MOP 6.00 Publisher: Paulo A. Azevedo Number 511 Friday April 4, 2014 Year II
Off-season Allure Gamblers preferred to gamble in Macau during the off-season in 2013, reveals an Institute for Tourism Studies report. Macau’s attractions go beyond casinos, say the
findings. Shopping, sightseeing and dining top the tourist agenda. Gaming comes fourth. Fitch puts Weng Hang Business seems to be the weak link - more on positive watch Page 3 MICE needed, advises IFT. Page
Macau Airport welcomed more travellers in March
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Nearly 50 cases of assault and intimidation of gaming employees have occurred in three years. No cases were pursued and not one perpetrator was taken to court, as victims turn the other cheek
Planning ahead Macau Foundation needs to plan almost one year in advance to fund the city’s associations. But most of the associations can’t comply, the Foundation President tells Business Daily. Wu Zhiliang says the result is a big fluctuation in the grants given by the city’s biggest sponsor to not-for-profit entities
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Photo by Antonius
Intimidation goes unanswered
Return of the unionist
Lei Chan U was once on the workers side in the local platform for discussing labour issues. Six years later, he returns to the negotiating table to face employers’ representatives. And sends a clear message: this time the government can’t sit on the fence
A research study by Harvard University is clear: Macau needs urban planning if it wants to cement its local identity. The three year project concludes that integration with the mainland is posing challenges that need to be addressed asap
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Stimuli on track Premier Li Keqiang has released a number of stimuli for waking up the slowing Chinese economy. The package includes more railway investment and a development fund Pages 10 & 11
April 4, 2014
Macau APPT Macau, Macau Poker Cup schedules announced The Asia Pacific Poker Tour has announced the schedules for the eighth season of its APPT Macau tournament and its 21st Macau Poker Cup. Both tournaments will be held in the PokerStars LIVE Macau poker room. The APPT Macau tournament will be held from May 14 to 25. The HK$25,000 (US$3,200) main event will run from May 21 to 25. The Macau Poker Cup will take place from August 1 to 17. The main event is the HK$11,000 Red Dragon contest. Online satellites of the Macau Poker Cup begin on May 26.
Gamblers favouring off-season: survey The Institute for Tourism Studies found more visitors coming here to gamble last year in the off-season like March and July Tony Lai
ore visitors came to Macau last year to gamble during the off-season like March instead of the traditional long holidays like Chinese New Year and Chinese National Day, a survey by the Institute for Tourism Studies finds. According to an analysis released yesterday by the Institute on its last year’s visitor profile survey, 15 percent of visitors in March came here with the primary purpose of gambling, the highest monthly figure last year. February - when Lunar New Year occurred last year - and July trailed behind, with 12 percent of visitors at the time saying that they came here for gambling, the survey noted. The Institute concluded, “Those visiting Macau for gambling and other leisure [activities] are more likely to visit off-season.” The Institute compiled the visitor profile survey by polling over 1,000 visitors each quarter at major tourist sites. On average, 8.7 percent of visitors polled in the second half of last year came to Macau for gambling, up
6.7 percent from the same period in 2012. Shopping remained the key driver for travellers visiting here, cited by 26.1 percent of subjects in the second half. Last year also saw more people visiting the territory’s World Heritage sites with an average of 16.9 percent of visitors in the second half, up from 11.9 percent in 2012. But the Institute noted “business as the main purpose of visit has declined over time to 3.1 percent in 2013” from 5 percent in the second half of 2010, suggesting “a need to attract business and MICE events to diversify tourism attractions beyond gambling and shopping”. The need for such diversification seems more urgent as two-thirds of visitors coming here for shopping are usually day trippers, the survey finds, against the government’s wish to prolong the length of visitor stay. Over 60 percent of gamblers stayed for two days or more in the second half of last year, data show. More than half of mainlanders, the city’s largest tourist source, only stayed less than one day here in the
Length of stay Same day
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Shopping World heritage and other distractions Dining
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second half of last year, whereas less than 20 percent stayed more than two days. “Those travelling on package
tours are more likely to stay more than 2 days while those travelling on an individual basis tend to stay only one day,” the Institute added.
Slap in the face for victims Gaming employees are sometimes victims of physical assault at work. But no criminal case in the last three years has proceeded as casinos shun the spotlight, claims labour union Tony Lai
n the past three years, not a single case of assault on gaming employees has seen the perpetrators convicted as employees choose to turn the other cheek, official figures reveal. A labour union is not surprised at this outcome because gaming personnel, particularly casino croupiers, are pressured by their employers to soldier on regardless. Manuel Joaquim das Neves, director of the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, said that there were 28 cases of physical assault involving gaming employees as victims from 2011 to 2013, quoting data from Judiciary Police.
“But all such cases have closed the file as the victims do not want to pursue those responsible,” said Mr Neves in a written reply to an enquiry by legislator José Pereira Coutinho. The director explained that the authorities cannot independently continue investigations into physical assault as it is a crime requiring the victim to press charges. The reply also noted that a total of 47 cases in the past three years involved gaming workers as victims of physical assault, insults and threats. The bureau’s response to Mr Coutinho’s enquiry regarding protection for gaming workers was dated March 19 but the reply was
only publicised yesterday. Choi Kam Fu, deputy secretarygeneral of the Macau Gaming Enterprises Staff Association, explained, “Employees usually get pressure from the casino companies to not pursue the case. “It is not an explicit ‘no’ but workers can feel like the companies don’t want them to do so as they don’t want to make the gamblers unhappy and be in the media spotlight.” The casinos usually ask the gamblers to apologise to the victims and some casinos have lists of such violent visitors in order to anticipate future problems, Mr Choi said. He urges the government and
the casinos to take assault cases of gaming workers more seriously, otherwise the morale of employees will be jeopardised. Mr Neves stated in the reply: “The SAR government has always paid high attention to the protection of casino croupiers and to ensure that other employees providing casino services are immune from assault.” His bureau is always open to complaints from gaming employees about assaults, the director added. Official data show there were 56,608 workers in the gaming sector by the fourth quarter of last year with nearly half, or 25,250, employed as casino dealers.
April 4, 2014
Fitch puts Weng Hang on positive watch The bank can be raised to at least ‘A’ rating, having been acquired by Singapore’s OCBC Tony Lai
itch Ratings said the rating of Banco Weng Hang, SA could be raised to at least ‘A’ once the acquisition deal of the local lender and its Hong Kong parent by Singapore’s Overseas Chinese Banking Corp is completed. The Monetary Authority of Macau said it will approve the acquisition if it can promote the stability and development of Macau’s financial system. This week, the rating agency reaffirmed Banco Weng Hang’s longterm issuer default rating as ‘A-’, some six notches down from the premier ‘AAA’. But it puts the bank on the list of positive rating watch, indicating the “heightened probability” of an upward adjustment. The takeover by OCBC “would result in an extremely high likelihood of extraordinary support” for Banco Weng Hang, Fitch reasoned. The successful completion of the acquisition will raise the local lender’s rating “by at least one notch”, it explained. OCBC and Weng Hang’s listed
parent Wing Hang Bank Ltd announced on Tuesday that the Singapore-based lender will offer HK$38.4-billion (US$5-billion) to buy all the shares of the latter. The deal will gift OCBC 70 branches in Greater China, including 13 Banco Weng Hang branches here. Fitch said: “[Banco Weng Hang] would also benefit from OCBC support due to Macau’s strategic importance as part of OCBC’s Greater China strategy and [its] high level of integration” with the Hong Kong parent firm. Samuel Tsien, chief executive of
Macau Foundation queries associations’ changing habits Applications filed at last minute inflict big fluctuations on Foundation’s budget plan Stephanie Lai
he lack of advance funding application from the city’s associations have brought about big fluctuations to Macau Foundation’s annual budget planning, the director of the city’s biggest sponsor for not-for-profit entities Wu Zhiliang said. “Usually, the associations only apply for our funding at the beginning of the year for activities that are going to take place in that very year,” Mr Wu told Business Daily yesterday on the sidelines of a press briefing on the Foundation’s grants to the Science and Technology Development Fund yesterday. “But every year we have to decide in August on our annual funding budget for the next year,” said Mr Wu. “We have been in talks with the associations to ask if they can deliver their funding application [a year] in advance but some of them have already told us that they can’t.” The Foundation’s director commented that the lack of advance budget planning and funding application from local associations
has meant a big fluctuation in the Foundation’s grants made every year, which is not “a healthy condition”. Last year, the Macau Foundation approved a total of 957 applications from local schools and associations, in the amount of 1.06 billion patacas (US$133 million) in grants, Mr Wu told media in late February. Nearly 36 percent of approved funding went to local universities and non-tertiary education units renovating or constructing their campuses plus other educational activities, information from the Official Gazette reveals. Associations such as the traditionalist Federation of Trade Unions have also been one of the top beneficiaries of Macau Foundation funding. In 2012, the approved funding from the Macau Foundation reached 850 million patacas. In 2011, the total grants from the Foundation amounted to 1.28 billion patacas. The bulk of the Foundation’s money comes from a levy of 1.6 percent on the gross gaming revenues generated by the gaming companies.
OCBC, told a press conference on Tuesday that they expect the deal to be sealed by August after getting the necessary approvals. The deal still needs the green light from the de facto central banks in Macau, Hong Kong and Singapore. The Monetary Authority of Macau told Business Daily in an e-mail reply in English that they will consider “a number of factors” before making the decision. “The suitability of the new shareholder and its ability to ensure sound and prudent operations of [Banco Weng Hang], impact on existing bank customers and depositors, and value added in promoting the stability and development of the local financial system” would be considered, the Authority said. The Authority did not say when a decision can be made but a local banking source told Business Daily this week that the city’s de facto central bank will make a decision “soon”. According to our sources, AMCM will, in principle, agree to the business deal.
