News, June 30th

2019 Wiretap Report: Orders and Convictions Increase

Federal and state courts reported a combined 10 percent increase in authorized wiretaps in 2019, compared with 2018, according to the Judiciary’s 2019 Wiretap Report. Convictions in cases involving electronic surveillance also increased.

The report covers wire, oral, or electronic intercepts that were concluded between Jan. 1, 2019, and Dec. 31, 2019, exclusive of interceptions regulated by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. The report is submitted annually to Congress by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

A total of 3,225 wiretaps were reported as authorized in 2019, compared with 2,937 the previous year. Of those, 1,417 were authorized by federal judges, a 3 percent decline from 2018. State judges authorized 1,808 wiretaps, a 22 percent increase from the previous year.

The number of state wiretaps in which encryption occurred continued to rise, with 343 such reports in 2019, compared with 146 in 2018 and 102 in 2017. In 334 of the encrypted state wiretaps reported in 2019, officials were unable to decipher the plain text of messages. A total of 121 federal wiretaps were reported as being encrypted in 2019, of which 104 could not be deciphered.

Portable electronic devices, which includes cell phones, accounted for 94 percent of applications for intercepts. Drug offenses were the most prevalent type of crime investigated using intercepts. Seventy-six percent of all wiretap applications in 2019 cited narcotics as one of the offenses under investigation. Conspiracy was the second-most frequently cited crime (13 percent of total applications), and homicide and assault were the third largest category, cited in 4 percent of applications.

A total of 10,584 people was arrested as a result of wiretap investigations in 2019, up 41 percent from 2018, and 2,699 were convicted in cases involving wiretaps, up 141 percent from the 1,122 people convicted in those types of cases the year before.

The Southern District of New York authorized the most federal wiretaps, accounting for about 5 percent of applications approved by federal judges. Among states, applications in California and New York alone constituted half of all wiretaps approved by state judges.

Federal and state laws limit the period of surveillance under an original order to 30 days. However, the period can be extended if a judge determines that additional time is justified. A total of 2,528 extensions were authorized in 2019, an increase of 87 percent from the prior year.

The Northern District of Illinois conducted the longest federal intercept that was terminated in 2019. One order was extended 13 times to complete a 388-day wiretap. An order in the District of Arizona was extended 11 times to complete a 355-day wiretap in a narcotics investigation.

The longest state-authorized wiretap occurred in Queens, New York, where an order was extended 27 times to complete a 756-day wiretap used in a corruption investigation.

The average cost of a wiretap in 2019 was $75,160, up 13 percent from $67,926 the year before. The numbers include the cost of installing intercept devices and monitoring communications.

The Administrative Office is required by statute to report annually to Congress by June 30 on the number and nature of wiretaps concluded in the prior year.

No report to the Administrative Office is needed when an order is issued with the consent of one of the principal parties to the communication. No report is required for the use of a pen register unless the pen register is used in conjunction with any other wiretap devices whose use must be recorded.

China forcing birth control on Uyghurs to suppress their population

China is forcing women to be sterilized or fitted with contraceptive devices in Xinjiang in an apparent attempt to limit the population of Muslim Uyghurs, according to a new research.

The report, by China scholar Adrian Zenz, was based on a combination of official regional data, policy documents and interviews with ethnic minority women in Xinjiang, the BBC reported on Tuesday.

It alleges that Uyghur women and other ethnic minorities are being threatened with internment in the camps for refusing to abort pregnancies that exceed birth quotas.

It also says that women who had fewer than the two children legally permitted were involuntarily fitted with intra-uterine devices (IUDs), while others were coerced into receiving sterilization surgeries.

“Since a sweeping crackdown starting in late 2016 transformed Xinjiang into a draconian police state, witness accounts of intrusive state interference into reproductive autonomy have become ubiquitous,” the BBC quoted the report as saying.

