Monthly Global Forecast |may 2021

Politics and Governance

UN Development Cooperation Forum will take place on May 6-7

The UN Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) 2021 will take place in May 2021, New York, US, during the 2021 session of the UN Economic and Social Councill (ECOSOC). The 2020 DCF was scheduled to take place in May 2020. However, it was deferred to the 2021 session due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The forum will advance international development cooperation. It will work to provide concrete policy guidance on enhancing development cooperation in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development (FfD). The discussions shall include stakeholders from multiple sectors and will be focused on reducing risk, enabling recovery, and building resilience in the COVID-19 period and beyond.

Defence and Security

US Troops withdrawal from Afghanistan to start from May 1

According to a senior official, the United States (US) troops withdrawal from Afghanistan will start from May 1, 2021, and all the troops will leave Afghanistan by September 11, 2021.  Army General Austin Miller, the top commander of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said that the US is ready to retrograde. It will be transitioning its bases and equipment to the Afghan security forces. Prior to that, the Trump administration had set the withdrawal date as May 1, 2021, after the February 2020 Doha negotiations with the Taliban. However, there remain 3,500 US troops, and 7,000 NATO Troops and their immediate withdrawal is seen as impractical by the Biden administration. The date has recently been revised by the US, but the Afghan Taliban have refused to accept it. There is a mounting fear that the Taliban might also withdraw from the inter-Afghan talks scheduled for May in Istanbul.

Japan, France, and the US plan their first joint military drills in May 2021

According to a report by the Sankei newspaper, a joint military drill is planned to take place on Japan’s uninhabited outlying islands for the first time in May 2021. The exercise, running from May 11-17, will be the first large-scale exercise in Japan involving ground troops from three countries. The upcoming multilateral drills will incorporate defence and recapture operations of the outlying Japanese islands, such as the Senkaku chain, where China’s naval activity has increased. These joint exercises aim to counter China’s claim on Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea. They will focus on providing relief efforts during a natural disaster and could also form the basis for a defence against future attack.

Trade and Economics

India and the EU to resume talks on Foreign Trade Agreements on May 8

After a gap of about eight years, India and the European Union (EU) will resume formal negotiations for a trade and investment agreement on May 8, 2021. Even after around 16 rounds of talks between 2007 and 2013, both the parties were mired in differences. Having pulled out of the China-dominated Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) deal, India has been seeking to expedite trade talks with large markets in the post-pandemic. The renewed focus on trade talks after the Covid-19 disruptions underlines India’s commitment towards greater integration with the global value chain, just as it insists that its Atmanirbhar (self-reliant) campaign is not inward-looking.

India likely to start full-scale operations at Chabahar by May-end

India will start its operations at Iran’s Chabahar general cargo port by the end of May 2021, according to India’s shipping minister. A part of the port was developed by India to bolster its regional trade while avoiding its rival state of Pakistan. The port is situated on Iran’s south-eastern coast along the Gulf of Oman to transport goods to Afghanistan and the Central Asian Republics (CARs). Though the US sanctions on Iran slowed down its development, India is hoping that a thaw between Tehran and the newly elected Biden administration will be a positive step forward.

European Social Economy Summit to be held on May 26-27

Co-organised by the European Commission and the city of Mannheim, the European Social Economy Summit (EUSES) will take place on May 26-27, 2021. The discussions at the summit will be based on three themes: digitalisation, innovation, and collaboration in the domain of the social economy. It carries the potential for social innovation, cohesion, creating jobs, building skillsets, and facilitating people. It aims to strengthen Europe’s social economy and make use of its contributions to economic development, social inclusion, and ecological and digital transitions.

China to launch a month-long effort to boost consumption in May

China is set to launch a series of promotional activities to boost its consumer market after its retail sector recovers from Covid-19 induced consumer caution. As China will enter its five-day Labour Day holiday, spending campaigns will start in the major cities. Besides domestic goods, consumer brands from around 69 countries will also be showcased. Brands like Tesla, Dell, Swatch have shown their interest to participate in this grand expo in Hainan province of China. This is a step forward to enhance China’s domestic consumption while ending dependency on foreign markets.

