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The usage of ethically made materials has been one of the biggest issues in the fashion industry. In particular, fast fashion brands such as H&M, Zara, Shein, and Romwe have been targets to move towards sustainable fashion and more ethical consumption. The newest issue on this front is dealing with the accusations that recently surfaced regarding the H&M Group profiting off of forced labor of the Uyghur people in the Chinese territory of Xinjiang.

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As technology continues to advance and phase itself into many aspects of our lives, the discussion of digital currencies being used by central governments has been brought to the table time and time again. With countries like China already deciding to implement a digital currency through their central government, pressure has been brought on to other large forces of the global financial sector as to whether or not they will do the same.

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Live stream selling is a newer form of e-commerce that is changing the way consumers around the globe shop. This new way of shopping allows businesses of any size to demonstrate and display their products to a much larger audience than traditional shopping. As restrictions continue because of the pandemic, many consumers are turning to live stream selling as a way to stay connected and receive a more authentic way of shopping that can be done from anywhere. Consumers have continued to look for an interactive and personalized experience throughout the pandemic. Businesses can provide this experience through live stream services such as TaoBao or Tmall, and even Instagram, Facebook, or Amazon.

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The Risk Comparator tab within each Economic Classification page on globalEDGE has been updated to reflect the most recently available 2021 data.  With the onset of the pandemic starting after the source, The Economist, provided its ratings last year, this year's ratings will show the impact that COVID-19 has had on countries and on the different classifications of markets in terms of their country, political, currency, sovereign, banking sector, and economic structure risk.  Explore the individual links below to gain a better understanding of market trends and to see how exactly specific countries have faired in managing risk during the course of the past year.

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has had an extremely busy year, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the IMF to respond to situations faster than ever before, and with new and innovative responses. The IMF is made up of 190 countries, including the United States, China, and the U.K., which are all original members. In the early weeks of the pandemic, the IMF saw more than 100 countries request their financial assistance, which led to the approval of $8.7 billion in emergency financing.

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The Suez Canal is an artificial sea-level waterway that connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea.  Built in Egypt between 1865 and 1869, it serves as a way of expediting transportation between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian and Western Pacific Oceans.  The closest alternative would be to travel around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, which would require an additional 7,000 km, which estimates out to about 8-10 additional travel days.  The Suez Canal is responsible for 13% of the world’s maritime trade, with an emphasis on the transportation of oil and natural gas.  It is reported that around one million barrels are transported through the canal daily.

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On March 27, 2021, foreign ministers from China and Iran signed a cooperation agreement that is expected to massively stimulate Iran’s economy, as well as deepen China’s presence in the middle east in general. The agreement promises around $400 billion of Chinese investments to be made in multiple Iranian economic sectors like banking, telecommunications, ports, railways, and health care and information technology. In exchange, China will receive a heavily discounted supply of Iranian oil for the next 25 years. Iran’s main contributors to these oil exports will likely be the government-owned National Petrochemical Company and National Iranian Oil Company.

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The issue of data collection is once again being posed, however this time it involves a very well-known gambling app company in Britain, Sky Bet. After fighting his gambling addiction, a man in Britain decided to pull a request for the private data that Sky Bet collected about him, revealing multiple personal information files including his banking records, mortgage details, location coordinates, and a full portrait of his different gambling habits. After he quit gambling, Sky Bet used the personal data they had of him to label him as a “win back” customer, creating targeted ads that have led to yet another controversy surrounding data collection and usage.

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Having survived the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries are looking to strengthen their security measures by controlling private information, namely the Chinese and American governments. Throughout 2020, the United States government attempted to ban the controversial app “Tik Tok” from platforms like the App Store on Apple devices because of its former ties to China. Similarly, the Chinese government is now restricting the use of Tesla’s vehicles by military and state employees as a result of privacy concerns of their own. With back and forth blows struck between the two countries, an international privacy war could be looming on the horizon.

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