According to Zenz’s analysis of the data, natural population growth in Xinjiang has declined dramatically in recent years, with growth rates falling by 84 per cent in the two largest Uyghur prefectures between 2015 and 2018 and declining further in 2019.

Responding to the report on Monday, China’s Foreign Ministry said the allegations were “baseless” and showed “ulterior motives”.

Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accused media outlets of “cooking up false information on Xinjiang-related issues”.

But the report has prompted international calls for the UN to investigate.

In a statement on Monday, the Interparliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), an international cross-party group of politicians including Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, and US senator Marco Rubio, called on the UN to “establish an international, impartial, independent investigation into the situation in the Xinjiang region”.

China has faced mounting global scrutiny over its treatment of Uyghurs in recent years.

An investigation by the BBC in 2019 suggested that children in Xinjiang were being systematically separated from their families in an effort to isolate them from their Muslim communities.

China makes ‘notable breakthrough’ in search for vaccine against novel coronavirus: US media

China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences has received approval to conduct human scientific trials of a novel coronavirus messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine candidate developed using advanced genetics technology, signaling “a notable breakthrough for China’s quickly developing pharmaceutical industry,” wrote The Wall Street Journal on June 27.

Approved on June 19, this is the first COVID-19 mRNA vaccine to reach the clinical-trial stage in China, the report said, noting that the new vaccine brings the number of China-developed vaccines given the go-ahead for clinical trials to eight.

A study shows that the COVID-19 mRNA technology uses genetic material that tricks the body’s cells into producing proteins resembling those on the surface of the coronavirus, and which induces an immune response that is supposed to protect a person against exposure to the actual virus.

For this project, the academy is collaborating with private companies Suzhou Abogen Biosciences Co. and Shenzhen-listed Yunnan Walvax Biotechnology Co., according to the Chinese Clinical Trial Registry.

Meanwhile, Moderna Inc. in the U.S. and Germany’s BioNTech started testing their mRNA-based vaccine candidates on volunteers in their respective countries in the spring, it said, adding that no mRNA-based vaccines have been approved for public use by any country to date.

Two other Chinese drug makers, the report noted, are pushing COVID-19 vaccine candidates that have already undergone initial human trials in China into phase-three tests in Brazil and the United Arab Emirates.

According to World Health Organization data, as of June 17, a total of 16 COVID-19 vaccine candidates were undergoing human clinical trials around the world.

Scientists expect multiple vaccines to be on the market, though it is not yet known which vaccine will be most effective, said the report.

Companies prodded to rely less on China, but few respond

The United States, Japan and France are prodding their companies to rely less on China to make the world’s smartphones, drugs, and other products. But even after the coronavirus derailed trade, few want to leave China’s skilled workforce and efficient suppliers of raw materials to move to other countries.

Disruptions from the pandemic, on top of the U.S.-Chinese tariff war, fueled warnings that relying too much on China leaves global companies vulnerable to costly breakdowns in the event of disasters or political conflict.

Drug makers stand out as one industry that is trying to reduce reliance on Chinese suppliers by setting up sources of raw materials in the United States and Europe. But consumer electronics, medical devices and other industries are sticking with China.

“I don’t know of a single company right now that is moving ahead with any plans to move,” said Harley Seyedin, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in South China.

China’s explosive rise as the world’s low-cost factory helped to hold down consumer prices and boosted Western corporate profits. But it has fueled political tension over lost American and European blue-collar jobs. Governments and industry consultants fret that dependence on China can be a threat to supply chains and possibly national security.

Chinese factories assemble most of the world’s smartphones and consumer electronics and a growing share of medical equipment, industrial robots, and other high-tech goods. This country is a dominant supplier of vitamin C and ingredients for antibiotics and other medicines. The ruling Communist Party has spent two decades building ports, railways, telecom networks and other facilities that are regarded as among the world’s best.

“China still offers an unparalleled supply chain for any industry,” said Jit Lim of Alvarez & Marsal, a management consulting firm.

