Posts tagged ‘United States’

03/03/2015

Marks & Spencer to close five Shanghai stores, Asia head quits | Reuters

British retailer Marks & Spencer (MKS.L) has decided to close five stores in the greater Shanghai region following a review of its plans for China that will nevertheless see it stick to a commitment to expand into the country’s other large cities.

Clothes are displayed on hangers in an M&S shop in northwest London July 8, 2014. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

M&S also said on Monday that Bruce Findlay, its regional director for Asia, was quitting the firm after less than two years in the role to take up a position with another retailer.

The company entered China in 2008 with a store in Shanghai, and it now has 15 in the greater Shanghai region. But it has struggled to make a major impact in a country that it said on Monday remains one of its priority international markets along with India, Russia and the Middle East.

For the long term the group is in the process of evaluating potential local partners to expand in China, a path taken by other British retailers such as supermarkets group Tesco (TSCO.L) and home improvements firm Kingfisher (KGF.L).

Updating on its plans for the country following a review announced last April, M&S said it would continue to invest in its existing flagship store portfolio with the complete modernisation of its West Nanjing Road store in Shanghai in the autumn.

However, five of its supporting stores in the greater Shanghai region will close by August. Some 60 jobs will be effected. M&S also plans to reduce the size of its Shanghai head office.

M&S said it has a firm intent to enter other cities such as Beijing and Guangzhou over the next year, while further expansion online would enhance its brand across China.

via Marks & Spencer to close five Shanghai stores, Asia head quits | Reuters.

28/02/2015

China to spend 26 billion yuan to register rights ahead of rural reforms | South China Morning Post

China will spend about 26 billion yuan (HK$33 billion) to help identify and register the contractual rights over the nation’s arable land to pave the way for rural reforms.

Uygur farmers prepare potato beds in Xinjiang province. Photo: Reuters

More than 200 million rural households around the nation will be interviewed to help prepare the accurate record of farming rights.

Calling the task a “massive systematic project”, the Ministry of Agriculture said on Friday that clarifying land tenure and issuing certificates to farmers would form the basis of a series of expected reforms which aimed to help free up the rural land market.

Nearly 200,000 villages around the country – or one third of the total – have begun with the task, by aerial photography or site measurement, said MOA officials in a press conference.

Zhao Kun, a deputy inspector of the ministry’s rural economic system department, said local governments had appropriated a total of 8 billion yuan to carry out the job.

The central government has promised to provide 10 yuan for each mu of arable land – the Chinese unit of land area, which measures 666 square metres – a total of 18 billion yuan according to official data that states the mainland had 1.82 billion mu of farmland up to the end of 2011.

The Land Administration Law states that the ownership of rural land belongs to village collectives, with farmers given contractual rights to the land they farm for 30 years.

The central authorities decided to increase the security of land tenure in 2008. A directive issued that year said that contractual land management rights for farmers should “remain unchanged for a very long time”.

However, unlike urban home owners, rural residents do not yet hold any certification to prove their legal rights to their homes and farmland.

This makes it hard for them to transfer the land, which is forbidden by existing regulations but now being reformed in order to encourage larger scale farming and improve utilization efficiency of rural land.

Zhang Hongyu, head of the rural economic system department, said when farmers were given contractual rights of farmland in the first round of rural reform a few of decades ago, there were only rough estimates made about the size of their land plots owing to limitations over measuring methods at the time.

“Any related document the farmers previously had – either a contract or some other sort of certificate – showed different figures from what we are now finding,” he said.

Zhao said the project was not only a technical issue of measurement.

“It also involves interviews with each of the more than 200 million rural households [around the nation], which are really important for farmers as they need to know how big their plots are and where they’re located,” he said.

via China to spend 26 billion yuan to register rights ahead of rural reforms | South China Morning Post.

28/02/2015

What the Budget Means for Regular Indians – India Real Time – WSJ

The Modi government’s budget offered some sops for middle-class tax payers and a series of steps aimed at boosting social security for the country’s poor.

Tax Breaks on Health Insurance, Travel: Individuals will be allowed to deduct up to 25,000 rupees ($400) annually in health-insurance premiums from their taxes. That is an increase from the current 15,000-rupee deduction. For people 60 years or older, the deduction will be 30,000 rupees.

Mr. Jaitley also proposed increasing the amount of transportation expenses individuals can deduct to 1,600 rupees a month, up from 800 rupees a month now.

Pension Deduction: Individuals can now claim an additional tax deduction of up to 50,000 rupees ($800) if they put the money in the government’s New Pension Scheme. “This will enable India to become a pensioned society instead of a pensionless society,” said Mr. Jaitley.

Social Security programs: In a bid to provide a social safety net, Mr. Jaitley said the state will provide accidental death insurance of 200,000 rupees for a premium of just one rupee a month. State insurers will also offer policies covering natural and accidental death for 330 rupees a year.

