Monthly Global Forecast |april 2021
Politics and Governance
27th Ibero-American Summit scheduled for April 21-22 in Andorra
Andorra will host the main Ibero-American forum on April 21-22, 2021, bringing together the heads of state and government of 22 states. The agenda of this meeting will be “Innovation for Sustainable Development – Goal 2030”. The primary objective of the summit is to promote a joint program to promote innovative policies on both climate change and health crises. More so, it aims at bringing together the culturally and linguistically similar states to chart out stronger links in tackling major issues.
Afghan Talks to commence in April
The latest round of Intra-Afghan peace talks is expected to begin in April 2021 in Turkey. The Istanbul peace talks are planned in the midst of an upsurge in violence in Afghanistan directed towards journalists, civil society, and health workers. The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reportedly wrote to the Afghan government in March 2021 to express “urgency” in forming a joint front and to plan multilateral diplomatic efforts through the Afghan peace talks.
General Elections in Peru scheduled for April 11
The Peruvians will vote on April 11, 2021, for president, two vice-presidents, a total of 130 members on the unicameral congress along with five Andean Congress representatives to serve a five-year term in respective offices. The significance of this election lies in the fact that acute political and institutional crisis has mired the state in turbulence. The economy contracted 12.9% in 2020, while the state reported the second-highest covid-19 death rate. This election presents an opportunity to reverse the pandemic damage and political tumult.
Defence and Security
Russian Foreign Minister to visit Pakistan in the Second Week of April
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is expected to visit Pakistan during the second week of April 2021 with an agenda to fortify bilateral partnership in numerous areas of cooperation. Both sides will hold dialogue to finalise an international security agreement while focusing on defence and energy sector cooperation. The Russian draft of the agreement was also shared with the ministries of both states for further clarity regarding the visit. The minister’s visit will be the first high-level visit from Russia since 2012.
UK to launch Space Command on April 1
The United Kingdom (UK) shall be launching its Space Command on April 1, 2021, with the aim to render the British defence forces a threat-focused integrated force, moving across the domains of not just land, sea, air, but space and cyberspace too. Over the coming decade, around £5bn investment in the Skynet 6 satellite communication programme will aid the UK in having a stronger presence in space. It will be complemented by the £1.4bn allocations to the new Space Command, Space Academy, National Space Operations Centre, and a UK-built Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance satellite constellation.
India and France to hold the Varuna Naval exercise in April-end; UAE and QUAD members to join as well
The Indian and French Indian Navy shall be holding joint naval exercises with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Quad countries. The UAE shall be joining India and France for a trilateral naval exercise in the strategically vital Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman in late April. The exercise under the Varuna banner has been scheduled to be held on April 25-27. This will be the first time that the UAE will be joining India and France for such an exercise. The French Carrier Strike Group, led by aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and the Indian Kolkata-class destroyer, will be part of this exercise.
Trade and Economics
China-Pakistan Border expected to be re-opened for People-to-People Exchange and Trade on April 1, 2021
The China-Pakistan Border is expected to be re-opened for people-to-people exchange and trade on April 1, 2021, owing to Pakistan’s request to the Chinese embassy in Pakistan. As per the bilateral agreement, the China-Pakistan border remains closed from December 1 till March 31 every year due to severe weather conditions. However, in 2020, the scheduled opening of the border on April 1 was postponed owing to the Covid-19 outbreak. The border provides two-way movement of passengers as well as transportation of goods and cargo.
Gwadar East-Bay Expressway in Pakistan to be completed by April End
Gwadar East-Bay Expressway project, which is the main highway linking Pakistan’s deep-sea Gwadar Port with the hinterland, is expected to be completed by April 2021. It will provide a primary connectivity link between the Gwadar Port, a multi-billion-dollar project, and its Free Zone with the web of networked highways, facilitating import, export, and transit goods. In September 2020, the Chairman of the CPEC Authority, Asim Saleem Bajwa had stated that 80% of work on Gwadar East-Bay Expressway had been completed.
Global Technology Governance Summit to be held on April 6-7 in Japan
The World Economic Forum’s first Global Technology Governance Summit (GTGS) will be held on April 6-7, 2021. The summit will be hosted by Japan in a virtual format, bringing together around 40 governments, international organizations, and companies. The summit shall look forward to discussing the steps for harnessing the latest technologies of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) in a more responsible way through a public-private partnership. The summit will focus on taking a proactive approach in ensuring that technology adoption and innovation does not harness inequality, disparities, and exclusion.
Implementation Extension of EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement to Lapse on April 31, 2021
The deadline for the implementation of the European Union – United Kingdom Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) will lapse on April 31. The main components of the TCA comprise a Free Trade Agreement, close partnership on citizens’ security, and an overarching governance framework including various oversight bodies and arbitration tribunal. Initially, the TCA’s provisional application had to lapse on 28 February 2021. However, in February-end, the EU had requested the UK Parliament to grant it more time to ratify the TCA.
Energy and Environment
Karachi Nuclear Power Plant Unit-2 (K-2) to become operational in April
The commercial operation of Karachi Nuclear Power Plant Unit-2 (K-2) will begin in April 2021 after it undergoes certain operational and safety tests. K-2 is a pressurized water reactor-based on the Chinese HPR-1000 model equipped with advanced safety features. For the purpose of testing, Pakistan had started loading fuel to the 1,100MW nuclear power plant last year. Despite the pandemic situation, the projects are on schedule. The construction of the K-2 plant had started in August 2015
Hosted by the US, the Leaders Climate Summit to be held on April 22-23
Under Biden-administration, the US has announced a Leaders’ Climate Summit on Earth Day, bringing together around 40 world leaders. It will be a virtual summit due to the pandemic scenario. The summit will focus on galvanising efforts towards reducing carbon emissions, mobilising public and private sector finance to drive the net-zero transition, and helping vulnerable states in coping up with the impacts of climate change. Further, the summit will reconvene the US-led Major Economies Forum (MEF) on Energy and Climate to bring together all the 17 states responsible for 80% of global emissions and global GDP.
Global Dialogue on Water to take place on April 27
The Global Dialogue on Water is scheduled to take place on April 27, co-convened by Special Envoy for UN Food Systems Summit and the Chair of UN Water. The global dialogue will explore the fundamental interconnections between water and food systems while analysing their spillover effect on other areas of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The dialogue is also said to re-emphasise a focus on understanding the nexus between food, water, energy, and climate.
Travel restrictions to be implemented in Pakistan till April 5, in a move to curb the surge of COVID-19
In Pakistan, travel restrictions and a ban on inbound passengers from 12 countries will remain effective till April 5, 2021, owing to the country-wide surge of COVID-19 cases. The temporary measure has been introduced in continuation to the steps being taken to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Pakistan. In another notification, the Civil Avaiation Authority (CAA) had also notified travel restriction and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for inbound flights to Pakistan and domestic passengers besides chartered and private flights.
India extends International Flights Suspension due to a surge in Covid-19 cases
International flights to India have been decided to remain suspended till April 30, 2021. The international passenger services in the state were already suspended since March last year, yet under the Vande Bharat Mission since May 2020, special international flights are operating under the “air bubble” arrangement. India has signed such air bubble pacts with around 27 countries. Earlier, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had stated that international all-cargo operations and flights, specifically approved by the DGCA, were exempted from the ban. The latest decision comes due to a sudden surge in Covid-19 cases across the country.