Philip Richardson, who manufactures loudspeakers in Panyu, near Hong Kong, said he has looked at Vietnam and other countries. But he said while their wages might be as low as 60% of China’s, the savings will be eaten up by the cost of giving up his network of Chinese suppliers.

“We gave it consideration for about a minute, and it doesn’t make sense,” said Richardson, who has worked in China for 22 years. “When you buy magnets, now you have to pay for transportation and customs duties into other countries, whereas in China we just buy the magnets and they are shipping to us.”

President Donald Trump took office in 2017 promising to “bring back our jobs.” The next year’s tariff hikes on goods from China in a fight over technology and trade prompted some exporters to shift production. But changes were small. Most went to other developing countries.

The pandemic has raised political pressure for companies to move.

The Japanese government, which sees China as a strategic rival, is offering 220 billion yen ($2 billion) to companies that move production to Japan in a virus aid package announced in April. It offers 23.5 billion yen ($220 million) for Japanese companies in China to move to other countries.

The tariff war prompted concern about China’s dominance as a supplier of active pharmaceutical ingredients, or APIs, used in antibiotics and vitamins. Some American commentators warned Beijing might retaliate by withholding APIs, though was there no sign that happened.

“There will be an increase in the repatriation of national drug supply chains and the re-establishment of national strategic manufacturing capabilities for key drugs,” Sakshi Sikka, who follows the industry for Fitch Solutions, said in an email.

In May, the U.S. government awarded a contract worth up to $812 million over 10 years to Phlow Corp., a Virginia company set up to insure against drug shortages by producing ingredients and generics.

In Europe, French drug maker Sanofi SA is setting up an API supplier to reduce reliance on China. Sanofi says the company will be the No. 2 global producer, with annual sales of 1 billion euros by 2022.

India and Indonesia have announced plans to increase their own production of pharmaceutical raw materials.

Those changes are politically driven and will push up costs, while China’s dominance as a global supplier is unlikely to change in the near future, according to Fitch’s Sikka.

Companies including Nike Inc. that used to make shoes, furniture, clothes, and other low-margin goods in China have been migrating for a decade to Southeast Asia, Africa, and other economies in search of cheaper labor.

For higher-end shoes, however, U.S. import duties would have to rise even further before sites such as Ethiopia or Southeast Asia can compete with experienced Chinese workers and flexible suppliers, said Robert Gwynne, who produces women’s shoes for brands including Steve Madden in Dongguan, near Hong Kong.

“All my clients say, we have to diversify,” said Gwynne. But when shown costs in other countries, “90% take the China scenario.”

Companies also increasingly are tied to China by the appeal of its 1.3 billion consumers at a time when the West’s spending growth is anemic.

Makers of automobiles and higher-value goods are spending billions of dollars to expand Chinese production. As the economy reopened, Volkswagen AG said in May it would spend 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) to buy control of its Chinese electric vehicle venture and a controlling stake in a battery producer.

Instead of using China to export, “now a lot of people are producing ‘local for local,’” said Lim.

Only 11% of companies that responded to a survey by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China said they were “considering shifting investment to other countries,” down from 15% last year.

Some are leaving to cut labor costs, but the rest “are really committed to China,” said a chamber vice president, Charlotte Roule.

Moving factories or finding non-Chinese suppliers to reduce the risk of disruption “means further investment,” Roule said. “Who is going to pay for that?”

Charles M. Hubbs, founder of Premier Guard, which makes surgical gowns, masks, and other medical devices in China, said he is gearing up to produce face masks in Mississippi to avoid problems with shipping. But he said such an approach won’t work once the pandemic ends and prices fall back to normal.

“You can afford it now. People are paying $12 for an isolation gown,” said Hubbs, who has worked in China since the late 1980s. “But when COVID is over, you’re going to go back to $3 or $4.”

Many companies already have pursued a “China plus one” strategy in Asia over the past decade. They set up factories in Southeast Asia to serve other markets or insure against disruption in China, even if that raised their costs.

