senior fellow at the Atlantic Council who works in the financial services industry, said of Russia’s cooperation with a price cap. “If that were the case, he wouldn’t have invaded Ukraine in the first place.”

But proponents believe that if the European Union bans insurance transactions, an oil price cap may be the best chance to mitigate the economic fallout.

John E. Smith, former director of the foreign assets control unit, said the key was ensuring that financial services firms and maritime insurers were not responsible for vetting every oil transaction, as well as providing guidance on complying with the sanctions.

“The question is will enough jurisdictions agree on the details to move this forward,” said Mr. Smith, who is now co-head of Morrison & Foerster’s national security practice. “If they do, it could be a win for everyone but Russia.”

Matina Stevis-Gridneff contributed reporting from Brussels.

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G20 finance chiefs make few policy breakthroughs at Indonesia meeting

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NUSA DUA, Indonesia, July 16 (Reuters) – The Group of 20 major economies’ finance chiefs on Saturday pledged to address global food insecurity and rising debt, but made few policy breakthroughs amid divisions over Russia’s war in Ukraine at a two-day meeting in Indonesia.

With questions growing about the effectiveness of the G20 in tackling the world’s major problems, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the differences had prevented the finance ministers and central bankers from issuing a formal communique but that the group had “strong consensus” on the need to address a worsening food security crisis.

Host Indonesia will issue a chair’s statement instead. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said most topics were agreed by all members except for particular statements about the war in Ukraine. She described it as the “best result” the group could have achieved at this meeting.

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Western countries have enforced strict sanctions against Russia, which says it is conducting a “special military operation” in Ukraine. Other G20 nations, including China, India and South Africa, have been more muted in their response.

“This is a challenging time because Russia is part of the G20 and doesn’t agree with the rest of us on how to characterize the war,” Yellen said, but stressed the disagreement should not prevent progress on pressing global issues.

Russia’s finance minister attended the meeting virtually while his deputy attended in person. Ukraine’s finance minister addressed the session virtually where he called for “more severe targeted sanctions”.

Indonesia’s Sri Mulyani said while chairing a fractured G20 has been “quite overwhelming” due to the war in Ukraine, all members agreed that food insecurity requires special attention and she called for removal of trade protections that prevented flow of food supplies.

The G20 will set up a joint forum between finance and agriculture ministers to address food and fertilize supply issue. A similar forum has been set up for finance and health ministers for pandemic preparedness.

Analysts said the failure to agree on a communique reflected the weakness of the once-mighty economic grouping.

“We are in a rudderless moment in the world economy with the G20 paralysed by Putin’s war and the G7 unable to lead on global public goods,” said Kevin Gallagher, who heads the Global Development Policy Center at Boston University.

G20 members pulled together at the start of the pandemic, but initiatives to cushion the shock for heavily indebted poor countries failed to produce significant results.

Western countries, concerned about the lack of transparency in China’s lending, were pressuring Beijing to restructure debt contracts and transform its role to “one that (contributes) to the country rather than to one of indebtedness and servitude,” said U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel. But they were frustrated that Chinese officials did not attend the meetings in person, making sideline discussions impossible.

Kristalina Georgieva, head of the International Monetary Fund, warned more than 30% of emerging and developing countries – and a staggering 60% of low-income countries – were in or near debt distress. read more

“The debt situation is deteriorating fast and a well-functioning mechanism for debt resolution should be in place,” she said.

Sri Mulyani said G20 also encouraged further progress on the implementation of the Common Framework for Debt Treatment beyond the debt service suspension initiative in a timely, orderly, and coordinated manner.

She said there were discussions on how to make the framework more effective for countries in need.

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Additional reporting by Stefanno Sulaiman in Nusa Dua and Leigh Thomas in Paris; Editing by William Mallard, Kanupriya Kapoor, Tom Hogue and William Mallard

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Economy Is at Risk of Recession by a Force Hiding in Plain Sight

This past week brought home the magnitude of the overlapping crises assailing the global economy, intensifying fears of recession, job losses, hunger and a plunge on stock markets.

At the root of this torment is a force so elemental that it has almost ceased to warrant mention — the pandemic. That force is far from spent, confronting policymakers with grave uncertainty. Their policy tools are better suited for more typical downturns, not a rare combination of diminishing economic growth and soaring prices.

