Archive for ‘Economics’

26/05/2015

Coal-fired plants in Beijing on way out with new ban|Society|chinadaily.com.cn

Beijing will ban new coal-fired thermal power plants after the four existing ones are expected to be replaced by gas-fired plants by 2017, according to the municipal economic planner.

The replacement is being made in an attempt to reduce coal consumption to achieve better air quality.

“The closure of the coal-fired power plants will greatly improve air quality, considering that 22 percent of air pollutants are from coal consumption,” said Zhang Wangcai, deputy director of the Beijing Development and Reform Commission’s Energy Bureau.

Two gas-fired thermal power plants have been operating since October and have reduced coal consumption by 3.95 metric tons annually, he said.

Beijing has also restricted coal consumption by companies and households for heating in the past two years by supplying them with gas or other cleaner fuels instead.

“By the end of this year, we will reduce coal consumption by 8 million tons,” Zhang said, adding that a reduction of 7.1 million tons has already been achieved.

Li Xiang, deputy head of atmospheric environment management at the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, said the reduction of coal consumption at the two power plants has been a major reason for the better air quality in the capital in the first four months of this year.

She said people in the capital have seen a distinct improvement in air quality in the first four months, during which there were 57 days when the quality was better than the national standard – eight days more than during the same period last year.

The concentration of PM2.5 – air particles of 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter that can penetrate the lungs and harm health – has been lowered by 19 percent and the number of days with serious pollution reduced by 42 percent year-on-year.

On Thursday, authorities launched efforts to reduce air pollution in support of the bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Zhang said the government will make further efforts to reduce emissions of air pollutants, including restricting coal consumption as planned, which will further improve air quality.

In addition to the two thermal power plants already operating, another will start working in July and a fourth will be ready to operate in November next year, he said.

By 2017, Beijing will have all its power generated by clean-energy gas, and coal consumption will be cut by 9.2 million tons annually – the equivalent amount used for the four coal-burning thermal power plants.

Gas consumption will increase to 24 billion cubic meters in 2017, of which 98 percent will be supplied through a variety of channels including foreign countries, Zhang said, adding that Beijing consumed 11.3 billion cubic meters of gas last year.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection released the list of air quality in April in the 74 major cities on Monday.

In April, seven of the 10 cities with the worst air pollution were in Hebei province, but the region of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province has witnessed a clear improvement in air quality, said Luo Yi, head of the ministry’s Environmental Supervision Bureau.

The PM2.5 concentration in the region has been reduced on average by 18.3 percent year-on-year and was 16.3 percent lower in April than in March, he said.

via Coal-fired plants in Beijing on way out with new ban|Society|chinadaily.com.cn.

26/05/2015

The Top 10 Successes of Narendra Modi’s First Year – India Real Time – WSJ

Opinions differ on what Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has accomplished in his first year but most observers agree he has been busy since taking over last May.

Opinions differ on what Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has accomplished in his first year but most observers agree he has been busy since taking over last May.

He’s been relentless, offering constituents of world’s largest democracy a constant flow of policy speeches, international trips, colorful photo opportunities and ambitious new programs.

His charismatic style of governing has had mixed results.

While he has had some failures–including his party’s defeat in the Delhi elections and its inability to calm concerns within minority communities as outlined in this accompanying post about Mr. Modi’s misses—he has also had some impressive successes.

Here are 10 that stood out:

More Foreign Direct Investment: There was no big-bang busting India open to international competition and deregulation in Mr. Modi’s first year, but the prime minister has to get credit for allowing more FDI in the insurance, defense and other sectors.

Diesel Deregulation: This politically unpopular move was delayed for years but Mr. Modi just ripped the Band-Aid off and freed up diesel prices to move with the global market, potentially saving the government billions of dollars.

Global Diplomacy: Though he made little headway with India’s biggest rival–Pakistan–Mr. Modi’s globetrotting brought the country closer to most of its other neighbors and raised the nation’s profile around the world. Getting President Barack Obama to India for Republic Day was a brilliant public relations coup even if the U.S. President voiced concerns about how India treated its minorities while here.

GDP Growth: Some time during Mr. Modi’s reign, India overtook China as the fastest- growing large economy in the world. Although most of the jump in GDP came from a reworking of how the number is calculated, the revised figure produced a new point of pride for many.

Direct Subsidy Payments: Replacing leaky, expensive-to-administer and badly-targeted subsidies with direct payments to the poor is a more efficient way to help the country’s needy. Mr. Modi started direct payments for cooking gas in some places and is hoping to expand them to subsidize food and fertilizer purchases for the poorest.