But as China lifted anti-disease controls on business in March, other Asian economies shut down, forcing companies to shift work back to Chinese factories, which are working overtime to make up the shortfall, said Seyedin.

Some U.S. and other leaders are talking about possible tax breaks or other incentives to lure companies’ home. Trump has threatened to raise taxes on American companies that move from China to any other country but the United States.

Even if tax breaks or subsidies go ahead, companies face the costs of setting up a factory in unfamiliar territory, training rookie employees, finding suppliers and possible disruption to customer relations, said Alvarez & Marsal’s Lim.

“Shifting is not free,” he said.

Government policies providing more than USD 500 billion to farmers every year distort markets, stifle innovation, and harm the environment

The latest edition of the OECD’s annual Agricultural Policy Monitoring and Evaluation report shows that the support policies implemented by the 54 countries studied – all OECD and EU countries, plus 12 key emerging economies – provided on average USD 536 billion (EUR 469 billion) per year of direct support to farmers from 2017 to 2019. Half of this support came from policies that kept domestic prices above international levels; such policies harm consumers, especially poor ones, increase the income gap between small and large farms, and reduce the competitiveness of the food industry overall. At the same time, six of the countries implicitly taxed farmers by USD 89 billion (EUR 78 billion) per year by artificially depressing prices. These policies further added to market distortions.

By contrast, most countries spend comparatively little to underpin the long-term performance of the agricultural sector: across all 54 countries in the report, expenditures for research and development, infrastructure, biosecurity, and other enabling services amounted to just USD 106 billion per year. Subsidies to consumers account for a further USD 66 billion per year. Total support to the sector – comprising aid to producers (USD 536 billion), consumers (USD 66 billion) and for enabling services (USD 106 billion) — therefore added up to USD 708 billion per year. 

Despite productivity gains in the past decades and some recent initiatives to improve the sector’s environmental performance, the overall pace of policy reform has stalled. Support levels have changed little over the past decade and there has been little progress in moving towards instruments that impose fewer distortions on production and trade. As a further consequence, the environmental performance has been mixed. In particular, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture have increased in most countries.

The OECD report also provides information on government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic which include significant relief measures to support consumers, farmers, and other agro-food actors and to keep food and agricultural supply chains moving. While many countries are focused on facilitating trade as part of their efforts to maintain supply chains, some have imposed temporary trade restrictions which can undermine supply in both the short and longer-term. Going forward, the OECD report says, countries should shift to deeper investments in building the long-term resilience of the food and agriculture sectors.

“Globally, more than one of every nine dollars of gross farm receipts continues to flow from public policies. In some countries, it is one in two dollars,” said OECD Director for Trade and Agriculture, Ken Ash. “Governments need to invest in well-functioning food systems – but most current support to agriculture is unhelpful or even harmful. As countries struggle with strained budgets from COVID-19, this is a moment to reduce distorting agricultural support and refocus efforts and limited resources on achieving better results for agriculture and society overall.”

Governments can take a number of policy actions to make their agriculture sector more productive, sustainable, and resilient:

Phase out distortive policies, including price support and budgetary support closely linked with agricultural production and input use.

Reallocate funds toward key public services to the sector for improving productivity, sustainability, and resilience, or to well-targeted support for the provision of public good outcomes such as biodiversity.

Focus on more ambitious environmental outcomes through less distortive, more efficient, and more targeted policies.

The OECD’s  annual Agricultural Policy Monitoring and Evaluation report provides up-to-date estimates of government support to agriculture for all OECD members (including Colombia, which joined the Organization in April 2020) and the European Union as a whole, plus key emerging economies:  Argentina, Brazil, People’s Republic of China, Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Ukraine, and Viet Nam.

