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German farmers protest government agriculture policy

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German farmers drove their tractors into Bonn on Monday to hold a protest outside the Agriculture Ministry against the imposition of regulations on the sector.


“There has to be an end to the excessive flood of official requirements,” the President of the Rhineland Agricultural Association, Bernhard Conzen, said as hundreds of farmers gathered in the western city.


He called for environmentally sustainable agriculture to be structured “with mutual understanding for what is necessary and what is achievable,” otherwise family farms would not be able to survive.


Organisers put the number of farmers joining the protest at 1,000, with demonstrators coming mainly from western regions.


The farmers are calling for changes to the Mercosur free trade agreement reached this year between the EU and the South American trade bloc.


Regulations on the use of fertiliser and manure are another issue.


Agriculture Ministry Secretary of State Hermann Onko Aeikens is expected to hold talks with the farmers’ representatives.


FAT/MST


Edited by Fatima Sule/Muhammad Suleiman Tola

Features

German gov’t supports local fleece manufacturer to boost face mask production

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The German government subsidised the expansion of fleece production by local company Innovatec in order to boost production of face masks in the country, Germany’s Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) announced this on Friday.

“We intend to significantly expand our production capacities for protective equipment in Germany and thus effectively reduce our dependence on imports,’’ said German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Peter Altmaier, when handing over the first notice of funding for fleece production.

Innovatec would invest more than 11 million euros ($12.5 million) in two new units for fleece production and could manufacture an additional 1,500 tons of fleece in the future, enabling the production of more than 1.5 billion face masks, according to BMWi.

The programme was aiming to stimulate an additional fleece production of 4,000 tons per year.

However, Altmaier stressed that “our long-term goal is to cover the entire value chain, from machines to filter fleece and protective masks’’.

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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German police attempt to break up anti-racism rally in Hamburg

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Police in the northern German city of Hamburg on Friday said they had intervened to disperse attendees of an anti-racism rally they claimed were not adhering to coronavirus restrictions.

Around 1,500 people attended the demonstration, which was linked to last week’s killing by United States police of African-American man, George Floyd.

The event had originally been registered for 250 participants outside the United States consulate along the banks of Hamburg’s Alster River, a police spokesperson said.

Police declared the event over after just half an hour, claiming attendees had violated police instructions to observe coronavirus restrictions such as keeping a safe distance from one another and wearing a covering over their lower faces.

However, the crowds did not immediately disperse, with photos posted on social media, showing people sitting instead on the ground.

German politician, Christiane Schneider of the hard-left Die Linke, posted a picture on Twitter using the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter she claimed showed a police water cannon ready for deployment against the crowd.

The demonstration was registered under the motto “Justice for Floyd – stop killing blacks – stop the racial terrorism in the USA’’.

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Trump directs United States troops reduction in Germany: media

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United States President Donald Trump directed the Pentagon to reduce United States military presence in Germany by September, United States media reported on Friday.

Citing United States government officials, The Wall Street Journal said in a Friday piece that the move would reduce 9,500 troops from the 34,500 troops that are permanently assigned in Germany.

The move also limits the size of United States troops deployed in Germany at any one time at the 25,000-troop level. According to the report, overall troop levels under current practice can rise to as high as 52,000 as units rotate in and out or take part in training exercises.

The report came days after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said due to the coronavirus pandemic, she will not attend the Group of Seven (G7) Summit that initially scheduled at the White House in late June.

A person familiar with the matter was quoted as saying that the troops’ reduction plan had been discussed within the administration for months and was not linked to Merkel’s decision on G7 Summit.

The reduction plan might further strain the relations between Washington and Berlin. The two allies have been at odds with each other on Iran nuclear issues, Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, and defense burden-sharing, among others.

(XINHUA)

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Germany’s GDP to shrink by 7 pct in 2020: central bank

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Germany’s total economic output would shrink by seven percent in 2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Germany’s central bank, Deutsche Bundesbank, forecasted on Friday.