First imported mainland helpers list confirmed
ewer than 300 households here, less than the maximum quota allowable, are approved to import mainland domestic helpers from Guangdong and Fujian provinces for the first time, the government confirmed yesterday. The Human Resources Office said in a press statement that 267 out of 312 applications received conform to the requirements for helper importation. Among the approved applications, 225 requests want to import maids from nearby Guangdong while only 42 requested help from Fujian, the Office said. The pilot scheme of the importation of mainland domestic helpers, first proposed in 2011, reserves 300 quotas with 200 for Guangdong maids and 100 Fujian. Following discussion with the central government, all 225 approved requests for Guangdong maids can be granted, the Office noted. The Office did not confirm when the first batch of mainland maids can arrive in Macau to work, nor the use of the remaining 33 quota. But Secretary for Economy and Finance Francis Tam Pak Yuen said last month that the first batch of mainland maids will arrive in Macau by the second half of this year at the earliest. He also said at the time that the government may re-open applications for the remaining unsubscribed quota. T.L.
April 4, 2014
Lead, not follow, govt urged Lei Chan U returns to the committee that discusses the territory’s labour policies. In the ever difficult convergence between workers and employers, the trade union representative warns the government not to referee only Tony Lai
ome mid-month, the local platform for discussing labour issues and policies will have a minor shake up with a new but veteran face from the labour group Macau Federation of Trade Unions. Lei Chan U, a re-elected member of the Standing Committee for the Coordination of Social Affairs, believes that the government should adopt a stronger stance towards pushing the works of the committee in this year’s tight schedule. Issues like the revision of the Labour Relations Law to better suit the city’s changes top his agenda, he told Business Daily. In a dispatch published in the Official Gazette on Wednesday, it was announced that the member structure of the 14-strong committee remains the same, except for Mr Lei replacing his fellow trade unionist, legislator Ella Lei Cheng I. The committee, which has a two-year tenure, comprises representatives from government, employers and workers, and swings into action on April 17. Mr Lei is not totally unfamiliar
with the workings of the committee as he, as vice-president of the trade unions, is not being installed as a committee member for the first time. He once served the committee for four years, stepping down in 2008 when Ms Lei replaced him for six years. The newly re-elected member said that the direction to safeguard the worker’s rights on his group’s side on the committee remains unchanged, but the 37-year-old has sage advice for the government – that of taking a “stronger stance”. “The government should not only serve as a referee to the committee,” said Mr Lei. “The administration should have a resolute stance on the policies instead of following who speaks louder in the committee. “It should not drag on the matter when discrepancies between employees and employers [on the topics] cannot be minimised.”
Tight schedule Indeed, the government has often been criticised by pundits for adopting
Lei Chan U Governo da Região Administrativa Especial de Macau Direcção dos Serviços de Identificação Requerimento para emissão do certificado dos titulares dos órgãos sociais para efeitos das eleições do Chefe do Executivo- 2014”. Tendo em atenção as eleições dos membros da Comissão Eleitoral do Chefe do Executivo2014, a DSI vem pelo presente informar do seguinte: 1. As associações ou organizações devem formalizar atempadamente, junto da Direcção dos Serviços de Identificação, o requerimento para emissão do certificado dos titulares dos órgãos sociais para efeitos das eleições do Chefe do Executivo- 2014”. Aos requerimentos apresentados já com todos os documentos necessários no dia 22 de Abril de 2014 ou antes desta data, será garantida a emissão do respectivo certificado antes do dia 5 de Maio de 2014, data em que termina o prazo de entrega do referido certificado aos SAFP para declarar o representante designado para assinar o boletim de propositura. 2. Caso queiram solicitar o referido certificado para ser entregue nos SAFP, para fim da “apresentação da relação dos votantes das pessoas colectivas eleitoras”, as associações ou organizações devem dirigir-se, quanto antes, à DSI para formalizar o requerimento da emissão do certificado. Aos requerimentos apresentados devidamente instruídos antes de 8 de Maio de 2014 ou antes desta data, será garantida a emissão do certificado solicitado antes do dia 20 de Maio de 2014, data em que termina o prazo de entrega do referido certificado aos SAFP para efeitos da apresentação da relação dos votantes das pessoas colectivas eleitoras. 3. O certificado dos titulares dos órgãos sociais poderá ser usado simultaneamente para fins indicados nos pontos 1 e 2, isto é, caso as associações ou organizações tenham requerido o respectivo certificado para declarar o representante designado para assinar o boletim de propositura, não é necessário tornar a requerer outro certificado para efeitos da apresentação da relação dos votantes das pessoas colectivas eleitoras. 4. Para os requerimentos formalizados depois das datas acima indicadas ou com documentação incompleta, a DSI vai acompanhá-los com o maior esforço. 5. Do certificado a emitir constará somente a relação dos titulares dos órgãos sociais em efectividade de funções a 17 de Março de 2014. Caso a acta da reunião apresentada no requerimento do certificado demonstre que os actuais corpos gerentes da associação ou organização iniciaram as suas funções depois de 17 de Março de 2014, a respectiva acta será considerada inaplicável. 6. O pedido para emissão do certificado sobredito faz-se mediante: • O preenchimento do impresso próprio para “Pedido de Certificado de Associação” fornecido pela DSI (pode descarregá-lo a partir do website da DSI : http://www.dsi.gov.mo); • O pedido é assinado pelo presidente da assembleia geral ou da direcção da associação ou organização requerente ou pelo seu procurador, e aposto o carimbo da associação ou organização; •
O pedido deve ser acompanhado dos seguintes documentos: - Acta da reunião da assembleia geral para eleições dos titulares dos órgãos sociais; - Fotocópias dos documentos de identificação dos titulares dos órgãos sociais; - Procuração, quando o pedido for assinado pelo representante designado pelo presidente da assembleia geral ou da direcção da associação ou organização requerente.
Não é necessário a entrega dos documentos acima referidos se tenham já efectuado a actualização do registo dos mesmos na DSI, entretanto podem as associações ou organismos requerentes juntá-los novamente ao requerimento para evitar morosidade, caso hajam erros nos documentos anteriormente apresentados. Para mais informações sobre o requerimento do certificado de associação destinado às eleições dos membros da Comissão Eleitoral do Chefe do Executivo, podem ligar para o número 83940579. Direcção dos Serviços de Identificação, aos 1 de Abril de 2014. O Director, Lai Ieng Kit
a soft stance, leaving several policies or changes still stuck in the beginning stage. For instance, the social affairs committee started discussing an increase in the minimum monthly contribution to the social security fund in 2012. But there is still not yet any adjustment as both employers and employees search for common ground on the proportion of payments: employers think the payment should be equally split, while workers believe employers should pay two-thirds. Addressing such concern, Wong Chi Hong, the Labour Affairs Bureau director and the committee coordinator, still only responded last month: “We hope that this standing committee can serve as a platform for both employees and employers to have an in-depth discussion… and minimise their discrepancies of opinion.” Mr Lei said it is important for the government to take a tougher stance in the committee, particularly in this year when it has numerous issues to juggle. According to the working schedule of the committee, they should discuss various topics like amendments to the Labour Affairs Law, revised law on imported labour, holiday compensation, bill on employment agencies and social security. Among the numerous issues, the newly re-elected committee member thinks a review on the labour affairs law, which has been enforced since 2009, should be prioritised. “We should update the law to suit the development of the economic structure here as the gaming industry has developed so much since then ,” he said. For example, he thinks the law should detail the
The administration should have a resolute stance on the policies instead of following who speaks louder in the committee Lei Chan U, newly re-elected member in Standing Committee for the Coordination of Social Affairs
arrangement or compensation for workers when their mandatory holidays overlap or clash with their established days off. As to whether the structure of the social affairs committee should also include representatives of the academic world, Mr Lei said he is open for in-depth discussion on the issue. But he stressed that the current structure already allows the committee to seek professional opinions when needed. The committee website should also be revamped to increase exchanges between the body and the public, Mr Lei added. Meanwhile, the outgoing Ms Ella Lei thinks that the arrangement of the committee membership is appropriate as she has to focus more on her work in the Legislative Assembly.
April 4, 2014
Airport business lifting off Macau International Airport has seen a continuous rise in flight passengers in March, with recovery seen on the Bangkok route Stephanie Lai
acau International Airport (CAM) registered continuous growth in passenger volumes in March, with increasing growth seen in passengers travelling the Macau-mainland China route and a recovery in visitors departing for Bangkok, Business Daily has learned. The local airport handled over 440,000 passengers last month, about 20,000 passengers more than in February when visitor growth for that month had been spurred by visitors travelling during Chinese New Year. The March passenger figure also represents a 10 percent yearon-year growth, according to the latest statement from CAM. In March, the airport also recorded over 4,200 aircraft movements, about 10 percent more than the same period last year. For the first quarter, the airport received over 1.28 million passengers, with those
The airport spokesperson added that the open skies deal has yet to be implemented.
travelling by the mainland route and Taiwan route increasing some 20 percent and 14 percent year-on-year, respectively. Of the 1.28 million passengers recorded for the first quarter, 39 percent of them, or over 499,000 passengers, travelled the mainland route, whilst 26 percent travelled by the Taiwan route. The remainder travelled between Macau and Southeast Asia, according
to additional information provided by CAM to Business Daily. The rise seen in passengers travelling the Taiwan route in the first quarter represents a stable increase, although it is not due to the open skies agreement signed by Macau and the island in mid-February allowing airlines to carry unlimited passengers and freight, a CAM spokesperson told Business Daily.
