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Hello from Singapore, where there is finally at least a silver lining that regional trips to the East Asian region might be possible in the not too distant future, even without a Covid-19 vaccine yet. available.
The reason for this optimism is the recent announcement by authorities in Singapore and Hong Kong that they would soon allow residents of the other to move relatively freely between the region’s two main financial centers. As long as people test negative for the coronavirus, they will be able to travel without quarantine between the Southeast Asian city-state and the Chinese special administrative region.
Now imagine that other Chinese cities – such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen – could be included in this scheme. There is already an approximate model. China has long allowed international travelers to stay visa-free in certain cities for a certain number of days between transit flights, as long as they don’t leave city limits. This allowed a person traveling from London to Hong Kong to fly via Beijing and conduct a few business days in the Chinese capital without ever having to apply for an official visa.
If Singapore, Hong Kong and some of China’s largest cities could all agree to allow non-quarantine travel, it could be the start of a long-awaited return to normal in the Asia-Pacific region – and help revive events such as the Canton Fair. , who is the main subject from today’s post.
Political watch examines measures taken by the EU markets regulator to allay some investor concerns about post-Brexit trading as our chart of the day highlights how China has become the dominant force in bilateral lending in sub-Saharan Africa.
A virtual Canton Fair
On March 12, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang issued a startling statement. The country’s largest and oldest trade fair, held annually in the southern city of Guangzhou since 1957, is said to hold its spring session as usual.
It seems inconceivable now, given the speed at which the coronavirus pandemic has spread across the world, but at the time, holding the Canton Fair seemed possible. By early March, China had successfully contained the virus, especially in cities and provinces far from its center in central Hubei province, and it was not yet clear that major epidemics would emerge in other parts of the country. world.
Under these circumstances, holding the Canton Fair as planned would be an important symbol that the world’s second-largest economy remains open for business. After all, the fair was famous for not missing a session since its inception in 1957 – surviving traumatic events such as the Great Leap Forward famine of 1959-61 that killed tens of millions of people, the turmoil of ten years of the Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen Square protests and the massacre that followed in the spring of 1989. Chinese officials did not want to see the fair’s footage broken.
Ultimately, however, this year the government had to bow to reality. As epidemics accelerated in late March across Europe, the United States and the developing world, China closed its borders to foreign travelers – including foreign residents with valid permits to live and work in China. .
The Canton Fair spring session has been postponed from April to June and posted online only. Its fall session, also called virtually, ended on October 24. The hotels, restaurants and bars of Guangzhou must have done without hundreds of thousands of visitors.
So, to keep the long fair streak alive, do two online sessions count – or is it cheating?
Mr. Li’s government says it was a triumph. He and President Xi Jinping “attended” the online opening ceremony of the spring session and “visited” the online kiosks. Some 26,000 exhibitors presented their wares on the show website to registered buyers from 217 countries and regions.
“The virtual Canton Fair has opened up a new avenue for international development,” say its organizers. They argue that this is just the start of a brave new future for the event: “A Canton Fair that never ends will be built with integrated online and offline functions to bring new contributions to Chinese businesses. and foreign to develop larger markets.
For Guangzhou in particular, the importance of the fair extends far beyond its inaugural session in 1957 and what it said about the city’s relative openness, even during the darkest times of the year. Maoist China.
Chinese leaders, largely based in Beijing, have increased and decreased in their enthusiasm for foreign trade over the centuries. But no matter whether this trade was actively encouraged or barely tolerated, Guangzhou has long been proud to be one of the country’s major trading centers.
The city is dotted with ancient mosques that are monuments to Guangzhou’s trade ties to the Arab world, which date back at least 1,300 years. And not far from the cavernous Canton Fair exhibition halls on the banks of the Pearl River is Shamian Island, where Western traders were allowed to establish trading posts in the late 18th century.
With such a proud legacy at stake, letting the fair formally expire was not an option for the Chinese government – not even during a pandemic that was occurring once in a century. After saving face with this year’s two online sessions, Beijing now hopes that the fair can resume operations as usual in the spring of 2021. If that is possible, it will be an important sign that life keeps coming back to life. normal – at least in this part of the world.
The official name of Canton Fair is China Import and Export Fair, but it is misleading. The event has always been about exports, with an emphasis on connecting domestic manufacturers with foreign buyers. Over time, this emphasis has become problematic for the Chinese government, especially as US President Donald Trump has denounced China’s trade surpluses and sought to slow down its export sector.
So, two years ago, at a time of heightened trade tensions with the United States, President Xi Jinping’s administration launched the annual China International Import Expo, which is held each fall in Shanghai. The idea was to show the world that it didn’t have to fear China’s export prowess, as it also has a huge and growing demand for imports.
The third annual session of the CIIE will open next week. But unlike Canton Fair, it tries to be successful in the real world rather than the virtual one, with a 20% increase in floor space every year to meet exhibitor demand. Attendees will be subjected to a sophisticated array of health checks and surveillance, as organizers hope to keep the Covid-19 event free.
China has emerged as Africa’s largest bilateral lender over the past two decades, transferring nearly $ 150 billion to governments and state-owned enterprises. But as FT reporters on the mainland note, the pandemic has exposed the fragmented nature of Chinese loans as well as Beijing’s reluctance to fully align with global debt relief plans. China’s share of bilateral debt owed by the world’s poorest countries to G20 members rose from 45 percent in 2015 to 63 percent last year, according to the World Bank.
The EU’s markets regulator has taken steps to partially alleviate investor concerns about post-Brexit trading by indicating that European investors will be able to trade in sterling-listed shares of European companies listed in London, Phil Stafford and Jim Brunsden write.
The Paris-based European Securities and Markets Authority made a policy change on Monday amid concerns from businesses and some EU governments that the bloc’s regulations could fragment the stock market and exclude companies Europe’s vast capital reserves in London.
Esma said trading EU shares on a UK pound exchange would be exempt from an EU rule, known as the stock trading obligation, which determines the trading venues that investors can use. This means that EU investors will still be able to trade dual-listed companies such as AstraZeneca, Relx, Tui, the parent company of British Airways IAG and G4S in London, with these companies listed in pounds sterling.
However, many Irish companies, such as Ryanair, Kingspan and Bank of Ireland, will remain vulnerable as they trade in euros. An industry lobbyist in Brussels said it was “the smallest of accommodations”, adding that it “doesn’t solve what Ireland needs”.
The EU should refrain from immediately imposing punitive tariffs on US goods in the two sides’ dispute over subsidies to Boeing and Airbus, with diplomats saying the bloc is unlikely to act until the US presidential election.
Beijing and Wall Street have deepened their ties despite geopolitical rivalry, defying the trade war with growing investment.
Overall, there is no doubt that China, having mismanaged the initial outbreak, has done a good job of containing the disease. But the inability to accept criticism suggests that pro-Beijing triumphalism is premature.
Talking about Tokyo
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