guard Headquarters shows Panamanianflagged cargo ship ‘Crimson Polaris’ off Hachinohe port in Aomori Prefecture, northeastern Japan.

FIREFIGHT INVOLVING WESTERN FORCES AT KABUL AIRPORT An Afghan guard was killed in a firefight at Kabul airport when Afghan guards exchanged fire with unidentified gunmen which also involved U.S. and German soldiers.

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MESSI GETS HERO’S WELCOME IN FRANCE Six-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi received a hero’s welcome after flying to France on Tuesday to join Paris Saint Germain (PSG) following his shock departure from Barcelona.

MIDNIGHT HAWKS IN ACTION AT THE LOTOS GDYNIA AEROBALTIC 2021 The Finnish Air Force ‘Midnight Hawks’ aerobatic team perform during the air show ‘Lotos Gdynia Aerobaltic 2021’ in Kosakowo, north Poland.

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Corporate DispatchPro U.N. CLIMATE REPORT URGES CUTS TO METHANE EMISSIONS In four decades of climate negotiations, the world has focused intensely and exclusively on the most abundant climate-warming gas: carbon dioxide. A new report by the United Nations now recommends reduction in methane.

U.S. TO EXPAND EVACUATION FLIGHTS FROM KABUL The U.S. State Department is expected to announce that its evacuation flights out of Kabul will now be able to land in Europe because of an overflow of people in Qatar.

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SHARK SWIMS CLOSE TO A BEACH IN BENIDORM A blue shark swims near of the coast in Poniente beach, in the touristic city of Benidorm, eastern Spain. Authorities closed the beach as they try to take the shark to deep sea.

HUMAN REMAINS FOUND IN LANDING GEAR OF MILITARY FLIGHT FROM KABUL The U.S. Air Force said that it was investigating the circumstances surrounding human remains that were found in the wheel well of one of its C-17s that flew out of Kabul amid the chaos of the Taliban taking over the Afghan capital.

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Corporate DispatchPro WILDFIRE BREAKS OUT EAST OF ROME Residents were evacuated from small communities around 40 km east of Rome when a wildfire broke out as the Italian capital faced extraordinarily high temperatures.

SICILY RECORDS EUROPEAN RECORD TEMPERATURE OF 48.8°C Temperatures reached 48.8°C in the province of Siracusa according to Sicily’s SIAS agency in what looks set to be a new European record.

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Corporate DispatchPro Editorial

A break from tourism In just one year, global tourism dropped by 70 per cent, sending figures back to what they were 30 years ago.

One of the first actions by governments the world over, when the coronavirus shifted its epicentre from China to Italy, was to seal off their borders to prevent Covid-19 imports. Clearly, enough roaming had taken place in the eight weeks between the first reported cluster in Wuhan and the first official case in Lombardy that an immediate travel ban could not stop the virus from surging in every part on the planet. Admittedly, the virus may have been creeping in different regions well before the alarm was raised at the end of 2019. International tourism experienced its lowest season in decades, sending shockwaves across economies. More importantly, it raised questions about the direction the sector was heading in. The empty hotels and unsubscribed tours laid bare a type of tourism that promises escapism rather than immersion. Leisure travel, which accounts for the largest share of tourism, serves more to distance tourists from their ordinary lives than to bring them closer to a destination. Tourism as a form of entertainment, undoubtedly, offers plenty of advantages. But it also risks building an artificial superstructure of experiences that accommodate the preferences of generic tourism at the expense of local resources and ways of living. Mass tourism, in particular, has a long-term damaging impact on environmental and cultural wealth. 13

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Corporate DispatchPro The flourish of local life in towns and cities during the pandemic opens the horizon to a more responsible tourism that is sensitive to the particularisms of a destination. Tourism that is integrated into the local community may tolerate a smaller capacity, but it presents greater opportunities for diversification, shaping associated industries into fairer and more sustainable activities. As countries find ways to live with the coronavirus, tourism is expected to reemerge as the powerful sector we know it. But before we restart that engine, we need to ask ourselves whether we want a repeat of the last three decades by 2050. JESMOND SALIBA

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Corporate DispatchPro DR JULIAN ZARB

A place for the community A fifth of the world’s population travelled for tourism purposes in 2019. That year, the United Nations World Trade Organisation estimated a record total international expenditure of $1.4 trillion in the sector.