Though available to all, the relatively small size of the insurance cover implies these will likely be used mostly by the poor.

The government will also encourage individuals to set up pension accounts under a new program. For individuals who open such an account by Dec. 31, the government will match individual contributions up to 1,000 rupees a year, for five years.

Tax-Free bonds:  Mr. Jaitley plans to allow government agencies and others to issue tax-free infrastructure bonds to fund roads, railways and irrigation. Details weren’t disclosed but typically interest on such bonds is tax free.

Service Tax: Now for the bad news: your restaurant and phone bills will soon go up, because the government will raise the service tax to 14% from 12.4%. Individuals indirectly pay this tax on a wide range of services, including on insurance premiums, hotel bills and electricity bills.

Gold Bonds: Since Indians won’t give up their love for gold, Mr. Jaitley tried to come up with ways to at least get it out of people’s homes and into banks. He introduced a plan that he said would make it easier for people keep gold in a bank, earn interest on it and borrow against it.

Mr. Jaitley also proposed a “Sovereign Gold Bond” that would act as an alternate to owning physical gold. These bonds would have a fixed rate of interest and “be redeemable in cash in terms of the face value of the gold,” he said.

Unaccounted-for Money: Mr. Jaitley said the government would introduce more stringent requirements for people to declare assets held overseas and make it harder for people to buy real-estate with cash in an effort to tax evasion.

via What the Budget Means for Regular Indians – India Real Time – WSJ.

26/02/2015

To Combat Crowds, India’s McDonald’s Now Lets Diners Order at the Table – India Real Time – WSJ

Tired of having to elbow your way through pushy crowds to get your fast-food fix? McDonald’s MCD +3.87% in India has a solution for you: Skip the long lines and order a Maharaja Mac from your table.

The more than 350 McDonald’s outlets in India each get about 4,000 customers a day on average. That’s twice the number of customers that come to the average Mickey D branches in the rest of the world. As part of an experiment in crowd control, one franchisee has started allowing burger fans to order and pay through roaming cashiers who take orders and payments on Wi-Fi enabled tablets and credit-card machines.

The queue-quelling technology is already being tested at the McDonald’s at Mumbai’s Phoenix Mills mall. It will be rolled out in 200 more branches this year, said Amit Jatia, who runs most of the McDonald’s in India.

“India is changing,” he said. “You have to keep evolving with the changing needs of the consumer.”

Mr. Jatia’s Hardcastle Restaurants runs 202 McDonald’s outlets in western and southern India, while another group controls 166 restaurants in northern and eastern India.

via To Combat Crowds, India’s McDonald’s Now Lets Diners Order at the Table – India Real Time – WSJ.

26/02/2015

China’s top court unveils deadlines for legal reform | Reuters

China’s top court set a five-year deadline on Thursday for legal reforms to protect the rights of individuals, prevent miscarriages of justice and make its judiciary more professional as the ruling Communist Party seeks to quell public discontent.

Zhou Qiang, President of China's Supreme People's Court, attends National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, March 7, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

A statement on the Supreme Court’s website promised specific deadlines for each goal, including support for a “social atmosphere of justice” by 2018.

It gave more details of a decision reached at a four-day meeting last year, when the party pledged to speed up legislation to fight corruption and make it tougher for officials to exert control over the judiciary.

Despite the legal reforms, Chinese President Xi Jinping‘s administration has shown no interest in political change and has detained dozens of dissidents, including lawyers.

China’s top court stressed that one of the five basic principles of legal reform was adhering to the party’s leadership and “ensuring the correct political orientation”.

He Xiaorong, the director of the Supreme People’s Court‘s reform division, said the court “would make officials bear responsibility for dereliction of duty” for cases that have a wide impact.

“Only through the establishment of such a system can we ensure that we can guarantee social fairness and justice in every case,” He told a news conference, according to a transcript on the court’s website.

The measures reflect worries about rising social unrest. Anger over land grabs, corruption and pollution – issues often left unresolved by courts – have resulted in violence between police and residents in recent years, threatening social order.

via China’s top court unveils deadlines for legal reform | Reuters.

20/02/2015

Indian IT firms eye robotics, driverless cars for next round of growth | Reuters

After decades of low-margin work like server maintenance, India’s information technology services firms are moving upscale in search of lucrative contracts for driverless cars and other advanced projects as online innovation changes clients’ needs.

Employees walk along a corridor in the Infosys campus in the southern Indian city of Bangalore September 23, 2014. REUTERS/Abhishek Chinnappa/Files

Companies from Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS.NS) to Wipro Ltd (WIPR.NS) are all joining Infosys Ltd (INFY.NS) in investing in new, high-end technology, industry watchers say. Earlier this week Infosys bought U.S. automation specialist Panaya Inc for $200 million.

Triggering change is a wave of invention allowing machines to talk to each other online, dubbed ‘the Internet of things‘. Customers are ramping up: from about 5 percent now, strategy advisor Offshore Insights estimates automation and artificial intelligence work will grow to 25 to 30 percent of an IT outsourcing market seen by the national industry association as worth $300 billion by 2020.