Major economies including the United States and France reported their latest data on inflation, revealing that prices on a vast range of goods rose faster in June than anytime in four decades.

China reported that its economy, the world’s second-largest, expanded by a mere 0.4 percent from April through June compared with the same period last year. That performance — astonishingly anemic by the standards of recent decades — endangered prospects for scores of countries that trade heavily with China, including the United States. It reinforced the realization that the global economy has lost a vital engine.

The specter of slowing economic growth combined with rising prices has even revived a dreaded word that was a regular part of the vernacular in the 1970s, the last time the world suffered similar problems: stagflation.

Most of the challenges tearing at the global economy were set in motion by the world’s reaction to the spread of Covid-19 and its attendant economic shock, even as they have been worsened by the latest upheaval — Russia’s disastrous attack on Ukraine, which has diminished the supply of food, fertilizer and energy.

“The pandemic itself disrupted not only the production and transportation of goods, which was the original front of inflation, but also how and where we work, how and where we educate our children, global migration patterns,” said Julia Coronado, an economist at the University of Texas at Austin, speaking this past week during a discussion convened by the Brookings Institution in Washington. “Pretty much everything in our lives has been disrupted by the pandemic, and then we layer on to that a war in Ukraine.”

Great Supply Chain Disruption.

meat production to shipping exploited their market dominance to rack up record profits.

The pandemic prompted governments from the United States to Europe to unleash trillions of dollars in emergency spending to limit joblessness and bankruptcy. Many economists now argue that they did too much, stimulating spending power to the point of stoking inflation, while the Federal Reserve waited too long to raise interest rates.

Now playing catch-up, central banks like the Fed have moved assertively, lifting rates at a rapid clip to try to snuff out inflation, even while fueling worries that they could set off a recession.

Given the mishmash of conflicting indicators found in the American economy, the severity of any slowdown is difficult to predict. The unemployment rate — 3.6 percent in June — is at its lowest point in almost half a century.

American consumers have enhanced fears of a downturn. This past week, the International Monetary Fund cited weaker consumer spending in slashing expectations for economic growth this year in the United States, from 2.9 percent to 2.3 percent. Avoiding recession will be “increasingly challenging,” the fund warned.

Orwellian lockdowns that have constrained business and life in general. The government expresses resolve in maintaining lockdowns, now affecting 247 million people in 31 cities that collectively produce $4.3 trillion in annual economic activity, according to a recent estimate from Nomura, the Japanese securities firm.

But the endurance of Beijing’s stance — its willingness to continue riding out the economic damage and public anger — constitutes one of the more consequential variables in a world brimming with uncertainty.

sanctions have restricted sales of Russia’s enormous stocks of oil and natural gas in an effort to pressure the country’s strongman leader, Vladimir V. Putin, to relent. The resulting hit to the global supply has sent energy prices soaring.

The price of a barrel of Brent crude oil rose by nearly a third in the first three months after the invasion, though recent weeks have seen a reversal on the assumption that weaker economic growth will translate into less demand.

major pipeline carrying gas from Russia to Germany cut the supply sharply last month, that heightened fears that Berlin could soon ration energy consumption. That would have a chilling effect on German industry just as it contends with supply chain problems and the loss of exports to China.

euro, which has surrendered more than 10 percent of its value against the dollar this year. That has increased the cost of Europe’s imports, another driver of inflation.

ports from the United States to Europe to China.

“Everyone following the economic situation right now, including central banks, we do not have a clear answer on how to deal with this situation,” said Kjersti Haugland, chief economist at DNB Markets, an investment bank in Norway. “You have a lot of things going on at the same time.”

The most profound danger is bearing down on poor and middle-income countries, especially those grappling with large debt burdens, like Pakistan, Ghana and El Salvador.

As central banks have tightened credit in wealthy nations, they have spurred investors to abandon developing countries, where risks are greater, instead taking refuge in rock-solid assets like U.S. and German government bonds, now paying slightly higher rates of interest.

This exodus of cash has increased borrowing costs for countries from sub-Saharan Africa to South Asia. Their governments face pressure to cut spending as they send debt payments to creditors in New York, London and Beijing — even as poverty increases.

