Global Business Daily: Macron's caution, China GDP, Oxfam interview
Patrick Atack in London

"At the beginning, there [was] no available test to confirm the diagnosis."

That's Ning Yi, the Chief Scientific Officer at Meinian One Health Group, who spoke to CGTN about why the COVID-19 death toll from Wuhan has been revised upwards today.

The effects of the virus have been wider than just the central Chinese city, of course, and new figures released today show the lockdown which followed those initial diagnoses had a big impact on China's economy. Nearly seven percent was knocked off GDP in the first quarter (looking at year-on-year figures). 

In Europe, French leader Emmanuel Macron has suggested the EU may fall if it doesn't find unity in its economic response to the pandemic and following mass-quarantine. 

The impact of the lockdown continues to be felt across sectors, with new stats showing that airlines have been particularly hit - prices have dropped 50 percent since the start of the year. 

But the economic effect isn't just hitting developed countries - today our interview is with Max Lawson, international head of inequality policy at Oxfam. He told us how coronavirus is impacting developing nations in Africa and Latin America specifically. 

Happy reading, 

Patrick Atack

Digital business correspondent 

PS, did you know we send this briefing by email, too? You can sign up to receive it here.

China's economy has slumped in the first months in 2020 with GDP contracting 6.8 percent year-on-year. It is widely understood the COVID-19 pandemic is the cause of the first such drop since 1979.

French President Emmanuel Macron has issued a stark warning to the European Union that its "political project" may collapse if financially weaker states such as Italy and Spain are not supported. He also put his significant political weight behind a common fund to issue Eurozone debt, which Germany and the Netherlands have consistently opposed.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said the ruling coalition will "consider" sending a one-off check to all Japanese citizens worth $930. It's unclear if this includes children - which would cost $117 billion - two percent of GDP - or just those of working age.

LVMH - the world's largest luxury fashion group - has recorded a quarterly revenue loss of 17 percent year-on-year, with its retail arm seeing sales figures drop 26 percent.

Cosmetics giant L'Oreal has revealed sales in the first quarter of the year were down nearly five percent, though its skincare product sales actually rose by 13 percent. It's thought these products lines have been protected from the COVID-related sales drops as they are sold in pharmacies, which have not been forced to shut.

Eurogroup chief Mario Centeno has called for "taxes that may be of a European nature" and said other options - such as joint debt issuance - are still on the Eurogroup discussion table.

According to statistics from the European Auto Industry Association, passenger car sales and registrations have fallen by more than 50 percent to 853,077 across the EU, UK and European Free Trade Association area. 

Airplane manufacturer Boeing will re-open its factory near Seattle, U.S., next week after stopping production due to the Coronavirus outbreak in Washington state. Chief executive Dave Calhoun said government support would be "critical" to the industry, according to Reuters.

European and North American airline ticket prices have dropped by as much as 30 percent from the levels seen at the start of the year, according to figures from Skytra, an Airbus-owned airline hedging business.

British car maker Vauxhall, owned by Peugeot, is planning safety measures including temperature checks and face masks for when it re-opens factories, though no date has been set for a return to work. 


Max Lawson, the international head of inequality policy at Oxfam, spoke to CGTN Europe about the effect of COVID-19 on developing economies - and how the richer nations can help.

Max, first of all, a snapshot: What's your analysis of how Africa and South America are dealing with COVID-19? 

Well, I live here in Nairobi and people are faced with the incredible choice between getting sick or starving. Just a few days ago, we had food riots in the biggest slum in Nairobi. A stampede, two people were killed. It's really, really serious. People are facing immense economic hardship already in Africa and Latin America, all over the developing world.  Oxfam is predicting that the recession in developing countries could lead to half a billion people being forced into poverty by this virus, which would set back the fight against poverty 30 years.  

Let's look beyond this -  I want to ask you about life after COVID-19 and perhaps the inevitable global downturn. What is the outlook for countries that Oxfam supports?  

I think the outlook right now is very bleak, which is why we need to see immediate action by rich countries to support emerging markets and developing countries because what happens in the next couple of months will actually dictate what the next five or 10 years are going to be about. It's a moment in history where action is needed and an investment now in supporting the poorest countries in the world would have a huge beneficial impact in the years to come, on the poorest people on the planet.

Max, the thing is, these very countries you talk of will be going into a global recession, perhaps even a global depression. The cash won't be washing around in numbers that it might have done historically. 

I think it's true that all countries are facing a huge economic problem at the same time, but many countries still have very deep pockets. And to give you some idea, it would only cost two hundred billion dollars - that's like 10 percent of the US fiscal stimulus - to double the health spending of 86 poor countries. So the amount of money that developing countries needed is big for them, but it's small for the richest nations on the planet and it can be done. 

We could see them cancel the debts or postpone the debt payments for emerging markets and developing countries. 

They can print the global money, the SDR, the IMF's currency, which would immediately boost balances of poor countries. There are some clever ideas and some important things that rich countries could do in the next week or two that would make a huge difference and would save millions of lives. 

What's your message to the G20 finance ministers, the IMF and the World Bank? What needs to be done in order to head off a major crisis? 

That would be a huge benefit to countries like where I am in Kenya. It would enable that to instead invest that money in nurses and doctors in helping the poorest people who are facing starvation because of this virus. So I think the G20 could cancel the debts. They could make that decision and the world is watching them and looking for this leadership. And history is being written day by day in the face of this crisis. And people will look back decades from now and 'say what happened, what was done by leaders', and this is what they could do tomorrow. 

Inflation has dropped across Europe and the Eurozone in the first months of 2020, but this graph shows that it's not been plain sailing for the past year before that, too.