It seemed harder to prepare my “look ahead” this year. On reflection, I believe this is because political and economic leaders in China have clear plans and supporting policies that they are sticking to. You can debate the pace at which actions are being taken, but not really the direction in which the country is traveling. This means a number of the themes I highlighted for this year will remain relevant in 2015:
Improving productivity and efficiency will remain the key to maintaining profitability for many companies, given lower economic growth (overall and at a sector level) and the impact of producer price deflation on multiple sectors.
The impact of technology as it eliminates jobs in services and manufacturing will become even greater (but still not in government).
As a result, the government will keep a sharper focus on net job creation and the quality of those new positions. Companies will hire even more information technologists to keep up in the race to exploit technology better than their competitors.
The push to lower pollution, and now carbon emissions, will lead to even greater investment in domestic solar and wind farms, boosting the global position of Chinese producers.
High-speed-rail construction will continue domestically and increasingly abroad, as Chinese companies become the builder of choice for high-speed rail globally.
Beyond these, there are several additional themes that will be important in 2015. I describe them below.
via What could happen in China in 2015? | McKinsey & Company.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro had a Plan B in the event the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries declined to back his country’s proposal to cut output to boost prices.
The day after OPEC’s Nov. 27 decision to maintain production at current levels, a move that drove oil prices to new lows, a somber-looking Maduro went on national television to tell the Venezuelan people he was dispatching Finance Minister Rodolfo Marco Torres to Beijing. Torres spent the first week of December in China, during which he tweeted photos of his meetings with Chinese officials and bankers.
via With Oil Prices Falling Venezuela Needs China More Than Ever – Businessweek.
India said its pollution levels will need to increase in the years ahead to support its economic development and it won’t discuss limiting greenhouse-gas emissions at United Nations climate talks that began this week.
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar also said the government is preparing to make a pledge on how India will develop cleaner forms of energy, though he stopped short of indicating when the country might take on the sorts of caps for emissions that the U.S., China and Europe are adopting.
“We have a need to grow, so our emissions will grow,” Javadekar said at a press conference in New Delhi today. He said the onus on reducing emissions should be on richer industrial nations most responsible for global warming to allow poorer countries “space for more development.”
The comments indicate the difficulty in bringing all of the 190 nations gathered at the UN climate talks in Peru this week into a deal that will cut back on the pollution blamed for driving up the Earth’s temperature. While India’s emissions are the third-highest in the world, 30 percent of its residents live in poverty, scraping by on 75 cents a day or less.
Javadekar spoke before departing for the UN talks in Lima, Peru, which run through next week. They’re aiming to put together the building blocks for a deal by the end of next year that would cut pollution in all nations from 2020.
India is under pressure to make its environmental goals more clear after China and the U.S. jointly agreed Nov. 12 to rein in fossil fuel emissions. It was the first time a big developing country said it would take on a mandatory limit on pollution.
via India Says Pollution Levels Need to Rise Further to Boost Growth – Businessweek.
In the first 11 months of this year, mainland Chinese tourists made more than 100 million international trips—already topping the travel total for 2013, according to new data from the China National Tourism Administration.
Fifteen years ago, Chinese tourists made less than 10 million trips abroad. Since then, however, rising incomes have led to rapid growth in domestic and international travel.
Many of those trips—more than 60 percent—are within Greater China, including Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan. Almost 90 percent of destinations are within Asia.
China UnionPay—the country’s Visa (V) card—now offers several promotions hoping to encourage overseas tourists to spend more. Cardholders visiting Paris, Rome, and Sydney can get 15 percent off hotels, restaurants, and major tourist attractions. Those touring in Bali, Phuket, and the Maldives can get 10 percent off.
Meanwhile, national tourism authorities for Switzerland and Iceland recently put up booths at Beijing’s “Ski & Style” industry event in late November, hoping to lure more affluent Chinese skiers to European slopes.
via They’re Coming! Chinese Tourists Will Make 100 Million Trips Abroad This Year – Businessweek.
U.S. retailer Best Buy Co Inc (BBY.N) said on Thursday it will sell its struggling China business, Five Star, to domestic real estate firm Zhejiang Jiayuan Group in order to focus on its North American operations.
The world’s largest consumer electronics chain didn’t disclose financial terms of the sale of the 184-store network, announced in a statement.
Best Buy has struggled to fend off Chinese rivals in a crowded market, as other U.S. firms have complained that operating in the country has become more of a challenge.
“The sale of Five Star does not suggest any similar action in Canada or Mexico. Instead, it allows us to focus even more on our North American business,” Hubert Joly, Best Buy’s president and chief executive officer, said in the statement.
Joly added that Best Buy would continue to invest in its private label operation in the country. Best Buy’s China operations accounted for around 4 percent of its sales in the most recent financial year, ended Feb. 1.
via Best Buy to sell China business, focus on North America | Reuters.
President Barack Obama’s immigration reforms unveiled Thursday in the United States bring little sunshine for those in India’s technology outsourcing industry who are waiting for him to boost the number of skilled-work visas or H-1Bs.
The president’s reform plan bypassed Congress to protect millions of illegal immigrants from deportation.
To be sure, the reform measures also contained minor benefits for businesses with workers from overseas. “We will make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders have proposed,” said Mr. Obama in a prime-time address in the U.S.
But that means very little for India’s outsourcing firms that have long been lobbying to increase the number of H-1B visas so they can send more Indian programmers and engineers to their clients in the U.S.
Indian software exporters such as Tata Consultancy Services 532540.BY +0.35%, Infosys and Wipro send thousands of skilled Indian workers to the U.S. every year to cater to the technology needs of their clients.
The immigration reforms bill, introduced last year, sought to triple the number of H-1B visas available to 180,000 a year but was pulled after many lawmakers argued that the changes would result in an influx of illegal immigrants. It is still uncertain when the reform bill will be considered again.
As a result, industry and market watchers weren’t expecting the president to make any path-breaking changes to increase the number of skilled-worker visas issued annually. In fact, most of the changes announced are on expected lines.
via So What Does Obama’s Immigration Reform Mean For India’s High-Skilled Workers? – India Real Time – WSJ.
With oil prices off about 30 percent since June, China is importing record amounts of crude to build up a strategic reserve. Cheap fuel is giving tanker companies their best profits in years.
via China Stocks Up on Oil While It’s Cheap; Tanker Companies Profit – Businessweek.