On July 16, the OECD and FAO will issue the 2020-2029 edition of the OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook. This will provide a comprehensive medium-term baseline for projections for agricultural commodity markets at national, regional, and global levels, along with an initial scenario exploring COVID-19 impacts. Based on this picture, the report will provide further insights and policy options on how to enable more productive, sustainable, and resilient global agricultural and food systems.

Hard times forecast for global job recovery in 2020, warns UN labor agency chief

The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on jobs has been much worse than expected initially, the head of the UN labor agency said on Tuesday, in an appeal to Governments, workers and employers, to agree on a sustainable economic recovery plan to reduce inequalities laid bare by the pandemic.

Under three possible scenarios for recovery in the next six months, “none” sees the global job situation in better shape than it was before lockdown measures began, the International Labor Organization (ILO) insisted.

“This is why we talk of an uncertain but incomplete recovery even in the best of scenarios for the second half of this year.

So there is not going to be a simple or quick recovery”, said Director-General Guy Ryder, his comments coinciding with new data from the ILO, showing that working hours fell 14 per cent during the second quarter of 2020 –  equivalent to the loss of 400 million full-time jobs.

That’s a sharp increase from ILO’s last estimate, issued a month ago, of a 10.7 per cent drop (equivalent to 305 million jobs) from April to June.

According to ILO’s recovery modelling for the second half of 2020, even the most optimistic scenario assumes that global loss of working hours would fall by 1.2 per cent (equivalent to 34 million full-time jobs), compared with the last three months of 2019.

The agency’s baseline model – which assumes a rebound in economic activity in line with existing forecasts – projects a decrease in working hours of 4.9 per cent (equivalent to 140 million full-time jobs).

ILO’s most pessimistic scenario assumes a second pandemic wave and the return of restrictions that would significantly slow recovery, resulting in a fall in working hours of 11.9 per cent (340 million full-time jobs).

More than nine in 10 of the world’s workers continue to live in countries with some sort of workplace closures, with the Americas experiencing the greatest restrictions, the Geneva-based UN body said.

Regionally, the Americas have been worst affected by far, with working hours diving 18.3 per cent, according to the latest ILO Monitor report on COVID-19 and the world of work.

Europe and Central Asia saw a 13.9 per cent fall, followed by Asia and the Pacific (13.5 per cent), Arab States (13.2 per cent) and Africa (12.1 per cent).

Highlighting concerns for workers in the informal sector who lack a social welfare safety net, Mr. Ryder expressed particular concern for all those in Latin America, where they number as many as one in two of the region’s workforce.

It is important “to understand what the human realities of these statistics really are”, he said.

Ahead of next week’s Global Summit on COVID-19 and the World of Work, convened by ILO chief Ryder urged government and social partner participants to build a better future of work for everyone.

“The decisions we adopt now will echo in the years to come and beyond 2030”, he said, underscoring persistent inequalities and vulnerabilities of women in the workplace. “Although countries are at different stages of the pandemic and a lot has been done, we need to redouble our efforts if we want to come out of this crisis in a better shape than when it started.”

Despite the urgent need for Governments, trades unions and workers to create a “better normal” in the post-COVID era, Mr. Ryder cast doubt on the ability of countries to sustain such stimulus measures.

Some $10 trillion dollars worldwide have been spent supporting workers and industry since the pandemic began, he explained, “but this has been highly concentrated; 88 per cent of that total has been spent by advanced countries on advanced countries…that’s the equivalent of about five per cent of GDP; the equivalent figure for developing and emerging economies is 2.2 per cent, for the less developed countries, it’s much less.”

As the pandemic hits the developing world “with increasing ferocity, I think that mismatch is going to be more than ever evident”, the ILO chief warned, insisting that it presented an imperative of much greater international cooperation and solidarity in responding to this global crisis”.

Reopening Asia: How the Right Policies Can Help Economic Recovery

For the first time in living memory, Asia’s growth is expected to contract by 1.6 percent—a downgrade to the April projection of zero growth. While Asia’s economic growth in the first quarter of 2020 was better than projected in the April World Economic Outlook—partly owing to early stabilization of the virus in some—projections for 2020 have been revised down for most of the countries in the region due to weaker global conditions and more protracted containment measures in several emerging economies.

