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Quest Means Business
India Shatters Record For New COVID Cases; Dubai Airports CEO Says There Is No Clear Path For Restarting International Travel; Viking Launches Welcome Back Trips For Vaccinated Guests; U.S. Agents Execute Search Warrant On Giuliani's Apartment; U.K. P.M. Under Investigation For Apartment Renovation Costs; Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins Dies At Age 90. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired April 28, 2021 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: With an hour to go before the end of trading, and even a statement from the Fed, the things are looking up.
The Fed statement an hour ago couldn't life the Dow out of the red. Look at the numbers and you'll see the market trend, as opposed you can argue --
you can make an argument and say that's a sort of upswing towards, but yes, it didn't take it that much further. It's still down.
QUEST: And the market and the main events of the day. Google's chief executive, Sundar Pichai says his heart is breaking for his home country,
India, and he now tells us how the corporate world is helping.
The Fed says the U.S. economy is strengthening. A new CNN poll says Americans agree.
And DXB, Dubai International, the airport says it can't plan for the future unless world leaders get their act together.
We are live in New York on Wednesday. It is April the 28th. I'm Richard Quest. And I mean business.
Good evening. Tonight, the head of Google says the corporate world is mobilizing an unprecedented way to help his native India. Speaking
exclusively to CNN, Sundar Pichai says India, in his words, deserves our attention right now. As one of the world's most recognizable Indian chief
executives, he is leveraging support from across the business community and asking companies to contribute their expertise, cash, and resources.
India is now grappling with the pandemic on a scale unmatched by any other country, and it is getting worse by the day. The official death toll has
now passed 200,000 people and the experts say the real number is probably much higher.
The outbreak has not yet peaked.
Speaking to our Poppy Harlow, Sundar Pichai says he is heartbroken on what's happening in the country he loves.
SUNDAR PICHAI, CEO, GOOGLE: The situation there is dire, and it's been heartbreaking to see, and I think that the worst is yet to come. What's
been heartening, at least being here, is definitely seeing the attention here.
I realize that at the highest levels from President Biden and Secretary Blinken, there's been focus on engaging to see how we can help India and
the other countries being affected, and particularly over the last weekend, in an unprecedented way, more than a hundred CEOs, the U.S. Chamber, the
Business Roundtable and the U.S.-India Strategy Partnership Forum came together with that administration to mobilize and do our part to help.
So that's been good to see, and India deserves their attention right now.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: India deserves the attention right now, and you think the worst is still to come? I know you met with Secretary Blinken.
Dr. Ashish Jha, also an Indian-American, said only the United States has the capacity, resources, and technological know-how to bend India's
catastrophic second wave of disease.
What more did you tell Secretary Blinken you want the Biden administration to do?
PICHAI: I think there was a lot of focus on making sure anything we can do to increase vaccine production and supply, you know, is being mobilized --
oxygen concentrator and supplies. And different companies have different capabilities, and the U.S. government has its unique capabilities.
From our side, we really focused on providing the most helpful information. There are 600 million people connected to the internet and they are really
looking for information about vaccine and testing and so working with the Ministry of Health in India, making sure we can get the right information
on the ground has been a big focus for us, as well as partnering with the NGOs and public health organizations to get the messaging out.
And you know, it is important when people are able to stay home and mask and stay safe. And, so, we are helping get the message out in partnership.
HARLOW: On the first issue that you just mentioned, Sundar, which is vaccine supply, the U.S. will send its AstraZeneca vaccine, some of it, to
India when the F.D.A. gives the greenlight on that.
But there is also the question of the intellectual property, as you know, the recipe for these vaccines, and India asked the World Trade Organization
six months ago to waive that IP protection. And the U.S. has not voted and not raised its hand supporting a waiver like that.
A lot of experts including the congressman that represents your district, Ro Khanna believe the U.S. should support that, believe that would help
India. Do you believe that IP waiver should be granted?
PICHAI: Two things, you know, I was more and more in the conversations around providing raw materials, supply access so that India can continue
manufacturing its vaccines.
I'm not familiar enough around the issues around IP productions for vaccines to weigh in on them.
PICHAI: I was very encouraged by the U.S. announcement for the 60 million AstraZeneca doses to India and other countries. And this pandemic will
involve us tackling it globally, and while us in the U.S., we are very fortunate, you know, we need to work hard over the next months to make sure
we can get as much vaccine supply around the world as possible.