U.N. World Food Program declared this month.

Among the biggest variables that will determine what comes next is the one that started all the trouble — the pandemic.

The return of colder weather in northern countries could bring another wave of contagion, especially given the lopsided distribution of Covid vaccines, which has left much of humanity vulnerable, risking the emergence of new variants.

So long as Covid-19 remains a threat, it will discourage some people from working in offices and dining in nearby restaurants. It will dissuade some from getting on airplanes, sleeping in hotel rooms, or sitting in theaters.

Since the world was first seized by the public health catastrophe more than two years ago, it has been a truism that the ultimate threat to the economy is the pandemic itself. Even as policymakers now focus on inflation, malnutrition, recession and a war with no end in sight, that observation retains currency.

“We are still struggling with the pandemic,” said Ms. Haugland, the DNB Markets economist. “We cannot afford to just look away from that being a risk factor.”

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Russia joins G20 meeting overshadowed by Ukraine conflict

  • Lavrov attending gathering of Russia’s most vocal opponents
  • Talks to include global food and energy security
  • Britain’s Truss to cut short trip – BBC
  • G7 countries not present at Bali reception
  • ‘Everyone has to feel comfortable’ – Indonesia minister

NUSA DUA, Indonesia, July 7 (Reuters) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will have his first close encounter with the fiercest critics of his country’s invasion of Ukraine at a G20 gathering in Indonesia that was getting under way on Thursday with the war all but certain to dominate discussions.

A closed-door foreign minister’s meeting on Friday will be the first time Russian President Vladimir Putin’s top diplomat Lavrov will come face-to-face with the most vocal opponents of the invasion of Ukraine in February, which Moscow has called a “special military operation”.

Lavrov planned to meet some of his counterparts on the sidelines of the summit, Russian news agency TASS reported, but ministers including Germany’s Annalena Baerbock and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken have ruled out separate meetings with him.

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Underlining tensions in the buildup to the meeting, Retno Marsudi, Indonesia’s foreign minister, said G7 counterparts had informed her they could not attend Thursday’s reception ceremony, decisions that the host nation understood and respected. It was not immediately clear if Lavrov attended.

“We’re talking about trying to create a comfortable situation for all,” Retno told reporters.

“I understand your position. Because once again, everyone has to feel comfortable to attend.”

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said her country and like-minded nations would use the G20 meeting to highlight the impact of the war.

“We will be making very clear collectively our views about Russia’s position and Russia’s behaviour,” she said.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, however, may leave early: the BBC reported she planned to return to London amid the political drama around Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation.

A British Foreign Office official declined to comment.

GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS

Energy and food security are on the Bali meeting agenda, with Western nations accusing Russia of stoking a global food crisis and worsening inflation by blockading shipments of Ukrainian grain. Russia has said it is ready to facilitate unhindered exports of grain.

The Group of 20 includes Western countries that have accused Moscow of war crimes in Ukraine – which it denies – and have imposed sanctions, but also countries like China, Indonesia, India and South Africa that have been more muted in their response.

Speaking after meeting his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, Lavrov emphasised the importance of Russia-China ties in shaping a more “just and democratic world based on the principles of international law”.

He also lashed out at what he said was an “openly aggressive” West “which seeks to maintain its privileged position and dominance in international affairs”.

Some U.S. and European officials have stressed the gathering will not be “business as a usual”. A spokesperson for the German foreign minister said G7 countries would coordinate their response to Lavrov.

In 2014, the G7 excluded Russia from what had become the G8, over its annexation of Crimea.

Top officials from Britain, Canada and the United States walked out on Russian representatives during a G20 finance meeting in Washington in April. However despite early talk of boycotting subsequent G20 meetings, some analysts say Western nations may have decided this would be counterproductive.

A senior U.S. State Department official said on Thursday it was important to maintain a focus on what Indonesia had set out for its G20 presidency and “not let there be any disruptions or interruptions to that”.

“We also want to make sure that there’s nothing that in any way, shape or form lends any conceivable legitimacy to what Russia is doing in brutalising Ukraine,” the official said.