Coal and Telecom Auctions: Coal mining rights and telecommunications bandwidth were at the center of the biggest scandals that helped to sink the Congress party in general elections in 2014. Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party did not shy away from putting them back on the block to help raise money for the government and kick-start growth in these crucial sectors.

Media Management: Prime Minister Modi starved the media of access at the same time as flooding the airwaves. Speeches broadcast on every news channel, a regular radio show, carefully curated photo opportunities in weird outfits and wonderful places and an unprecedented barrage ofsocial media messages through Facebook, Twitter and even Weibo in China have all been used to let the world know what Mr. Modi is doing and thinking.

Scandal Free: Of course it’s early in the game, but so far in his premiership, there has been no huge scandal to suggest that the latest people in power are more corrupt than the last batch.

This Outfit: When the prime minister greeted President Obama, wearing this dapper suit in January, he wrecked the Internet. Mr. Modi’s vanity pinstripes had the worldwide web buzzing for weeks after Mr. Obama left and then sold at auction for close to $700,000. The money went to charities that work to educate girls.

Mr. Modi hugs Barack Obama while wearing a pinstrip suit with his name in the stitching.

AFP/Getty

He’s been relentless, offering constituents of world’s largest democracy a constant flow of policy speeches, international trips, colorful photo opportunities and ambitious new programs.

His charismatic style of governing has had mixed results.

While he has had some failures–including his party’s defeat in the Delhi elections and its inability to calm concerns within minority communities as outlined in this accompanying post about Mr. Modi’s misses—he has also had some impressive successes.

Here are 10 that stood out:

More Foreign Direct Investment: There was no big-bang busting India open to international competition and deregulation in Mr. Modi’s first year, but the prime minister has to get credit for allowing more FDI in the insurance, defense and other sectors.

Diesel Deregulation: This politically unpopular move was delayed for years but Mr. Modi just ripped the Band-Aid off and freed up diesel prices to move with the global market, potentially saving the government billions of dollars.

Global Diplomacy: Though he made little headway with India’s biggest rival–Pakistan–Mr. Modi’s globetrotting brought the country closer to most of its other neighbors and raised the nation’s profile around the world. Getting President Barack Obama to India for Republic Day was a brilliant public relations coup even if the U.S. President voiced concerns about how India treated its minorities while here.

GDP Growth: Some time during Mr. Modi’s reign, India overtook China as the fastest- growing large economy in the world. Although most of the jump in GDP came from a reworking of how the number is calculated, the revised figure produced a new point of pride for many.

Direct Subsidy Payments: Replacing leaky, expensive-to-administer and badly-targeted subsidies with direct payments to the poor is a more efficient way to help the country’s needy. Mr. Modi started direct payments for cooking gas in some places and is hoping to expand them to subsidize food and fertilizer purchases for the poorest.

Coal and Telecom Auctions: Coal mining rights and telecommunications bandwidth were at the center of the biggest scandals that helped to sink the Congress party in general elections in 2014. Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party did not shy away from putting them back on the block to help raise money for the government and kick-start growth in these crucial sectors.

Media Management: Prime Minister Modi starved the media of access at the same time as flooding the airwaves. Speeches broadcast on every news channel, a regular radio show, carefully curated photo opportunities in weird outfits and wonderful places and an unprecedented barrage of social media messages through Facebook, Twitter and even Weibo in China have all been used to let the world know what Mr. Modi is doing and thinking.

Scandal Free: Of course it’s early in the game, but so far in his premiership, there has been no huge scandal to suggest that the latest people in power are more corrupt than the last batch.

This Outfit: When the prime minister greeted President Obama, wearing this dapper suit in January, he wrecked the Internet. Mr. Modi’s vanity pinstripes had the worldwide web buzzing for weeks after Mr. Obama left and then sold at auction for close to $700,000. The money went to charities that work to educate girls.

Mr. Modi hugs Barack Obama while wearing a pinstrip suit with his name in the stitching. AFP/Getty

This Solo: Mr. Modi needed only a few minutes watching a Taiko drum performance during his visit to Japan before he grabbed the sticks and proved he could bash it out with the best of them.

via The Top 10 Successes of Narendra Modi’s First Year – India Real Time – WSJ.

26/05/2015

The Top 10 Misses of Narendra Modi’s First Year – India Real Time – WSJ

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has had some major wins—including opening new sectors up to more foreign investment and raising India’s global profile as outlined in this accompanying post about Mr. Modi’s triumphs—he has also had some surprising losses.

