Flash Briefing: UK to remove SA from red list; Hong Kong Stock Exchange suspends Evergrande; UPL faces criminal probe

  • Following several attempts at lobbying by South African businesses and the government, the UK has finally agreed to remove SA from its controversial red list. The changes, which are expected to be announced on Thursday, will mean that travellers would no longer be expected to quarantine for 10 days in a hotel at their own expense of over R40,000. According to The Telegraph, South Africa will also be joined by Brazil and Mexico as those countries that will move to quarantine-free travel in time for the October half-term break. President Cyril Ramaphosa met with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to discuss the issue last week as it was estimated that South Africa’s already battered tourism industry loses over R20m for every day that it remains on the list. The UK is not only a significant trading partner but also South Africa’s greatest source of tourism from the Northern Hemisphere. If South Africa were to be taken off the red list, travellers would only be required to take a Covid-19 test three days before travelling to the UK, even if vaccinated, and quarantine at home or at their destination for 10 days if not fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated travellers would not be required to quarantine.
  • Trading in shares of China’s debt-laden property group Evergrande was suspended on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange today after it missed a key bond interest payment last week – its second offshore debt obligation in a week. Evergrande is China’s second-largest property developer and with liabilities equal to 2% of China’s GDP, the group has sparked concerns that its troubles could pose a threat to China’s financial, economic, and social stability. However, China’s central bank has vowed to protect homebuyers’ interests.
  • Multinational chemical producer UPL faces a criminal probe after it illegally stored hazardous chemicals in a warehouse in Durban that was looted and set ablaze during South Africa’s week of social unrest in July this year. The Indian producer of chemicals used in agriculture allegedly did not have the appropriate permits, and dangerous chemicals were released into a residential area and a river system, resulting in fish dying, beaches closing and complaints from residents about air pollution. Local activists have also alleged that the pollution could cause long-term health problems. Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy told reporters that the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions will make a decision on whether or not to pursue criminal charges. Meanwhile, UPL has denied any wrongdoing.
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