HARLOW: When I look at the numbers in what is now Chennai, India, right, where you were born. I mean, they are expecting over a million cases there.
Yesterday alone, 4,600 positive cases.
You've talked about companies having, in your words, a responsibility to society in this moment. What is your call to Corporate America, companies
as big as Google and small companies? What can they do that will make a meaningful difference to the people in India?
PICHAI: You know, I think a couple of things. For me, most companies there now have a presence, and, in fact, have employees there contributing to the
U.S. economy here.
I think, you know, taking the expertise in your company where you came and being ready to help in a coordinated way is going to be helpful. The second
is very possible to provide cash and other resources directly to organizations on the ground I think can make a big difference.
And you mentioned Chennai, it's where I grew up and where my extended family is, and I think the impact is pretty dire. But you know, India is a
very resilient country, and I see people being resourceful and doing everything they can to cope up.
QUEST: Being resourceful and doing everything they can says the CEO of Google, but you don't need to look hard to find the reasons why getting
medical supplies in India where they are needed is so difficult. It's simply a case of logistical challenges everywhere you look.
Now, the country itself is 3,000 kilometers across with populations of more than a billion people, major cities that you can see with their populations
on the screen.
And according to Oxfam, some of the worst inequality in the world with an underdeveloped road in transit between those major population centers that
connect the cities hampering the COVID relief effort.
For instance, let's put it this way, Bangalore, which is the global software and call center crawling with multinational corporations whilst
large swathes of the country are mired in poverty and stuck with crumbling 19th Century infrastructure.
And India's progress with COVID vaccines can neatly be summed up as part of the challenge. Look at the graph. The country has given out 145 million
shots. Now, that's second only to the United States. And, yet, as a percentage of the population, less than two percent of Indians are fully
Look at those numbers. Put it another way, India has vaccinated 16 times the population of Israel, but because of the size of the country, has
barely made a dent.
So now let's go to Sam Kiley, our correspondent in New Delhi. Before we get into the sort of detail of where is what, bring me up to date on the
situation. Is it getting better, worse, or just about the same?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the short answer to that, Richard, is that it is getting worse and there has been
some modeling in the United States that indicates it is going to get much worse by August. The projections are that a million people could have died
here in India.
And the reason it's getting worse, Richard, is that at the moment, the catastrophe, if you like, that we've seen in New Delhi is concentrated here
in Maharashtra State and one or two other areas.
But the disease is spreading and spreading fast. One of the aspects is going to be that migrant workers recently returning to work after the end
or lifting of elements of lockdown are now deciding to return to their villages for fear of contracting the coronavirus in the urban areas where
things have been very badly hit.
So, for example, here in New Delhi, there's a shortage of oxygen, hospital beds, and there is no sign really that that is going to be alleviated,
although there has been a number of countries are now sending emergency supplies of oxygen concentrators and other equipment -- Richard.
QUEST: Sam, you have been obviously in the U.A.E. and you've been elsewhere. Is there a feeling of urgency? Is there a feeling of lockdown
urgency that the only way to get on top of this is to shut down, is to take drastic action?
KILEY: Well, yes, there is. So, there are a number of states that are increasing the terms, if you like, of the lockdown, but it is much too
little and much too late.
KILEY: And you've really put your finger on what there wasn't a couple of months ago when other countries were still even in a relatively high degree
of lockdowns, say, at the beginning of this year, I happened to be in Israel, lucky enough to get both jabs of Pfizer.
But even as I was getting the jabs, nearly 50 percent of the population was vaccinated. It was not until then that Israel really started to lift the
lockdown restrictions in earnest.
Here, it's been a very different scene, Richard, with Narendra Modi's BJP Party especially on the campaign trail holding very large political
meetings with religious festivals, with tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people, particularly Hindu festivals, bathing in the Ganges
River, all of these multiple super-spreader events just as India was seeing the evolution of at least one if not two new strains -- Richard.
QUEST: And related to this, the political aspect, we know the Prime Minister is tremendously popular and can exercise huge capital to solve
this, but is there any evidence that that popularity, is he getting blamed yet?
KILEY: He is certainly getting blamed if the sort of vox pops that we and other media have conducted on the ground. There's no particularly
scientific polling that suggests there's been a negative effect, not yet, anyway, in terms of Mr. Modi's popularity and the popularity of his BJP.