After a decline in 2020, Germany’s real gross domestic product (GDP) was expected to increase again by three to four percent annually over the next two years. “The German economy will recover following a deep recession in the second quarter of this year,” according to Deutsche Bundesbank.

Germany’s economic output had seen an “exceptionally sharp drop” in the first quarter of the current year, Deutsche Bundesbank noted. However, the German economy had already “bottomed out” in April and was starting to recover.

The recovery of the German economy would initially remain subdued because the negative effects caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken to contain new infections would diminish only gradually, according to Deutsche Bundesbank.

The forecast was finalized after the latest economic stimulus package was announced earlier this week by the German government. As a result, the economic outlook was now “noticeably more favorable,” Deutsche Bundesbank noted.

The state aid, worth 130 billion euros (147 billion United States dollars) for the years 2020 and 2021, includes a reduction of the value-added tax (VAT) from 19 percent to 16 percent until the end of this year, which alone would cost around 20 billion euros, according to the government.

“Further stimulus is also appropriate in light of the current situation, and I welcome the economic stimulus package,” stated Jens Weidmann, head of the Deutsche Bundesbank, adding that government finances were making a “substantial contribution to stabilization.”

(XINHUA)

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German gov’t supports local fleece manufacturer to boost face mask production

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The German government subsidized the expansion of fleece production by local company Innovatec in order to boost production of face masks in the country, Germany’s Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) announced on Friday.

“We intend to significantly expand our production capacities for protective equipment in Germany and thus effectively reduce our dependence on imports,” said German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier when handing over the first notice of funding for fleece production.

Innovatec would invest more than 11 million euros (12.5 million United States dollars) in two new units for fleece production and could manufacture an additional 1,500 tons of fleece in the future, enabling the production of more than 1.5 billion face masks, according to BMWi.

The program was aiming to stimulate an additional fleece production of 4,000 tons per year. However, Altmaier stressed that “our long-term goal is to cover the entire value chain, from machines to filter fleece and protective masks.”

(XINHUA)

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Filed bankruptcies in Germany see moderate increase: IWH

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With 1,019 companies in Germany filing for bankruptcy in May, insolvencies recorded a “moderate increase” of 53 companies compared to the previous year, the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH) announced on Friday.

Although overall corporate bankruptcies in Germany remained almost constant, IWH found that an increasing number of employees was subject to employer bankruptcy.

The five largest German companies, which filed for bankruptcy in May, employed a total of more than 10,000 people, according to the IWH analysis. In the previous months, there had hardly been any company insolvencies that affected 1,000 or more workers.

“During the course of the financial crisis of 2008/2009, we also observed increasingly large firms filing for bankruptcy,” said Steffen Mueller, head of IWH department of structural change and productivity and the IWH bankruptcy research unit.

Beyond economic crises, IWH noted that large companies were generally in a better position than small companies to avoid insolvency through a timely implementation of restructuring measures.

In order to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus crisis, the German government temporarily suspended companies’ duty to file for insolvency until the end of September if the insolvency was directly caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a result of this law, it is possible that fewer insolvency applications will be received than usual at present and that these are not expected until autumn 2020,” warned Erik Geisler, vice president of a local district court in Darmstadt in March when the obligation to notify was suspended.

“Ultimately, the coronavirus crisis and the bankruptcies associated with it will be visible in increased job loss even if the bankruptcy numbers should stay moderate,” warned Mueller, who stressed that the current numbers would just reflect the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.

(XINHUA)

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Germany’s biggest health insurer reports rise in prescription drug spending before lockdown

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During the week before contact restrictions came into force in Germany in mid-March, expenditure on pharmaceuticals by Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) had already increased by 44 percent year-on-year, the country’s biggest statutory health insurance fund said on Friday.

TK’s expenditure on pharmaceuticals totaled about 104 million euros (117.6 million United States dollars) during the second week of March, said the insurer.

