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US Treasury deputy chief nominee pledges to get tough on China | Business and Economy News



Wally Adeyemo says he will fight unfair economic practices in China along with tackling inequality in the US.

Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo, United States President Joe Biden’s nominee for the No 2 job at the US Treasury, promised to crack down on authoritarian governments and fight unfair economic practices in China and elsewhere while working to rectify economic inequality at home.

In testimony prepared for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, Adeyemo, said he would focus on three critical areas if confirmed: boosting US competitiveness, reclaiming the country’s credibility as a global leader and protecting US citizens from threats.

As Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s deputy, Adeyemo will play a key role in shaping US economic policies and overseeing the vast power of the Treasury on everything from financial regulation to relief for everyday Americans and sanctions on foreign governments.

The most immediate threat to US prosperity remained the COVID-19 pandemic, Adeyemo said, adding economic policy must remain focused on providing relief to those harmed by the health crisis and especially those in low-income communities and people of colour, who have been hit especially hard.

If confirmed, Adeyemo, 39, a former senior adviser at asset manager BlackRock Inc, would be the first Black deputy secretary of the Treasury. He served as a deputy national security adviser under former Democratic President Barack Obama and later headed the foundation that is working on the former president’s library.

Adeyemo is expected to be questioned on his views on US policy towards China, currently the subject of a comprehensive review by the Biden administration.

“We need to work with Congress and strategically use the Treasury Department’s tools to protect our citizens from threats, foreign and domestic,” he said in the testimony, which was seen by the Reuters news agency.

“Treasury’s tools must play a role in responding to authoritarian governments that seek to subvert our democratic institutions; combating unfair economic practices in China and elsewhere; and detecting and eliminating terrorist organisations that seek to do us harm.”

Treasury oversees a host of sanctioning tools, including a ban on US investment in alleged Chinese military companies that was introduced by former President Donald Trump.

The ban, which has spurred deep confusion among market players since it was unveiled in a November executive order, takes effect in November 2021 and investors are eager to learn whether Biden will revoke it or further clarify its scope and use it to go after top Chinese companies.

Hardline stance

Adeyemo also called for selected investments in US critical industries and technologies and policies that protected American workers and companies from anti-competitive trade practices, signalling a hardline stance on trade issues.

Adeyemo, 39, who was born in Nigeria and came to the US with his parents as a baby, mapped out his domestic and international policy objectives, promising to work to ensure equal access to economic opportunity for all Americans.

“Taking steps to ensure that all Americans share in our prosperity is not only a moral imperative, it is essential to our long-term economic growth,” he said in the testimony.

Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden has called Adeyemo “eminently qualified” for the job and promised to get the nomination through the committee as quickly as possible.

The hearing will start at 10:00am Eastern US time (15:00 GMT), the committee said.

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US says it has jabbed 82 million people, topping the world | Coronavirus pandemic News



But coronavirus rates have plateaued over the past week, raising concern over yet another surge in cases and deaths.

The United States has administered 82 million coronavirus vaccine shots, White House officials announced on Friday, more than any other country in the world.

During a coronavirus task force news conference, health officials said 55 percent of Americans aged 65 and older have now received at least one shot, up from 8 percent just six weeks ago.

“Altogether we’ve administered more than 82 million shots, more than any country in the world,” said Andy Slavitt, White House senior adviser for the COVID-19 response team.

But the US has also suffered more deaths than any other country in the world – more than 518,000 Americans have lost their lives to the disease.

President Joe Biden has set a goal of 100 million vaccines administered during his first 100 days in office [File: Evan Vucci/AP Photo]

US President Joe Biden who took office in January has promised to make tackling the pandemic a top priority for his administration and has set a target to vaccinate 100 million Americans by early May – to coincide with his 100 days in office. He has said the country is well under way to meeting that goal.

Officials say 450 vaccination sites have been set up around the country which has sped up the effort and they have plans to open up more sites as vaccine supplies increase over the next weeks.

In an effort to further boost the campaign, last week the US gave emergency approval to use a third vaccine produced by drugmaker Johnson & Johnson. Biden has also announced that the US will manufacture the J&J vaccine, a shot that requires only one dose, further speeding up the effort.

But even with the vaccination campaign well under way, officials said deaths and infection rates have plateaued in recent days, indicating that the nation could be at risk of yet another surge.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said amid the rapid spread of new variants across the country, Americans need to ‘double down’ on protection measures of wearing masks, maintaining social distance and frequent hand washing [File: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rochelle Walensky, said over the past week, there have been daily 60,000-70,000 new coronavirus cases, and 1,900 Americans have been dying every day.

“The current numbers remain concerning,” Walensky said, “cases and deaths are still too high, and have now plateaued for more than week.”

Amid the rapid spread of new variants, which have been detected in 48 US states, she urged Americans need to “double down” on protection measures of wearing masks, maintaining social distance and frequent hand washing.

“I know that the idea of relaxing mask wearing and getting back to every day activities is appealing,” she said, “but we’re not there yet.”

Several states have in recent days announced the easing of coronavirus restrictions on businesses and have lifted statewide mandates to wear masks. Health officials have responded with concern and urged Americans to continue to wear masks and follow precautions set under federal guidelines.

Biden blasted the decisions by state governors on Thursday, calling it “a big mistake” and “the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking.”

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor said the current numbers are an indication of a likely fourth surge in cases.

“When you have that much viral activity in a plateau it almost invariably means that you are at risk for another spike,” he said.

During the briefing on Friday, officials also announced that the CDC is working on publishing guidance for fully vaccinated individuals, indicating which activities they may or may not be able to resume.

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