A lot of that may be reflected in some of the state elections and other legislative elections at a local level in early May, which is to the
surprise of many, are still going ahead, Richard, albeit now in some states the participants encounters having to show negative tests -- PCR tests.
But essentially, Modi decided that India had somehow weathered the COVID storm, had somehow achieved herd immunity, and somehow didn't need to
exercise this level of vaccination enthusiasm that other countries were exercising.
And, indeed, India is a massive net exporter of vaccinations themselves -- Richard.
QUEST: Okay. Finally, give me a feel for it, Sam. Give me your gut feeling from having now been there. What you've seen and what you've experienced.
KILEY: Well, it's sort of an apocalyptic -- there are apocalyptic scenes here at outside of hospitals, desperate people turning up in three-wheeled
motorized tuktuks trying to get their loved ones, often not old people, but relatively young people, gasping for breath. It's as if the whole nation
has asthma. It's a horrific series of scenes.
People running out of oxygen, people trying to buy it on the black market. Rows of vehicles with oxygen bottles disappearing into the back window to
serve people who are sprawled out on the back seats because there are no hospital beds.
And then of course, the funeral pyres. Day and night now they burn, some 600 being burned here in Delhi alone. Scenes that really are just
QUEST: We're looking at those pictures now, Sam. Sam Kiley, our correspondent joining us from New Delhi. Thank you.
The world of travel is getting underway, but we've got a warning from a top CEO of one of the largest airports, Dubai.
After the break, Paul Griffiths tells us that unless governments get their act together and start coordinating, the re-opening will be shambolic.
QUEST: Tonight, the boss of Dubai International, DXB, one of the world's busiest airports, is slamming governments for not having a more complete
road map to restart global travel.
You'll be aware, Dubai is one of the three major airports in the Gulf, which is the new crossroads of the world, and last year saw its passenger
numbers plummet by 70 percent from 2019.
DXB cut its staff, it closed facilities, terminals, and concourse, and it moved fast towards contactless check-in. Now, the CEO, Paul Griffiths tells
me no one has given in the industry -- has given any guidance about how to move forward. So I needed to know, what's needed for plans for the future?
PAUL GRIFFITHS, CEO, DUBAI AIRPORT: I think the fundamental issue is, there is a massive global disconnect between the measures that the aviation
industry have taken to combat the pandemic. And there isn't a clear road map in any country almost to the way back to personal mobility, which is
the thing that more than four billion people across the world have been missing under various forms of lockdown.
Now, the thing is in any other forum, surely, we've got a whole plethora of medical experts who are saying where we need to be in order for travel to
be resumed on a global basis.
Now, why hasn't any country, to my knowledge said, right, if we can achieve those particular parameters, which can be vaccination rates, control of the
spread, death rate coming down, hospitalization coming down, if we can get to that point by a particular date, then travel to these countries is going
to be possible.
And I think that's the problem.
Lots of countries are talking about the mechanism, but no one has given a date, no one has said it's these countries, and no one has given the
industry anything to which they can plan for a safe re-opening of travel.
QUEST: Isn't that a process that's underway as the sands continue to shift. I'm thinking of two examples. Firstly, the U.K. with its traffic light
system, which is coming into force. And, secondly, the E.U. saying it will allow U.S. citizens to travel there this summer.
Isn't that the sort of roadmap we're talking about?
GRIFFITHS: Well, it's a map. But, sadly, it doesn't have any roads on it as far as I can see. The difficulty of course is that no countries are being
identified, and no one is actually saying what the parameters are going to be by what date.
Now, you talk to any airport or airline executive around the world, you can't plan an operation on that basis.
But if we could have some sort of guidelines agreed with governments around the world as to what criteria need to be achieved to restart global travel
so we can put a time line against that, then I think the world will be a better place.
We'd all have much more hope that we are going to get somewhere over the summer maybe when things have been achieved against those medical
benchmarks that I think everyone has identified as very good ways forward.
QUEST: If we look at the way Dubai is now performing, your dominant carrier, Emirates, is slowly but surely sort of rebuilding its root network
again. Are other carriers coming back?
GRIFFITHS: Yes. About 67 percent of the carriers that were operating before the pandemic are now still operating to Dubai. So we've seen very strong
support. The capacity and the frequency might not be there, but at least the presence is there, and it's very easy to ramp up from that perspective.