Global tourism has been on an impressive upward trend for decades until the Covid-19 pandemic interrupted the flow in one fell swoop. Last year, all regions around the world registered negative growth in tourism activities, falling sharply by a combined 63.5 per cent. The viral wave washed away established operators and put industries such as airlines and hotels on the brink. The knock-on effects on economies will take years to dissipate. But economics is only one side of tourism. The activity is, in essence, a socio-cultural phenomenon and, although, it drives economic growth, creates jobs, and raises living standards in many countries, tourism cannot be reduced to a mere export. Tourism is a meaningful exchange between visitors and a host community, an authentic experience of hospitality. As opportunities for financial gain broadened, tourism developed into a string of prepackaged activities, often bypassing the local community. Towns and cities where residents live were recast into a parallel existence as sites and destinations inhabited by tourists. The success of tourism is not measured by the dollars it leaves behind but by the authentic sense of place that it creates for both residents and visitors. Host communities are not just sitting tenants: the destination is theirs and they are an integral part of the visitor experience. At the same time, inbound tourism can also be directly beneficial to the quality of life of residents, not only to businesses in the sector. 17

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YOUR PURPOSE IS YOUR BIGGEST ASSET

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Corporate DispatchPro Places that cultivate a sense of belonging among locals, in their turn, enrich the visitor experience, so tourism strategies should seek to upgrade the life of locals before planning its touristic projects. Concerns about the multiple impacts of mass tourism in the last years gave rise to a worldwide movement for responsible tourism, but large volumes of visitors appeared too great a temptation for decision-makers to apply more sustainable models. The shock of the pandemic, which tourism ironically helped to spread, finally provided the right opportunity for relevant stakeholders to reimagine this crucial activity and design a more inclusive future for it. An integrative approach to tourism makes room for local communities alongside authorities and businesses. Policymakers are, by nature, more interested in short-term results and strategies related to the sector rarely consider deeper effects on local quality of life, the environment, and culture. Sustainable tourism, on the contrary, requires a shift in mindset to incorporate the intangible elements of a destination and think about the host community first. Places that cultivate a sense of belonging among locals, in their turn, enrich the visitor experience, so tourism strategies should seek to upgrade the life of locals before planning its touristic projects. This change in approach means that destinations no longer need tourism managers but managers for tourism who can look beyond the framework set by purely commercial interests. Community-based tourism is built on the relationship between a host community and visitors, and initial attempts at recovery postpandemic indicate a growing appetite for genuine experiences of local life. A new era of sustainability is transforming tourism into the discovery of a place through its people.

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Corporate DispatchPro

Travelling with Covid-19 The International Air Transport Association declared 2020 as the worst-ever year for aviation globally. Operators are estimated to have lost $85 billion collectively, registering an unprecedented net profit margin of 20 per cent in the negative.

The pandemic felled some of the most popular airline companies worldwide: Flybe in the UK, Miami Air in the US, AirAsia in Japan, and OneAirlines in Chile are but a few examples. Others were in freefall and had to be pulled back by governments, big investors, or acquired by competitors. Virgin Australia was sold to Bain Capital, Kenya Airways secured a multi-million state bailout, Air Canada bought out Air Transat. Grounded airlines, meanwhile, devastated airports. The buzzing corridors filled with a murmur of voices, announcement chimes, and rolling luggage wheels suddenly hollowed out into long, lifeless hallways. Airports Council International was projecting global revenues to reach $200 billion in 2020. Results turned out to be only two-thirds of that as passenger traffic got suspended for much of the year. European airports were the biggest losers, with revenues declining by 70 per cent and dropping some $50 billion along the way. The lowest decrease in revenues occurred in the Asia-Pacific region, but at 55 per cent, it was nothing short of a catastrophe. African airports may have registered the lowest shortfall of under $3 billion, but that change was equivalent to 68 per cent of projected revenues. Lockdowns and safety concerns also left travellers away from navigation. The cruise liner industry was the fastest growing activity in the global tourism sector, surging by a fifth from 2015. Just before the pandemic, analysts predicted a new record of 32 million 21