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Reporting by Stanley Widianto and Yuddy Chaya Budiman in Nusa Dua, Kirsty Needham in Sydney and David Brunnstrom in Tokyo; Writing by Kate Lamb
Editing by Ed Davies, Frances Kerry, Martin Petty, William Maclean

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Thailand urges care over content as Lazada promotion angers royalists

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A view of part of online retailer Lazada’s warehouse in Depok, south of Jakarta, Indonesia March 26, 2018. Picture taken March 26, 2018. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside/File Photo

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BANGKOK, May 7 (Reuters) – Thailand on Saturday warned against the creation of online content that risked insulting the country’s monarchy, after a video by a social media influencer promoting e-commerce platform Lazada incensed royalists, who said it was mocking the palace.

Thai law prescribes punishments of up to 15 years in jail for each offence if found guilty of defaming, insulting or threatening King Maha Vajiralongkorn and his closest family.

The video, which has since been taken down, was promoting Lazada’s May 5 sale and featured a woman dressed in a traditional Thai costume sitting in a wheelchair and playing the role of an influencer’s mother.

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Royalists complained the woman in the wheelchair was a veiled reference to a royal family member. The video did not use the language used by the royal family, nor mention any of its members.

In videos posted on Facebook, the influencer, Aniwat “Nara” Prathumthin, said the clip was a parody of a famous Thai soap opera and told critics the perceived royal insult was “all in your imagination”.

Lazada, the Southeast Asian arm of Alibaba Group Holding (9988.HK), in a statement apologised for the “emotional damage” the video had caused and said it should have been more careful.

Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said such content risked damaging the reputation of brands.

“Let us warn marketers, influencers and content creators to be careful about presenting content or promotions that reference appearances or individuals of the institution that all Thais worship and love,” Thanakorn said in a statement.

“This is inappropriate, and will not only upset every Thai in the country, but also destroy the image and reputation of the brand. It could also be against the law.”

The incident follows an April Fool’s prank tweeted by a staff member at budget airline Thai Vietjet Air, an offshoot of Vietnam’s Vietjet Aviation JSC (VJC.HM), about a new route to Munich that stirred anger among royalists, who said it was a hidden joke about the Thai king spending time in Germany. The airline apologised. read more

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Reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Martin Petty and David Holmes

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East Timor’s Ramos-Horta makes pitch for stability ahead of election, article with image

DILI, March 18 (Reuters) – The frontrunner in East Timor’s presidential election, independence figure and Nobel laureate Jose Ramos-Horta, has said he hopes to restore political stability to Asia’s youngest democracy, as the nation prepares to head to the polls.

East Timor will hold its fifth presidential election on Saturday since gaining independence, after a campaign also focused on economic security and jobs.

In a streamed address to the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia late on Thursday, the 72-year-old former prime minister and president said he felt compelled to run to safeguard the constitutional integrity of East Timor.

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“What happened in the past few years is that the president exceeded his powers,” said Ramos-Horta, referring to prolonged political tensions that have hampered efforts to cut poverty, tackle corruption and develop rich energy resources.

In 2018, incumbent president and former resistance fighter Francisco “Lu Olo” Guterres refused to swear in seven ministers from the National Congress of the Reconstruction of East Timor (CNRT), a political party led by the country’s first president and former resistance leader Xanana Gusmao.

Guterres said his actions were justified given judicial inquiries into alleged misconduct, but the move entrenched party divisions and led to a prolonged political impasse.

Patricio da Silva, a supporter of the president, said during a recent campaign rally he still had “high hopes” that Guterres would be able to win another term in office.

Ramos-Horta, Guterres and a former army commander are the top contenders in the election, according to a poll by the National University in East Timor.

The survey showed Ramos-Horta, who is backed by Xanana’s CNRT party, in the lead with 39%.

If none of the 16 candidates wins a majority, a second-round runoff will be held between the top two candidates on April 19.

Approaching 20 years of independence after a brutal occupation by Indonesia, the role of young voters has been in focus with an estimated 20% of the electorate first-time voters in the country of 1.3 million.

“The big issue in a society with a median age of 18 is that it has to produce a lot more jobs and educational opportunities,” said Michael Leach, an academic from Australia’s Swinburne University, who also cites the urgency for East Timor to reduce its dependence on oil and gas revenues.