The number of prescriptions, which included an unusually large number of large drug packages, was 10 percentage points higher than in the same week last year, according to the TK.

Patients in Germany had “stocked up on prescription drugs before the so-called lockdown, this applies in particular to insured people with chronical diseases,” said Jens Baas, chair of the TK’s Board of Directors.

The sharp increase in expenditure on drugs shows that the costs of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany are currently difficult to estimate, according to the TK.

During March, expenditure on pharmaceuticals per insured person increased around 26 percent, but returned to the level of the previous year in April, according to the TK’s initial evaluation.

“Due to the economic consequences of the pandemic, enormous slumps on the revenues side are already apparent for the entire statutory health insurance system,” said Baas.

(XINHUA)

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German shares continue rally with gains of 1.08 pct at start of trading on Friday

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German stocks continued their rally and were off to a good start on Friday, with the benchmark DAX index rising 134.6 points, or 1.08 percent, opening at 12,565.16 points.

The biggest winner among Germany’s largest 30 companies at the start of trading was aircraft engine manufacturer MTU Aero Engines, increasing by 2.99 percent, followed by Deutsche Bank with 2.64 percent and Volkswagen with 1.95 percent.

Shares of Fresenius Medical Care (FMC) fell slightly by 0.39 percent. The German dialysis specialist was the biggest loser at the start of trading on Friday.

On Thursday after trading, Deutsche Boerse announced that Germany’s largest airline Lufthansa would lose its place in the DAX index of the country’s 30 largest listed companies by late June. Shares of Lufthansa had lost around half their value since the beginning of the year.

Housing company Deutsche Wohnen, currently listed in the smaller MDAX of Germany’s 60 largest listed companies after DAX companies, would take Lufthansa’s place, according to Germany’s stock operator. Shares of Deutsche Wohnen had increased by more than 50 percent since mid-March.

“We are very pleased to have been promoted to the leading index of the German stock market. This is proof of our successful development in recent years,” commented Michael Zahn, chief executive officer (CEO) of Deutsche Wohnen on Friday.

New orders in Germany’s important manufacturing sector fell strongly in April by 25.8 on the previous month and even by more than a third compared to April last year, according to provisional figures by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), announced on Friday.

On Friday, Germany’s central bank, Deutsche Bundesbank, forecasted that the German economy would only start recovering after a “deep recession in the second quarter of this year.” Economic output would shrink by 7 percent in 2020, but in the next two years, real gross domestic product (GDP) would increase by 3 to 4 percent annually.

The yield on German ten-year bonds went up 0.023 percentage points to minus 0.301 percent, and the euro was trading almost unchanged at 1.1337 United States dollars, increasing slightly by 0.01 percent on Friday morning.

(XINHUA)

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Germany continues to report lower COVID-19 infection numbers

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New infections with COVID-19 in Germany were slightly above last week’s average as the number of confirmed cases increased by 507 within one day to 183,271, the Robert Koch Institute said on Friday.

According to the RKI, the number of deaths from the new coronavirus in Germany increased by 32 to 8,613 on Friday. The fatality rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Germany remained unchanged at 4.7 percent.

The number of people currently infected with COVID-19 in the country continued to fall to around 14,770 on Friday, as the estimated number of recoveries increased by around 600 within one day to 168,500, according to the RKI.

The four-day average reproduction rate (R-number) of COVID-19 in Germany decreased to 0.57, according to the daily situation report by the RKI for Thursday.

Since new daily infections have fallen well below peak values, the RKI has been stressing that the R-number in the country was “sensitive to short-term changes.” Following a local cluster infection after family celebrations in the district of Goettingen, 120 people had been tested positive by Thursday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel told the German broadcaster ZDF on Thursday that she would “get anxious when people think we no longer need the distance measures. We need them.”

Basic measures such as keeping a distance of 1.5 meter and wearing a face mask if the distance could not be maintained was “absolutely necessary,” said Merkel, adding that the rule would remain until there was a vaccine or medication.

(XINHUA)

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