Mint Lite | UAE reforms, M&A, Myanmar polls, climate crisis and others4 min read . Updated: 08 Nov 2020, 10:06 PM IST
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The United Arab Emirates relaxed many of its Islamic personal laws over the weekend. The reforms include allowing unmarried couples to cohabitate, loosening alcohol restrictions and criminalizing honor killings. These changes are said to reflect the new UAE and bring in an influx of investments. Dubai, meanwhile, is getting ready to host the World Expo next year, after the event was postponed from October 2020 due to the coronavirus. The high stakes event is expected to bring 25 million visitors to the country. For more updates, here's Mint Lite
Mergers and acquisitions likely to perk up
Mergers and acquisitions, stalled by the covid-19 pandemic, is likely to accelerate in the US, as a Joe Biden presidency is expected to provide a predictable economic and regulatory environment, bankers said. The M&A process would be aided by the prospect of the US Senate controlled by the Republicans, who would curb Biden’s interventionist policies. Republicans holding a majority in the Senate could block much of Biden’s legislative and spending agenda, causing gridlocks, which in their own way have a stabilizing effect. A full control of the US Congress by the Democrats would have allowed Biden to give effect to his pre-election pledge to raise capital gains tax, making it more expensive for investors to cash out. According to data provider Refinitiv, deal volume globally is down 12% year-to-date to $2.84 trillion, while the same involving US companies being acquired has fallen 32% to $1.07 trillion.
Myanmar goes to the polls
General elections started in Myanmar on Sunday even as the country saw coronavirus cases rise to 1,100 per day, after reporting only a handful in August. In the country’s second democratic vote since the end of military rule in 2015, Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) is expected to win a second term, believe political analysts. While Suu Kyi remains extremely popular in Myanmar and is often seen as a trusted public figure, this decreases in remote regions where ethnic minorities hold people’s attention. More than 37 million residents are registered to vote. However, with rising covid-19 cases, the turnout may be impacted. Opposition parties had called for the elections to be postponed which got rejected by the Union Election Commission. Elderly voters exercised their rights in advance, and others followed social distancing protocols at polling booths.
Climate crisis in the forefront
In a blow to the global fight against climate change, developed countries are at the risk of missing their target of collectively providing $100 billion a year by 2020 to help the poorer nations adapt and build state capacities to lower their carbon emissions. The funding dwindled after outgoing US President Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris climate agreement signed in 2016. According to a Bloomberg report citing an OECD study, climate finance from rich economies reached $78.9 billion in 2018, but it was still short of the target agreed by 197 countries. The fight against climate change is expected to gain fresh impetus, as US president-elect Joe Biden is expected to follow through on his promise of re-entering the international treaty on the first day in office.
Shipping containers demand surges
Covid-19 has made a hero of another overlooked commodity—a shipping container. A shortage of the steel boxes is boosting the purchase price of new containers and lease rates by 50%, reports Bloomberg. It has also led to traffic woes, additional surcharges and a delay in deliveries during the holiday season. The demand has led many major shipping liners like Hapag-Lloyd to redirect their 40-foot long containers to busier ports from other parts of the world. The 40-foot boxes are the most popular size for consumer products. Predictions that global trade would collapse this year had prompted container carriers to cancel sailings to underpin freight rates. About 35 million shipping containers are currently in use globally, making some 170 million full trips a year, according to online platform Container xChange’s marketing director Florian Frese. But about 55 million of those trips are made when they’re empty.
A step closer to education for all
Bangladesh has opened its first school for eunuchs, a transgender community. The students will learn to read the Quran and the basic principles of Islam, but will also be taught Bengali, English, maths and receive some vocational training. The government in 2013 had recognized eunuchs as the third gender in a Bangladesh court. However, even seven years after that the community faces widespread discrimination and remain marginalized. With limited resources for employment, the community has been pushed to live in abject poverty. With educational institutions also not admitting them, they are usually caught in a vicious circle. At the moment, the school has about 100 students, barely enough of the estimated 10,000 eunuchs who live in Bangladesh, according to government estimates. However, rights groups believe the population of eunuchs in the country to be close to 1.5 million.
Curated by Sohini Sen and Shreejay Sinha. Have something to share with us? Write to us at feedback@livemint or tweet to @shohinisen