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Corporate DispatchPro

passengers for 2020 and the industry was valued at a total of $150 billion. The year started strongly, but by the second quarter, bookings plummeted, sending the share prices of the largest operators crashing by about three-fourths in a matter of weeks. Some players kept operating, but a series of infection cases discovered aboard turned many liners into floating quarantine hotels and caused reputational damage to the whole industry. Air and sea travel organisations are nodes in a broader economic ecosystem. Many cities depend on the multiplier effects these generate to sustain their economies and the punch to cruise liners, airlines, and ports was a killer blow to local operators such as transport companies, insurance agents, and accommodation services. But travel companies are not going anywhere anytime soon. While vaccine roll-outs play catch-up with coronavirus variants, the industry is trying to restore consumer confidence and get back on track. The world is learning to move forward; for the time being, travel operators are prepared to take Covid-19 along. 23

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Corporate DispatchPro

ELECTRIC AND HYBRID CARS INCREASE BY A FIFTH IN THE SECOND QUARTER There are 8,376 licensed alternative powertrain vehicles, equivalent to two per cent of the total car stock in Malta at the end of June 2021. Figures by the National Statistics Office for the second quarter of 2021 show that electric and hybrid cars increased by a combined 19.7 per cent from the previous quarter. The number of electric vehicles grew by 28.2 per cent over the period while petrol hybrid and diesel hybrid cars increased by 12.7 per cent and 21.6 per cent, respectively. Comparatively, the volume of petrol-engine cars grew by 0.9 per cent and diesel-engine cars by 0.1 per cent from the first to the second quarter this year. The former, however, make the largest category of powertrains on the roads, adding up to 241,609 by the end of June. Diesel cars totalled 156,365. A net average of 43 vehicles were added to Malta’s car stock every day between April and June; 56.8 per cent of the three-month total were passenger cars. Motorcycles, e-bikes, and PA-bicycles made another 32.8 per cent of newly licensed vehicles. INTERNAL TOURISM ACCOUNTS FOR 90% OF GOZO VISITORS IN 2020 Domestic tourism between Malta and Gozo rose to 360,460 in 2020, an increase of 52 per cent from 2019. Data by the National Statistics 25

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Corporate DispatchPro Office shows that nearly 97 per cent of tourism flowed towards the Gozo region which includes Comino. The number of tourists from Malta to Gozo rose to 348,000, higher than 227,000 in 2018 and 215,000 in 2019. Tourism in the other direction fell to 12,000 from 22,000 in 2019 and 18,000 in 2018. Total tourist nights stood at 1,064,868, an increase of 72 per cent yearon-year, while the average length of stay also grew from 2.6 days to 3.0. The rise in visitors and nights pushed the combined expenditure to €59.4 million, up 51 per cent from the previous year even though per capita expenditure decreased by €1 to €165. PRODUCER GOODS SUSTAIN MONTHLY RISE Industrial producer prices in June rose for the fourth consecutive month, registering an increase of 0.36 per cent from May. The total producer price index stood at 110.88 in June, up from 108.90 in February according to figures by the National Statistics Office. In the last year, the index has only recorded back-to-back increases once, with rises in November and December 2020. Compared with June last year, intermediate goods made the highest gains among the main industrial groupings, up by 3.22 per cent, followed by consumer goods (+2.69%). Capital goods grew by 0.31 per cent while no change was registered in the energy sector. The only month-on-month increase was observed in intermediate goods (+0.96%), offsetting the decrease of 0.21 per cent in capital goods. There was no change in consumer goods and energy. WOMEN IN LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYMENT INCREASE BY 10 PER CENT The overall rate of unemployment among women fell from 1,698 in June 2020 to 569 in the same month this year. Figures by the National Statistics Office show that the number of women listed on the unemployment register for under 21 weeks dropped by 81.5 per cent year-on-year. On the other hand, the rate of women on the register for 21 weeks and over grew by 9.9 per cent.

