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fresh calls to investigate the origins of covid

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U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with a bipartisan group of members of Congress.

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LONDON — The European Union and the United States are expected to call for more progress on an investigation into the origins of Covid-19, according to a draft EU document.

The draft document, seen by CNBC, is the foundation for the outcome of an upcoming summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and European leaders which is due on Tuesday. Its wording could change right up until the end of the meeting

Speaking Thursday, European Council President Charles Michel, who chairs European summits, said: “The world has the right to know exactly what happened, in order to be able to learn the lessons.”

We have to know where it did come from.

Ursula von der Leyen

European Commission president

At the same news conference on Thursday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “It is of utmost importance that we learn about the origin of the coronavirus.”

“There is this horrible pandemic, a global pandemic we have to know where it did come from in order to draw the right lessons and to develop the right tools to make sure that this will never happen again and, therefore, the investigators need complete access to whatever is necessary to really find the source of this pandemic,” she added.

These statements follow Biden’s call last month for the World Health Organization to carry out a second phase of a probe into the origins of the virus, which was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.

A WHO report said earlier this year that the most likely cause of the virus was natural, and dismissed a lab leak theory. But it suggested that further studies would need to be carried out.

The U.S. intelligence community said last month that it “does not know exactly where, when, or how the Covid-19 virus was transmitted initially but has coalesced around two likely scenarios: either it emerged naturally from human contact with infected animals or it was a laboratory accident.”

The discussion on the origins of the coronavirus comes at a time when the U.S. and the EU also intend to talk about their broader relationship with China.

While on the one hand, the U.S. and the EU want to criticize what they describe as human rights violations in China; on the other hand, they want Beijing to engage constructively on climate change policies and to open up certain parts of its economy.

Biden is hoping that the EU will be a partner when it deals with China over the coming years.

“Biden believes that with a broad coalition, you may be able to push China down a more constructive path. International pressure, that is pressure not coming from Washington only, could prove useful on any of these topics,” Jeremy Ghez, associate professor at H.E.C. Business School in Paris, told CNBC last week.

The EU decided in March to put on hold the ratification of an investment agreement with Beijing — a deal that had been presented back in December, just weeks before the inauguration of Biden.

This investment partnership is now frozen following a diplomatic row between Brussels and Beijing. In March, the EU decided to impose sanctions against China for its treatment of the ethnic minority Uyghurs and Beijing retaliated by announcing counter-sanctions against members of the European Parliament.

The ethnic Uyghurs, who live mostly in China’s west, have been identified by the United Nations, United StatesUnited Kingdom and others as a repressed group. China’s Foreign Ministry in March characterized such claims as “malicious lies” designed to “smear China” and “frustrate China’s development.”

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YouTube secures a big win in the EU over copyright

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YouTube’s logo is seen against the flag of the European Union.

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LONDON — The European Union’s top court on Tuesday ruled that Google’s YouTube and other online platforms should not be held liable for copyright-infringing uploads in certain situations.

As things stand, online platforms “do not, in principle, themselves make a communication to the public of copyright-protected content illegally posted online by users of those platforms,” the European Court of Justice said.

However, YouTube and other platforms could still be held liable if it “has specific knowledge that protected content is available illegally on its platform and refrains from expeditiously deleting it or blocking access to it,” the ECJ added.

The EU recently introduced copyright reforms aimed at making its rules fit for the digital age. One part of the law which drew significant controversy at the time meant that YouTube, Facebook and other platforms would have to install filters to block users from sharing copyrighted material.

Tuesday’s ruling focuses on old copyright rules in the bloc. The case arose from a lawsuit from music producer Frank Peterson against YouTube over the uploading of recordings in 2008 over which he claimed to hold the rights.

The news marks a win for YouTube and other content-sharing sites, which have long tussled with artists and musicians over how to compensate them fairly for work that gets distributed on the web.

YouTube has clamped down on copyright violations over the years, a move that has drawn the ire of some popular creators on the platform. Tensions over YouTube copyright action escalated in 2020 as the company increasingly automated content moderation due to coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

A YouTube spokesperson said the company paid over $4 billion to the music industry over the past 12 months, with 30% of that sum coming from monetized videos.

“YouTube is a leader in copyright and supports rights holders being paid their fair share,” the spokesperson said Tuesday. “That’s why we’ve invested in state of the art copyright tools which have created an entirely new revenue stream for the industry.”