In CAM’s statement on the first quarter passenger figure, it also noted that a “slight decline” was registered in the number of passengers travelling the Southeast Asia route, although the exact figure was not detailed in the statement. A majority of the local flights travelling to and from Southeast Asia serve Thailand, whose capital Bangkok’s tourism business has been impacted by the anti-government rallies that have persisted since October last year. “But actually, in March we saw that the passenger load factor for our 180-seat planes departing for Bangkok had reached 80 to 85 percent, sometimes even 100 percent – it’s a level more or less the same as last year,” Air Asia’s
general manager of airport and network for Greater China Celia Lao Sio Wun told Business Daily. Macau’s Tourist Crisis Management Office announced on March 21 that local travel agencies were once again offering package tours to Bangkok following the lifting of a 60-day state of emergency in the previous week in the Thai capital. The news followed a Hong Kong announcement lowering the travel alert for Bangkok from the highest level of black to the lowest of amber on March 19. “In February, we suffered a bigger impact from the Bangkok rallies, where our passenger load factor was only around 50 percent,” said Ms Lao, “But before the travel alert was updated [by Hong Kong], we received more forward bookings for flights to Bangkok since after the Chinese New Year, and we got much fewer flight cancellations.”
April 4, 2014
Macau Brought to you by
HOSPITALITY Bigger packages In February, the number of travellers arriving in Macau on packaged tours rose by 5.2 percent compared to the same month in 2013. Their numbers have been rising steadily over the years. Between 2010 and 2013 the total number of this type of visitor rose by more than 70 percent, to reach almost 9.8 million travellers last year. Most of this increase was driven by visitors from mainland China. The corresponding number rose by 83.4 percent in the same period, to a total of close to 7.5 million visitors. Only Taiwan showed a bigger rise in the period; but visitors coming from there account for less than one tenth of visitors from the mainland. Part of the rise in February is associated with the timing of the Lunar New Year, which introduces some anomalies to the figures. If we take the two months together, January and February showed a combined growth of 4 percent. This figure compares badly with the increase last year, when the same month’s growth reached 20.7 percent relative to 2012. These figures suggest that growth may be slowing down. But some caution is required here, as 2013 growth is somehow dramatized by the fact that 2012 was a year of relative stagnation.
Students from Harvard University - Graduate School of Design proposed six projects involving the future of the border facilities
Urban planning to cement local identity Macau needs urban planning that preserves local identity as integration with Mainland China approaches, concludes a sponsored research paper from Harvard University Graduate School of Design Luciana Leitão
The monthly figures clearly show how much the total number of visitors hangs on the evolution of arrivals from the mainland. The two plots follow almost perfectly parallel paths. In broad terms, the chart tells us that since mid-2012 6 out of 8 visitors are from the mainland. Visitors from the rest of Asia accounted for most of the 2 remaining ones, highlighting the near irrelevance of the figures for those arriving from everywhere else in the world.
visitors in packaged tours, February
ith the increased flow of capital and people between borders, Macau’s sense of autonomy has gradually been challenged, and, as a consequence, so has its cultural and political identity. As 2049 approaches - the year in which Macau fully plugs into Mainland China’s political and legal apparatus - it is time to start thinking of urban planning solutions that preserve the territory’s identity. This, at any rate, is one of the conclusions from a research paper on Macau undertaken by Harvard University - Graduate School of Design. The research was a three-year project divided into three parts. The first part focused on Xiamen as a paradigmatic city characterising the problem of the mega plot, the
Casino developments should also offer a portion of affordable housing for the city Christopher Lee
basic planning unit for rapid and speculative urbanisation. Macau features in the second section, in which the study proposes to investigate the future of the city in city-regions and the effects of cross-border urbanisation. The third part examines the countryside in the context of state-driven initiatives to urbanise rural areas in China. The paper is funded by global architecture and engineering consultancy firm AECOM. Using Macau as a paradigmatic city for the cross-border theme, associate professor in practice of urban design at Harvard University Christopher Lee, who is coordinating the project, says that the objectives of the study are to revive the idea of the city as a project and to pursue
April 4, 2014
Macau is that the city must diversify its economy so that residents may have other choices of employment, thus avoiding the abandonment of the city. As such, any urban projects for the city “should strive to be industry specific to seed an alternative economic generator.” The second proposal is that borders be “reconfigured and incorporated into urban developments” as a way of increasing synergies between Macau and Hengqin/Zhuhai. Another proposal includes setting up specific programmes for the city to avoid uneven development. “The recent relocation of the University of Macau to Hengqin is an example of this strategy but its dislocation from the heart of the city and the creative milieu that dense cities bring to knowledge spaces is a great loss”, he says. The studio also proposes that Macau become a real cross-border city, creating urban projects with a specific economic function well integrated into the border crossings. Lastly, the researchers believe that urban developments in the city should be more equitable and use planning trade-offs to benefit the city. “For instance, casino developments should also offer a portion of affordable housing for the city”, Mr Lee says. If these proposals are followed through, then Mr Lee believes it will not only benefit residents but create a richer city, more resilient socially, culturally and economically.
alternative forms of urbanisation as development progresses. Mr Lee explains that the research project identifies four characteristics of Macau as a cross-border city. First of all, its comparative difference from its neighbours just across the border, Zhuhai and Hengqin, is highly “exacerbated”, leading to a “lopsided economy and urbanisation”. Secondly, even with the borders in place there are two distinctive developments - Macau and Zhuhai. There is a need of “intense integration for capital, labour, services and goods to flow freely” leading to “uneven” development and a sense of “displacement” of local residents. “For instance, cheaper and more abundant housing in Zhuhai, whilst demand resides in Macau”, he quotes as an example. He also said that because of its borders Macau does have a “few choking points for flows into the city” with its high concentration of infrastructure. Lastly, he highlighted the challenges to Macau’s cultural identity and political autonomy due to the increased flow of capital and people between the borders.
Local architect Nuno Soares, an adjunct assistant professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong who participated in a roundtable panel discussion at the opening of the exhibition heralding the research, compliments the fact that all the students proposed projects from the public’s perspective. “These projects are only possible if done by the government, which is relatively unusual in Macau, as usually big works come from the private sector”, he says. It is original for Macau, to think
Urban planning for a better city We should train architects not just to be facilitators of real estate to sell buildings or to promote their own style of ideas; they should warn of certain situations and propose solutions to improve quality of life Francisco Vizeu Pinheiro
of “urban planning” that primarily complies with public interests. “We’d have a bit more control over the urban evolution and about the identity that we want to preserve or construct”, he says. He also compliments the fact that all projects include housing projects and “different ways” of shaping housing. As for the students’ proposals per se, he sees some problems if applied, saying “They aren’t well integrated into the existing urban space of the territory”. The Macau studio project concluded in December and is now being prepared for publication. It also included visits from the researchers to the territory to discuss issues with local architects.
The propositions The research project conclusions are based on six projects undertaken by students of Harvard University Graduate School of Design related to the future of the border facilities; namely, the Gongbei border crossing, the proposed new north border crossing in Ilha Verde district and the Cotai frontier checkpoint. The students’ projects include integrating the larger border gate buildings with gates and a classic Chinese roof surrounded by a big garden, as well as a lotus flower continuation of the bridge, while developing sprawling squares with large buildings for housing. As a result, the studio lists five propositions for Macau. The first
The future of the border crossing facilities is an area for research (Photo: Manuel Cardoso)
Francisco Vizeu Pinheiro, who was one of the local architects who participated in a roundtable panel discussion at the opening of the research and design studio about Macau’s transformation undertaken by Harvard University - Graduate School of Design, believes the topic raises issues about the urban planning of the city. The Harvard University academics discussed the fact that Macau had different models of development Lisbon, Las Vegas and Hong Kong. “If the Cotai area develops the Las Vegas style it’s OK; it’s more tolerable than building in the middle of the city or near the historical centre with its Portuguese heritage”, Mr Pinheiro says. As for the Hong Kong model, which he believes to be “low quality, high density buildings”, he says it will create “a lot of problems” in Macau. Hengqin Island could actually be used to house Macau people. “Hengqin Island is the way to keep Macau’s personality and let satellite areas like Fai Chi Kei or Hac Sa Wan move to Hengqin Island”, he says. He also believes it should be part of the urban planning developing heritage. The Harvard research also poses questions about the current development of Macau and the path it is taking. “We should train architects not just to be facilitators of real estate to sell buildings or to promote their own style of ideas; they should warn of certain situations and propose solutions to improve the quality of life”, he says. As such, he believes Macau should create an authority like the Urban Redevelopment Authority in Singapore, so as to ensure the quality of the architectural projects designed for the territory. L.L.
April 4, 2014
Macau Tenders invited for vehicle inspection equipment The government is launching a bidding contest for the equipment for a new vehicles inspection centre. According to the Transport Bureau, bidding will be invited for the supply and installation of equipment and data surveillance system in the new Cotai vehicle inspection centre. The closing date for the tenders is May 13. A public briefing session is scheduled for April 9th.
Time to speed up
ozambican diplomat Vicente de Jesus Manuel has been elected undersecretarygeneral of Forum Macau, representing Portuguese-speaking countries and promises to work towards a “new dynamic” in that cooperation institution. “Continuity is key; but a new dynamic is required for ongoing activities”, said Vicente de Jesus Manuel (below) to journalists. The formal ceremony of appointment is scheduled for the end of June.
