Daily Archives: Jan 30, 2012

By Elizabeth Paton

The Chinese economy might be heading for a slowdown and Chinese consumers might be reining in spending. Yet the steady stream of foreign brands still willing to try their luck has continued unabated into 2012.

The latest in the long line is Marimekko, a quirky, off-the-wall Finnish design company which on Monday announced plans to open 15 stores across China and Hong Kong by the end of 2016. Read more

Colombia’s central bank has once again bucked Latin America’s trend to holding or loosening monetary policy with a surprise quarter point hike.

Increasing the benchmark lending rate to 5 per cent caught most economists and analysts off guard, as both Chile and Brazil recently cut rates on concerns about the potential fallout from Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis. Read more

Chile, Latin America’s most open economy, is confident of continued robust economic growth this year, despite the international crisis.

Alas, not all shocks come from abroad. Chile’s energy vulnerability is now forcing a large investor in the country not only to downsize, but to put in doubt the viability of its future operations in Chile. Read more

Not so long ago, anyone in Brazil who wanted to make enough money to support their family was better off getting on the first flight out of there and going to work abroad.

But how things have changed. Now it seems it’s foreigners who are queuing up in Brazil to support their impoverished families back in the US and Europe. Read more

That trade is a route to prosperity is not a new idea. But trade with whom? For African countries, the answer is close to home: each other.

Leaders at the African Union summit at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, have argued the case for intra-African trade as a key driver of economic growth. Fair enough. But how can Africa make it happen? Read more

Russia’s Sberbank has expressed interest in buying a Polish bank, but has so far made little progress; now it may be considering another way to gain entry into Poland – a possible listing on the Warsaw Stock Exchange.

According to Poland’s Dziennik newspaper, quoting Russia’s Ria Novosti agency, German Gref, Sberbank’s CEO, says that he may be interested in listing on the WSE saying: “The Warsaw exchange is showing strong signs of progress. If we see a potential demand for our shares, it is possible that such a decision could be taken.”  Read more

People visiting Rio de Janeiro for its fabulous Carnaval have always had to step carefully to avoid getting their pockets picked, or worse.

This year avoiding trouble will be a lot harder if police officers and fire fighters deliver on a threat to go on strike during the celebrations. In a letter to the FT – prompted by a beyondbrics report last week on the collapse of three buildings – the police union says public security in Rio de Janeiro is “living in crisis”. Read more

Trying to find a Starbucks near Oxford Circus in London throws up half a dozen options. All Occupied Out at Zucotti Park in New York? Three choices within a block.

Starbucks is omnipresent in the west, and growing in the east (there are now more than 500 shops in China alone).

But one place where it’s been missing is tea-drinking India. That changed on Monday, when the Seattle-based company, which has been looking at the country since 2006,  announced it would enter the market this year with a $80m joint venture with Tata Group – a name that’s as well known in the the subcontinent as Starbucks is in the west. Read more

Unless you have recently constructed a skyscraper or tried to cool a fizzling Japanese nuclear plant it’s fair to assume that Putzmeister, a German maker of concrete pumps, is not a familiar name.

Yet news that Putzmeister, whose pumps were used at Fukushima, is set to be acquired by China’s Sany Heavy Industry has put the Mittelstand company, based near Stuttgart, firmly on the map. Read more

Mexico, led by president Felipe Calderon (pictured),  should use its G20 presidency to push for a streamlined membership and a radical overhaul of the G7 at its core, an influential voice in global economics has said.

In an interview with the FT, Jim O’Neill, chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, said that a new-look G7 could consist of the US, Japan, a single seat to represent eurozone countries, and the four so-called Bric nations of Brazil, Russia, India and China. Read more

By Vladimir Putin

We are living through a period of serious changes in the world economy. Never before has technology advanced so quickly. What we see today would have seemed like science fiction only fifteen years ago. Read more

The mood turned sour again on European markets on Monday, as fresh worries about Greece rattled investors’ nerves. But that didn’t stop Lithuania getting a one-year bond auction away at a pretty impressive yield, on the day the country said its economy grew by a healthy 4.3 per cent last year.

Nevertheless, a glance behind the headline figures suggests that even where things look cheerful, investors should be cautious. Read more

From legendary red tape to corruption and shoddy infrastructure, India can make it quite difficult for companies – both foreign and domestic – to do business.

But despite the government’s inability to pass the kind of meaningful reforms the battered Indian economy needs, foreign companies continue to flock to one of the world’s fastest growing large markets, eager to tap its vast, and growing, consumer class. In fact, total FDI projects in India grew 25 per cent in the first 11 months of 2011, according to a report released on Monday. Read more

* Philippine economy grows by 3.7%

* China outlines plans to turn Shanghai into global money hub

* Russia seeks to slow UN pace on Syria action

* Western industrials feel a Chinese burn Read more

It’s an ambitious to-do list. Monday’s announcement by China’s economic planning agency of its plans to turn Shanghai into the global centre for renminbi trading, clearing and pricing by 2015 is part of a broader aim to make the city a full international financial centre by 2020.

But where does Shanghai rank now? And does it really matter which financial centre is top? Read more

Monday’s picks from the beyondbrics team: Lex on the lofty ambitions of Seoul’s fifth largest company; protesting in Russia – the risks and the rewards; will China prove the doomsayers wrong?; if so, it could learn from Latin America’s experiences; and a dilemma in the Middle East exposes Saudi Arabia’s identity crisis. Read more

President Raúl Castro wants the recent liberalisation of small businesses to bolster Cuba’s sagging economy and absorb the 1m state workers he says will eventually be laid off.

But Cuba’s budding micro-entrepreneurs – over 350,000 had registered as of November 2011 – lack almost everything that start-ups need, from premises and relevant skills to capital. Will they ever really get off the ground?

A bustling restaurant in Havana’s colonial centre – which opened in January 2011, is appropriately called “La Moneda Cubana”, the Cuban coin, and is run by Miguel Ángel, a 37-year old entrepreneur - suggests some answers. Read more

It may not be spectacular, but economic growth in the Philippines is still chugging along. In the fourth quarter, GDP in the country of 100m grew at 3.7 per cent year-on-year, up a touch from 3.6 per cent in the third quarter.

Not bad going at a time when the rest of Asia seems to be easing off the accelerator. Read more

* Western industrials feel a Chinese burn

* Army fights for Damascus suburbs

* China’s Sany to acquire Putzmeister

* Iran to halt oil sales to ‘some countries’ Read more

Mukesh Ambani’s wife Nita reportedly suffered a brush with the law last week, when police found her motoring up a road to a hill station near Mumbai on which traffic is banned. But while such scrapes may raise an eyebrow at home in Antilia, it seems more likely that it is run-ins with higher authorities in Delhi that are truly vexing India’s richest man. Read more