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From The Asian Reporter, V31, #10 (October 4, 2021), page 2.

World Bank cuts Asia growth outlook, calls for virus action

BEIJING (AP) — The World Bank last week cut its economic growth forecast for developing countries in East Asia due to the impact of the coronavirus’s delta variant and called on governments to help poor people and small businesses avoid long-term damage. Excluding China’s unexpectedly strong growth, developing countries in East Asia should grow by 2.5% this year, down from a forecast of 4.4% in April, the Washington-based lender said in a report. It said China, the region’s biggest economy, should expand by 8.5%. The region is "suffering a reversal of fortune" after China, Vietnam, and other governments contained coronavirus outbreaks last year, the bank said. It said business activity in Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, and other economies was improving but now is "showing signs of slowing down." "The region is being hit hard by the COVID-19 Delta variant while many advanced economies are on a path to economic recovery," the World Bank said. "COVID-19 will reduce growth and increase inequality unless the scars are addressed and the opportunities grasped." The region must increase vaccine production due to the unreliability of imports and high demand, the bank said. It said governments also need to use testing, tracing, and isolation to contain infections and strengthen their health systems. To prevent long-term economic damage, the bank said governments need to support productive companies, encourage new competitors, promote technology development, and reduce trade barriers. Countries also need to improve "social protection" by expanding access to "need-based assistance" for the poor, the bank said.

Review of ban on eating dog meat in S. Korea welcomed

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Animal-rights groups welcomed the South Korean president’s offer to look into banning the consumption of dog meat. Dog meat is neither legal nor explicitly banned in South Korea. Restaurants that serve it are a dwindling business here as younger people find dog meat a less appetizing dining option. But some people oppose a ban as a surrender to western pressure. During a meeting with his prime minister, President Moon Jae-in asked "if it’s time to carefully consider" a ban, according to his office. It’s unclear when a review would take place and when or whether a ban would be realized. A few activists gathered in central Seoul to call for the government and parliament to work out steps to officially prohibit dog meat consumption. They placed a big placard on the street that read, "Legislate law banning the slaughters of dogs and cats!" "We actively welcome President Moon Jae-in’s comments instructing a review of the dog meat consumption ban and hope there would be substantial progress on that," animal-rights organizations said in a joint statement. Activists later visited Moon’s presidential office and parliament to convey their calls for swift action to ban dog meat consumption, said Lee Won Bok, head of the Korea Association of Animal Protection. A public survey in 2018 indicated about 80% of South Koreans had not eaten dog meat in the previous year. Lee said an estimated about 1 million dogs are still killed each year in South Korea for food. Some older people in South Korea believe dog meat enhances sexual stamina.

China applies to join Pacific trade pact Trump abandoned

BEIJING (AP) — China has applied to join an 11-nation Asia-Pacific free trade group in an effort to increase its influence over international policies. Commerce minister Wang Wentao submitted an application to the trade minister of New Zealand as a representative of the Comprehensive and Progress Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the Commerce Ministry announced in September. The CPTPP originally was the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a group promoted by then-President Barack Obama as part of Washington’s increased emphasis on relations with Asia. China was not included in the initial group and Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, pulled out in 2017. President Joe Biden has not rejoined the group. An official Chinese newspaper, Global Times, said the application cements Beijing’s "leadership in global trade" and leaves the United States "increasingly isolated." The CPTPP, which took effect in 2018, includes agreements on market access, movement of labor, and government procurement. Other members include Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Britain is negotiating to join. If China joins, that would quadruple the total population within the group to some 2 billion people. China’s government has promised to increase imports of goods but faces complaints it is failing to carry out promises made when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001 to open finance and other service industries. China is also a member of various other trading arrangements, including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which includes many nations in Asia that are not part of the CPTPP.

Guangzhou FC coach steps down

GUANGZHOU, China (AP) — Fabio Cannavaro has left his position as coach of troubled Chinese powerhouse Guangzhou FC, the club announced in late September. Cannavaro, who was captain of Italy’s World Cup winning team in 2006, started his second spell in charge of Guangzhou in 2017 and delivered the Chinese Super League title two years later. But the 48-year-old former Juventus and Real Madrid defender did not return to China last week, leading to speculation about his future with the club, which is owned by Evergrande. The embattled real estate company is struggling to avoid a default on billions of dollars of debt. "We would like to thank Fabio Cannavaro for all of his effort and contribution to Guangzhou and wish him all the best in the future," the club said in a statement on its website. Cannavaro coached the team to second-place finishes in 2018 and 2020.

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