Here are 10 that stood out:

Delhi Defeat: Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party made big bets on the Delhi elections in February and lost almost every seat to the upstart Aam Aadmi Party. The small but high-profile local poll proved that the BJP was not invincible. Sambit Patra, a spokesman for the party admitted that the BJP had misread Delhi voters and has learned from its mistakes.

The War on Tax Terrorism: Mr. Modi came to power promising to stop the tax harassment of corporations. The decisions not to appeal tax cases against Vodafone Group PLC and Royal Dutch Shell PLC were a step in the right direction. Some foreign investors though were then slapped with huge surprise back tax bills making everyone question whether anything has changed. India’s ruling party has said it is working hard to clarify tax laws but it cannot erase cases that had been brought before they came to power.

Minority Concerns: While there has not been anything close to nationwide backlash against minority groups that many had feared, critics say the prime minister has not yet gone far enough to calm the concerns of minority communities. Some worry that people within the BJP and others with Hindu-nationalist leanings seem emboldened by the rise of Mr. Modi’s party, making them more likely to speak out and act out against Muslims, Christians and other non-Hindu communities. Mr. Modi has strongly condemned intolerance and reprimanded BJP members for controversial comments. The party says it represents all Indians and it cannot be responsible for every fringe group that makes trouble. “No one should be scared of anybody, the government supports every community,” said the BJP’s Mr. Patra.

No Big Bang: Two budgets down and still no sign of the big bang economic reforms optimists had expected from Mr. Modi. The changes he has promoted have been more incremental while attempts at some unpopular changes have been blocked in Parliament. He’s unveiled many promising campaigns to do everything from building more toilets and “smart cities” to promoting manufacturing and yoga. However, it’s too early to decide whether his campaigns represent a revolution in thinking or just rhetoric. The BJP spokesman said the party will continue to push for reform.

Paltry Profits: GDP growth has accelerated and inflation has plunged under Mr. Modi, but the Modi magic is not trickling down to the bottom line. For the fiscal year ended Mar. 31, many of India’s largest companies are expected to announce their weakest profit growth in more than five years.

Visa Glitches: On his many trips abroad, Prime Minister Modi expanded the number of countries eligible for so-called visa-on-arrival privileges. Travelers said the new visas ended up causing a lot of confusion forcing the government to rename them, more accurately, e-visas. There was a similar muddle about new rules combining the PIO and OCI visas held by people of Indian origin around the world. The change, which was meant to make it easier for people with Indian heritage to stay in India, ended up causing some angst about whether their right to remain was about to run out.

WTO Battle: One of Mr. Modi’s government’s first global moves was to reject a World Trade Organization agreement set in Bali. India had agreed to abide by the agreement before the BJP came to power but changed its mind, saying it needed more protection for its farmers. With few other countries backing its position, India eventually backed down. The Bali deal, which will simplify customs procedures world-wide, is now moving ahead; both India and the countries that pressured it to accept the agreement claim not to have blinked.

Crackdown: While Mr. Modi has been in charge, India has restricted funding of non-government organizations, including Greenpeace. It blocked the broadcasting of a BBC documentary about the 2012 gang rape of a woman on a Delhi bus. New Delhi also stopped Al-Jazeera from broadcasting in India for five days for mislabeling India’s disputed border with Pakistan.

Government officials said the government was not trying to silence critics. In the case of the non-government organization funding, officials said they were just enforcing foreign exchange laws. A court said the ban on the BBC documentary was to avoid law and order problems. Meanwhile the Al-Jazeera blackout was punishment for showing maps with “parts of Indian territory inside Pakistan,” an official of India’s Information and Broadcasting Ministry said at the time.

This Outfit: When the prime minister greeted U.S. President Barack Obama wearing this dapper suit in January, many applauded his bold choice of subliminal advertising; others called it an embarrassing display of gauche narcissism.

Mr. Modi hugs President Barack Obama while wearing a pinstripe suit with his name in the stitching. AFP/Getty

This Solo: As with most of his international trips, Mr. Modi was not shy about putting on the local attire during a recent visit to Mongolia. He should have considered ending his tryst with Mongolian culture at that though as his attempt at playing an instrument called the Yoochin—for more than two minutes—was painful to watch.

via The Top 10 Misses of Narendra Modi’s First Year – India Real Time – WSJ.

26/05/2015

Taiwan offers South China Sea peace plan | Reuters

Taiwan proposed a peace initiative on Tuesday to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea that it says will reduce tensions that have put Beijing at odds with its neighbors and the United States.

