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COVID-19 pandemic drives global increase in humanitarian food assistance needs
by Famine Early Warning Systems Network
Sep. 2020
First Famines of Coronavirus Era are at World’s Doorstep, U.N. Warns. (New York Times)
The first famines of the coronavirus era could soon hit four chronically food-deprived conflict areas — Yemen, South Sudan, northeast Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo — the top humanitarian official of the United Nations has warned.
In a letter to members of the Security Council, the official, Mark Lowcock, said the risk of famines in these areas had been intensified by “natural disasters, economic shocks and public-health crises, all compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic.” Together, he said, “these factors are endangering the lives of millions of women, men and children.”
The letter, which has not been made public, was conveyed by Mr. Lowcock’s office to the Security Council on Friday under its 2018 resolution requiring updates when “the risk of conflict-induced famine and widespread food insecurity” occurs. A copy of the letter was seen by The New York Times.
United Nations officials have said before that all four areas are vulnerable to acute food deprivation because of chronic armed conflicts and the inability of humanitarian relief providers to freely distribute aid.
In April, David Beasley, the executive director of the World Food Program, the anti-hunger arm of the United Nations, warned the Security Council that while the world was contending with the coronavirus pandemic, “we are also on the brink of a hunger pandemic.”
Mr. Lowcock, who is the United Nations’ under secretary for humanitarian affairs, effectively escalated the warning, saying a lack of funding for emergency relief and the complications created by the coronavirus scourge have now pushed some of the world’s neediest populations closer to famine conditions.
Under a monitoring system for assessing hunger emergencies known as the Integrated Food Security Classification or IPC scale, Phase 3 is a crisis, Phase 4 is an emergency, and Phase 5 is famine — the worst — marked by “starvation, death, destitution and extremely critical acute malnutrition levels.”
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In Yemen, where famine was averted two years ago, Mr. Lowcock said “the risk is slowly returning.” The country, the poorest in the Arab world, has been ravaged for more than five years by a civil war between Houthi rebels and a Saudi-backed military coalition that has left 80 percent of the country dependent on outside aid.
Mr. Lowcock said the Yemeni currency has basically collapsed, while food costs have surged and drinking-water prices have more than doubled since April. In 16 districts of the country, nearly all in Houthi-controlled areas, he said, the hunger emergency is now at Phase 4 — one step from famine.
In the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where decades of conflict have worsened this year, Mr. Lowcock said 21 million people are living in “crisis or worse levels of food insecurity.”
In the northeast Nigeria states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, which have been roiled for years by armed extremist militants, Mr. Lowcock said more than 10 million people — four of five — now require humanitarian assistance and protection.
He said more than 1.2 million people in northeast Nigeria “remain largely inaccessible to aid agencies due to conflict and deliberate obstruction by nonstate armed groups,” with more than 15 aid workers killed in the past year.
In South Sudan, which has been upended by seven years of civil war, a recent upsurge in violence has left more than 1.4 million people “facing crisis or worse levels of food insecurity,” Mr. Lowcock said. Two years after the threat of famine was narrowly averted in South Sudan, he said, “parts of the country are again deteriorating sharply.”
Aug. 2020
FEWS NET estimates 90 to 100 million people are in need of humanitarian food assistance in 2020 across its 29 monitored countries, roughly a quarter of whom are in urban and peri-urban areas. These totals represent a sizable increase and notable shift in the population in need of humanitarian food assistance relative to assessed 2020 needs prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, when total food assistance needs were estimated to be roughly 25 percent lower, and one-tenth of needs were in urban and peri-urban areas.
Across the globe, governments continue to enact measures to suppress the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic. These measures consist largely of movement restrictions and social distancing that help limit the spread of the virus, though they also limit access to income-earning opportunities for many populations and slow trade activities.
For example, poor urban households rely heavily on daily wage labor and self-employment to earn the income necessary to purchase food to meet their basic needs. However, COVID-19-related restrictions have led to a significant decline in income and food access among poor urban households.
* FAO/WFP Analysis - Acute Food Insecurity Hotspots (July 2020):
* Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analyses of food insecurity and malnutrition situations:

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The Missing Profits of Nations
by Thomas Torslov, Ludvig Wier, Gabriel Zucman
World Inequality Lab
July 2020
Between 1985 and 2018, the global average statutory corporate tax rate has fallen by about half, from 49% to 24%. One reason for this decline is international tax competition.
In this paper, Thomas Torslov, Ludvig Wier and Gabriel Zucman explore the extent to which globalization and tax competition are redistributing profits across nations. They analyze how the location of corporate profits would change if all countries adopted the same effective corporate tax rate, keeping global profits and investment constant.
To do so, they exploit new macroeconomic data known as foreign affiliates statistics. As a result, the authors find that profits would increase by about 15% in high-tax European Union countries and 10% in the United States.
These results can be used to quantify the tax revenues that individual countries could gain under different corporate tax reform scenarios, and to quantify the revenue implications of a formulary apportionment system.
Close to 40% of multinational profits are shifted to tax havens globally;
European Union countries appear to be the tax competition largest losers: about 35% of the shifted profits come from E.U. (non-haven) countries, close to 30% from developing countries, and about 25% from the United States;
Profitability in Local vs. Foreign Firms: foreign firms are more profitable than local firms in tax havens, and local firms are more profitable in high-tax countries;
U.S. multinationals are the main “shifters”: about half of all the shifted profits ultimately accrue to U.S. parents, while about 30% accrue to E.U. parents;
Profit shifting reduces the corporate tax revenue of the European Union by around 20%. Globally, the tax revenue loss is around 10%;
The havens that collect the largest amount of revenue appear to be those that impose the lowest tax rate on foreign profits: the revenue-maximizing tax rate appears to be less than 5%.
As an example, Ireland has a 5% corporate tax rate and generates much more revenue than non-haven countries.
Policy conclusions:
Cutting corporate tax rates is less likely to generate quick positive effects on wages than textbook economic models suggest. For wages to rise, factors of production that complement labor need to increase. This can happen fast if tangible capital flows from abroad, less so if it is mostly paper profits that move across borders.
Profit shifting reduces the effective rates paid by multinationals compared to local firms, which could affect competition.
Profit shifting also reduces the taxes paid by the wealthy, as ownership of these firms is concentrated. This might call for offsetting changes in individual income taxation, or changes in the way multinational companies are taxed.

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