China’s new Covid lockdowns are another threat to the economy

London (CNN Business)Russia’s war in Ukraine is roiling the global economy as policymakers race to get high inflation under control. But China’s response to its worst outbreak of Covid-19 in two years is a reminder that the conflict isn’t the only risk to the recovery.

What’s happening: The world’s second-largest economy is pushing ahead with its “zero-Covid” strategy, even as many other governments decide it’s time to learn to live with the virus.

Shenzhen, an important tech hub, has entered a weeklong lockdown after the city recorded 66 positive cases on Saturday. All businesses except those deemed essential have paused operations or have implemented working from home.

It said Monday that the date factory work will resume will “be advised by the local government.”
The Taiwanese company said it had shifted production to other sites to “minimize the potential impact” from the disruption, but didn’t specify which locations would take on extra work.

Uncertainty around Foxconn’s production is one sign of how China’s response to the jump in coronavirus infections will ripple around the world. The country recorded 2,125 local cases on Sunday across 58 cities.

“If there is a case found in the Yantian port [in Shenzhen], then there could be a port suspension for at least two weeks,” economists at ING told clients Monday. “That will then affect exports and imports of electronic parts and goods.”
That could make inflation even worse.
Remember: China’s growth target of about 5.5% this year was already its lowest in three decades. The country’s economy expanded 8.1% in 2021, but the pace of growth dropped sharply in the final months of the year.
Svein Tore Holsether says the world is careening toward a food crisis that could affect millions of people.
Record high natural gas prices have forced the company he runs, fertilizer producer Yara International, to curtail its production of ammonia and urea in Europe to 45% of capacity. With less of those two essential agricultural ingredients, he expects knock-on effects for global food supplies.
“It’s not whether we are going to have a food crisis. It’s how large that crisis will be,” Holsether told me.
 The biggest problem is wheat, a pantry staple. Supplies from Russia and Ukraine, which together account for almost 30% of global wheat trade, are now at risk. Global wheat prices hit an all-time high last week.
There’s more: Another major problem is access to fertilizer.
The situation is ringing alarm bells for global food experts. Agriculture ministers from the G7 countries met Friday to discuss the looming fallout.
Russia and Ukraine serve as the breadbasket for countries in the Middle East and North Africa that depend on imports.

Uber’s fuel surcharge could be just the beginning

Everyone is feeling pain at the pump — even Uber (UBER).
Uber said switching to electric vehicles will be the best way to avoid skyrocketing gas prices in the long term. It’s giving up to $4,000 annually to drivers who use electric cars and has partnered with Hertz to make as many as 50,000 Teslas available for drivers to rent by 2023.
In the meantime, though, soaring fuel costs are likely to bite. And Uber won’t be alone in deciding it needs to pass some of the expense along to its customers.

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