Financial support on the way China Development Bank mulls ten lusophone projects
he China Development Bank is analysing about ten projects submitted for financing by Portuguese-speaking country companies, said Chang Hexi, secretary-general of the Macau Forum. Speaking at the end of an ordinary session of the Macau Forum which gathered ambassadors, delegates and focal points from China and Portuguese-speaking countries, Chang Hexi said that one agricultural project from Mozambique has already been approved and is set to receive US$5 million (40 million patacas) in financing. Hexi added that, “it’s an agricultural project with a total investment of over US$50 million” (400 million patacas), while other
projects in diverse areas, such as infrastructure, hotels and electricity are also being studied. The finance fund, worth one billion U.S. dollars (8 billion patacas), was announced in 2010
during the Forum Macau’s third ministerial conference, by China’s then prime minister Wen Jiabao, and seeks to support development projects in Portuguese-speaking countries. The fund is managed by the China Development Bank. Despite the amount available, the first installment of the fund is just US$125 million (1 billion patacas) and projects can be supported with US$5-US$20 million or a 30 to 40 percent share of total investment. Also speaking after the meeting, the Portuguese consul-general in Macau explained to journalists that several financing proposals from Portugal are being considered but that those companies still have to provide further details to the Portuguese government. Lusa
Vicente de Jesus Manuel will replace Marcelo Pedro D’Almeida, the Guinea Bissau diplomat that leaves the Macau Forum in June, after three years in the city. According to the Mozambican diplomat, following the tenth anniversary of the Forum, the participating countries – China and Portuguese-speaking countries, except São Tomé and Príncipe, which has diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but has participated in previous meetings as an observer – “want to bring a new dynamic that will be beneficial for everyone”, developing economic and trade relations, “but without jeopardizing areas like education and training”. Vicente de Jesus Manuel added that the billion dollar fund created by China to promote cooperation with Portuguese-speaking countries, will “help realize the potential of relations and cooperation between countries” that currently enjoy very different levels of development.
udiciary Police has “again” recorded a complaint concerning an extortion case yesterday. A male student received a ‘friend’ request on Facebook from a girl and they started chatting online at around 11am. They continued the conversation via video chat on Skype into the afternoon, this time naked. The next day, the girl threatened to put the recorded video online unless the victim paid her 30,000 patacas. The case is still under investigation. In 2012, 30 cases of extortion were recorded, a figure that doubled to 62
cases in 2013. Judiciary Police told Business Daily that the upward trend in extortion is a result of the rise in naked chat scams. Between October 2012 and march 2014, some 52 cases of naked chat scams came to light. According to a PJ spokeswoman, the victims, aged from 20 to 50 years old, come from all walks of life, including casino staff, teachers, civil servants, drivers, salesmen, clerks and students. “Many of them receive ‘friend’ requests on Facebook and are lured to chat naked on Skype; the extortion amount ranges between US$1,000 to US$5,000” she said.
April 4, 2014
City of Dreams was the first successful project in Macau for James Packer
Macau: Packer’s good-luck charm James Packer re-forged his empire with the success of his partnership in Macau’s casinos
ames Packer, Australia’s second richest individual, feels very fortunate about the evolution of his casino and resorts business in Macau. Melco Crown’s Entertainment co-founder told Forbes magazine how he never thought his operations in Macau could ever be so successful. In the interview, he confirms that a big slice of this success can be attributed to Lawrence Ho, the Melco part of the Melco Crown Ent. joint venture and co-chairman. Both have shared the company since 2004 and both have parents that are legendary businessmen: Lawrence Ho’s is Macau mogul Stanley Ho and Packer’s was Aussie media tycoon Kerry Packer. This small piece of China represents for Packer the rebirth of his once-ailing fortunes. After his father passed away, James invested a large part of his heritage in Las Vegas businesses. Unfortunately for him, the US financial crisis swept half of his
US$600 mln invested in Macau
return on investment
money away, ruining his American projects, including Fontainebleau Resorts, Station Casinos and Harrah’s, all of them located in Sin City. But if the Las Vegas dice rolled against him, Macau proved to be a radical twist of fate, as he told journalists Lucinda Schmidt and Dorothy Pomerantz. The US$600 million punt on the Macau casino project turned out to be an US$8 billion lucky strike. Melco Crown begat Altira (formerly Crown Macau) in 2007, and following a bumpy start they plunged into the second and highly profitable US$2.4 billion City of Dreams in 2009. Packer admits that most of his money is now invested in China. He manages his 50 percent slice of the Crown Resorts company through his Consolidated Press Holdings firm, one of the most valued stocks in Australia’s trade fields last year. The shares increased market capitalization from US$3 billion to US$11 billion. Forbes
magazine attributes such success to Crown’s booming progress in Macau. The next step in the Packer and Ho partnership includes expansion to the Philippines and the 2015 opening of the Studio City resort on the Cotai Strip, which supposes an investment of US$2 billion. The resort will focus on movies, which directly pertains to Packer’s latest project: RatPac films production company. This is a partnership with film director/ producer Brett Ratner (hence both surnames recall Sinatra, Davis Jr. et al) whose first blockbuster has been the Oscar-winning ‘Gravity’. More recently, they closed a deal with Warner Bros to invest US$450 million over four years. But according to the magazine they envisage going beyond Hollywood and want to open the business to books, TV and documentaries, especially in China and India. O.G.
Chips keep rolling
Philippines tells Okada to put his house in order
Iao Kun posts highest chip turnover in two years
he Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp, the gaming regulator, has again warned Kazuo Okada that failure to comply with the country’s law on foreign ownership and the outcome of a bribery investigation could prevent his company from opening a casinoresort in Manila next year. GamblingCompliance reports that PAGCOR chairman Cristino Naguiat gave the warning after the collapse of an investment arrangement by Mr Okada’s Universal Entertainment Corp and Philippine company Century Properties Group that was meant to comply with the law on foreign ownership. GamblingCompliance quotes Mr Naguiat as telling Philippine news media: “They cannot open the casino unless they have addressed all issues such as the allegations of bribery and the land ownership requirement.” Criminal
investigators in the Philippines are following up allegations of bribery and violations of the anti-dummy law by Mr Okada.
ast month, VIP gaming promoter Iao Kun Group Holding Co Ltd recorded the best rolling chip turnover in almost two years, announcing an increase of 17 percent for the first quarter’s result. The Nadsaq-listed firm said in a press statement yesterday that its unaudited rolling chip turnover in the VIP rooms here totalled US$1.75 billion (MOP13.98 billion) last month, increasing some 14 percent from a year earlier. The figure is the highest since April 2012 when turnover hit US$1.758 billion, figures show, while the March figure was also US$20 million more than the February result. Last month’s win rate was 3.27 percent. The March data bring the company’s rolling chip turnover in the first quarter to US$4.77 billion, rising by 17 percent from US$4.08 billion in the January-March period
of last year. Before yesterday’s announcement, brokerage Sterne, Agee & Leach, Inc had raised the target price of Iao Kun due to its solid performance so far this year despite the poor performance of last year. The brokerage said in a client note that the target price of the firm is now US$5.5 instead of US$5. Iao Kun closed at US$3.49 on April 2 in the US stock market, down 10.5 percent from a year earlier. The junket investor reported US$5.4 million in net income last year, plunging 92.3 percent from US$70.1 million in 2012. Iao Kun has VIP rooms, primarily focusing on high stakes baccarat, in two of the premises of Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd, as well as Sands Cotai Central, City of Dreams Macau and Le Royal Arc Casino. T.L.
April 4, 2014
Greater China Currency agreement with Albania Albania’s central bank is set to offer local banks the use of a 250 million euro (US$344 million) currency swap line to encourage trade and investment between Albania and China. Central bank governor Ardian Fullani said on Wednesday the currency swap deal was part of the financial infrastructure it was building to “attract as much as possible direct Chinese investment” in Albania. The swap deal allowing an exchange of the Chinese renminbi with the Albanian lek was agreed between Fullani and Zhou Xiaochuan, the governor of China’s Central Bank in September last year.
PBOC to keep repo sales The People’s Bank of China absorbed a net 1.036 trillion yuan (US$167 billion) in the eight weeks since the Lunar New Year holiday by selling repo agreements. Open-market operations take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the contracts are likely to be sold throughout April, according to 11 of 19 analysts and traders surveyed by Bloomberg. The seven-day repo rate, a gauge of banks’ willingness to lend, will average 3.8 percent this quarter, the least since the first three months of 2013, based on the median estimate in the poll.
Apple supplier complains about unfair trial Knowles Corp., a maker of hearing-aid components and microphones for smartphones, said a Chinese court barred it from a trial where it’s the defendant in a patent dispute with rival Apple Inc. supplier Goertek Inc. The decision is the latest in a series of “highly irregular actions” that have denied the company a fair trial in Weifang, Goertek’s hometown, Knowles said in an e-mailed statement on Wednesday. “Knowles continues to go through official Chinese legal channels and is asking for the most basic of legal rights,” Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Niew said in the statement.
BMW to recall 232,098 vehicles The company, which counts China as its biggest market, said it will recall all these vehicles in the country for a defective bolt design. Shares of its partner Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd. fell. BMW will recall 138,534 imported sedans, while its Chinese joint venture will call back 93,564 vehicles, according to China General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine website. The recalls, which will start from June 18, involve a defect that can cause the external bolts on the engine control system to loosen or break, and affect the sealing.
Coolpad want to pass Lenovo The firm is counting on its new online store to help sell 20 million smartphones this year and push the Chinese company past Lenovo Group Ltd. as the No. 2 seller in the biggest wireless market. Total shipments will increase about 50 percent this year to 60 million units, with a third of those coming from online orders, Chief Financial Officer Jiang Chao said in an interview at the company’s Shenzhen headquarters. Internet sales are key to this year’s growth since Coolpad sold just 50,000 units online last year (US$1.6 billion) purchasing contract.
