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World Today: Important News and Issues to Follow on March 7

China plans to establish a new central office to oversee data-related issues both domestically and internationally, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. The office aims to consolidate the powers of various organizations currently handling data management, including China’s cyberspace bureau.

A new study published on Monday in the Lancet Planetary Health journal found that 99.82% of the world’s land area is exposed to PM2.5 levels above safe limits. Only 0.001% of the global population breathes air that meets the World Health Organization’s safe air quality standards.

As China held a meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC), the US embassy reported that PM2.5 in the air rose to 182 micrograms per cubic meter on Sunday (March 5). This level is considered unhealthy by medical experts and caused reduced visibility and cancellation of outdoor activities in Beijing, a city with a population of over 20 million people.

In Japan, the real wages of workers fell 4.1% year on year in January, marking the largest drop since 2014, despite the government’s push for pay increases. This decline, which is the tenth consecutive month, was attributed to lower bonuses and inflation that outpaces wage increases. It is likely that the Bank of Japan (BOJ) will maintain accommodative monetary policy this week in response.

On March 7, several countries are set to release important economic data. South Korea will reveal the final estimates for the fourth quarter of 2022’s gross domestic product (GDP), while Australia will announce its imports, exports, and trade balance for January, including retail sales data for the same month. Additionally, the Reserve Bank of Australia is expected to hold a monetary policy meeting and will announce interest rates. China will release its imports, exports, and trade balance data for January-February. The UK will report the Halifax House Price Index report for February, and the United States will report wholesale inventory data for January.

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