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou arrives at Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council in Taipei, Taiwan, April 29, 2015. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang

The South China Sea Peace Initiative announced by President Ma Ying-jeou called on claimants to temporarily shelve their disagreements to enable negotiations on sharing resources.

Ma’s plan is similar to a 2012 proposal for the East China Sea, which allowed Taiwan and Japan to jointly fish in the contested waters.

However it appeared unlikely the plan would be accepted by China, which claims most of the South China Sea and has rebuffed earlier attempts at multilateral negotiations.

“We believe Chinese people on both sides of the Strait have a duty to jointly protect China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests and safeguard the stability of the South China Sea region,” said Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry, when asked about the plan on Tuesday.

China views self-governed Taiwan as a renegade province.

Taiwan has so far played a marginal role in disputes between China and its neighbors in the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year.

China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei all have overlapping claims in the South China Sea. China said on Monday it had lodged a complaint with the United States over a U.S. spy plane that flew over parts of the disputed sea.

Ma’s remarks in a keynote speech at an international law conference in Taipei were the most public comments by Taiwan since the United States, its biggest ally, raised concerns over the speed and breadth of China’s land reclamation in the area.

“We demand that freedom of navigation and overflight be respected in the South China Sea,” said Ma, who urged a peaceful resolution “before a major conflict breaks out”.

Taiwan normally maintains a low-key approach to such issues but has coast guard and military facilities in the area, including an airstrip and soon-to-be-completed port on Taiping Island, also known as Itu Abu, the largest natural land mass in the disputed Spratlys archipelago.

“I believe the mainland side understands the spirit and principle of our South China Sea peace initiative,” Taiwan Foreign Minister David Lin told reporters after Ma’s speech.

The rival claims by Taiwan and China go back to before they split in a civil war in 1949 after the defeated Nationalists fled to the island from the Communists.

via Taiwan offers South China Sea peace plan | Reuters.

21/05/2015

Patent applications lead the world|Focus|chinadaily.com.cn

China recorded 928,000 invention patent applications in 2014, more than that of any other country, for the fourth consecutive year, according to data released by the State Intellectual Property Office on Monday.

Patent applications lead the world

The office found that about 663,000 inventions had high quality and market value. About 4.9 patents per 10,000 population were filed, according to the data.

Enterprises have been pillars of research and the development of new technologies and products, according to the office.

In 2014, about 485,000 invention patent applications were filed by enterprises, more than the number filed by individuals, academies or research institutes.

“It shows that China has already established a new technological innovation system that is strongly bolstered by enterprises,” said Gan Shaoning, deputy head of the office.

Huawei Technologies, the world’s biggest maker of telecommunications equipment, was granted 2,409 invention patents in 2014, according to the SIPO data.

China’s inventors need to raise the quality of their inventions in order to catch up with world’s best, Gan said.

Market insiders said economic growth, as well as higher demand from industry and individual consumers, have pushed up the number of inventions.

“New inventions enable businesses to run at lower cost, with greater efficiency and with more care for the environment. For customers, inventions simply mean a better life and more choices,” said Zhang Ming, a Shanghai-based patent consultant.

In 2014, applications for invention patents accounted for 39.3 percent of all applications, exceeding that of so-called utility model applications – mainly cosmetic design or appearance – which stood at 36.8 percent, a recent SIPO circular said.

One of China’s priorities has been to boost innovation by improving protections for intellectual property, an effort that has induced many intellectual property rights firms to expand business here.

The country also plans to set up a standardized IPR service system by 2020, according to a guideline jointly released by the SIPO, the Standardization Administration, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce and the National Copyright Administration.

Awapatent, a consultancy firm specializing in intellectual property, launched its Asian arm this month in Beijing and Hong Kong – AWA Asia – in response to increasingly frequent calls from clients in the region.

via Patent applications lead the world|Focus|chinadaily.com.cn.

21/05/2015

China’s nuclear power capacity to reach 30m kilowatts by year end|Society|chinadaily.com.cn

China will have 30 million kilowatts (KW) of nuclear power capacity by the end of 2015, said Xu Yuming, deputy director of the China Nuclear Energy Association on Thursday.

Currently there are 23 nuclear power units operating in China, with a combined capacity of 21.4 million kilowatts. Twenty-nine units are being built or planned, Xu said.

The government plans to increase China’s total nuclear power capacity to 58 million kilowatts by 2020, a rise of 170 percent over the current level.

Xu estimates that this will require 100 billion yuan ($16.34 billion) of investment every year.