Keqiang unveils stimulus China outlines package of measures including railway spending and
he government will sell 150 billion yuan (US$24 billion) of bonds this year to help build railways mainly in the less-developed central and western regions, the State Council said in a statement last night after a meeting led by Li. Authorities will also create a development fund of 200 billion yuan to 300 billion yuan a year to increase sources of rail financing. The measures expand on the cabinet’s plans to speed up construction projects after slowdowns in manufacturing, retail sales and investment pointed to unexpectedly weak growth. The world’s secondlargest economy probably grew 7.4 percent last quarter from a year earlier, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News in March, down from a previous median estimate of 7.6 percent. “It’s a mini-stimulus package designed to stabilize growth,” said Xu Gao, chief economist with Everbright Securities Co. in Beijing. “As the growth rate is decelerating to the lower end of a reasonable range, Premier Li is trying to do something to get growth back on track.” The policies and the government’s “clear commitment” to achieve 7.5 percent growth mean expansion will probably accelerate in the second quarter, said Xu, who formerly worked at the World Bank. The State Council said the nation will extend a preferential tax policy to
Premier Keqiang is focusing on combating corruption but not forgetting economy jitters
more small companies and increase financing to build low-income housing. China plans to build more than 6,600 kilometers (4,100 miles) of new rail lines this year, 1,000 kilometers more than last year, according to the statement. Almost 80 percent of the investments by the central government will be allocated to the central and western regions, the State Council said. “We must roll out policies that
spur businesses’ vitality, effectively increase demand and boost jobs,” the government said. Accelerating rail projects will “increase effective investments and lead the development of relevant industries,” it said in the statement. Premier Li is trying to balance sustaining growth and employment with reining in a credit surge and curbing pollution that’s shrouded cities across the nation. A Chinese
Alibaba’s ambitions add new company to portfolio Company leader unveils further plans for future and becomes largest shareholder of financial software company Hundsun Technologies Inc
company controlled by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Chairman Jack Ma will pay 3.3 billion yuan (US$532 million) to acquire Hundsun. Zhejiang Rongxin, which is 99.1 percent controlled by Ma, has purchased all of Hundsun Technologies Group, which owns a 20.6 percent stake in the listed Hundsun Technologies Inc., according to a filing with the Shanghai Stock Exchange. The world’s biggest e-commerce company, changed how China shops. Now the man driving its blockbuster U.S. stock sale wants to transform the rest of the country’s services industry, adding new users to the giant’s 300 million customers. Joe Tsai, executive vice chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, sees an Alibaba future that stretches from banking to education, travel to entertainment. Customers will buy mutual funds using Alibaba mobile applications, safeguard homes with Alibaba insurance, and use Alibaba virtual credit cards to order goods from U.S. websites that will arrive on China’s doorsteps in 10 days. On March 16, Alibaba said it’s planning an initial public offering in the U.S. Analysts say it could be worth more than US$16 billion.
That would surpass Facebook Inc’s 2012 listing, valuing Alibaba at over US$140 billion. “In five to 10 years we’re still going
to be an e-commerce business, but the kind of things we sell on our platform will be a lot more diverse than just physical products,” said Tsai in an
Jack Ma walks firmly to a great IPO following a well planned agenda
April 4, 2014
PMI data casts doubts
tax relief to support the economy and create jobs
building materials producer will avert what would have been the second default in the nation’s onshore bond market as its guarantor said it would step in to help, according to two people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday.
Purchasing managers Two Chinese manufacturing gauges released on April 1 pointed to
interview with Reuters days before the IPO announcement. “We’re going to be selling digital content, there’s going to be services that will flow through our platforms,” he said. “Our vision is to become more a part of people’s lives and fulfil all of their needs.” Alibaba already accounts for about 80 percent of all online shopping by individual consumers in China, which iResearch expects to reach 2.45 trillion yuan (US$394 billion) this year. If Alibaba has seemed unstoppable in its 15-year rise, an IPO that could make it one of the world’s most important technology companies comes as the firm faces its most serious challenges so far. Chief rival Tencent Holdings Ltd has the upper hand in mobile services, now the most important battleground
KEY POINTS Chinese giant’s U.S. IPO may be biggest tech listing ever Executive Vice Chair Joe Tsai eyes new e-commerce strands Finance arm targets banking, credit cards and insurance Tencent, banks and regulators stand in Alibaba’s way
weakness in the economy last month, with a Purchasing Managers’ Index from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics falling to the lowest level since July. An official services index declined in March from February, while a private gauge from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics rose, with both indicating expansion, reports showed yesterday. The statistics bureau will report first-quarter gross domestic product data on April 16. China Development Bank will create a body with an independent budget to sell housing bonds to support revamping shantytowns and urban infrastructure projects, according to yesterday’s statement. The vehicle will seek funding from financial institutions including Postal Savings Bank of China, commercial banks, social security funds and insurers. “Accelerating shantytown transformation and getting millions of residents into modern buildings” can “forcefully drive investment and promote consumption,” the State Council said. The government said last month that it would invest more than 1 trillion yuan this year redeveloping shantytowns. The government will raise the upper limit of taxable incomes of small-to-micro businesses eligible for preferential treatment and extend the policy through the end of 2016, the State Council said.
ctivity in China’s services industry rose to a four-month high in March, a private survey showed yesterday, even as persistent weakness in manufacturing has reinforced fears of a sharper-thanexpected economic slowdown. The Markit/HSBC Services Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) increased to 51.9 in March from February’s 51.0, buoyed by strong employment, a second successive rise taking it further above the 50 level that separates expansion from contraction. Earlier, the official services PMI showed a slight dip in the sector’s growth in March, to 54.5 from February’s 55.0, but activity remained well in expansion territory. “The HSBC China Services PMI suggests a modest improvement of
The underlying strength of the economy is softening, which should ultimately weigh on the labour market Hongbin Qu, HSBC chief China economist
business activities in March, with employment expanding at a faster pace,” HSBC chief China economist Hongbin Qu said in a statement accompanying the release. “However, combined with the weaker manufacturing PMI reading, the underlying strength of the economy is softening, which should ultimately weigh on the labour market.” The pick-up in services contrasts with a run of weakening economic indicators this year. On Tuesday, two surveys showed manufacturing struggled in March, with activity at smaller, private firms contracting for the third month in a row. On Wednesday, China’s cabinet said it would accelerate construction of rail projects and cut taxes for small firms, in what appear to be the first steps it has taken this year to steady the economy. Premier Li Keqiang had said last week the necessary policies were in place and the government would push ahead with infrastructure investment. Economists at top government think tanks believe some of this spending is already underway. The Markit/HSBC PMI found that service-sector firms remained very optimistic in March, generally expecting business activity to be higher than current levels in one year. Services made up 46.1 percent of gross domestic product in 2013, having overtaken manufacturing as China’s biggest employer in 2011. It has weathered the global slowdown much better than the factory sector.
for Chinese Internet companies. Alibaba’s strategy of building a global e-commerce empire with its own financial services is attracting close scrutiny from China’s regulators and resistance from the country’s banks. There’s more riding on Tsai’s ability to pull off the giant IPO than just Alibaba’s fortunes. Tsai found out himself, after Facebook’s debut flop, that a high-profile failure can turn investors sour on a whole sector: In what he termed a “hairy” experience, an Alibaba plan to raise US$10 billion in private funding that coincided with Facebook’s listing nearly went awry as investors backed away from Internet companies.
Sharp tactician Tsai declined to discuss specifics of Alibaba’s IPO or its finances but on March 12 he told Reuters Alibaba would “never” change its partnership structure to list in Hong Kong. Alibaba’s revenue climbed 60 percent to US$4.9 billion for the nine months ended September, the latest period for which numbers have been published, according to filings by 24 percent shareholder Yahoo Inc. Net profit was US$2.2 billion, a near eight-fold increase. Tsai, a 50-year-old Taiwan-born Yale law school graduate, has emerged as Alibaba’s chief strategist and financial tactician. He left Swedish investment firm Investor AB’s Hong Kong office in 1999 to join what was then founder Jack Ma’s startup - Alibaba. Tsai served 14 years as Alibaba’s chief financial officer, steering investment strategy and handling negotiations with big-buck investors like Yahoo and Japan’s Softbank Corp , with its 37 percent stake. Reuters and Bloomberg News
A nation of travellers Global travel will grow 5.4 percent annually over the next 10 years
he number of Chinese households able to afford trips abroad will double, according to a report commissioned Amadeus IT Holding SA. China will surpass the U.S. this year as the world’s biggest outbound travel market and will become the biggest domestic market by 2017, the Oxford Economics report said. As many as 220 million Chinese households could afford to travel abroad in the next decade, the report said. The international travel industry is likely to grow about 2 percent faster than global gross domestic product over the next decade and 1.3 percentage points ahead of the growth rate between 2009 and 2012. While China is poised to be the biggest driver of international travel, Russia, Brazil, India, Indonesia and Turkey will average 5 percent annual growth over the next 10 years as greater wealth and changing consumer behaviour boosts interest in travel, Oxford Economics said. “The travel industry has had a pretty difficult time in the past five years, post financial crisis, but clearly when we look at the findings of this report, the tide is turning and there is a very strong potential for growth,” Holger Taubmann, Senior Vice President Distribution at Amadeus, said at a press conference in London on Wednesday. Travel between west and east will spur demand for business travel, with Asia accounting for 55 percent of the
Chinese tourists currently are the first travellers in the world
increase in global corporate travel over the next ten years. Short-haul business travel in western economies will not recover to pre-2008 levels before 2018, according to the report. “Shifting competitive dynamics and the persistence of new behaviours that emerged during the recession are both impacting key indicators in the sector,” Andrew Tessler, the report’s author and an associate director at Oxford economics, said in a press statement. By 2023, countries outside the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development will become the biggest source of international air traffic. South-toSouth journeys accounted for 40 percent of global air travel over the past five years. Bloomberg News
April 4, 2014
Nippon banks willing to dive Japanese banks are the most keen to lend companies money in 17 Overweight Air India attendants win back jobs on court order A court in New Delhi ordered Air India Ltd. to reinstate three flight attendants it had fired for being overweight, saying the state-run carrier had not “applied its mind” in terminating their services. “Accumulated medical wisdom would have us believe that weight brings with it several health related problems,” Justice Rajiv Shakdher of the Delhi High Court wrote in his March 31 order. “Does excess weight then, necessarily, in every situation, impede optimal performance? I believe the answer to this poser, would have to be in the negative.”