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Reporting and Writing by Kate Lamb in Sydney;
Additional reporting by Francisco Ismenio in Dili.
Editing by Ed Davies

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Tonga Shrouded by Ash and Mystery After Powerful Volcano Erupts

The authorities closed several beaches in Peru on Sunday and warned about abnormal wave activity.

The deaths in Peru were reminiscent of the aftermath of the powerful tsunami set off by an undersea earthquake off Indonesia in December 2004 which killed more than 250,000 people. A dozen of the dead then were hit by waves on the eastern coast of Africa, in Kenya and Tanzania.

In Tonga on Sunday, many residents lost not only communication ties but power. Up to 80,000 people there could be affected, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies told the BBC.

One immediate need was clear: potable water.

“The ash cloud has, as you can imagine, caused contamination,” said Ms. Ardern, the New Zealand prime minister. “That’s on top of already a challenging environment, in terms of water supply.”

New Zealand and other nations in the region pledged to give Tonga aid to recover. So did the United States. But with heavy concentrations of airborne ash making flights impossible, it was difficult even to know what was needed.

Ms. Ardern said flights over Tonga were planned for Monday or Tuesday, depending on ash conditions. New Zealand’s navy was also preparing a backup plan, should the ash remain heavy, she said.

In a post on Twitter, Antony J. Blinken, the American secretary of state, offered his condolences: “Deeply concerned for the people of Tonga as they recover from the aftermath of a volcanic eruption and tsunami. The United States stands prepared to provide support to our Pacific neighbors.”

Tonga has experienced a succession of natural disasters in recent years. In 2018, more than 170 homes were destroyed and two people killed by Cyclone Gita, a Category 5 tropical storm. In 2020, Cyclone Harold caused about $111 million in damage, including extensive flooding.

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Novavax says COVID vaccine triggers immune response to Omicron variant

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Vials labelled “VACCINE Coronavirus COVID-19” and a syringe are seen in front of a displayed Novavax logo in this illustration taken December 11, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

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Dec 22 (Reuters) – Novavax Inc’s (NVAX.O) COVID-19 vaccine is effective in generating an immune response against the Omicron variant, according to early data published on Wednesday,suggesting that the U.S. drugmaker’s existing COVID-19 vaccine can help combat the new Omicron variant.

Novavax’s two-dose, protein-based vaccine was authorized for use this week by European Union regulators and the World Health Organization. L1N2T50VX It has previously been approved by countries including Indonesia and the Philippines but not the United States.

Novavax said that receiving an additional booster dose of Novavax’s vaccine further increased people’s immune response to Omicron. The data was taken from Novavax’s ongoing studies of its vaccine’s effectiveness in adolescents and as a booster.

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“We are encouraged that boosted responses against all variants were comparable to those associated with high vaccine efficacy in our Phase 3 clinical trials,” said Gregory M. Glenn, Novavax’s president of research and development.

Other COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, including Pfizer Inc. (PFE.N) and Moderna Inc. (MRNA.O), also increase immune responses to Omicron, early data from those companies has shown. Resistance in all cases is stronger in people who have received an additional booster dose.

Novavax is working on developing an Omicron-specific vaccine and said Wednesday it expects to begin manufacturing doses of the variant-specific shot in January.

The drugmaker will start shipping vaccines to the EU’s 27 member states in January as part of its deal to supply up to 200 million doses.

The company will also begin shipments in early 2022 to COVAX, a vaccine distribution mechanism overseen by WHO that allocates COVID-19 shots to poorer countries. Novavax and its partner, Serum Institute of India, have agreed to send COVAX more than 1.1 billion doses of Novavax’s vaccine.

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Reporting by Carl O’Donnell
Editing by Leslie Adler, Cynthia Osterman and Sonya Hepinstall

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As World Shuts Borders to Stop Omicron, Japan Offers a Cautionary Tale

TOKYO — With the emergence of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus late last week, countries across the globe rushed to close their borders to travelers from southern Africa, even in the absence of scientific information about whether such measures were necessary or likely to be effective in stopping the virus’s spread.

Japan has gone further than most other countries so far, announcing on Monday that the world’s third-largest economy would be closed off to travelers from everywhere.