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Bitcoin falls again, breaking below key $30,000 level that traders say could lead to more losses

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This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

The slump for bitcoin continued on Tuesday morning as the leading cryptocurrency fell below a key level and is trading at its lowest price since January.

Bitcoin was down 8% to $29,674.25, according to Coin Metrics. Traders had warned a break below $30,000 could lead to more losses.

Technical analysts had been watching the $30,000 level as a key support level on the charts after the cryptocurrency had fallen to near that low during its May crash. The analysts, who study charts to make buying and selling decisions, believe the next level to watch for support could now be as low as $20,000.

Now that it is approaching $29,000, the price of bitcoin is threatening to turn negative for the year.

Galaxy Digital CEO Mike Novogratz said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that bitcoin could still rebound after Tuesday’s move but there was significant downside to the next support level.

“$30,000, we’ll see if it holds on the day. We might plunge below it for a while and close above it. If it’s really breached, $25,000 is the next big level of support,” Novogratz said. “Listen, I’m less happy than I was at $60,000 but I’m not nervous.”

The prices of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been battered in recent weeks by a stream of headlines out of China, where regulators have imposed new restrictions on energy-intensive mining and reiterated rules for financial firms about providing crypto services.

Environmental concerns have also become a new flashpoint for the asset class, with Tesla CEO Elon Musk suspending the use of bitcoin as payment for vehicles and saying that the pause would remain in effect until miners use more clean energy.

With Tuesday’s losses, bitcoin has slid about 54% from its all-time high of more than $64,000 in mid-April.

Other cryptocurrencies were also facing pressure, with ether falling 8% and dogecoin dropping more than 16%.

Significant pullbacks have happened before in the cryptocurrency market, with bitcoin falling about 80% from its late 2017 highs at one point. Professional crypto investors have warned that the space should continue to be volatile in the years ahead.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have gained more institutional support over the past two years, with major hedge fund managers and banks getting involved in the space.

The price of bitcoin rose nearly 500% between mid-September of last year and its April peak. Even with the recent decline, the cryptocurrency is still up about 150% over the past 12 months.

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GlobalFoundries announces new Singapore plant

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SINGAPORE — U.S.-headquartered semiconductor manufacturer GlobalFoundries announced Tuesday that it will build a new fabrication plant in Singapore to meet the unprecedented global demand for chips.

The new facility will be developed in partnership with the Singapore Economic Development Board and with co-investments from committed customers, GlobalFoundries said. More than $4 billion will be invested into the development, according to the company.

“Our new facility in Singapore will support fast-growing end-markets in the automotive, 5G mobility and secure device segments with long-term customer agreements already in place,” GlobalFoundries CEO Tom Caulfield said in a statement.

A global shortage of semiconductor microchips is causing havoc, delaying car production and affecting operations at some of the largest consumer electronics manufacturers.

A virtual groundbreaking ceremony for the plant was attended by Singapore’s Transport Minister S Iswaran as well as Mubadala Investment Company Managing Director and Group CEO Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, among others.

Mubadala, a United Arab Emirates state investment company, owns GlobalFoundries.

“The semiconductor industry is a key pillar of Singapore’s manufacturing sector, and
GlobalFoundries’ new fab investment is testament to Singapore’s attractiveness as a global node for advanced manufacturing and innovation,” Beh Swan Gin, chairman of the Singapore Economic Development Board said in a statement.

Importance of foundries

Semiconductors are critical components that power all kinds of electronics, from smartphones to computers to the brake sensors in cars. Their production involve a complex network of firms that design the chips, companies that manufacture them as well as those that supply the technology, materials and machinery to do so.

GlobalFoundries is a so-called “pure” foundry, with factories in the U.S., Germany and Singapore. Foundries are companies that are contracted by semiconductor firms to build chips. GlobalFoundries manufactures semiconductors designed by the likes of AMDQualcomm and Broadcom.

The global chip shortage has highlighted the importance of foundries, which are investing billions in new production lines and upgraded equipment to meet the surge in demand.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, or TSMC, is the world’s biggest foundry by market share and revenue, according to TrendForce. It has about 56% market share, followed by Samsung (18%), UMC (7%) and GlobalFoundries (7%).

Semiconductor designers and manufacturers are trying to make chips smaller and better. At the moment, only TSMC and Samsung have the ability to manufacture the most advanced chips.

For his part, Caulfield told CNBC this year that GlobalFoundries is planning to invest $1.4 billion in its foundries to address the shortage. The company plans to expand capacity at all its manufacturing sites.

CNBC’s Kif Leswing contributed to this report.

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