Hesitant SK recovery South Korea’s central bank chief and finance minister agreed on Wednesday that the economy’s recovery is still on track but that stimulus tapering by the United States and China’s economic situation remain uncertainties. The comments were made after Finance Minister Hyun Oh-Seok visited the Bank of Korea’s new governor, Lee Ju-yeol, at central bank headquarters in Seoul for the first time since Lee took office on Tuesday. The two also agreed to work towards a stable economic recovery through cooperation in government measures and monetary policy.
BOJ estimates output gap Japan’s output gap closed to around zero in the first quarter of this year, according to a preliminary estimate by the central bank suggesting that the steady recovery has finally removed slack in the economy. The output gap has been showing Japanese growth falling short of its potential since 2008, when the global financial crisis triggered by the Lehman Brothers collapse saddled Japanese companies with substantial surplus capacity. The Bank of Japan estimate will help to make the argument that diminishing slack in the economy heightens the chance Japan will meet its 2 percent price goal next year.
Korean FX reserves reach record South Korea’s foreign reserves inched up in March to a new record high for the ninth consecutive month, central bank data showed yesterday, reflecting management gains and the appreciation of some currencies including the euro. The Bank of Korea said its reserves raised US$2.6 billion from February to US$354.34 billion as at end-March. These were the world’s seventh-largest reserves, with 91.3 percent held in the form of securities.
Bank of Japan index measuring the prevalence of mid-sized companies saying banks are willing to make loans rose to 19 in March, the highest since June 1997, according to Tankan data. Yet demand for loans from businesses remains below levels before the global financial crisis, other central bank data show.
It’s a positive that banks are more willing to lend, but the problem is that there’s just not much demand for funds among borrowers Norio Miyagawa, Mizuho Securities economist
The BOJ’s unprecedented monthly buying of about 7 trillion yen (US$67 billion) of sovereign notes has flooded Japan’s markets with funds to encourage banks to boost lending, as Prime Minister Shinzo
BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda pushed a US$67 billion sovereign notes purchase
Australia posts solid retail sales Sector data follow precedent of positive records
ussie retail sales rose for the 10th straight month in February, government data showed, while the country boasted another sizable trade surplus as exports to China grew by almost a third compared to last year. Yesterday’s data showed the economy was on track for a solid quarter of growth as low rates and rising household wealth boosted spending, while a decade of furious mining investment fuelled resource exports. “The outlook for the trade balance has been well documented: persistent surpluses as mining production picks up and investment slows, said Michael Turner, a strategist at RBC Capital Markets.
A$1.2 billion February trade surplus
Retail sales rose 0.2 percent in February to a record A$22.97 billion (US$21.2 billion), a resilient performance given it followed a 1.2 percent surge in January. It was also the 10th straight month of increases,
the longest such stretch since 2006/07. The revival in sales is important as the A$270 billion retail sector accounts for 17 percent of Australia’s A$1.5 trillion in annual gross domestic product (GDP) and is the secondbiggest employer, providing 10 percent of all jobs. Sales of household goods showed particular strength with gains of 2.0 percent in February and 1.8 percent the month before. That could be just an early sign of what is to come as a boom in home building stokes demand for home wares, furniture and appliances.
Virtuous circle That virtuous cycle is exactly what the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA)
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April 4, 2014
into the business years. Corporate treasurers don’t need the cash. Abe tries to beat deflation. Companies including SoftBank Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. have built buffers since the financial crisis with total cash holdings of non-financial Topix index members reaching the equivalent of US$636 billion in latest filings, from US$417 billion in March 2007, data compiled by Bloomberg show. “It’s a positive that banks are more willing to lend, but the problem is that there’s just not much demand for funds among borrowers,” said Norio Miyagawa, a senior economist at Mizuho Securities Research & Consulting Co. in Tokyo. “We need to see the impact of the tax increase and the economic outlook.” Japan’s economy will probably shrink 3.5 percent in the quarter started April 1 as the increase in the sales tax to 8 percent from 5 percent this month weighs on spending, according to a survey of economists by Bloomberg. Large manufacturers expect the Tankan sentiment index to worsen to 8 in June from 17 in March, according to BOJ survey released this week.
Lending rates Domestic long-term lending rates were at 0.877 percent in February, one basis point from a record low set in December, according to BOJ data. The central bank’s stimulus has dragged down Japanese interest rates, with the 10-year yield at 0.635 percent, the lowest in the world. BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda and his board started their unprecedented easing policy last April in an effort to stamp out 15 years of deflation in the world’s third-largest economy.
aimed to achieve when it cut interest rates a record low of 2.5 percent last year, and one reason it no longer sees a need to ease further. At its April policy meeting this week the central bank said rates were likely to stay on hold for some time. Futures markets have priced out virtually any chance of a further cut and have a first hike pencilled in for early next year. The central bank has also been optimistic that the massive investment on mining expansion will continue to lift export volumes and so support economic growth. The effects were evident in monthly trade figures, which showed the country ran a surplus of A$1.2 billion in February, topping analyst forecasts for US$850 million. Exports of fuels, mainly liquefied
The central bank is trying to fuel investors’ risk-taking by targeting an increase in inflation to 2 percent. Companies forecast that consumer price growth will pick up to 1.5 percent over the next 12 months, reaching 1.7 percent in three years where it will remain through 2019, the BOJ said yesterday. Prices excluding fresh food rose 1.3 percent from a year earlier in February.
Lending attitude This week’s Tankan data signal the turnaround in banks’ lending stance since the global financial crisis. The index which subtracts the percentage of companies saying banks are severe in their lending attitude from those saying they are accommodative was at minus 11 in March 2009 compared with 19 for mid-sized companies in this week’s survey. Even so, while outstanding lending to companies increased by 2.2 percent from a year earlier in February, the total amount of 275 trillion yen in loans remains below levels in 2009, according to BOJ data. An index measuring corporate demand for bank loans was 8 in January, versus 9 in mid-2007, a year before the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. sparked global financial turmoil, the BOJ’s quarterly loan officer survey shows. “There’s no bottleneck for supplying funds,” said Yuichi Kodama, chief economist at Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co. in Tokyo. “The problem for most companies isn’t a lack of funds but that there aren’t good investments to make.” Bloomberg News
natural gas, rose a sharp 9 percent in the month and are set to surge over the next few years as major projects come on stream. China remained the by far the biggest buyer of Australian goods with exports to the Asian giant up 32 percent on February last year at A$8.2 billion. That will in turn help fill the hole left as mining investment cools. Net exports added 0.5 percentage points to GDP in the last quarter of 2013, and no less than 2.4 percentage points for all that year. Imports were also up in February, mainly due to a 15 percent jump in capital goods, which hints at a possible improvement in business investment for the quarter. Reuters
KEY POINTS Retail sales rise 0.2 pct in Feb, 10th straight month of gains Trade surplus tops forecasts at A$1.2 bln, exports to China strong Q1 shaping up to be a brisk quarter for economic growth Reserve Bank of Australia has been promoting the virtuous cycle
Vietnam property drowns in quicksand In spite of government fund injections housing projects not taking off
he market rebound from a three-year slump may be delayed until 2015 as families struggle to access affordable loans and confidence lags, according to CBRE Group Inc. Only 1,500 condominiums were sold in Hanoi in the first quarter, according to CBRE. While that’s a fivefold increase from the 279 sold in the same period two years ago, it’s still down from the peak in 2009, when more than 15,000 units were sold in the capital city. In Ho Chi Minh City, first-quarter sales more than tripled to 2,263. That’s compared to a peak of 13,000 condos sold in Ho Chi Minh City in 2010. “We’ve still got issues that are holding us back,” Richard Leech, Hanoi-based executive director of CBRE, said in an interview on Wednesday. “Although we have had economic stability, there is a lack of confidence, a fear that interest rates are going back up.” First-quarter home sales reflect difficulties in a property market where entire subdivisions on city outskirts remain unfinished and empty, Leech said. The economy continues to be stymied by bad debt at banks, of which a third were tied to soured property loans at the end of 2012. Lenders are putting together a loan package to stimulate the property market and policy makers cut interest rates last month to bolster growth.
Loan package The central bank last May approved 30 trillion dong (US$1.4 billion) of
Although residence houses are not booming, business buildings bloom
financing for five banks to use for low-interest home loans, yet few homebuyers have participated in the program, Leech said. Last month, a group of banks including BIDV Securities JSC, Agribank Securities JSC, Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam JSC and Vietnam Bank for Construction announced a plan to offer a total of 50 trillion dong for property loans, according to Vietnam News. The World Bank estimates the economy will grow 5.4 percent this year, a seventh straight year of growth below 7 percent. The central bank in March cut its policy rates and said it’s stepping up efforts to create more favourable conditions for foreign investors, including a plan to auction bad-debt assets of banks. Bloomberg News
White-collar calamity fuels suspicions Trading irregularities have awaken suspects in Singapore police force
ingapore’s police force and central bank are investigating suspected trading irregularities in companies at the centre of a pennystock crash last year, the Monetary Authority of Singapore said late on Wednesday. Share prices in Blumont Group Ltd, LionGold Corp Ltd and Asiasons Ltd crashed last October, wiping out around S$8 billion (US$6.35 billion) in market value in just two days after huge run-ups. The scandal led to a series of proposed reforms to the city-state’s stock trading rules. The central bank said it is now working with white-collar crime police unit the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) on possible breaches of the Securities and Futures Act related to trading in those three stocks. Blumont earlier on Wednesday said its subsidiary, G1 Investments, had been contacted by the CAD and asked for all corporate electronic data from January 2011 relating to its executive chairman, Neo Kim Hock, and executive director James Hong. In a statement to Singapore’s stock exchange Blumont, which mainly invests in mining assets,
said the investigation is in relation to an offence under the Securities and Futures Act without giving any further details. Hong has also been asked to assist the CAD directly, it said. No information was immediately available from the police. LionGold in a statement said its subsidiary, LionGold Investments Pte Ltd, and the company has been informed by the CAD of a similar investigation. LionGold has received a notice from the CAD on corporate data belonging to Lynne Ng Su Ling, a non-executive, independent director of LionGold, and Peter Chen Hing Woon, an employee. The CAD’s notice requires LionGold to provide all corporate electronic data of Ng and Chen from January 2011 to now, the company said. “CAD has not given any further details of its investigations. So far, the board is not aware if any offence has been committed and has not heard from Lynne Ng Su Ling or Peter Chen Hing Woon in respect of the investigations,” LionGold said. Bloomberg News
April 4, 2014
The scary shadow of deflation
Gigaba postulates as South Africa president The European Central Bank looks set to keep interest rates South African Public Enterprises Min- steady and offer no new aid to the euro zone’s fragile recovery ister Malusi Gigaba’s rising popularity in the ruling African National Congress despite a fall in inflation to its lowest in more than four years gives him an inside track for a future presidential bid. Gigaba, 42, placed third on the ANC’s list of nominee lawmakers for May elections behind President Jacob Zuma and his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa. He came second after African Union Chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in the 2012 vote of the national executive committee, the ANC’s main decision-making body. A separate ballot was run for the top six leadership posts.
