>World trade to fall by up to 32%
World trade is expected to fall by between 13% and 32% in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts normal economic activity and life around the world, the World Trade Organization (WTO) said Wednesday in its latest annual Trade Statistics and Outlook Report.
The WTO added that the decline would likely exceed the trade slump brought on by the global financial crisis of 2008-09.
According to the report, estimates of the expected recovery in 2021 are equally uncertain, with outcomes depending largely on the duration of the outbreak and the effectiveness of the policy responses.
"The immediate goal is to bring the pandemic under control and mitigate the economic damage to people, companies and countries. But policymakers must start planning for the aftermath of the pandemic," said WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo.
Azevedo underlined that "if countries work together, we will see a much faster recovery than if each country acts alone."
>Sanders quits presidency campaign
Bernie Sanders announced on Wednesday he is dropping out of the race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, leaving former vice-president Joe Biden as the party's nominee against President Donald Trump in November.
Speaking from Burlington, Vermont, Sanders announced his "very difficult and painful decision" in a live streamed address to supporters.
"I cannot in good conscience continue to mount a campaign that cannot win and which would interfere with the important work required of all of us in this difficult hour," Sanders said.
Sanders had a strong performance in the first three states that held primaries in February. It appeared he was unstoppable until the last day of February when Biden surged to a blowout victory in South Carolina.
Biden acknowledged that he still needs to gain support from Sanders' followers, and said they are "more than welcome" and "needed" for him to defeat Trump in November.
>Rocket prepares for April launch
China's Long March 5B carrier rocket is scheduled to make its debut flight later this month at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in South China’s Hainan province, according to the China Manned Space Agency.
The agency recently published a picture of the first Long March 5B that has been assembled inside a colossal building, indicating the giant rocket is ready for its maiden mission.
A Long March 5B is 53.7 meters long, with a diameter of 5 meters. It will be propelled by liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen and kerosene, and will have a liftoff weight of about 849 metric tons.
The new model will be tasked with sending large spacecraft to low-Earth orbit.
It will be tasked with serving the construction and operation of China's future space station, as well as the country's manned lunar missions being planned by scientists, the agency noted.
>5G-enabled messaging unveiled
China's big three telecom carriers unveiled a new 5G-enabled messaging service on Wednesday, which analysts said is likely to open a new era for social networking.
China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom published a white paper for the 5G messaging service, which specifies technical details to invite smartphone makers to support the new service.
Falling under the technical name of rich communication services, or RCS, the 5G messaging service is designed to replace current short messages with a system that is richer, provides phonebook polling, and can transmit in-call multimedia.
With the new message service, for instance, consumers don't have to download a variety of mobile apps.
They can directly buy train tickets and book flights by sending messages.
Ma Jihua, an independent telecom analyst, said the new 5G-powered messaging service, if properly promoted, will usher in a new era of social networking, and erode the social networking business of Tencent Holdings.
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