It is a familiar tactic for Japan. The country has barred tourists since early in the pandemic, even as most of the rest of the world started to travel again. And it had only tentatively opened this month to business travelers and students, despite recording the highest vaccination rate among the world’s large wealthy democracies and after seeing its coronavirus caseloads plunge by 99 percent since August.

Now, as the doors slam shut again, Japan provides a sobering case study of the human and economic cost of those closed borders. Over the many months that Japan has been isolated, thousands of life plans have been suspended, leaving couples, students, academic researchers and workers in limbo.

United States, Britain and most of Europe reopened over the summer and autumn to vaccinated travelers, Japan and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region opened their borders only a crack, even after achieving some of the world’s highest vaccination rates. Now, with the emergence of the Omicron variant, Japan, along with Australia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Indonesia and South Korea, are quickly battening down again.

outbreak of the Delta variant.

Japan is recording only about 150 coronavirus cases a day, and before the emergence of the Omicron variant, business leaders had been calling for a more aggressive reopening.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, Japan did what most countries around the world did — we thought we needed proper border controls,” Yoshihisa Masaki, director of communications at Keidanren, Japan’s largest business lobbying group, said in an interview earlier this month.

But as cases diminished, he said, the continuation of firm border restrictions threatened to stymie economic progress. “It will be like Japan being left behind in the Edo Period,” Mr. Masaki said, referring to Japan’s isolationist era between the 17th and mid-19th centuries.

Thailand had recently reopened to tourists from 63 countries, and Cambodia had just started to welcome vaccinated visitors with minimal restrictions. Other countries, like Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia, were allowing tourists from certain countries to arrive in restricted areas.

Wealthier Asian countries like Japan resisted the pressure to reopen. With the exception of its decision to hold the Summer Olympics, Japan has been cautious throughout the pandemic. It was early to shut its borders and close schools. It rolled out its vaccination campaign only after conducting its own clinical trials. And dining and drinking hours remained restricted in many prefectures until September.

Foreign companies could not bring in executives or other employees to replace those who were moving back home or to another international posting, said Michael Mroczek, a lawyer in Tokyo who is president of the European Business Council.

In a statement on Monday, the council said business travelers or new employees should be allowed to enter provided they follow strict testing and quarantine measures.

“Trust should be put in Japan’s success on the vaccination front,” the council said. “And Japan and its people are now firmly in a position to reap the economic rewards.”

Business leaders said they wanted science to guide future decisions. “Those of us who live and work in Japan appreciate that the government’s policies so far have substantially limited the impact of the pandemic here,” said Christopher LaFleur, former American ambassador to Malaysia and special adviser to the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan.

But, he said, “I think we really need to look to the science over the coming days” to see whether a complete border shutdown is justified.

Students, too, have been thrown into uncertainty. An estimated 140,000 or more have been accepted to universities or language schools in Japan and have been waiting months to enter the country to begin their courses of study.

Carla Dittmer, 19, had hoped to move from Hanstedt, a town south of Hamburg, Germany, to Japan over the summer to study Japanese. Instead, she has been waking up every morning at 1 to join an online language class in Tokyo.

“I do feel anxious and, frankly speaking, desperate sometimes, because I have no idea when I would be able to enter Japan and if I will be able to keep up with my studies,” Ms. Dittmer said. “I can understand the need of caution, but I hope that Japan will solve that matter with immigration precautions such as tests and quarantine rather than its walls-up policy.”

The border closures have economically flattened many regions and industries that rely on foreign tourism.

When Japan announced its reopening to business travelers and international students earlier this month, Tatsumasa Sakai, 70, the fifth-generation owner of a shop that sells ukiyo-e, or woodblock prints, in Asakusa, a popular tourist destination in Tokyo, hoped that the move was a first step toward further reopening.

“Since the case numbers were going down, I thought that we could have more tourists and Asakusa could inch toward coming back to life again,” he said. “I guess this time, the government is just taking precautionary measures, but it is still very disappointing.”

Mr. Dery and Ms. Hirose also face a long wait. Mr. Dery, who met Ms. Hirose when they were both working at an automotive parts maker, returned to Indonesia in April 2020 after his Japanese work visa expired. Three months before he departed, he proposed to Ms. Hirose during an outing to the DisneySea amusement park near Tokyo.