Asia is heavily dependent on global supply chains and cannot grow while the whole world is suffering.

In the absence of a second wave of infections and with unprecedented policy stimulus to support the recovery, growth in Asia is projected to rebound strongly to 6.6 percent in 2021. But even with this fast pickup in economic activity, output losses due to COVID-19 are likely to persist. We project Asia’s economic output in 2022 to be about 5 percent lower compared with the level predicted before the crisis; and this gap will be much larger if we exclude China, where economic activity has already started to rebound.

Our projections for 2021 and beyond assume a strong rebound in private demand; however, this may be optimistic for several reasons:

Asia is heavily dependent on global supply chains and cannot grow while the whole world is suffering. Asia’s trade is expected to contract significantly due to weaker external demand, with total trade (exports plus imports) projected to decline by about 20 percent in 2020 in Japan, India, and the Philippines. Reorienting Asia’s growth model toward domestic demand and away from a heavy reliance on exports has begun but will take more time to be completed.

Even when lockdown measures are fully relaxed, economic activity is not likely to return to full capacity, due to changes in individual behaviors and measures put in place to maintain physical distancing and reduce contagion. Our recent study shows that while a lockdown may lead to a contraction in economic activity—as measured by industrial production—of about 12 percent a month, a full reversal in containment measures may increase economic activity by only about 7 percent. In addition, many Asian economies—especially Pacific Islands countries—depend on tourism, remittances, and other services that require in-person contact, which will take a lot longer to recover.

Inequality had already been rising in Asia, and our recent research shows how past pandemics led to higher income inequality and hurt employment prospects of those with limited education. These effects are likely to be exacerbated in Asia due to the large proportion of informal workers, making the recovery more protracted.

Weakened household and corporate balance sheets in many Asian countries can weigh negatively on investor sentiment and amplify the effect of increasing uncertainties associated with geopolitical tensions.

But not all recent developments have been negative. Many Asian countries have been able to provide significant monetary and fiscal policy support—often in the form of guarantees and loans to households and firms. And lower oil prices and improved market sentiment and financial conditions are helping the recovery. However, these factors may not last. For example, our recent update on global financial stability cautions that a sharp adjustment in financial conditions—correcting the current disconnect between financial markets and other parts of the economy—could exacerbate already high borrowing costs for many Asian frontier markets and low-income countries, notably Pacific island countries.

Asian countries are experimenting re-opening, and policies must be geared toward supporting the nascent recovery without exacerbating vulnerabilities. They must use fiscal stimulus wisely and complement it with economic reforms. The priorities include:

Monetary policy should help ensure the flow of credit to households and business. Countries facing higher fiscal constraints could also use the central bank’s balance sheet more flexibly, aggressively, and transparently to support bank lending to smaller firms. In the face of large outflows, balance sheet mismatches and limited scope for macroeconomic policy maneuver, temporary capital outflow measures may be needed.

A robust recovery hinges on exiting the current phase of support and transitioning to new policies that help ensure resources are reallocated appropriately beyond the initial focus on preventing bankruptcies of incumbent firms, and thereby strengthen the solvency of firms. For example, flattening the bankruptcy curve by streamlining the restructuring and insolvency frameworks; ensuring that banks are adequately capitalized; and facilitating equity injections into viable firms and risk capital for new firms.

