On April 18th, Iran, began to formally open up “low-risk economic activities,” including major shopping centers such as the Grand Bazaar. Despite concerns that this will increase infection rates in the country, the decision was made to stimulate the economy. Iran already suffered a 20 percent youth unemployment rate prior to the outbreak and a reported 50 percent of Iranians surveyed have lost their income due to the virus. Earlier this month, Iran refused medical aid from the U.S., a nation suffering most from the pandemic, and rather demanded the removal of sanctions. The decision to slowly open up the economy is likely made in an effort to prevent further harm to the economy as it endures pressure from both sanctions and the pandemic.
Likewise, the U.S., which has over 1,000,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, has plans to slowly re-open the economy. This month, President Trump announced his three-phase guideline for “Opening up America Again.” The decision comes after concerns that the lockdown will take a toll on the public and the economy. However, the future appears to indicate some positive early signs as New York, one of the hardest-hit cities in the U.S., continues to witness a descent in the curve as the infection rate drops from 1.4 to 0.9.
As some countries look to open up their economies and slowly adjust to the new normal, the impact of the pandemic on global relations remains unclear. China continues to reject allegations that the virus originated in a Wuhan laboratory, was accidentally released, or that it knowingly failed to take adequate measures to protect the international community. However, Germany, the UK, France, and the U.S. are pressuring China to claim responsibility for the pandemic, with Germany issuing China for a £130 billion invoice for the damages incurred by the virus. Vera Jourova, Vice President of the European Commission, also criticized the European Union’s dependency on other countries, specifically China, for medical supplies and called for re-assessing the supply chain and attempting to increase production within Europe.
The COVID-19 outbreak has posed a challenge to countries as they struggle to contain the virus while also maintaining the economy. While global interconnectivity has its benefits, this pandemic has highlighted its dangers and the downsides of dependency on other nations.
By Nikki Vafai