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News from China
Online giants eye mid-year shopping
5th June 2017

 

 
ONLINE marketplaces in China are busy preparing for the mid-year online shopping event as they must work harder to woo consumers.
 
Initiated by leading e-commerce platform JD.com, “6/18” was first launched in 2010 to celebrate the company’s anniversary on June 18. It joins the Singles’ Day sale on November 11 and has become one of China’s largest online shopping sprees.
 
Other companies soon jumped on the bandwagon and began to offer special offers to get more customers.
 
Chinese tend to purchase based on quality and brands on 6/18, compared with price and delivery during Singles’ Day, a survey from JD.com showed.
 
JD.com will use technology such as augmented reality and virtual reality to offer interactive shopping experiences and will also employ robots, driverless cars and drones for deliveries.
 
Xiaomi also started a promotion campaign offering discounts for most of its products, while Alibaba’s Tmall decided to launch both online and offline activities to promote itself as a green, smart and ideal lifestyle platform.
 
Almost all Chinese e-commerce platforms are developing a “New Retail” model, which not only features online and offline retail, but also one-stop and streamlined service from shopping to payment and delivery.
 
China is the world’s largest online shopping market, with about 467 million online consumers spending around 26.1 trillion yuan (US$3.83 trillion) last year, up 19.8 percent year on year.
Source: Shanghai Daily, June 5, 2017
China to launch local land reserve bonds
2nd June 2017

 CHINA will roll out local land reserve bonds this year to further unify local governments’ financing behavior, an official statement said yesterday.

 
The move came after the country banned local governments from borrowing from banks to finance land purchases and preparations for property development last year.
 
Provincial governments will be allowed to issue local land reserve bonds for their reasonable financing needs, according to the statement, which was jointly issued by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Land and Resources.
 
By issuing the bonds, authorities will be able to plug leaks in the system of local financing platforms such as fake land transactions and land reserve capital embezzlement, according to officials with the ministries.
 
Across China, land sales were once a major source of local governments’ fiscal revenue. Land reserves, which were funded through bank loans before 2015, have been effective methods for local governments to stabilize the land market.
Source: Shanghai Daily, June 2, 2017
Eurozone posts lower inflation of 1.4% in May
1st June 2017

 EUROZONE inflation slowed to a lower than expected 1.4 percent in May, as volatile energy prices sapped the intended effects of the European Central Bank’s massive stimulus plan, EU data showed yesterday.

 
Eurozone unemployment in April kept an encouraging trend, inching lower to 9.3 percent, at its lowest rate since March 2009, Eurostat said.
 
The fall in inflation will provide backing to ECB head Mario Draghi, who on Monday said the central bank remained “firmly convinced” it must maintain its massive interventions in the eurozone economy to avoid undermining a gathering recovery.
 
Analysts at Factset had expected 1.5 percent inflation after prices jumped 1.9 percent in April. Factset had predicted no change for eurozone unemployment in April.
 
Inflation is a key indicator of underlying consumer demand and the ECB works toward a 2.0 percent target with the aim of ensuring a modest but sustained increased in prices, the sign of a healthy economy.
 
To achieve this, the ECB has set interest rates at historic lows, offered cheap loans to banks, and buys tens of billions of euros in bonds each month.
 
But an accelerating eurozone recovery and a spike in inflation earlier this year strengthened voices within the ECB for an end to the bond-buying, especially from powerful Germany, which sees it as an unfair subsidy to overspending eurozone partners.
 
Observers are looking to next week’s ECB council meeting for hints that the end is on the way, although most believe any concrete action to wind the programme down is still months away at least.
 
During the worst of the debt crisis, unemployment in the single currency bloc peaked at 12.1 percent with 19.3 million people looking for work in April 2013.
 
Last month, the number of unemployed stood at just over 15 million, according to the Eurostat.
Source: Shanghai Daily, June 1, 2017
Tobacco killing 7m a year, WHO says
31st May 2017

 SMOKING and other tobacco use kills more than 7 million people each year, the World Health Organization said yesterday as it also warned of the dire environmental impact of tobacco production, distribution and waste.

 
The UN agency said tougher measures were needed to rein in tobacco use, urging countries to ban smoking in the workplace and indoor public spaces, outlaw marketing of tobacco products and raise cigarette prices.
 
“Tobacco threatens us all,” WHO chief Margaret Chan said in a statement.
 
“Tobacco exacerbates poverty, reduces economic productivity, contributes to poor household food choices, and pollutes indoor air,” she said.
 
In a report released ahead of today’s World No Tobacco Day, WHO warned that the annual death toll of 7 million people had jumped from 4 million at the turn of the century, making tobacco the world’s single biggest cause of preventable death.
 
The death toll is expected to keep rising, with the organization bracing for more than 1 billion deaths this century.
 
“By 2030, more than 80 percent of the deaths will occur in developing countries, which have been increasingly targeted by tobacco companies seeking new markets to circumvent tightening regulation in developed nations,” the statement said.
 
Tobacco use also brings an economic cost. WHO estimates it drains more than US$1.4 trillion from households and governments each year in health care expenditure and lost productivity, or nearly 2 percent of the global gross domestic product.
 
In addition to the health and economic costs linked to smoking, the WHO report for the first time delved into the environmental impact of everything from tobacco production to the cigarette butts and other waste produced by smokers.
 
“From start to finish, the tobacco life cycle is an overwhelmingly polluting and damaging process,” Assistant Director-General Oleg Chestnov said.
 
The report detailed how growing tobacco often requires large quantities of fertilizers and pesticides, and it warned that tobacco farming had become the main cause of deforestation in several countries.
 
This is largely due to the amount of wood needed for curing tobacco, with estimates that one tree is needed for every 300 cigarettes produced. The WHO also highlighted the pollution generated during the production, transport and distribution of tobacco products.
 
The report estimates that the industry emits nearly 4 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent a year — the same as around 3 million transatlantic flights.
 
Waste from the process contains over 7,000 toxic chemicals that poison the environment, including human carcinogens, the WHO said.
 
Once in the hands of the consumer, tobacco smoke emissions spewed out thousands of tons of human carcinogens, toxic substances and greenhouse gases.
 
Cigarette butts and other tobacco waste make up the largest number of individual pieces of litter in the world, the agency said. Two thirds of the 15 billion cigarettes sold each day are thrown onto the street or elsewhere, it said, adding that butts account for up to 40 percent of all items collected in coastal and urban clean-ups.
 
The agency urged governments to take strong measures to rein in tobacco use. “One of the least used, but most effective tobacco control measures is through increasing tobacco tax and prices,” Chestnov said.
Source: Shanghai Daily, May 31, 2017

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