willingness to fight downside risks to inflation,” Komileva said. Pressure from abroad to act has mounted, most notably from the International Monetary Fund. “More monetary easing, including through unconventional measures, is needed in the euro area,” IMF head Christine Lagarde said in a speech on Wednesday, outlining the Fund’s policy recommendations ahead of its spring meetings next week.
Musharraf survives a bomb attack Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who is on trial for treason, narrowly escaped what police called an assassination attempt as a roadside bomb went off shortly before his convoy was due to pass early yesterday. The bomb was planted on Musharraf’s route from an army hospital in Rawalpindi, where he has been staying since January, to his home on the outskirts of Islamabad. Nobody was injured and there have so far been no claims of responsibility. “Four kilograms of explosive device planted in a pipeline under a bridge,” senior police official Liaqat Niazi said.
Total to explore Russian shale oil French oil major Total has secured the rights to explore three hard-to-recover oil blocks in West Siberia, according to a statement on the website of the Russian region’s governor. Total will join other majors, ExxonMobil, Statoil and Royal Dutch Shell, to develop Russian shale oil, a key driver in Moscow’s efforts to at least maintain its oil output at more than 10 million barrels per day. A spokeswoman for Total in Moscow declined immediate comment. Total has long eyed Russian shale oil, the world’s largest by estimated resources.
More time on anti-tax dodge law The U.S. Treasury Department on Wednesday gave foreign financial institutions 10 extra days to register with the U.S. government, under a new law to combat offshore tax dodging by Americans that goes into effect on July 1. Under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), foreign banks, insurers and investment funds must send the Internal Revenue Service information about Americans’ and U.S. permanent residents’ offshore accounts worth more than US$50,000. Institutions that fail to comply could effectively be frozen out of U.S. markets.
Weather woes buffet Turkey credit The weather is proving to be a nemesis of Turkish central bank Governor Erdem Basci and his efforts to beat inflation. Consumer-price growth climbed to 8.4 percent last month, the highest level since July, according to data released by the state-run statistics agency yesterday. That’s above the 8.1 percent median estimate of 12 analysts on Bloomberg. Economists said the trend might continue as unusually dry winter fuels food inflation. That may complicate any plans by Basci to cut interest rates, which he unexpectedly raised in January to halt a slide in the lira to a record.
Years of low
EU members wait for ECB head Mario Draghi’s reaction
olicymakers have been willing in recent weeks to publicly broach cutting deposit rates below zero - effectively charging banks to hold cash with the ECB or embarking on bond purchases as the United States, Japan and Britain have. A straightforward cut in the ECB’s main refinancing rate to 0.1 percent from 0.25 percent - or more complex changes to existing market programmes - are other possibilities. But there has been little sense that a majority of officials favours imminent use of any of those tools even though inflation has been below 1 percent for six months. Instead most may prefer to keep such policies on standby in case of an external economic shock. “Policy rhetoric should lean in the direction of dovish. But it is unlikely that current economic and market conditions meet the watermark for ECB action,” said Lena Komileva, managing director of G+ Economics. News on Monday that annual inflation in the 18-member euro zone
fell to 0.5 percent appears insufficient to prompt action, despite concerns among some economists that the bloc risks slipping into a spiral of sinking prices and meagre growth. Even after the data came out, 18 out of 22 money market traders polled by Reuters forecast no change in policy, echoing the finding of a larger Reuters poll of economists last week. ECB Vice-President Vitor Constancio said the low rate of inflation could hamper growth but that there was no risk of deflation and that economic recovery would push prices up. Draghi is likely to want to play up the ECB’s readiness to tackle downside risks to inflation, in order to stem a rise in the euro, which last month hit its highest level against the U.S. dollar since October 2011 and has a dampening effect on import prices the more it climbs. “A combination of persistent topline inflation weakness and persistent upward pressure on the euro will probably result in more dovish ECB rhetoric on the central bank’s
Last month, the ECB forecast it would take 2-1/2 years for inflation to rise to 1.7 percent, which even then would barely meet the target for annual price growth below but close to 2 percent. That was insufficient to prompt a majority of policymakers to back more monetary stimulus, and to change their minds now would go against the central bank’s practice of not reacting to short-term moves in data. That said, the ECB did cut its main interest rate in November after a surprise drop in inflation in October to 0.7 percent. Other economic indicators are similar to last month’s, suggesting the ECB outlook that the euro zone will record economic growth of around 1.2 percent this year - the highest since 2011 - holds good. Nonetheless, there may well be debate on the merits of future stimulus. One option on the table is cutting the deposit rate that the central bank pays on the roughly 30 billion euros (US$41 billion) deposited with it to below zero - effectively charging banks if they choose to hold money at the ECB rather than lending it out. This has been tried out in recent years by the Danish central bank while Switzerland has threatened similar. Reuters
Cyber-attacks focus on ravaging banks The increasing attacks to banks and its sophisticated methods make US authorities warning extreme caution
group of top U.S. regulators on Wednesday warned about the threat of rising cyber-attacks on bank websites and cash machines, urging the industry to put proper measures in place to guard against fraud. The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) said it had seen a rise of so-called denialof-service attacks on bank websites, which were sometimes a cover for criminals committing fraud. The group described one recent case in which criminals stole US$40 million from just 12 accounts -far exceeding the actual balance held by clients- in a sophisticated scheme known as an “Unlimited Operations” fraud. Massive client data breaches at retailers Target Corp and Neiman
Marcus Group LLC put the focus on cybersecurity last month, leading banks and retail groups to join forces to try and fix the issues. The problems described by the FFIEC, which comprises top officials from the Federal Reserve and other bank regulators, are of a different nature, if no less harmful. In the “Unlimited Operations” fraud, criminals might begin an attack by installing malicious software on a bank’s computers through phishing emails, and then hack into control panels to raise limits on how much a cash machine can dispense. In the final phase, the criminals withdraw large amounts of money from a number of cash machines within four hours to two days with stolen bank cards, often on weekends because that is when there is more
money in the machines. Such operations can be accompanied by a denial-of-service attack, in which a bank’s website is flooded with information requests so that it slows down or completely stops working for clients with legitimate requests. There was an increase in such attacks in the latter half of 2012, the FFIEC said, although politically motivated groups often also launched these. In 2012, Ally financial Inc., Bank of America Corp, Wells Fargo & Co and other banks suffered denial of service attacks. Sources at the time told Reuters the attacks could be part of a year-long cyber campaign waged by Iranian hackers to protest against an anti-Islam video on the Internet. Reuters
April 4, 2014
Leading reports from Asia’s best business newspapers
Fascism with a Feminist Face Naomi Wolf Naomi Wolf played a leading role in so-called “third-wave” feminism and as an advocate of “power feminism,” which holds that women must assert themselves politically in order to achieve their goals. She advised the presidential campaigns of Bill Clinton and Al Gore.
Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆) and Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷), leaders of the on-going student movement against the cross-strait service trade agreement, may face legal action for their involvement in the occupation by hundreds of students of the Legislative Yuan. Local media reported yesterday that Lin and Chen have been referred by the police to the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office for investigation on five charges: trespassing, interference with public functions, destruction of property, infringing on personal liberty and contempt of authority.
Myanmar Times In its annual “Asian Development Outlook” report, the ADB highlighted a 59.5pc increase in capital goods imports to US$5.8 billion last year, as well as resurgence for the agriculture sector, after being hit by flooding the year before. “Business confidence has markedly improved in recent years, as reflected in a rapid increase in new business registrations, which exceeded 5,000 in the 10 months to January 2013, more than in the whole of the previous fiscal year,” the report states, adding that private sector credit maintained a rapid growth at 46pc for the last fiscal year.
Jakarta Globe National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia secured a $100 million loan from Bank Internasional Indonesia at the end of last month, as part of financing for its expansion plan. “The loan will be used to expand our fleet,” Garuda finance director Handrito Hardjono said, during the company’s public presentation in Cengkareng, Banten, on Wednesday. Handrito added that Garuda still has room to take out an additional US$200 million in loans, and the company is currently talking with several local and foreign-based banks. Handrito did not disclose the names of the banks.
The Phnom Penh Post Grocery and beer sales are expected to spike during April as Khmer New Year preparations ramp up, retail industry officials said yesterday. Hy Ramy, managing director of HRM (Cambodia) Group, a food and beverage distribution company specialising in canned foods, condiments and beverages, said he expects sales to increase 20 to 30 per cent during April. Beer sales are expected to double during the three-day holiday and contribute most of the month’s estimated spending increase, he said. “Many distribution depots are preparing to supply mostly beer because the demand of other goods has not increased much,” he said.