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Corporate DispatchPro Just over 280 women were on the register for more than 21 weeks as of June 2020, 159 of whom registered for more than a year. The rate of registered unemployment among men decreased across all spans. Men on the register for less than 21 weeks numbered 1,836 in June 2020, plunging to 445 a year later. From a combined 745 men in long-term registered unemployment last year, figures fell by 9.5 per cent in the 21-52 weeks category and by 4.3 per cent in the over-52-week category. Total registered unemployment was 59.9 per cent lower in June 2021 compared with the same month in 2020, falling from 4,270 to 1,711. FRANCE EMERGES AS BIGGEST TOURISM MARKET Total visitors from arriving from France reached nearly 13,000 in June this year, the highest number of tourists from any single country. Figures by the National Statistics Office show an inflow of 70,300 travellers during the first month of summer, with EU travellers making 88 per cent of total arrivals. Italy was the second largest market as Malta hosted 11,265 tourists from the peninsula for a combined 136,197 nights. Italians, in fact, registered the longest total stay, followed by French nationals with 100,868 nights. Tourism from the UK accounted for 4.7 per cent of the total arrivals and almost 40 per cent of non-EU markets. Tourists from outside the EU spent an average of €1,286 per capita during their stay, higher than the average of €813 spent by visitors from within the EU. Average per capita expenditure by tourists from the UK was €927. Travellers from Germany registered the highest per capita spend among the main EU markets, averaging €1,032, followed by €824 by French tourists. Italian and Polish were the lowest spenders, with an average expenditure per capital of €684 and €665, respectively. 29

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Malta News ROUNDUP ENEMALTA CEO SAYS HEAT EXPOSED NETWORK’S WEAKNESSES Enemalta’s CEO has apologised for power cuts that have left swathes of households without electricity for hours on end.Addressing a press conference, CEO Jason Vella attributed the outages to weaknesses in Enemalta’s distribution network that had been exposed and exacerbated by the heat and the ensuing rise in demand. YORGEN FENECH TO STAND TRIAL FOR CARUANA GALIZIA MURDER The Attorney General has filed a bill of indictment against Yorgen Fenech, accusing him with complicity in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia and of criminal association. The prosecution is seeking a life sentence. POPULAR MEDICINES NO LONGER AVAILABLE DUE TO BREXIT The United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union has led some Maltese pharmacies to run out of popular products. This is because the UK is now considered a third country by the EU and is no longer part of the single market for pharmaceuticals. MIGRANTS SAY THEY WERE PUT IN SOLITARY CONFINEMENT AND BEATEN UP An Egyptian man is claiming he was stripped to his boxers and put in solitary confinement for four days after informing a detention officer he was served food that he said made him sick. Another man, a Moroccan national, said he was handcuffed and beaten by an officer. MALTAPOST WAIVES PROCESSING FEES FOR DELIVERY OF ITEMS WITH PRE-PAID VAT MaltaPost has opted to waive processing fees for items that have had VAT paid at checkout, with the postal company saying the change will cut costs and speed up delivery of online goods bought from outside the EU.

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Corporate DispatchPro MOODY’S CHANGES MALTA OUTLOOK TO NEGATIVE BUT KEEPS RATING UNCHANGED Ratings agency Moody’s has confirmed an A2 stable rating for Malta, however, it also reviewed downwards its outlook for the island from stable to negative. In its most recent update, it blamed the negative outlook on the government’s debt burden, the Financial Action Task Force’s greylisting and risks linked to the recovery of the tourism sector. DECISION TO SEPARATE TURKISH MOTHERS FROM CHILDREN OVERTURNED A court overturned an effective prison sentence for two Turkish mothers who were separated from their young sons and jailed for using forged passports. The mothers had been caught at the airport with forged ID cards and sentenced to protect children and political refugees. HARBOUR REGENERATION PLAN LAUNCHED The redevelopment of Marsa’s former power station area is part of an ambitious Grand Harbour Regeneration plan, which focuses on maximising the contribution of the port and creating new opportunities for the communities that live around it. TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS INCREASED BY ALMOST 60% IN SECOND QUARTER Traffic accidents increased by almost 60 per cent in the second quarter of 2021, new data has shown, potentially reflecting the impact of the pandemic on transport. A total of 3,594 traffic accidents reported were during the second quarter of 2021, up by 59.4 per cent compared to the number of accidents reported during the same period in 2020. EXPERT TEAM TO BOOST DRIVE ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS Malta is intensifying its efforts to reach sustainable development goals as it appointed a team of experts made up of technical officers to identify gaps. These technical experts, representing different ministries, will give impetus to the country’s goal to reach the 17 goals by 2030. 33

