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Climate and disaster risk financing get fresh boost from African Development Bank

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The President of African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org), Akinwumi A. Adesina, and the Bank’s Board of Governors held a high-level session on “Climate and Disaster Risk Financing” focusing on the Role of the African Risk Capacity (ARC) (www.AfricanRiskCapacity.org) and the Africa Disaster Risk Financing Program (ADRiFi) on Wednesday in Busan, Korea.

“We talk about integrating Africa. We cannot integrate countries that are fragile, we can only integrate countries that are secured.”– Akinwumi Adesina, President, African Development Bank

The President of African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org), Akinwumi A. Adesina, and the Bank’s Board of Governors held a high-level session on “Climate and Disaster Risk Financing” focusing on the Role of the African Risk Capacity (ARC) (www.AfricanRiskCapacity.org) and the Africa Disaster Risk Financing Program (ADRiFi) on Wednesday in Busan, Korea.

The high-level session, part of the 53rd African Development Bank Group Annual Meetings underway in Busan, Korea, provided a platform for African Ministers of Finance, the Economy and Planning, who form its Board of Governors, to extend ongoing discussions between the Bank and regional member countries on the importance of disaster risk financing solutions in building resilience and protecting development gains.

In his opening remarks, Adesina stated that “Africa contributes no more than 2-3% of greenhouse gas emissions, but suffers disproportionately from the negative impacts of climate change. All across Africa, you see today the high frequency of droughts. Africa has been shortchanged by the climate financing architecture. Therefore, we need instruments that will help mitigate climate risks.”

Pledging Bank support for ARC operations, he encouraged others to follow suit. “It must not be only about the African Development Bank,” he said. “We want more stakeholders to join and more partnerships to make sure that the financing mechanism is there.”

“The future of Africa depends on the actions we take today. And we have to have a sense of urgency. If we pump in the alliance and partnerships needed, countries will be able to insure themselves of risks.”

Reiterating the challenges of climate change in Africa, especially the continent’s vulnerability to droughts, floods, tropical cyclones and outbreak and epidemics, ARC Chairperson Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala stated that ARC is about African countries taking charge of their own issues and finding ways to finance their response efforts and broader resilience and development. “We cannot remain a continent that is reliant on the generosity of the broader development community.”

She highlighted the critical role the ADRiFi will play in promoting disaster risk financing on the continent and how countries can access both capacity building and premium financing as part of their long-term resilience building efforts.

The Bank and ARC formalized their partnership In March 2017 to strengthen their technical collaboration towards enhancing the risk management infrastructure and policy across Africa while supporting countries in building resilience against climate shocks.

Following requests from regional member countries for premium financing support, the Bank proposed the ADRiFi program, which will run from 2018-2022, as a comprehensive, sustainable solution for risk transfer within the broader context of disaster risk management.

ADRiFi aligns with the Bank’s Ten-Year Strategy by enhancing resilience and response to climate shocks in regional member countries by improving the management of natural disaster risk and adaptation to climate change.

The Bank’s Board of Governors shared a common resolve and readiness to galvanize efforts and resources to help regional member countries improve their capacity to plan, prepare, and respond to extreme weather events and natural disasters so as to safeguard food security for Africa’s vulnerable populations.

The livelihoods of more than 70% of Africans depend on farming. A critical component of the High 5 Agenda of the African Development Bank is “Feed Africa” and hinges on unlocking the potential of agriculture.

Most agricultural activity in Africa is rain-fed, making it susceptible to the vagaries of climate change and natural disasters. ARC deploys innovative mechanisms and customized financial tools to help member countries reduce the risk of loss and damage caused by extreme weather events and natural disasters in a timely, cost-effective, objective and transparent manner.

Since its first financial affiliate was established in 2014, ARC has issued policies to eight governments over four drought risk pools. These countries have paid US $54 million in premiums (95% of which has come directly from national budgets) for a total coverage of approximately US $400 million over the period. ARC has further paid out US $37 million to countries affected by drought whose policies were triggered (Malawi, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal). These funds have been used to support over 2 million people and 1 million livestock.

Sharing his excitement for the partnership with the Bank and especially the ADRiFi program, ARC Director General, Mohamed Beavogui, expressed optimism that more African member states will be able to participate in the insurance pool when the Bank makes premium-financing support available to them.

“The ability of Africa to fully provide parametric insurance against extreme weather events and other natural disasters is a critical next step towards achieving food security on the continent and reducing the current over reliance on the international humanitarian financing system for support.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Development Bank Group (AfDB).

