Iran on Monday has said that the United States should lift sanctions on the Islamic Republic first, if Washington wants to hold talks to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers that former President Donald Trump abandoned. According to Foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh, President Joe Biden’s administration should change Trump’s maximum pressure policy towards Tehran … If they want talks with Iran, first they should lift sanctions. He also added that Tehran will continue to work with the U.N. nuclear watchdog despite scaling back cooperation.
Turkeys growth outpaces peers
Turkey’s economy outperformed all peers except China in the final quarter of last year, driven by lower interest rates and a credit binge that boosted domestic consumption while destabilizing the currency. Gross domestic product expanded 5.9% from a year earlier, faster than all G-20 nations except China’s 6.5%. The median of 20 forecasts in a Bloomberg survey was for 6.9% expansion. The government’s growth push in 2020 saw the currency weaken by 20%, keeping consumer inflation in double digits for the entire year. The data expose the challenges facing central bank Governor Naci Agbal as he looks to cool growth and restore price stability without triggering a steep slowdown in activity and a jump in unemployment. The government pushed banks to ramp up lending to help businesses and consumers ride out last year’s Covid-19 emergency. The credit boom was coupled with a front-loaded easing cycle that helped prime the economy.
Suu Kyi faces two new charges
Ousted Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi was hit with two new criminal charges when she appeared in court via video link on Monday, a month after a military coup triggered relentless and massive protests, reports AFP. Suu Kyi has not been seen since being detained on February 1, and her appearance came as demonstrators took to the streets again across the country in defiance of an escalation of deadly force from the junta. At least 18 people died on Sunday as troops and police fired live bullets at demonstrators in cities across Myanmar, according to the United Nations, which cited its own credible information. Suu Kyi was already facing obscure criminal charges for possessing unlicensed walkie-talkies, as well as violating coronavirus restrictions by staging a campaign event during last year’s election. She is now also accused of a violation of communications laws as well as intent to incite public unrest.
Ngozi takes WTO reigns
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said she was eager to get straight to work as she took up her role Monday as the first woman and first African to lead the beleaguered World Trade Organization. Hopes abound that the 66-year-old will be able to help the WTO address a range of towering challenges, including navigating through the global economic crisis triggered by the pandemic. She takes the helm after the WTO was left adrift for six months following the sudden departure of Brazilian career diplomat Roberto Azevedo last August, a year ahead of schedule. Ngozi is hitting the ground running, with her first day on the job in Geneva coinciding with the annual meeting of the WTO’s General Council. Questions remain as to whether the new WTO chief will be able to mould the organisation in her image before then.
Should drug cos share vaccine know-how?
Across Africa and Southeast Asia, governments and aid groups, as well as the WHO, are calling on pharmaceutical companies to share their patent information more broadly to meet a yawning global shortfall in a pandemic that already has claimed nearly 2.5 million lives. Pharmaceutical companies that took taxpayer money from the U.S. or Europe to develop inoculations at unprecedented speed say they are negotiating contracts and exclusive licensing deals with producers on a case-by-case basis because they need to protect their intellectual property and ensure safety. Critics say this piecemeal approach is just too slow at a time of urgent need to stop the virus before it mutates into even deadlier forms. Last month, WHO called for vaccine manufacturers to share their know-how to “dramatically increase the global supply. All over the world, the supply of coronavirus vaccines is falling far short of demand, and the limited amount available is going to rich countries.
Right to repair, now for Europeans
Companies that sell refrigerators, washers, hairdryers or TVs in the European Union will need to ensure those appliances can be repaired for up to 10 years, to help reduce the vast mountain of electrical waste that piles up each year on the continent. The “right to repair,” as it is sometimes called, comes into force across the 27-nation bloc Monday. It is part of a broader effort to cut the environmental footprint of manufactured goods by making them more durable and energy efficient. Modern appliances are often glued or riveted together. If you need specialist tools or have to break open the device, then you can’t repair it. Lack of spare parts is another problem, campaigners say. New devices will have to come with repair manuals and be made in such a way that they can be dismantled using conventional tools when they really can’t be fixed anymore, to improve recycling.
Curated by Sohini Sen. Have something to share with us? Write to us at feedback@livemint or tweet to @shohinisen