“We’re in the midst of a new wave of software, and IT services companies really don’t have a choice,” said R. Ray Wang, principal analyst and founder of Silicon Valley-based Constellation Research.

via Indian IT firms eye robotics, driverless cars for next round of growth | Reuters.

20/02/2015

Subsidy cuts in budget may disappoint investors | Reuters

India may slash its food and fuel subsidy bill by about $8 billion in next week’s budget, two sources said, but despite the impressive headline, the cut is not as radical as free market champions had hoped for in Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s first full budget.

A view of the Indian parliament building is reflected on a car in New Delhi April 24, 2012. REUTERS/B Mathur/Files

Most of the 20 percent cut in the budget for subsidies results from lower global oil prices rather than structural changes, with the government’s appetite for reform tempered by a heavy local election defeat in New Delhi this month.

“The total subsidy bill could come down to around 2 trillion rupees ($32 billion),” a senior government official, who has direct knowledge of the matter, told Reuters. That calculation was echoed by another source privy to budget discussions.

via Exclusive – Subsidy cuts in budget may disappoint investors | Reuters.

20/02/2015

Turkey eyes deal with China on missile defense despite NATO concern | Reuters

Turkey‘s defense minister said on Thursday the country does not plan to integrate a new missile defense system with NATO infrastructure and officials said a $3.4 billion deal with China was still under consideration.

NATO member Turkey chose China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp as a preferred bidder in 2013, prompting U.S. and Western concern about security and the compatibility of the weaponry with NATO systems.

Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz, in a written response to a parliamentary question, indicated Ankara planned to go ahead with the Chinese system, saying the evaluation of bids had been completed and no new offers received.

“The system in question will be integrated with the national system for Turkey’s defense and will be used without integrating with NATO,” Yilmaz said.

However, other government officials later made clear that did not mean a final decision had yet been reached.

“We are continuing discussions with all the bidders,” the undersecretariat for defense industries said in a statement.

via Turkey eyes deal with China on missile defense despite NATO concern | Reuters.

14/02/2015

Military corruption: Rank and vile | The Economist

SO EXTENSIVE was the stash of jade, gold and cash found in the basement of General Xu Caihou’s mansion in Beijing that at least ten lorries were needed to haul it away, according to the Chinese press last October. Given General Xu’s recent retirement as the highest ranking uniformed officer in the armed forces, this was astonishing news. General Xu, the media said, had accepted “extremely large” bribes, for which he now faces trial. It will be the first of such an exalted military figure since the Communist Party came to power in 1949.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA)—as the Chinese army, navy and air force are collectively known—has not fought a war for 35 years. But the world’s largest fighting force is now engaged in a fierce battle at home against corrosion within its ranks.

Xi Jinping, China’s president (pictured, pointing), has taken his sweeping anti-corruption campaign into the heart of the PLA, seemingly unafraid to show that a hallowed institution is also deeply flawed. In January the PLA took the unprecedented step of revealing that 15 generals and another senior officer were under investigation or awaiting trial. It said it would launch a stringent review of recruitment, promotions, procurements and all of its financial dealings in order to root out corruption.

One reason Mr Xi is keen to clean up the army is to ensure that it remains a bulwark of party rule. The PLA is the party’s armed wing—its soldiers swear allegiance to it rather than the people or the country. All officers are party members and each company is commanded jointly by an officer in charge of military affairs and another whose job it is to ensure troops toe the party line. Mr Xi has repeatedly stressed the party’s “absolute leadership” over the PLA. His definition of a “strong army” puts “obedience to the party’s commands” before “capability of winning wars”.

via Military corruption: Rank and vile | The Economist.

14/02/2015

China a Top Source of Ocean Trash: Report – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Marine biologists and ocean activists have grown alarmed about the seaborne plastic that fouls shorelines and clogs currents from the Arctic to the South Pacific. But the actual amount and source of it hasn’t been known because consumer habits and pollution-control practices vary so widely world-wide.

In a new accounting of global garbage, researchers in the U.S. and Australia led by Jenna Jambeck, an environmental engineer at the University of Georgia, calculated the share that each of 192 countries could have contributed to plastic waste in the oceans. Their study is based on consumer data and waste-management information covering coastal populations around the world. The U.S. ranked 20th by the researchers’ estimates, deemed responsible for just under 1% of the mismanaged plastic waste.

Unchecked, the amount of plastic waste fouling the seas may double by 2025, reaching levels “equal to 10 bags full of plastic per foot of coastline,” Dr. Jambeck said.

According to the researchers, the coastal population of China generated 8.82 million metric tons of mismanaged plastic waste in 2010, about 27.7% of the world total. Of that, between 1.32 million and 3.53 million metric tons ended up as marine debris.

via China a Top Source of Ocean Trash: Report – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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