Access to health and basic services, finance, and the digital economy should be broadened. Social safety nets should be expanded to extend unemployment insurance coverage to informal workers. Addressing pervasive informality will also require comprehensive labor and product market reforms to improve the business environment and removing onerous legal and regulatory obstacles (especially for startups), and policies to rationale the tax system.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the IMF has offered policy advice, financial assistance, and other support—including virtual initiatives to enhance skills and develop capacity among government officials—to all its member countries. To date, the Fund has provided emergency support to 7 countries across the Asia-Pacific region, with others expressing interest in our emergency financing instruments. Given the large and looming uncertainties at this moment, countries with sound fundamentals may want also to consider use of the Fund’s precautionary credit lines such as the Flexible Credit Line and the Short-Term Liquidity Line to insure against an abrupt tightening in external liquidity. Indeed, S&P Global and Fitch have both published notes stating that facilities like the Fund’s precautionary credit lines could, by cushioning economies, support ratings.

US kept off European Union ‘safe list’ for resumption of non-essential travel

The European Union has agreed to keep the U.S. off an initial “safe list” of 14 countries from which it will allow non-essential travel starting in July, according to the European Council.

The initial list includes Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay, the European Council said on Tuesday.

In addition, China could be included if it reciprocates by allowing travelers from the European Union. The list will be reviewed every two weeks by the council.

The number of confirmed cases in the U.S. has surged over the past week, and President Trump also suspended the entry of all people from Europe’s ID check-free travel zone in a decree in March. Several states, including Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas, have paused, or backtracked their reopening plans as confirmed coronavirus cases have once again soared.

The European Council recommendation, which is not a legally binding instrument, said travelers will be permitted to enter the bloc from countries where the number of new COVID-19 cases over the last 14 days and per 100, 000 inhabitants are close to or below the European Union average as it stood on June 15.

“This is not an exercise to be nice or unfriendly to other countries, this is an exercise of self-responsibility,” Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya told Spain’s Cadena SER radio Monday while EU envoys in Brussels still worked to narrow down the exact criteria for countries to be included.

“We appreciate the transparency and concerted efforts of our European partners and allies to combat this pandemic, and we are committed to coordinating with them as we look forward to reopening our economies and easing restrictions,” the U.S. mission to the EU said in a statement before the council decision was made formal, according to Bloomberg.

The council also considered whether a country recorded stable or decreasing trend of new cases over this period in comparison to the previous 14 days and the country’s overall response to COVID-19 taking into account available information on testing, surveillance, contact tracing, containment, treatment and reporting, as well as the reliability of the information and, if needed, the total average score for International Health Regulations (IHR).

EU citizens and their family members will be exempt from the restrictions and, therefore, will be permitted to return to the bloc. Residents of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican should be considered as EU residents for the purpose of this recommendation. Schengen associated countries — Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland — also will take part in this recommendation.

The United Kingdom, which has the third-highest coronavirus death toll behind the U.S. and Brazil, was left off of the European Council list. The UK left the 27-nation bloc in January and will phase out of a post-Brexit transition period by the end of this year.

Here are the coronavirus death toll and total infection count of the countries included in the EU list, as of Tuesday.

Algeria has recorded at least 13,571 confirmed cases, 905 deaths.

Australia has recorded at least 7,765 confirmed cases, 104 deaths.

Canada has recorded at least 103,918 confirmed cases, 8,556 deaths.

Georgia has recorded at least 926 confirmed cases, 15 deaths.

Japan has recorded at least 18,476 confirmed cases, 972 deaths.

Montenegro has recorded at least 501 confirmed cases, 11 deaths.

Morocco has recorded at least 12,385 confirmed cases, 225 deaths.

New Zealand has recorded at least 1,178 confirmed cases, 22 deaths.

Rwanda has recorded at least 1,001 confirmed cases, 2 deaths.

Serbia has recorded at least 14,288 confirmed cases, 274 deaths.

South Korea has recorded at least 12,800 confirmed cases, 282 deaths.

Thailand has recorded at least 3,171 confirmed cases, 58 deaths.

Tunisia has recorded at least 1,172 confirmed cases, 50 deaths.

Uruguay has recorded at least 932 confirmed cases, 27 deaths.

China has recorded at least 83,531 confirmed cases, 4,634 deaths.

Published by jim

Curator of things...

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