It is expected that China’s electricity usage will double by 2030, Xu said, adding efforts should be made to promote clean energy including nuclear power.

Last month, China approved the construction of pilot nuclear power units using the Hualong One technology, a domestically-developed third generation reactor design drawing on the world’s leading design philosophy. The homegrown technology will help contribute to industrial upgrades and steady economic growth.

via China’s nuclear power capacity to reach 30m kilowatts by year end|Society|chinadaily.com.cn.

20/05/2015

Renault Unveils Its Cheapest New Car in India, the Kwid – India Real Time – WSJ

Renault S.A. unveiled on Wednesday an affordable small car in India as it seeks to expand its foothold in this growing automobile market.

Named Kwid, the car would have a 0.8 liter gasoline engine and go on sale during the festival season that starts around September, Carlos Ghosn, Renault’s chief executive, said after its unveiling. It would be priced between 300,000 rupees ($4,710) and 400,000 rupees ($6,280).

“The Kwid will be a big contributor to Renault’s growth in India followed by emerging markets and other parts of the world,” Mr. Ghosn said. The company is aiming to increase its market share in India to 5% from the current 1.5%, he added, without elaborating by when it hopes to do so.

via Renault Unveils Its Cheapest New Car in India, the Kwid – India Real Time – WSJ.

20/05/2015

China Unveils Blueprint to Upgrade Manufacturing Sector – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China unveiled an ambitious plan to enhance the competitiveness of its manufacturing sector by encouraging innovation and raising efficiency in an effort to boost economic growth. As the WSJ reports:

The blueprint, titled “Made in China 2025,” comes as China’s factories are struggling with sluggish demand, increasing competition from other developing economies and a slowing domestic economy.

The manufacturing sector is facing new challenges: bigger constraints from the environment and resources, rising labor costs and a notable slowdown in investment and exports, the State Council, or cabinet, said on the main government website Tuesday.

“The key to creating a new driver of economic growth…lies in the manufacturing sector,” it said.

The government vowed to boost 10 high-technology industrial sectors including robotics, aerospace, new-energy vehicles and advanced transport.

via China Unveils Blueprint to Upgrade Manufacturing Sector – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

19/05/2015

Tata Motors Faces Shades of Gray in China – India Real Time – WSJ

China’s car market is getting less luxurious, and among the firms feeling most uncomfortable is India’s Tata Motors.

Tata’s Jaguar and Land Rover unit wasn’t so long ago the darling of affluent Chinese car buyers. It is now a brand in a tailspin. China sales fell 21% between January and April from the year before.

Some of that is a national car market in retreat, especially the luxury segment. But JLR’s problems are more serious, partly because JLR is bearing the brunt of a governmentcampaign to force luxury car makers to lower prices. Last year, officials began encouraging so-called parallel imports of luxury cars, gray-market vehicles not authorized by the car maker that are sold in China below the official sticker price.

via Tata Motors Faces Shades of Gray in China – India Real Time – WSJ.

19/05/2015

Tata Motors’ New Nano Automatic Costs 269,000 Rupees – India Real Time – WSJ

Tata Motors Ltd. launched the first automatic transmission model of its Nano on Tuesday along with new features aimed at turning around falling sales of the micro vehicle, which made its name with a minuscule price.

The new version costs 269,000 rupees ($4,236) and 289,000 rupees at dealerships in New Delhi for the two variants on offer, the company said.

Tata Motors has revamped some of the exteriors and interiors of the Nano with features such as a Bluetooth-connected music system, fog lamps and a trunk,  which, for the first time on a Nano, can be opened.

The Mumbai-based auto maker has included these additions on three other new models in the Nano range. Prices start at 199,000 rupees for the base model with manual transmission.

Only around 1% of the cars sold in India have automatic transmissions, but car makers increasingly are putting them in cheaper models, betting that more Indians want to buy cars that are easier to drive.

Tata Motors—owner of Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC—marketed the Nano as the world’s cheapest car when it was introduced in 2009. But sales have failed to meet expectations, in part because the pitch back fired: Indian consumers were reluctant to be associated with a car considered cheap. Some incidents of earlier versions of the Nano catching fire also drew skepticism from some buyers.

Sales of the Nano fell 20% in the fiscal year ended March 31 to 16,901 vehicles, according to industry data.

All models of the Nano are powered with a 624-cubic-centimeter two-cylinder gasoline engine delivering 38 horsepower.

via Tata Motors’ New Nano Automatic Costs 269,000 Rupees – India Real Time – WSJ.

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