Energy and Environment

EU Green Week to commence on May 31

The largest annual event on the European environmental policy is EU Green Week that will begin from May 31 till June 4, 2021. This event is in line with European Green Deal aimed at cutting emissions and boosting efficiency while dealing with environmental challenges. This year it will be dedicated to the “zero pollution ambition”. Representatives from numerous backgrounds like governments, industry, non-governmental organisations, academia, and the media will come together for a unique exchange of ideas and good practices. It will look at all relevant European Green Deal initiatives in the field of mobility, energy, industry, fisheries, agriculture, health, and biodiversity.

World Humanitarian Forum scheduled for May 19-20

The World Humanitarian Forum organised by London will take place as a hybrid event on May 19-20, 2021. The event is inspired and organised by the management of the World Humanitarian Summit held in Istanbul in 2016 that devised action plans to materialise the Agenda for Humanity. The two-day high-profile event will bring under one roof the discussions surrounding both international development and humanitarian aid. It will bring forth prominent leaders, aid and development agencies, and business representatives to focus on the new funding models, refugee crisis, climate change and humanitarian crisis brought about by Covid-19.

High-level dialogue on Drought, Desertification, and Land Degradation by UNCCD to be held on May 20

A high-level dialogue will be convened in accordance with the General Assembly Resolution A/RES/74/220, by the President of the General Assembly, with the support of the Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). It will assess the progress made in the fight against drought, desertification, and land degradation (DLDD) while mapping the way forward in the light of the UN Decade for Deserts and the Fight against Desertification, which came to an end in 2020. This dialogue is expected to encourage stronger, effective, and resilient partnerships and commitments. The dialogue seeks to maintain the momentum while addressing DLDD-related challenges vis-à-vis accelerating the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals, ecosystem restoration, climate change adaptation, mitigation, and resilience, using land restoration as an entry point.

Social Issues

Pakistan to receive 15 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by May 2021

COVAX, a global initiative for equitable vaccine distribution of Covid-19, will deliver 15 million vaccine doses to Pakistan by May 2021. This initiative comes at a time when the Covid-19 positivity rate is soaring across the globe. Fighting with the third wave of the virus, Pakistan is vaccinating only the frontline healthcare workers and citizens over 50 years of age with China’s Sinopharm and CanSino jabs. To revitalise Pakistan’s slow immunisation drive, Germany, a co-founder, and biggest contributor to COVAX, has announced millions of doses for Pakistan in a recent visit of Pakistan’s Foreign Minister to Berlin.

Italy to host Global Health Summit on May 21

The European Commission and Italy, as G20 chair, will co-host Global Health Summit on May 21, 2021. The summit will bring together heads of international and regional organisations and global health bodies to endorse a “Rome Declaration” of principles based on lessons learned during the pandemic. The summit will build on last year’s “Coronavirus Global Response” initiative that raised nearly €16bn from donors worldwide to facilitate universal access to coronavirus tests, treatments, and vaccines. The principles that will be drawn from this meeting will play a significant role in multilateral cooperation to prevent any future global health crisis while pledging safety, fairness, and sustainability through joint commitment.

Porto Social Summit to be held on May 7-8

The Social Summit will be hosted by Portugal on May 7, 2021, and a major chunk of it will be live-streamed for the public. In accordance with European Commission’s Action Plan, the summit will focus on bolstering the European Pillar of Social Rights. It will monitor the implementation of social rights to date while chalking out the ways in which the EU leaders can take concrete initiative for their widespread implementation. This summit comes in the backdrop of the rising need for social rights, which have long been brushed under the carpet. The two-week summit will be composed of an initial high-level meeting on the Action Plan’s implementation followed by an informal session among the heads of states and governments.


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