World Entrepreneurs Investment Forum Opened in Dubai, Calling for Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Investment in a Post-pandemic Recovery
1. Key concerns
World Entrepreneurs Investment Forum opened in Dubai on March 28, 2022. The forum spotlighted entrepreneurship, innovation and investment in a post-pandemic recovery as vehicles for achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and called on entrepreneurs from countries (regions) to contribute to economic recovery.
The forum noted that COVID-19 has severely impacted the functioning of Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSME) and entrepreneurs across the globe. With the COVID-19 creating unprecedented disruptions to global economies and labour markets all over the world, supply chains grounding to a halt, and lockdowns resulting in the forced closure of many businesses, MSMEs were the most heavily impacted. “Easing of doing business is fundamental for the large part of the SMEs entrepreneurs. Without the confidence and support of the governments, they will not be able to survive,” said Dr. Ahmed Belhoulthe, UAE’s minister of State for Entrepreneurship and the SMEs. He believed that governments’ endorsement is far more important than direct financial support. Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, Executive Director of the International Monetary Found (IMF) also stated that small, medium and emerging enterprises should play important roles in economic recovery and achieving SDGs.
In response to shocks of the COVID-19, the governments and private sectors urgently need to take the digital transformations of world economies into account, swiftly adapting to the changing market conditions. The forum noted that the world witnessed the technological transformation and development during COVID-19. As the world transforms, entrepreneurs start to seek new innovative modes of finance to ensure their resilience and grow sustainably further. Participants said that establishing regional incubators and accelerators networks will go a long way in ensuring connectivity and foreigner direct investments for the Arab world. Bernardo Calzadilla-Sarmiento, Managing Director of the Directorate of Digitilization, technology and Agri-Business, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, noted that the forum provided a unique opportunity to address the fundamental challenges that nations are being confronted with in their journeys to achieve the SDGs, and to discuss how to maximize the potential of emerging companies and youth entrepreneurs, investment diversification and digital transformation.
The forum also stressed the role of women entrepreneurs in economic recovery. Reem Badran, a former Member of Parliament from Jordan noted that the COVID-19 posed shocks to achieving the SDGs, as it had exacerbated challenges faced by women around the world. However, the pandemic has also provided more room for innovation, for entrepreneurship and a holistic approach. She called on women entrepreneurs of all countries to seize the opportunity and play the important role in the world’s economic recovery.
2.Briefing on COVID-19 Pandemic（Issue No.186）
According to WHO statistics, calculated numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths reached 481,756,671 and 6,127,981 by March 29, 2022. South Korea, Germany, Vietnam, France and the UK were the five countries (regions) with the highest number of new confirmed cases in the past seven days. The US, India, Russia, South Korea and Brazil were the five countries (regions) with the highest number of new deaths in the past seven days.
The EU and WHO signed a letter of intent, aiming at joint forces to improve global health security and access to medical products and health technologies in Africa. Statistics from Our World in Data, an online research site of the University of Oxford, presented that 11,212,102,250 doses had been administered globally by March 28, 2022. On March 23, 2022, Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships, and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom met to deliberate on the EU - WHO partnership in global health and the pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. The two senior representatives signed a letter of intent for a €24.5 million EU contribution to WHO, to support the local manufacturing of and access to vaccines, medicines and health technologies in Sub-Saharan Africa. Under the letter of intent, the new initiative is designed to advance regulatory convergence across the continent, support technology transfer and capacity building for local production. Commissioner Urpilainen and Director-General Tedros also noted the rich EU - WHO collaboration to help achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Under the 2019-2022 EU - WHO Partnership for health systems strengthening, the EU had already allocated US$ 168 million to WHO to assist countries in designing and implementing interventions to tackle the threat of COVID-19 and promote a post- pandemic recovery. During the meeting, the EU and WHO also reviewed the preparation for a global accord on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. Director-General Tedros expressed his gratitude for the key role of the EU in promoting the health and well-being of all people, as well as sustainable and inclusive development.
In terms of the restrictions taken by countries (regions), there are different levels of measures adopted against COVID-19. Most countries (regions) gradually relaxed their prevention measures while a small number of countries (regions) extended their restriction measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic. In America, Health Canada approved Pfizer's COVID-19 antiviral Paxlovid on March 23 to support the implementation of the country's relaxed COVID-19 restriction policy. In Europe, Denmark announced that the country will not require entry quarantine for travellers from third countries. The Swedish Ministry of Justice announced on March 25 that all restrictions on non-essential travel from third countries will be lifted from April 1. The requirements to show proof of vaccination and testing results of COVID-19 will also be removed. Polish announced that from March 28, citizens of the country will no longer be required to wear face masks in public places. Furthermore, the country will also remove all self-quarantine requirements on entry into the country. Spain announced that the current restriction measures for passengers arriving from the European Union/European Economic Area will be extended until April 3. In Asia, on the morning of March 24, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced in a nationally televised address entitled "A New Phase" that from next week, Singapore will significantly relax a number of restriction measures: people will not be required to wear masks outdoors and will be allowed to reunite with family and friends abroad, but everyone must still do their part and continue to comply with the adjusted safety measures. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) of Japan held a vaccine subcommittee meeting on March 24 and decided to prepare for the fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine. According to TV Asahi, the fourth dose of vaccination is scheduled to start in May.