We’ve summarised the top stories of the last week into an easily digestible briefing, so that you can stay up to date on what’s happening around the world. You can subscribe to receive the briefing in your inbox each week.
Business & Economics
- In a virtual meeting last Tuesday, Boris Johnson and Narendra Modi (Prime Minister of India) agreed to a new “Enhanced Trade Partnership” between the two countries. The PM believes this preliminary deal will create “More than 6,500 new jobs […] around the UK thanks to £1bn of new UK-India trade and investment.” In separate news, the EU and India have decided to resume trade negotiations after an eight-year hiatus.
- According to the latest US jobs report, the US economy created 266,000 jobs in April. This comes as a huge disappointment compared to previous estimates, which had expected that fiscal stimulus measures and the rapid US vaccination rollout would lead to employment gains closer to 1 million. The data suggests that the US recovery is far from complete, although it may ease fears of increased inflation and overheating in the economy.
- Regulatory bodies in Germany and the US have moved to tighten controls on cryptocurrency trading and revise “out of date” laws. Soaring prices for crypto assets have fed a boom in other financial products like Binance, which allows users to secure loans against these assets and prompted groups to seek better regulation.
- KPMG, one of the “Big Four” accounting companies, has been sued for more than £6 million by Mount Anvil. Mount Anvil – a London-based construction company – claims that it discovered £3.9 million of extra tax liabilities, which were only revealed after an HMRC inquiry into the tax returns of one of its subsidiaries.
- Future Meat Technologies, an Israeli start-up, claims to have almost halved production costs for lab-grown chicken to £2.90 ($4) per 110g. If verified, this announcement represents a huge leap towards commercial viability for lab-grown chicken, although (according to the Office for National Statistics) the average price of chicken breast in the UK is currently around £0.70 ($1) per 110g.
- Copper prices hit a record high last Friday after a surge in demand. The metal is essential for the transition to green energy, as it is used in everything from electric vehicles to washing machines. Prices rose to $10,361/tonne, with many analysts predicting that further demand could push it up to $15,000/tonne.
- The charge levied on single-use plastic bags is set to double to 10p in England from the 21st of May. Since the introduction of the 5p charge in 2015, their use has plummeted by 95% with the average consumer only using 4 bags a year.
- The SNP (Scottish National Party) has won a record fourth term in the Scottish parliament, securing 64 seats in Holyrood, one short of an overall majority. Likely to be supported by the pro-independence Scottish Greens, the SNP has promised to focus on the pandemic recovery before seeking to hold a second referendum on independence.
- The Conservative Party has won the Hartlepool by-election by nearly seven thousand votes, becoming the first party other than Labour to hold the seat since its creation in 1974. Sir Keir Starmer said he was “bitterly disappointed” with the result, promising to “reconnect” with voters to fix Labour’s trust problem.
- A major US fuel operator has shut down its entire network of pipelines, the source of nearly half of the East Coast’s fuel supply, following a ransomware attack. The incident is one of the most disruptive cyberattacks ever reported in the US, pointing at the inherent vulnerabilities in America’s energy infrastructure. A predicted shortage may cause higher fuel prices in the short run, a setback for consumers and major industries.
- Sadiq Khan has been re-elected as Mayor of London by seeing off his Conservative opponent Shaun Bailey. Despite winning comfortably by over 200,000 votes, his 55% vote share was lower than in 2016. Khan admitted that London remains “deeply divided” but promised to be a “Mayor for all Londoners”.
- A terrorist attack outside a secondary school in Kabul (the capital of Afghanistan) has left more than 60 people dead. The majority of victims were children, mostly girls. No organisation has admitted to carrying out the atrocities in Dasht-e-Barchi.
- More violence has broken out in Jerusalem this week, as more than 200 Palestinians and 17 police officers were injured in clashes near the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Reports of a rocket fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza have escalated tensions. The UN has expressed its “deep concern” for relations in the region.
- The UK government has announced that foreign holidays will be allowed from the 17th of May, producing a new green list of countries where tourists will not have to quarantine upon return (including Portugal, Israel, Australia, and New Zealand). The list will be reviewed every three weeks.
- The President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, has dissolved its parliament, paving the way for legislators from opposing sides of the country’s civil war to be appointed under a 2018 peace accord. Commentators remain caught between tentative optimism and suspicion.
Written by Chenyang Li and Tristan Hand