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Oil extends losses as Texas prepares to ramp up output

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Oil extends losses as Texas prepares to ramp up output 1

By Devika Krishna Kumar

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil prices fell for a second day on Friday, retreating further from recent highs as Texas energy companies began preparations to restart oil and gas fields shuttered by freezing weather.

Brent crude futures were down 33 cents, or 0.5%, at $63.60 a barrel by 11:06 a.m. (1606 GMT) U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 60 cents, or 1%, to $59.92.

This week, both benchmarks had climbed to the highest in more than a year.

“Price pullback thus far appears corrective and is slight within the context of this month’s major upside price acceleration,” said Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates.

Unusually cold weather in Texas and the Plains states curtailed up to 4 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude production and 21 billion cubic feet of natural gas, analysts estimated.

Texas refiners halted about a fifth of the nation’s oil processing amid power outages and severe cold.

Companies were expected to prepare for production restarts on Friday as electric power and water services slowly resume, sources said.

“While much of the selling relates to a gradual resumption of power in the Gulf coast region ahead of a significant temperature warmup, the magnitude of this week’s loss of supply may require further discounting given much uncertainty regarding the extent and possible duration of lost output,” Ritterbusch said.

Oil fell despite a surprise drop in U.S. crude stockpiles in the week to Feb. 12, before the big freeze. Inventories fell by 7.3 million barrels to 461.8 million barrels, their lowest since March, the Energy Information Administration reported on Thursday. [EIA/S]

The United States on Thursday said it was ready to talk to Iran about returning to a 2015 agreement that aimed to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Still, analysts did not expect near-term reversal of sanctions on Iran that were imposed by the previous U.S. administration.

“This breakthrough increases the probability that we may see Iran returning to the oil market soon, although there is much to be discussed and a new deal will not be a carbon-copy of the 2015 nuclear deal,” said StoneX analyst Kevin Solomon.

(Additional reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar in London and Roslan Khasawneh in Singapore and Sonali Paul in Melbourne; Editing by Jason Neely, David Goodman and David Gregorio)

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Analysis: Carmakers wake up to new pecking order as chip crunch intensifies

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Analysis: Carmakers wake up to new pecking order as chip crunch intensifies 2

By Douglas Busvine and Christoph Steitz

BERLIN (Reuters) – The semiconductor crunch that has battered the auto sector leaves carmakers with a stark choice: pay up, stock up or risk getting stuck on the sidelines as chipmakers focus on more lucrative business elsewhere.

Car manufacturers including Volkswagen, Ford and General Motors have cut output as the chip market was swept clean by makers of consumer electronics such as smartphones – the chip industry’s preferred customers because they buy more advanced, higher-margin chips.

The semiconductor shortage – over $800 worth of silicon is packed into a modern electric vehicle – has exposed the disconnect between an auto industry spoilt by decades of just-in-time deliveries and an electronics industry supply chain it can no longer bend to its will.

“The car sector has been used to the fact that the whole supply chain is centred around cars,” said McKinsey partner Ondrej Burkacky. “What has been overlooked is that semiconductor makers actually do have an alternative.”

Automakers are responding to the shortage by lobbying governments to subsidize the construction of more chip-making capacity.

In Germany, Volkswagen has pointed the finger at suppliers, saying it gave them timely warning last April – when much global car production was idled due to the coronavirus pandemic – that it expected demand to recover strongly in the second half of the year.

That complaint by the world’s No.2 volume carmaker cuts little ice with chipmakers, who say the auto industry is both quick to cancel orders in a slump and to demand investment in new production in a recovery.

“Last year we had to furlough staff and bear the cost of carrying idle capacity,” said a source at one European semiconductor maker, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“If the carmakers are asking us to invest in new capacity, can they please tell us who will pay for that idle capacity in the next downturn?”

LOW-TECH CUSTOMER

The auto industry spends around $40 billion a year on chips – about a tenth of the global market. By comparison, Apple spends more on chips just to make its iPhones, Mirabaud tech analyst Neil Campling reckons.

Moreover, the chips used in cars tend to be basic products such as micro controllers made under contract at older foundries – hardly the leading-edge production technology in which chipmakers would be willing to invest.

“The suppliers are saying: ‘If we continue to produce this stuff there is nowhere else for it to go. Sony isn’t going to use it for a Playstation 5 or Apple for its next iPhone’,” said Asif Anwar at Strategy Analytics.

Chipmakers were surprised by the panicked reaction of the German car industry, which persuaded Economy Minister Peter Altmaier to write a letter in January to his counterpart in Taiwan to ask its semiconductor makers to supply more chips.