We're operating at about 20 percent of total capacity, but we have very, very short-fuse plans, less than seven days to open up much more of our
infrastructure. Because our estimation is that the recovery will come incredibly quickly when it actually arrives.
The big unknown I think across the world is when that date for safe travel is going to be upon us. And that's where the hesitation I think is,
understandably, across most of the markets that we serve.
QUEST: If we look at I.A.T.A's travel pass, because the integrity of documents suggest vaccination certificates is going to be crucial, and so
far, turning up with a little piece of cardboard issued by one authority or another won't cut the mustard. How do you imagine this working in practice?
GRIFFITH: I think one of the encouraging announcements was earlier on when Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Salesforce all said that they were going to
collaborate. Because most of us now are storing credit cards and debit cards on our phones, and if that system is secure enough to be able to
handle all of the transactions we make financially, couldn't we use that infrastructure to simply get a red or green from an authority that says the
documentation we're using to travel with is valid and our biometric and medical information is stored in that way.
You don't need to cede control. All you are simply seeking to do, which is I think what the I.A.T.A travel pass solution is trying to achieve, is a
tokenized way of saying, is this customer able to travel? Does he meet all the criteria? That doesn't need to disclose personal information, just a
red or green.
QUEST: Now, that's the CEO of Dubai Airport. And moving from the skies to the seas, two major cruise lines have announced plans to resume departures.
It's Oceania and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, they will be back to carrying passengers by late summer.
Also planning to reopen soon is Viking Cruises. Now, Viking was the first major cruise line to stop operations in March of last year. It's taking its
first steps towards restarting routes operating in the U.K., Iceland, and Bermuda.
Torstein Hagen is the Chairman of Viking Cruises. He joins me now from Malta where he is appropriately on board a ship. Now, the re-opening -- the
re-opening has to be carefully done. We're aware of that and we are aware that you have in place loads of policies and clean and safe and all the
But how are you going to build confidence with passengers?
TORSTEIN HAGEN, CHAIRMAN, VIKING CRUISES: Well, I think we have done a lot during this difficult year. We have stayed in touch with our guests all the
time and what we have done on a very scientific basis, we have analyzed the virus and having to protect against it.
And what we have done is we have installed on our ocean ships the first and only PCR laboratories on sea. So we are so well-equipped that we can detect
any problem and deal with it immediately.
And what we have now done so as you said, we were the first cruise line to stop operating and we are planning to be almost the first one to start
operating again. And the date is May 17th in England when we will have the naming ceremony of our new vessel, the Viking Venus, and a former
television presenter in the U.K., Anne Diamond will be the godmother.
So, we operate our cruises in England or around England from Portsmouth to Liverpool, for example. We'll be operating around Bermuda. We will be
operating around Iceland.
And these are countries, individual countries, so we don't have to get into the problems with the cross-border travel.
QUEST: Now, sir, the C.D.C., in the United States, the C.D.C. has been slow, if you will, at approving cruising and various plans. One of your
competitors on this program from Norwegian was basically up in arms about the slowness of the United States.
He says that he'll move his ships when necessary where cruising is possible. Will you do the same thing?
HAGEN: Well, at the outset, we are mainly based in Europe. So for us, our situation is a little bit different than others. So, we don't really have
the same issue.
And when we're talking about the C.D.C., we are much stricter than most other cruise lines. As a matter of fact, we are not members of the Cruise
Line International Association where most cruise lines are because we feel the standards that we set are much higher than those.
And I think the C.D.C. may not -- we may not always like what they're doing, but I think they're right in setting the standards high, and I think
we can deal with them.
QUEST: And, finally, the way in which -- I mean, cruising was a huge -- is a huge industry that was phenomenally popular. Do you believe it will take
six months, a year, two to three years, when do you think it can regain that level of confidence and popularity?
HAGEN: Well, one has to be careful to be overly optimistic. But the cruises that I mentioned for you now, England, Iceland, Bermuda, they're pretty
much sold out.
And when we now look at bookings for 2022 and compare that to what they were for 2019, which was a record year, our bookings on the ocean cruises
are up 73 percent over where we were at the same time then. And we have many -- we have 75 ships on the rivers. And those bookings are up over 110
So we see a lot of pent-up demand. Of course, this year will be difficult, but 2022 should be a year where we're back to more or less normal. And,
again, we will be taking very good care of our guests and for that matter also our crew, but we take great care of them.