Ms. Hirose had booked a flight to Jakarta for that May so that the couple could marry, but by then, the borders were closed in Indonesia.

“Our marriage plan fell apart,” Mr. Dery, 26, said by telephone from Jakarta. “There’s no clarity on how long the pandemic would last.”

Just last week, Mr. Dery secured a passport and was hoping to fly to Japan in February or March.

Upon hearing of Japan’s renewed border closures, he said he was not surprised. “I was hopeful,” he said. “But suddenly the border is about to close again.”

“I don’t know what else to do,” he added. “This pandemic seems endless.”

Reporting was contributed by Hisako Ueno and Makiko Inoue in Tokyo; Dera Menra Sijabat in Jakarta, Indonesia; Richard C. Paddock in Bangkok; John Yoon in Seoul; Raymond Zhong in Taipei, Taiwan; and Yan Zhuang in Sydney, Australia.

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Global Leaders Pledge to End Deforestation by 2030

Leaders of more than 100 countries, including Brazil, China and the United States, vowed on Monday at climate talks in Glasgow to end deforestation by 2030, seeking to preserve forests crucial to absorbing carbon dioxide and slowing the rise in global warming.

The pledge will demand “transformative further action,” the countries’ declaration said, and it was accompanied by several measures intended to help put it into effect. But some advocacy groups criticized them as lacking teeth, saying they would allow deforestation to continue.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain was scheduled to announce the deforestation agreement at an event on Tuesday morning attended by President Biden and the president of Indonesia, Joko Widodo.

“These great teeming ecosystems — these cathedrals of nature — are the lungs of our planet,” Mr. Johnson is expected to say.

climate summit, known as COP26. Intact forests and peatlands, for example, are natural storehouses of carbon, keeping it sealed away from the atmosphere. But when these areas are logged, burned or drained, the ecosystems switch to releasing greenhouse gases.

If tropical deforestation were a country, it would be the third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, according to the World Resources Institute, after China and the United States. Much of the world’s deforestation is driven by commodity agriculture as people fell trees to make room for cattle, soy, cocoa and palm oil.

even make rain, supporting agriculture elsewhere. They are fundamental to sustaining biodiversity, which is suffering its own crisis as extinction rates climb.

Previous efforts to protect forests have struggled. One program recognized in the Paris climate accord seeks to pay forested nations for reducing tree loss, but progress has been slow.

Previous promises to end deforestation also have failed. A United Nations plan announced in 2017 made similar commitments. An agreement in 2014 to end deforestation by 2030, the New York Declaration on Forests, set goals without a means to achieve them, and deforestation continued.

The same will happen this time, some environmentalists predicted.

“It allows another decade of forest destruction and isn’t binding,” said Carolina Pasquali, executive director of Greenpeace Brazil. “Meanwhile, the Amazon is already on the brink and can’t survive years more deforestation.”

Supporters of the new pledge point out that it expands the number of countries and comes with specific steps to save forests.

“What we’re doing here is trying to change the economics on the ground to make forests worth more alive than dead,” said Eron Bloomgarden, whose group, Emergent, helps match public and private investors with forested countries and provinces looking to receive payments for reducing deforestation.

The participating governments promised “support for smallholders, Indigenous Peoples and local communities, who depend on forests for their livelihoods and have a key role in their stewardship.”

have begun emitting more carbon than they store.

China is one of the biggest signatories to the deforest declaration, but the country’s top leader, Xi Jinping, did not attend the climate negotiations in Glasgow. China suffered heavy forest losses as its population and industry grew over the past decades, but more recently, it has pledged to regrow forests and to expand sustainable tree farming.

By China’s estimate, forests now cover about 23 percent of its landmass, up from 17 percent in 1990, according to the World Bank. Though some research has questioned the scale and the quality of that expanded tree cover, the government has made expanded reforestation a pillar of its climate policies, and many areas of the country are notably greener than they were a couple of decades ago.

Still, China’s participation in the new pledge may also test its dependence on timber imported from Russia, Southeast Asia and African countries, including large amounts of illegally felled trees.

In a written message to the Glasgow meeting, Mr. Xi “stressed the responsibility of developed countries in tackling climate change, saying that they should not only do more themselves, but should also provide support to help developing countries do better,” Xinhua news agency reported.

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