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Member states may not always fully respect fundamental rights in migration, MEP says “There is some good reason to believe that Member States might not fully respect fundamental rights when it comes to migrants, Member of the European Parliament Birgit Sippel said. The German MEP is rapporteur in the European Parliament on the Migration and Asylum Pact Regulation on the ‘screening’ of migrants at the EU’s external borders who will have to pass through security checks for five days before being redirected to an asylum or return procedure. Sippel said that there should be monitoring that was not only organised by the Member States and their authorities, but if they had the support of an organisation such as the Fundamental Rights Agency. States should also allow NGOs and lawyers to enter places where screening and asylum procedures are carried out to report on the actual situation. Sippel said she understands why Southern countries, including Malta, could see the directive as another additional obligation. “The impression given by the proposals is that, in the countries of first arrival, they will have to accommodate people who are arriving, do the screening, do the asylum procedure,” she said.

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Corporate DispatchPro “In cases where people don’t get asylum, they will have to do the return procedure. So people will continue to stay in this country,” Sippel added. “And even for those who get an asylum status, there is nothing foreseen in terms of mandatory scheme or relocation. So everything is happening in the country of first arrival. I do understand that they want to see some more binding elements of solidarity,” she explained. Sippel believes that it is time to try to move forward with “the most serious countries” on Asylum Pact rather than seeking consensus at all costs. “Perhaps we should not try desperately to convince all Member States; maybe it’s better to have a result with a big number of Member States, but not with all of them,” she said.

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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The EU still feels far away and complicated The EU still feels far away and complicated for citizens, companies, and even for political parties and government sometimes, MEP Abir Al-Sahlani said.

The Renew MEP said that she wishes to point the many ways in which the EU has an impact on everyday life by showing people that their views matter. She was speaking ahead of the conference on the Future of Europe, a citizen-led series of debates and discussions that will enable people from across Europe to share their ideas. Al-Sahlani said she will focus on the rule of law, fundamental rights and migration. “From the start our political family has set out to give European citizens a direct say on the Europe they want,” she said. “So naturally, we want to listen to all the input our voters and supporters are giving us, and in the end their priorities will be our priorities. Let’s not forget this Conference is meant to be a unique and groundbreaking exercise in continental participative democracy,” AlSahlani added. The Future of Europe conference is the first time that the EU institutions have started a process that involved citizens from the start in this way, Al-Sahlani said.

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“In order for the EU to have a bright future, we must make sure that the EU is working for everyone, and everyone means all 500 million of us living across Europe,” she added. The Conference will be a success to Al-Sahlani if the European Parliament communicates in an open and accessible manner with citizens to achieve a real debate about the EU. The European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission have committed to listen to Europeans and to follow up following the Conference, within their sphere of competences, on the recommendations made.

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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Corporate DispatchPro ED CROPLEY VIA REUTERS BREAKINGVIEWS

Maersk’s green ships have first-mover disadvantage A.P. Moller-Maersk’s laudable environmental haste could land the Danish shipping giant with a first-mover disadvantage. The $53 billion firm is splurging $1.4 billion on eight container vessels powered by “carbon-neutral” methanol. Customers like Amazon. com may well absorb the elevated costs, yet rivals who hold off could sail away with cheaper and greener halos.

Chief Executive Soren Skou’s initiative is undeniably brave – the eight ships in question cost up to 15% more than normal ones, and methanol is at least twice the price of the gloopy bunker oil currently moving the world’s shipping fleet. But it’s necessary. Shipping accounts for nearly 3% of global emissions, roughly the same as aviation, and Maersk is its biggest player. Last year it chucked out 34 million tonnes of climate-warming gases like carbon dioxide. On the first point, Skou has a safety net. If Maersk’s entire fleet had run on methanol in 2019, his $4.5 billion of EBITDA would have been zero. However, clients like Amazon and Unilever are probably happy to fork out the extra to reduce the carbon footprint of the stuff they flog. And the premium is indeed slight. The Hydrogen Council reckons a $60 pair of jeans made in Southeast Asia and shipped to the United States on a methanol-powered boat would be just 29 cents dearer. On the second point, Skou could arguably go further. When they’re afloat in the middle of this decade, the new ships will save just 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent a year, a sliver of Maersk’s total. And burning methanol still produces carbon dioxide, 43