And the fact that we have these PCR laboratories on board will make a big difference in people's certainty. The vaccination -- the vaccine
development has been very, very positive. That is a game changer. And you can say, at some stage, these laboratories of ours may not be so important.
But until one sees clearly how the developments are, we will have both belts and suspenders and I think people will feel very safe with us.
QUEST: It's good to have you on with us. Thank you for joining us on board in Malta.
Now, the clock is ticking, the first hundred days are almost up. How Americans are assessing President Biden and his economic policies so far.
QUEST: Hello. I'm Richard Quest. A lot more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS as we continue with Shopify shares a store -- soaring, even, thanks to e-commerce
boom in the first quarter. So, the CEO will be with us to discuss the good times and whether they can last post pandemic. And the man who now runs the
New York subway. We'll discuss Joe Biden's infrastructure plan and answer a once in a generation opportunity to revitalize the system.
All of that after the news headlines of course, because this is CNN and on this network, the news always comes first.
U.S. fed authorities have searched the New York department and the opposite of Donald Trump's former personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. They obtained a
warrant in connection with a criminal investigation into Giuliani's business dealings in Ukraine, as Laura says it's involved allegations of
illegal lobbying. Giuliani has not been charged and denies any wrongdoing. The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's under pressure to explain how he
paid for expensive renovations as his Downing Street flat.
The U.K.'s his political spending watchdog is now investigating following allegations that the Prime Minister may have had Conservative Party donors
secretly fund the project. Boris Johnson denies any wrongdoing.
Michael Collins is one of three U.S. astronauts on the Apollo 11 mission has died at the age of 90. His family said on Twitter. He passed away after
a battle with cancer. Collins, sometimes known as the forgotten astronaut, never actually walked on the moon. He stayed behind and piloted the command
When President Joe Biden speaks to U.S. lawmakers in a few hours from now, he will have the political wind in his sails, it would seem. He's
addressing a joint session of Congress on the cusp of 100 days in office. And he will tout his $1.9 trillion relief package and push is
infrastructure bill. And now a $1.8 trillion investment in Family Welfare. As he does this a CNN poll shows most Americans approve of Biden's job
And in doing so, they feel good about the U.S. economy. Despite what happened in the last year. 54 percent say conditions are either somewhat or
very good. Only 43 percent felt that way in Germany. And it's more six out of 10 say they expect the economy to be in good shape from now. The feds
also acknowledge that the U.S. economy has strengthened while keeping its monetary policy unchanged.
John Harwood is at the White House. This is very strong evidence for a president who's basically got three $2 trillion dollar plans on the table
that says the public seem to like it.
JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, and he's going to try to convert the success of the first part into passage through
Congress of the second two parts. What Joe Biden has the opportunity to do now on his 99th day in office is to say we came to office with a single-
minded focus on ending the pandemic.
We passed this major, a $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill to both provide relief to you more than 150 million checks into your bank accounts, but
also to fund the vaccination program and other attempts to deal with a pandemic.
They've gotten 200 million shots in arms. The vaccination rate has gone way up. Case counts and deaths are going down. And he's trying to say to both
Congress and the American people, this shows I know what I'm doing and now I've got a plan to build the economy for the long term. To deal with some
generational issues that the United States has not tackled.
HARWOOD: It's very hard to do, because as you mentioned, $4 trillion in additional spending, that's a big pill for Congress to swallow. He's got
narrow margins in the Congress. But that's the attempt he's going to make tonight.
QUEST: Right. Now, this 53 percent sounds good. And it's certainly considerably better than Donald Trump was at this point. However, in my
morning reading, John, it's not as good as many other presidents. It's actually on an objective basis, not that impressive. So I'm wondering the
political divide -- I mean, can he take this 53 percent to the bank or do the opposition say, well, it's not as good as you're making out?
HARWOOD: Well, certainly the opposition is going to say that, but it's very difficult to compare approval ratings for presidents in different eras, we
are so much more polarized now than we were before. Parties are locked down.
People are very consistent in their preferences both for voting for president, voting for the Senate and voting for the House. So, 53 for Joe
Biden, may be more impressive than say 63 was for Jimmy Carter, when he began his presidency because there was so much mixing ideologically and
regionally between the parties.
We don't have that anymore. And even though the President has narrow majorities, because of that sorting, the majorities are more cohesive than
they used to be. You don't have Democrats, with many conservatives, as well as liberals are the reverse for Republicans.