EW YORK – Western feminism has made some memorable theoretical mistakes; a major one is the frequent assumption that, if women held the decision-making power in society, they would be “kinder and gentler” (a phrase devised for George H.W. Bush in 1988 to appeal to the female vote). Indeed, so-called “second-wave” feminist theory abounds in assertions that war, racism, love of hierarchy, and general repressiveness belong to “patriarchy”; women’s leadership, by contrast, would naturally create a more inclusive, collaborative world. The problem is that it has never worked out that way, as the rise of women to leadership positions in Western Europe’s far-right parties should remind us. Leaders such as Marine Le Pen of France’s National Front, Pia Kjaersgaard of Denmark’s People’s Party, and Siv Jensen of Norway’s Progress Party reflect the enduring appeal of neofascist movements to many modern women in egalitarian, inclusive liberal democracies. The past is prologue: Wendy Lower’s recent book Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields adds more data to the long record of women embracing violent right-wing movements. And the rise of far-right movements in Europe – often with women in charge – confronts us with the fact that the heirs to the fascism of the 1930’s have their own gender-based appeal. One obvious reason for the success of women like Le Pen, Kjaersgaard, and Jensen is their value for packaging and marketing their parties. Just
Right-wing movements benefit from the limitations of a postfeminist, post-sexualrevolution society, and the spiritual and emotional void produced by secular materialism
as Bush sought to revamp the Republican Party’s “brand” of cold-hearted elitism and hostility to women, so Europe’s far-right parties today must appeal to citizens by not seeming dangerously extreme and marginal. How dangerous can the movement be, after all, if women are speaking for it? Such parties come to be seen as more mainstream, and their appeal to traditionally harder-to-win women supporters receives a boost. As Lower shows, the Nazis reached out with special programs – from organizing homemakers to colonizing the conquered Eastern territories – that gave workingclass women things they craved: a sense of belonging to something larger than
themselves (fascism’s eternal draw), backed by a complex official iconography in which the traditionally devalued roles of wife and mother held a crucial place in the national drama. Young unmarried women who were sent to administer the neocolonial efforts in conquered Poland and other territories gained adventure, advanced professional training, and opportunity. And, for all of these women, as for any subordinate group anywhere, fascism appealed to what social scientists call “last-place aversion”: the desire to outrank other groups. Add, finally, the gendered appeal of the strong authority figure and rigid hierarchy, which attracts some women as much as some men, if in different psychodynamic ways. As Sylvia Plath, the daughter of a German father, put it in her poem “Daddy”: “Every woman adores a Fascist/ The boot in the face, the brute/Brute heart of a brute like you.” Certainly, many of the same themes in far-right ideology attract the support of some women in Europe today. And we can add the fact that right-wing movements benefit from the limitations of a postfeminist, postsexual-revolution society, and the spiritual and emotional void produced by secular materialism. Many lower-income women in Western Europe today – often single parents working pinkcollar ghetto jobs that leave them exhausted and without realistic hope of advancement – can reasonably enough feel a sense of nostalgia for past values and certainties. For them, the idealized vision of an earlier age, one in which social
roles were intact and women’s traditional contribution supposedly valued, can be highly compelling. And, of course, parties that promote such a vision promise women – including those habituated to secondclass status at work and the bulk of the labour at home – that they are not just faceless atoms in the postmodern mass. Rather, you, the lowly clerical worker, are a “true” Danish, Norwegian, or French woman. You are an heiress to a noble heritage, and thus not only better than the mass of immigrants, but also part of something larger and more compelling than is implied by the cog status that a multiracial, secular society offers you. The attraction of right-wing parties to women should be examined, not merely condemned. If a society does not offer individuals a community life that takes them beyond themselves, values only production and the bottom line, and opens itself to immigrants without asserting and cherishing what is special and valuable about Danish, Norwegian, or French culture, it is asking for trouble. For example, upholding the heritage of the Enlightenment and progressive social ideals does not require racism or pejorative treatment of other cultures; but politically correct curricula no longer even make the attempt to do so. Until we stop regarding cultural pluralism as being incompatible with the defence of legitimate universal values, fascist movements will attract those who need the false hope and sense of self-worth that such movements offer, regardless of gender. © Project Syndicate, 2014
April 4, 2014
Closing CE leads delegation at annual Boao Forum
Mozambique: Digital TV controversy
Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On will lead a Macau delegation participating in the annual Boao Asia Forum in Hainan. This year’s theme is “Asia’s New Future: Identifying New Growth Drivers”. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is expected to deliver the keymote address. Mr. Chui will meet with senior officials from the Hainan provincial government.
The direct award of the TV and radio digitalization process on Tuesday to a company chaired by the daughter of Mozambique’s president is causing protests from the opposition, civil society and private operators. The award, without a public call for tenders and valued at 220 million euros, was given to the Chinese-Mozambican company Star Times, run by Valentina Guebuza, the daughter of the current president.
H&M opens store in Zhuhai Chinese third tier cities, like Zhuhai, are now the target for clothing retailers as biggest towns are already too competitive. H&M comes next to Macau with its first store in Zhuhai David Fickling and Liza Lin
ennes & Mauritz AB, Europe’s secondbiggest clothing retailer, is expanding into China’s smaller cities to woo more customers as retail competition intensifies in the world’s second-biggest economy. The company, based in Stockholm, is also looking at having clothes made in Myanmar, Ethiopia and Kenya as rising wages in China, its biggest supply market, put pressure on profit margins, Chief Executive Officer Karl-Johan Persson said yesterday in a telephone interview from Melbourne, where the company is opening its first Australian store. Global apparel companies Inditex SA and H&M are expanding into China’s less developed regions as competition intensifies in the largest cities. Fast Retailing Co. and Gap Inc. are also adding stores and introducing new brands to tap rising incomes in China, where a measure of consumer confidence rose to a 10-month high in February. “The whole country is definitely getting more competitive,” Persson said,
acknowledging new rivals and international retailers that are improving and expanding in the country. “We’ve tested second tiercities and third-tier cities in China and found the concept is working well.” The retailer will open more stores in China this year than in any other market, with between 80 and 90 new
outlets planned. Consumers in the smaller cities beyond Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou were receptive to H&M’s concepts, and that “opens up a lot of expansion opportunities,” he said.
Market opportunity H&M already has stores in smaller Chinese cities
such as Meishan, Daqing, Weifang, Baicheng, and Zhangjiajie, according to the company’s website. It will open a store later this year in Zhuhai, a thirdtier city bordering Macau, Trish Varker- Miles, an external spokeswoman for the company at the Trish Nicol Agency in Sydney, said by e-mail.
Global fashion companies have introduced new brands into the larger metropolises such as Shanghai and Beijing over last year, heightening competition in the industry. Zara-owner Inditex will increase its store numbers to more than 500 stores this year from about 450 now. Gap, the biggest U.S. specialty-clothing retailer, opened its first Old Navy store in China in Shanghai last month. The San Franciscobased clothing maker, which had 81 stores in China in the last fiscal year to February, plans to open about 30 Gap stores and five Old Navy outlets in the current fiscal year, it said in February. Uniqlo-owner Fast Retailing opened the first Chinese outlets for its GU and Princesse tam.tam brands in Shanghai last September and expects to have 305 stores by August. Abercrombie & Fitch Co. is opening its Shanghai flagship store, while Cotton On Group, an Australian clothing chain, said it is looking for a partner in China to open stores as part of moves to ramp up overseas expansion. Bloomberg
EU trade carbon Chinese bitcoin exchanges Euro little moved emissions for business suspend money transfer by Central Bank The European Parliament voted yesterday to exempt international flights from paying for their carbon emissions amid pressure from national governments to continue applying the measure to domestic flights only. The full parliament adopted by 458 votes to 120 a proposal which would continue the current regulation of domestic flights only until at least 2016, a spokesman for the Parliament said in a statement. The European Commission had proposed extending the regulation to cover the portion of international flights over EU territory, insisting Europe was within its rights to regulate within its own airspace. EU member states came out against the plan, fearing it would reignite tensions with major trading partners such as the United States and China and hamper progress toward a globally agreed deal to curb rising aviation emissions. Aviation accounts for around 5 percent of manmade emissions blamed for causing climate change.
BTC China and OKCoin, two of China’s largest Bitcoin exchanges, suspended some money transfer services, after it was reported that the central bank tightened controls on the digital currency. BTC China said that services with Yijingdong had been suspended “because of reasons to do with” the payment provider, according to a statement on its official microblog. OKCoin said third-party payment companies have also suspended services to its clients. Bitcoin prices plunged almost 10 percent on March 27 after Caixin reported that the People’s Bank of China ordered banks and payment companies to close the trading accounts of more than 10 exchanges. The deadline was April 15, according to the report, which cited a notice sent to banks and third-party payment companies. The price of Bitcoin, which exists as software and isn’t controlled by any country or banking authority, fell to 2,525 yuan (US$407) on BTC China from a 24-hour high of 2,710 yuan.
The euro held broadly steady yesterday after the European Central Bank kept interest rates on hold, The euro dipped just before the decision but took back those losses immediately after the decision. A number of ECB policymakers have played down any concerns about a fall in inflation to 0.5 percent, casting it as temporary, and the bank’s President Mario Draghi’s own line is that the euro zone is in no danger of falling into a debilitating cycle of deflation. But many in the market have also read comments from a number of ECB officials in the past month as evidence that the bank is concerned by the euro’s gains so far in what was expected to be a strong year for the dollar. “I think Mr. Draghi may find a line or two that sound dovish,” said Jane Foley, a strategist with Rabobank in London. “If he does that may weaken the euro somewhat.”