The World This Week

Our editors give us the breakdown of this week’s biggest news stories

United Kingdom: Ryan Morrice 

Over 200 cases of coronavirus have now been confirmed in the UK. A man in his 80s and a woman in her 70s were the first deaths linked to the virus in the UK.

The government announced it would give three more days of sick pay to workers who have to self-isolate due to the coronavirus. Chancellor Rishi Sunak also said that “the NHS will get whatever resources it needs to get us through this crisis.” He is due to announce the government’s new budget on Wednesday.

The impact of the coronavirus on the economy has been limited so far, with the only major casualty being the collapse of the airline Flybe as people began to travel less. Flybe had already struggled to turn a profit in previous years.

Government analysis revealed that the potential benefit of a US trade deal could be between 0.02% and 0.36% of GDP. This led to a fresh round of criticism over the government’s Brexit strategy, as most analyses suggest that GDP could fall by several percentage points after the Brexit transition period ends.

Americas: Alex Watt 

Acting US Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney has been replaced by North Carolina lawmaker Mark Meadows. His long-rumoured removal from the position has manifested itself as a switch to US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland. Mr Mulvaney had appeared to implicate the President with a casual remark shrugging off corruption criticism over an alleged deal with Ukraine by saying “We do that all the time”

Former US President Bill Clinton has claimed his affair with Monica Lewinsky was a means of managing ‘anxieties’. The President made the remarks to Hulu during their work on a documentary series on the public life of 2016 Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Former Brazillian footballer Ronaldinho appeared in a Court in Paraguay alongside his brother on Sunday, over allegations they used fake passports to enter the country. The former Barcelona player had had his Brazillian and Spanish passports confiscated in July 2019 over unpaid taxes and for not paying fines for illegally building on a protected nature reserve in Brazil.

Africa: Camille Capelle 

South Africa’s economic recession is becoming increasingly apparent with nationwide power outages. As the continent’s most industrialized nation, South Africa’s failure to meet energy its requirements are a worrying indicator of the country’s economic performance. 

Angola has accelerated its push towards privatization of state-owned companies, having put up 195 companies for sale. 

Again, coronavirus remains consistent headline news, especially as misinformation and fake news on social media cause more panic and confusion. While Africa has not yet experienced a major outbreak, there is concern over the ability of countries with lacking health infrastructure to cope.  

Asia: Max Dowden

This week, conflict erupted within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, as Russia (an allied country to the OPEC organization) refused the calls of Saudi negotiators to cut oil production following the radical fall in demand due to Coronavirus. The Saudis were hoping to boost prices through lowering global oil supplies in a bid to prop up their hydrocarbon dependent economy, but Russian diplomats refused to budge. It is believed that president Vladimir Putin hopes to see lower oil prices, as this could potentially hurt domestic US shale producers (a major competitor to the Russian oil industry).

Meanwhile, concerns have begun to simmer that the Japanese government may be forced to postpone or cancel the 2020 Tokyo Olympics thanks to pandemic fears. This would be the first time an Olympics has been canceled since the Second World War. Finally, the landmark peace deal signed between the United States and the Taliban in Afghanistan has already broken down, with widespread fighting resuming throughout the country after a controversial American rocket attack and subsequent Taliban retaliation strikes. 

Middle East: Luca Delpippo 

In what could be perceived as a power grab for Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, three members of the Saudi Royal family have been put under arrest, bringing into question the health of King Salman.

Uncertainty continues to surround the Lebanese economy, with Lebanon’s state prosecutor overturning a freeze on the assets of 20 banks, a freeze made with no explanation of criminal charges or suspicions. This comes as Lebanon’s $1.2bn Eurobond Payment is due on the 9th of March, with uncertainty as to whether the government will default.

Iran has tripled its supply of enriched uranium, according to an IAEA report obtained by the Financial Times.

Turkey and Russia have agreed to a ceasefire in the Idlib province of Syria, as Turkey have reserved the right to use force against pro-Assad troops if they were to be attacked, with Turkey and Russia backing opposing sides and Assad claiming to take back “every inch” of Syria.

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