So what that says is, even with narrow majorities, and even with low 50s approval ratings, Joe Biden might be able to get his program through if he
could keep his own party together, which is what it probably is going to come down to.
QUEST: John Harwood at the White House who will be watching two events tonight, of course, and helping us understand and you'll be able to watch
too. Good luck. It'll be late -- thank you, John. It'll be late at night when it happens, of course, middle of the night in Europe, early morning in
Asia and Australasia. But we'll cover it and it will be here on CNN.
Making online shopping easier. Shopify is writing an e-commerce surge. The company's president is joining us to discuss earnings after the break.
QUEST: E-commerce company Shopify is writing highest (INAUDIBLE) continue to spend the money online.
QUEST: The shares are up 11 percent after the company's latest earnings blew away expectations. Just look at the price there. Investors are unfazed
by warnings that its growth is likely to slow. Harley Finkelstein is the president of Shopify. He joins me now via Skype from Ottawa.
Yes, I mean, realistically, it couldn't continue this good, could it? If only because you had a situation where people were at home spending online,
and bricks and mortar are now reopening and that is going to shift the balance again.
HARLEY FINKELSTEIN, PRESIDENT, SHOPIFY (via Skype): Hey, Richard. Thanks for having me on air. So, let me --let me be clear on a couple things.
First of all, we at shop, we want to be the global entrepreneurship company. And the way that our business model works is we only succeed when
our merchants succeed. And our latest earnings demonstrate that more people are becoming entrepreneurs more than ever before.
And those businesses are doing really, really well on Shopify every 28 seconds, a new entrepreneur makes their first -- their first sale. So,
let's talk about earnings because obviously, it's important and it's timely right now. So, we are a proxy for modern brands and entrepreneurs. There's
about 1.7 million entrepreneurs that use Shopify, and those merchants using Shopify, they sold about $37 billion in this past quarter, that's up about
And that resulted in Shopify making about $988 million, this past quarter about 110 percent. So for every dollar Shopify makes our merchants are
generating 40. Now what you're talking about, though, in terms of the reopening of the economy, it's also becoming clear that small businesses
are going to play a role in being the rebuilders of the economy.
And I think we are a rare breed, where we were this wonderful pandemic story, and now we're becoming more of a global recovery story.
QUEST: So, Harley, Harley, hang on, hang on, hang on. Let me -- let me -- let me -- let me get in there. If that's the case for the company, what do
you need to do to adapt from being this pandemic superstar to a mature company in a multi-retail environment, click and pick up, buy online pick
up in store. All these other ways that retailers will be moving forward. How do you ensure you're across it all?
FINKELSTEIN: It's a great question. So, we are not just an e-commerce company. In fact, really, the better way to articulate what Shopify is
today, Richard, is the world's first retail operating system. So, we enable you to sell online, of course, that's what we're best known for globally,
we also have a point of sale product that has merchants all over the world selling in a physical store. We integrate it to places like Facebook and
Instagram and TikTok and Wal-Mart.com.
Our view is the future retail is retail everywhere. So you were correct. During the pandemic, the majority of retail and commerce shifted online, as
opposed to offline. But now we're seeing certain countries, Australia, New Zealand, for example, although they're not a great proxy for the rest of
the world, they do provide some evidence that when things open up, what's going to happen.
And in both Australia and New Zealand, we're not seeing any slowdown in terms of consumer buying from online stores. In fact, online GMV remains at
elevated levels. So we think that the pandemic has shifted retail behavior permanently.
QUEST: Interesting. And as that -- as that retail behavior continues because this is fascinating, because what I've -- what -- I don't think any
of us fully understand and you can help us is how much of this change is permanent? What do you believe will be the permanent shift to online
FINKELSTEIN: Yes. So remember, e-commerce as a percentage of total retail is still very small. It's sub 30 percent in North America, it's a little
bit higher in the U.K. but it's still below 50 percent there too. There's a lot of runway, I think the future of retail that we're all going to
understand deeply over the next couple years is it's going to be retail everywhere.
The main shift, however, is the center of gravity used to be the offline store primarily and then online, secondarily and all the social media
platforms after that. Whereas now after the pandemic, the primary centerpiece of retail and commerce will be online first.