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Corporate DispatchPro the saving grace being that it is recycled from plants, rather than being “new” carbon from deep underground. A better solution is carbon-free fuel like hydrogen or ammonia. The former remains prohibitively expensive – the Hydrogen Council says it will only make commercial sense by 2030 with carbon dioxide taxed at $335 a tonne. But the equivalent figure for ammonia is just $85, only slightly above its current price in Europe and half the estimated break-even cost for methanol. Ammonia’s toxicity is admittedly a problem, and engines that burn the compound are still a work in progress. However, the technology may only be a couple of years away from commercial viability. Skou’s rivals, if they can wait that long, may reap a greener and cheaper harvest.

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Corporate DispatchPro SHARON LAM AND ROBYN MAK VIA REUTERS BREAKINGVIEWS

Xiaomi is primed to scale Mount Microchip Xiaomi’s wiring is nearly ready to include microchips. The $82 billion Chinese company shipped 53 million smartphones in the second quarter, overtaking Apple to become the world’s second-largest producer. With greater heft and official support from Beijing, boss Lei Jun should be closer to fulfilling his microchip dreams. Financial results released on Wednesday underscore how quickly the company has capitalised on the woes of rival Huawei, which has been crippled by U.S. sanctions. Xiaomi, by contrast, is booming. Revenue from the handset division surged 87% in the three months ending June 30 from a year earlier, to $9 billion. Momentum from overseas markets, particularly in Europe where it is now the top-selling brand, has helped Xiaomi gain ground on Samsung Electronics. Lei wants to be the world’s biggest smartphone maker within three years. To overtake the South Korean giant, Xiaomi will need to increase annual shipments by roughly a fifth, according to Daiwa analysts. Bringing semiconductor production in-house would help. The company mostly relies on Qualcomm and others for mobile chipsets, but a global shortage is expected to dock production in the coming months. Moreover, self-developed processors would deliver significant cost and technological advantages. When Apple switched out Intel’s chips for its own in the MacBook last year, savings were estimated to be more than $2 billion by 2022, per research outfit Trefis. Lei has been quietly building up Xiaomi’s semiconductor and manufacturing capabilities. The company unveiled its first microprocessor to much fanfare nearly four years ago, an attempt broadly considered to be unsuccessful. Earlier this year, however, 47

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Corporate DispatchPro it released its own imaging chip. Xiaomi also has stepped up investments into local firms in recent years and increased its allocation to new inventions. As of June, it reported having more than 11,000 staff in R&D, more than 40% of the company’s total headcount. Beijing also could give Xiaomi a leg up. Amid President Xi Jinping’s broader tech crackdown, he has prioritised semiconductors as a strategic industry and is keen to develop homegrown champions. Government funding, subsidies and tax breaks all would be a big help for the capital-intensive industry. All signs point to Xiaomi’s next significant upgrade being chips.

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Corporate DispatchPro JENNIFER SABA VIA REUTERS BREAKINGVIEWS

Pfizer makes good on Covid M&A capacity Pfizer is taking its Covid-19 vaccine cash bounty and putting it to use. The U.S. drugmaker, valued at $273 billion at Friday’s market close, on Monday agreed to buy Trillium Therapeutics for $2.3 billion.

At $18.50 per share, the price represents a more than 200% premium to Trillium’s stock price. That may seem lofty, even by the biotechnology sector’s standards, but Pfizer had already bought a $25 million stake last year and Trillium’s stock was down nearly 60% so far in 2021. It’s also part of Pfizer’s broader strategy to develop its portfolio, even though the present is dominated by the coronavirus: The United States gave its full official approval to the vaccine co-developed with BioNTech to be marketed as Comirnaty read more. Trillium develops treatments for blood cancers like leukemia, which represent about 6% of all cancer cases worldwide last year. Even if the virus is more tenacious than expected, Pfizer has its eye on the future.

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Profile for CDE Publishing

CorporateDispatch Pro - Edition 23  

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