Free-trade champion Mexico is on a reform drive that promises new openness in key sectors of its economy, especially energy. So what is it doing slapping protectionist measures on its shoe industry?

Fighting unfair competition from China, officials say.

The raft of new measures to protect Mexico’s industry – which makes 240m pairs of shoes a year – sounds distinctly off message, especially since President Enrique Peña Nieto has made boosting trade ties with China a priority. (He met his Chinese counterpart three times within six months to forge closer relations.) Continue reading »

By Roy Williams of Vendigital

The latest wave of anti-trust investigations in China – first Qualcomm and now Microsoft and the ongoing criminal investigations involving GSK – is having an unsettling effect on global supply chains across a variety of industry sectors.

But instead of planning an exodus, Western businesses should avoid over reacting and focus on finding new, appropriate strategies that will allow them to stay and profit from doing business in the world’s fastest-growing consumer market.

Of course, any business thinking about shifting operations to China in order to gain access to its developing marketplace should do so with its eyes fully open. Businesses that go there simply seeking to profit from their exposure to the market will be unlikely to find that things run smoothly. Continue reading »

By Rafael Halpin, China Confidential

Those trying to gauge how much of an economic slowdown Beijing is prepared to tolerate, should take a look at Hebei province.

GDP growth in China’s industrial heartland collapsed to 4.2 per cent in the first quarter of this year, according to official figures. Quarterly GDP data is available on a year-to-date basis from 2005, and the first quarter reading was the lowest for Hebei since then (see chart). Continue reading »

When China’s premier was an up-and-comer in the provinces, he famously told US diplomats that he looked at indicators including electricity consumption and freight transport to gauge the true state of the world’s second largest economy. According to a Wikileaks cable, Li Keqiang said such figures were more reliable than the government’s own official GDP growth number.

Embarrassingly for the then premier, Wen Jiabao, the “Keqiang index” was thus christened and was subsequently used by economists to cross-check the GDP growth numbers revealed every March at the annual session of China’s parliament, the National People’s CongressContinue reading »

Which tapering programme is bigger – the US Fed’s or China’s? Of course, the two processes are different in several aspects, but each represents an unwinding of monetary stimulus for the global economy.

The question is particularly topical after US Fed Chairman Janet Yellen reaffirmed her commitment this week to keep reducing US asset purchases and China’s central bank pledged to keep its monetary policy unchanged in 2014. Continue reading »

January was a scary month for China’s machinery makers and their investors. First, Zoomlion was accused by a “concerned investor” of booking phantom sales, then Caterpillar accused its own recently-acquired Chinese subsidiary of accounting misconduct and took a $580m write down on the value of the deal.

Time for a ghostbusting analyst to bring some rational rigour to the sector. Continue reading »

For the tens of millions of Chinese who will journey back home next month for the Chinese New Year, fighting over the limited supply of train tickets is nothing new. But this year, the fight has moved online, and somewhat controversially. Continue reading »

Critics of lotteries the world over often describe them as taxes on the poor, and for good reason. From the US to Spain, lower-income citizens are the biggest buyers of lottery tickets, and, as a group, they will lose at least 35 per cent of what they spend.

In China, though, it is more accurate to describe the lottery as a tax on hope. Those buying tickets tend to earn more than average, but they have run into the chasm that is China’s wealth gap and see the lottery as their best bridge across it. Continue reading »

Journalists gathers beside the high speed train of the new 2,298-kilometre (1,425-mile) line between Beijing and Guangzhou as it waits to start off in Beijing on December 26, 2012.

From 21 hours to 8: Beijing to Guangzhou

China’s infrastructure development hit another milestone on Wednesday with the full opening of the world’s longest high speed rail line.

Connecting Beijing with Guangzhou at speeds of over 300kph, the 2,298-km route halves travel time between the two cities to less than 10 hours. Continue reading »

Pedro Delgado | Source: Flikr, author Presidencia de la República del Ecuador fotospresidenciaIt seems in every family there are secrets and lies.

On Wednesday afternoon, Pedro Delgado, the cousin of Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa, and the Andean country’s central bank president, stepped down after confessing that he did not hold a university degree in economics.

“I submit my irrevocable resignation as head of the central bank… and I do it because I made a grave mistake 22 years ago,” Delgado said. Continue reading »

China’s big spenders have finally made it to the top of the league table: according to reports published on Wednesday by McKinsey and Bain, mainlanders are now the world’s biggest luxury buyers – even if they choose to do more and more of their shopping away from home. Continue reading »

The FT’s bureau chief Jamil Anderlini has just concluded a lively online debate on Google+ about China’s forthcoming leadership change and the implications of the Bo Xilai scandal, the subject of his new ebook.

Beyondbrics presents highlights from the debate. Continue reading »

By Tim Taylor of SJ Berwin

Television pictures of rioting Chinese citizens are a startling demonstration of the seemingly spontaneous civic anger over Japan’s territorial claims to five uninhabited islands and three rocks known to Japanese as the Senkaku Islands and to the Chinese as the Diaoyu Islands.

At stake in the East China Sea (and in a separate row in the South China Sea) are not the barren rocks themselves but the oil and gas that might be found under surrounding waters. Oil majors contemplating investment need a primer in international law as well as an appreciation of the historical and political background before they venture into this region. Continue reading »

Arnold Schwarzenegger once said that “when you grow up you have to drink beer”. In which case emerging markets, especially in Asia, have come of age.

Demand from Asia and the developing world is fuelling the global beer industry. Chart of the week looks at which countries are bubbling along, and which are going a little flat. Continue reading »

By Ben Simpfendorfer of Silk Road Associates

The fate of China and the world’s multinationals are bound tightly together, both having benefited from the spectacular growth in global trade and investment over the past two decades.

So it’s no surprise then that the global crisis has challenged that once cozy relationship: China is rethinking its open-door policy to foreign firms, while the world’s multinationals are equally discovering opportunities in India, Brazil, and other fast growing emerging markets. Continue reading »