That's going to be the epicenter of it. And all those other channels will move from there. It's also really important to understand who these
merchants are. Remember, though, that consumers through the pandemic meet one other major change. They began to vote with their wallets to support
independent small businesses in a way that we've never seen before.
Now we support large brands and large retailers as well. I've mentioned today on the earnings call Lord & Taylor is now using Shopify. Heinz
Ketchup using Shopify. Hallmark is using Shopify, but most of the merchants on Shopify are independent merchant or independent retailers and consumers
are deciding that they want to buy direct ticket from consumer -- direct to consumer and buy from independent brands. That's not going away either.
QUEST: Fascinating. Harley, please come back. We need to understand these trends even more, as they develop. Great to have you on the program. Been
FINKELSTEIN: Thank you, Richard.
QUEST: Whether it's cotton or coco, coffee or maize, agricultural commodities, remaining one of Africa's key exports. The farmers don't
usually see the full benefits of their work. In today's Connecting Africa, Eleni Giokos explores the untapped potential.
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A 2019 McKinsey report estimated that Sub-Saharan Africa would need eight times more fertilizer,
six times more improved seed, at least eight billion dollars of investment in storage, like silos and warehouses. And as much as $65 billion in
irrigation to fulfill its agricultural potential.
WANDILE SIHLOBO, CHIEF ECONOMIST, AGRICULTURAL BUSINESS CHAMBER OF SOUTH AFRICA: Now we need to get to the stage where to say let's realize the
potential. And I think for me, it goes back to say, what is it that you need to actually be able to be a successful farmer? You need some bit of
certainty in the piece of land that you are in, you need money to flow in. Money will only flow in if there is certainty.
That goes back to governments to say you have a responsibility for allocating land rights for a number of countries, formalizing the land
governance as soon as that is done. The financial institutions, either locally or globally, we'll see a potential there and be able to invest in
GIOKOS (voice-over): Leading agricultural economist one, DSC Global makes regular visits to farmers like Gift Mafuleka who's targeting soybeans as a
potentially game-changing crop,
GIFT MAFULEKA, FARMER: Lead the demand for the crop, South Africa is well over 2 million tons frozen capacity for soybeans and we still producing in
the region of 1.5, 1.7 million tons of soybeans.
GIOKOS (on camera): Do you have plans to export to other African countries?
MAFULEKA: Most definitely, if more countries would be able to open up borders for various commodities and limit restrictions in terms of genetics
of commodities then I think we can be able to feed ourselves.
GIOKOS (voice-over): Sihlobo believes the African continental free trade area could particularly benefit the agri-tech sector.
SIHLOBO: I mean, on the biotechnology side, if you think about South Africa, which for example, is using genetically modified seeds on maize,
the yields per hectare for maize on average, they roughly around about six tons per hectare. But in countries that have been adopted that technology
in the same continent, neighboring Zimbabwe, you see that the yields around about one ton per hectare or even less than that.
That already tells you then that if technologies could be accepted in other countries, there's a lot of improvement that in a hectare, that farmers
could pretty much gain and then that produce that comes out of that is where we can add value, is what we could trade, is where incomes could come
QUEST: The man who runs the New York City subway says President Biden's infrastructure plan is a once in a generation opportunity. And part four he
says he plans to make the most of it. It's a $2 trillion package. That's the pillar of the Biden agenda.
QUEST: Now we're going to hear the President pitch it tonight in his first address to the joint session of the U.S. Congress. Last year as the city
shut down, the collapse in subway ridership was unprecedented. Look at that. The revenue lost was dramatic and crippling to the authority's funds.
Only now slowly, look at the right side of the graph. Can you see the improvement?
The MTA's Pat Foye I visited last year when I was on the subway, this is last year. Look at it. When there's barely anybody traveling on the subway.
The numbers have improved slowly but surely. Back then there wasn't a mask mandate.
Back in April 2020 there was no mask mandate for me to wear as I walk through. Now, of course, that's all changed. The head of the MTA says
whilst there's a long way to a full recovery, passengers will no doubt return underground in the city that never sleeps.
PAT FOYE, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY: So ridership is down clearly on subways on Friday, the last business day,
weekday, we carried 2.1 million passengers. That's a 100-day, that's the best we've done in 100 days. We carried 1.1 on buses, that's a lot of
people. But that compares the 7-1/2 million on subways and buses on a regular weekday prior to the pandemic.
