Exports slip 0.8% in December; trade deficit widens to $15.71 bn

Disney Senior Vice President, U.S. Government Relations Richard Bates Dies

Richard M. Bates, longtime Senior Vice President, U.S. Government Relations for The Walt Disney Company, has died.

Since 2010, Bates oversaw Disney’s interactions with federal and state government entities and trade associations. He was a 29-year Disney veteran. Prior to working for Disney, Bates served as Executive Director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger and Chief Executive Officer Bob Chapek issued the following joint statement on his passing:

All of us at Disney are heartbroken by the sudden loss of our longtime colleague and dear friend Richard Bates. As head of our Government Relations team in Washington, D.C., Richard was second to none in his field —- widely respected for his incredible achievements and beloved for his extraordinary kindness, compassion, and irresistible wit. He was passionate about his work and approached it with the same astuteness and unwavering enthusiasm he demonstrated when he first joined Disney three decades ago. For those of us lucky enough to have known Richard personally, his loss is profound. He will be deeply missed, and our prayers and heartfelt condolences go out to his wife Rose, their sons Ricky and Chris, and his entire family.

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Oxford, Astra Will Supply 2m Vaccine Doses a Week in U.K.: Times

A member of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine team expects 2 million doses will be supplied each week in the U.K. from the middle of January, the Times of Londonreported.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said earlier this week that only 530,000 doses of the vaccine would be ready on Monday. The Oxford team is frustrated that the poor state of the country’s manufacturing capacity has affected the pace of production, the newspaper said, citing the group member.

Read more: Astra-Oxford Shot Approval Ramps Up U.K. Covid Vaccinations

The U.K.’s scientific advisers estimate that 2 million vaccinations a week are needed, on top of a lockdown including school closures, to prevent pressure on intensive-care units from exceeding the levels of the first wave, the Times reported. The U.K. has ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, according to the newspaper.

U.K. Government Tells London’s Primary Schools to Stay Closed

The U.K. government ordered all primary schools in London to remain closed for the start of the new term next week in an attempt to rein in a jump in hospitalizations resulting from the mutant strain of the coronavirus.

From Monday, the capital’s primary schools — for children from 5 to 11 years — will have to provide remote learning for most pupils. Vulnerable children and those whose guardians are key workers will continue to attend school. Pre-schools will remain open, the government said Friday.

The government had originally omitted 10 London areas from a list of schools that would be closed, but yielded after local authorities complained to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson. London mayor Sadiq Khan welcomed the government’s change of heart.

London has one of the country’s highest levels of Covid-19infections per capita — in the most recent week of complete data, the capital had a rate of 807 cases per 100,000 people, compared with a rate of 675 in the previous week.

“The situation in London continues to worsen and so today we are taking action to protect the public and reduce the spread of this disease in the community,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in the statement.

U.K.’s Sharma Offers to Quit Government for Climate Role: Times

U.K. Business Secretary Alok Sharma told Prime Minister Boris Johnson he would rather resign from his current position than give up his dual role as envoy to the COP26 climate-change conference in Glasgow in November, the Times of Londonreported.

Johnson offered the post of envoy to David Cameron and William Hague, both of whom declined, according to the report. Talks were also held on whether to offer the job to Theresa May, the newspaper said.

China Sees ‘New Window of Hope’ in Ties with U.S. in 2021

China and the U.S. can open a “new window of hope” in bilateral ties in the new year, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, urging Washington to resolve disputes through dialogue.

“Our U.S. policy will maintain continuity and stability and we are willing to develop China-U.S. relations in a coordinated, cooperative and stable manner with the American side,” Wang was cited as saying in the transcript of an interview posted on the ministry’s website.

The foreign minister said the U.S.’s “completely wrong” policies on China were to blame for “unprecedented difficulties” between the two countries in recent years.

Relations between the two countries have deteriorated under U.S. President Donald Trump, with growing differences in issues ranging from trade and technology to Hong Kong and the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a separate statement, Wang urged the European Union to commit to world unity instead of “serving bloc politics,” and to look beyond ideological differences.

— With assistance by John Liu, and Fran Wang

Exports slip 0.8% in December; trade deficit widens to $15.71 bn

Exports in December 2019 was $27.11 billion, while imports stood at $39.5 billion.

The country’s exports declined marginally by 0.8% to $26.89 billion in December 2020, due to contraction in sectors like petroleum, leather and marine products, according to preliminary data released by the commerce ministry on Saturday.

The trade deficit in December widened to $15.71 billion, as imports grew by 7.6% to $42.6 billion, the data showed.

Exports in December 2019 was $27.11 billion, while imports stood at $39.5 billion. In November 2020, the exports were down by 8.74 per cent.

In April-December 2020-21, the country’s merchandise exports contracted by 15.8% to $200.55 billion, as compared to $238.27 billion in the same period of 2019-20.

Imports during the nine months of the current fiscal declined by 29.08% to $258.29 billion, as against $364.18 billion in April-December 2019-20.

“India is thus a net importer in December 2020, with a trade deficit of $15.71 billion, as compared to a trade deficit of $12.49 billion, widened by 25.78%,” the ministry said in a statement.

In December 2020, oil imports declined by 10.37% to $9.61 billion. During April-December this fiscal, the imports dipped by 44.46% to $ 53.71 billion.