No extra supplies were forthcoming, with one German industry source joking that the Americans stood a better chance of getting more chips from Taiwan because they could at least park an aircraft carrier off the coast – referring to the ability of the United States to project power in Asia.

Closer to home, a source at another European chipmaker expressed disbelief at the poor understanding at one carmaker of how it operates.

“We got a call from one auto maker that was desperate for supply. They said: Why don’t you run a night shift to increase production?” this person said.

“What they didn’t understand is that we have been running a night shift since the beginning.”

NO QUICK FIX

While Infineon, the leading supplier of chips to the global auto industry, and Robert Bosch, the top ‘Tier 1’ parts supplier, both plan to commission new chip plants this year, there is little chance of supply shortages easing soon.

Specialist chipmakers like Infineon outsource some production of automotive chips to contract manufacturers led by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), but the Asian foundries are currently prioritising high-end electronics makers as they come up against capacity constraints.

Over the longer term, the relationship between chip makers and the car industry will become closer as electric vehicles are more widely adopted and features such as assisted and autonomous driving develop, requiring more advanced chips.

But, in the short term, there is no quick fix for the lack of chip supply: IHS Markit estimates that the time it takes to deliver a microcontroller has doubled to 26 weeks and shortages will only bottom out in March.

That puts the production of 1 million light vehicles at risk in the first quarter, says IHS Markit. European chip industry executives and analysts agree that supply will not catch up with demand until later in the year.

Chip shortages are having a “snowball effect” as auto makers idle some capacity to prioritize building profitable models, said Anwar at Strategy Analytics, who forecasts a drop in car production in Europe and North America of 5%-10% in 2021.

The head of Franco-Italian chipmaker STMicroelectronics, Jean-Marc Chery, forecasts capacity constraints will affect carmakers until mid-year.

“Up to the end of the second quarter, the industry will have to manage at the lean inventory level,” Chery told a recent Goldman Sachs conference.

(Douglas Busvine from Berlin and Christoph Steitz from Frankfurt; Additional reporting by Mathieu Rosemain and Gilles Gillaume in Paris; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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Aussie and sterling hit multi-year highs on recovery bets

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Aussie and sterling hit multi-year highs on recovery bets 3

By Tommy Wilkes

LONDON (Reuters) – The Australian dollar rose to near a three-year high and the British pound scaled $1.40 for the first time since 2018 on optimism about economic rebounds in the two countries and after the U.S. dollar was knocked by disappointing jobs data.

The U.S. currency had been rising in recent days as a jump in Treasury yields on the back of the so-called reflation trade drew investors. But an unexpected increase in U.S. weekly jobless claims soured the economic outlook and sent the dollar lower overnight.

On Friday it traded down 0.3% against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index at 90.309.

The Aussie rose 0.8% to $0.784, its highest since March 2018. The currency, which is closely linked to commodity prices and the outlook for global growth, has been helped by a recent rally in commodity prices.

The New Zealand dollar also gained, and was not far off a more than two-year high, while the Canadian dollar rose too.

Sterling rose to $1.4009 on Friday, an almost three-year high amid Britain’s aggressive vaccination programme.

Given the size of Britain’s vital services sector, analysts say the faster it can reopen the economy, the better for the currency. Sterling was also helped by better-than-expected purchasing managers index flash survey data for February.

The U.S. dollar has been weighed down by a string of soft labour data, even as other indicators have shown resilience, and as President Joe Biden’s pandemic relief efforts take shape, including a proposed $1.9 trillion spending package.

Despite the recent rise in U.S. yields, many analysts think they won’t climb too much higher, limiting the benefit for the dollar.

“Our view remains that the Fed will hold the line and remain very cautious about tapering asset purchases. We think it will keep communicating that tightening is very far off, which should dampen pro-dollar sentiment,” said UBS Global Wealth Management strategist Gaétan Peroux and analyst Tilmann Kolb.

ING analysts said “the rise in rates will be self-regulating, meaning the dollar need not correct too much higher”.

They see the greenback index trading down to the 90.10 to 91.05 range.

U.S. dollar

Aussie and sterling hit multi-year highs on recovery bets 4

The euro rose 0.4% to $1.2134. The single currency showed little reaction to purchasing manager index data, which showed a slowdown in business activity in February. However, factories had their busiest month in three years, buoying sentiment.

The dollar bought 105.39 yen, down 0.3% and a continued retreat from the five-month high of 106.225 reached Wednesday.

(Editing by Hugh Lawson and Pravin Char)

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