So we've come a long distance, Richard, you may recall at the bottom of the pandemic, ridership on subways was down 95 percent. We've come a long way,
but we've got a long way to go. It will be 2024 before we get within striking distance of the levels of ridership that existed prior to the
QUEST: If we look at the sort of measures that you took in New York, the much famous and loved 24-hour subway which of course had to restart, the
cleaning that had to take place. We now know so much more about this virus. How can you adapt service as a result of what we now know?
FOYE: We're looking forward in the -- in the near term to restoring 24-hour service to the city that never sleeps. Obviously, we've all learned a lot
about COVID-19 over the past 15 or so months but we're going to continue disinfecting our subway cars, our subway stations, buses, commuter rails,
paratransit vehicles, and the like. Even recognizing that the primary mode of transmission of COVID-19 is aerosols, coughing, et cetera.
Our customers, 75 percent of our customers say our stations have never been cleaner. That is really positive and we're going to continuing -- we're
going to continue the disinfecting regime going forward given the reassurance it gives to our customers and to our employees.
QUEST: The Victorians built the network, the Edwardians advance the network, arguably the last 50, 70 years, we have tinkered with it, but the
infrastructure on our networks, and it doesn't, you know, has not been maintained or invested upon. Is this the once in a generation opportunity
to build repair and improve?
FOYE: Yes, I think it is. Casting in American terms, obviously the great deal and President Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression.
FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, 32ND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I pledge myself to a new deal for the American people.
FOYE: General President Eisenhower with respect to building the interstate highway system.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The highway construction program initiated by Ike is the biggest peacetime enterprise ever undertaken.
FOYE: I think with respect to President Biden and a unbelievably thoughtful and aggressive $2 billion infrastructure plan, including 85 billion for
transit, that this is the once in a generation opportunity that we've got to take. Transit also, in addition to the economic and job creation is
beneficial for the environment, the MTA every year avoid 17 million metric tons of greenhouse gas.
And in addition, there's a social equity component for transit in New York City from the very first days of the subway and that continues as I
mentioned, Second Avenue subway phase two, the four new stations in the Bronx. And right now we continue to carry essential workers by first
responders who have been heroes but your characterization is exactly right. And I just put it in American terms.
QUEST: What have you learned do you think, whether it's the Tube in London, the Metro in Paris, the subway in New York, the great underground railways
of the world, what have you learned you think over the last 18 months?
FOYE: What we've gone through in New York and obviously other places around the world is, I think the greatest mass abrupt change in human behavior
ever in New York. And the ridership, the client, for instance, during the Great Depression was 13 percent, that compares the 95 percent in the worst
days of the pandemic and March or April of last year.
And New Yorkers and Americans and others around the world were able on a dime to change their behavior, to not commute, to work remotely if that was
an option. Our challenge now is also human behavior which is to rewind that and to get people to return to their offices, their jobs, restaurants,
broadway and to take transit to do that. I believe we can -- I believe we can do that.
We can make a clear and compelling case to our customers that the system is safe from a COVID-19 point of view, there's been no outburst anyplace in
the world related to transit, where mask compliance is universal. But I'm inspired by the work of our employees.
And I'm inspired by the heroism of our customers, especially first responders and essential employees who've been our core customers during
the pandemic. And to them all New Yorkers and all Americans owe a huge debt of gratitude.
QUEST: The head of the MTA. We'll have a profitable moment after the break.
QUEST: Tonight's a profitable moment. We focus a lot tonight on the New York subway and showed you just their plans and what they're hoping to do
with the infrastructure money coming from government. And this is a moment in time that other countries can follow too. It was on this program that
Bruno Le Maire, the French finance minister said I wouldn't be mad not to borrow money at these low rates.
Providing the money is being used for infrastructure, for capital projects isn't just being used to help pay off the bills. And that is what's the
heart I think of the Biden plan, the six trillion or so between the recovery, the infrastructure, and tonight social welfare that we are
expecting, yes, taxes will go up in the United States and Britain and everywhere else to pay for all of this.
But if we take this opportunity to make infrastructure capital producing benefits across the board, then that will be making an advantage out of
adversity. Because in so many of our major cities, we've allowed infrastructure bridges, roads, rail, you name it to simply fall apart.
Now is the time to pull that right with the money you're going to get out of taxpayer's pockets. And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight. I'm
Richard Quest in New York. Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead I hope it is profitable. The closing bell is ringing. Jake Tapper is next.