🌍 Everyone’s courting Taiwan

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

The US and Taiwan want closer economic ties. The countries are planning trade deals focused on technology and supply chains, areas that will take center stage in annual trade talks between the EU and Taiwan today (see more below).

Ukraine will get rockets from the US. Ukraine agreed to not use the weaponry, the most advanced it has received from the US to date, on targets in Russian territory.

Elon Musk told Tesla executives they can’t work remotely. Staff should return to the office 40 hours a week or “we will assume you have resigned,” the CEO said in an email to workers.

Sheryl Sandberg is stepping down. The Meta COO helped grow Facebook from a startup into a multibillion-dollar tech giant during her 14 years on the job.

The Bank of Canada raised rates. Benchmark interest rates rose to 1.5% in an attempt to cool inflation, and the bank indicated more hikes are on the way.

The Chevy Bolt got cheaper. General Motors’ electric car will be among the least expensive in the US.

What to watch for

Annual trade and investment talks between the EU and Taiwan kick off today. Both sides want to deepen cooperation in strategic areas like semiconductors and supply chain resilience. In January, Taiwan launched a $1 billion credit fund to finance Lithuanian projects following Beijing’s corporate boycott of the Baltic country. Meanwhile, the EU needs Taiwan’s semiconductor expertise to boost the bloc’s chips industry.

4: Where the EU ranks among Taiwan’s trading partners, after China, the US, and Japan

52%: Share of EU exports to Taiwan that fell into the “machinery and appliance” category in 2021

38.9%: Percentage of Taiwan exports to the EU that were information and communications technology in 2019

€64 billion ($64.2 billion): Value of EU-Taiwan trade in 2021

1: Where the EU ranks among Taiwan’s sources of foreign direct investment

Distributing money on the mainland

In a bid to give China’s struggling economy a boost, numerous cities and provinces have in recent days taken measures to jumpstart consumer demand with consumption vouchers, spending subsidies, and limited cash handouts. It’s a good start, but it’s just a drop in China’s economic bucket.

Here’s how the math shakes out in Shenzhen:

💸 Consumption vouchers (500 million yuan) digital currency lottery (30 million yuan) = 0.02% of the city’s GDP

A more impactful countrywide option, suggested by the chief economist at brokerage Zhongtai Securities, could have looked more like this:

💸💸💸 1,000 yuan ✖️1.4 billion citizens = 1.2% of China’s official GDP

In the long run, China will need to rebalance its economy from one driven primarily by infrastructure and real estate investment to one in which households get a bigger share of national GDP.

Cutting fuel taxes won’t help

A post office truck idles next to a sign at a Chevron gas station in California showing the price of regular gas at $6.05.
California is the only US state where gas prices have crested above $6 per gallon.
Image: REUTERS/Mike Blake

Officials announced yesterday that drivers in New York will not pay state taxes on gasoline until the end of 2022. The US state is joining at least three others that have cut taxes to provide relief from record-high gas prices, brought on by turmoil in the global oil market caused by the war in Ukraine.

But gas tax “holidays” are mostly just a way for politicians to ingratiate themselves to voters. In fact, drivers will be left more exposed to future price shocks.

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France wants its gamers to only speak French. English terms like “esports,” officials say, are polluting the language—though similar efforts to swap “l’access sans fil à internet” in for “le wifi” were unsuccessful.

The causes of inflation are hard to parse. Culprits people pointed to in the 1970s and 80s, like oil embargos and the Vietnam War, weren’t the full story. 🎧 Learn why in the latest episode of the Quartz Obsession podcast.

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