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China-Swiss talks on stronger ties
The backstory: In 2013, China and Switzerland teamed up to strengthen their economic ties. They signed a free trade agreement that year, which also marked Beijing’s first deal of the kind with a country in Europe. China is Switzerland's third-largest trading partner after the US and the EU. The alpine nation has also become a hotspot for major Chinese tech players like Huawei and Neusoft, bringing in big investments. Meanwhile, Swiss giants ABB, Nestle and Roche are expanding in the vast Chinese market.
More recently: In 2017, China's President Xi Jinping visited Switzerland. This week, Premier Li Qiang, who started his role last year, is the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit Switzerland since President Xi's trip. Li is also participating in this week's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, alongside leaders from various countries.
The development: On Monday, Premier Li met with Swiss President Viola Amherd in Bern, and they signed a joint declaration to strengthen their partnership. The two nations agreed to formally start talks to upgrade their free-trade agreement. Click the link here for more.
The IMF warns of AI’s impact on jobs
The backstory: Generative artificial intelligence (AI), like ChatGPT, is gaining popularity for its ability to create realistic content from basic prompts. In November 2022, when OpenAI’s ChatGPT hit the scene, it caused quite a stir in the tech world, grabbing the attention of major players like Google and Microsoft. Companies are putting big investments into this technology, but it's also causing concern among workers about job security.
More recently: Last year, Goldman Sachs raised a concern, saying that generative AI might affect 300 million jobs globally. But the bank also mentioned that this tech could boost productivity and growth and increase global GDP by up to 7% over time.
The development: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently looked into how AI might affect jobs globally. Although the IMF acknowledged in a blog post that AI could have benefits like boosting productivity and global growth, it also said it could deepen inequality and will certainly have a big effect on the job market. IMF findings suggested that almost 40% of jobs worldwide could be affected. Click the link here for more.
Uniqlo comes for Shein
The backstory: If you’re someone who’s always on the lookout for a good online deal for women’s clothes, chances are, you’ve come across Shein. Founded in China in 2008, the fast fashion brand has skyrocketed in sales and popularity, so much so that, in 2021, it overtook Amazon in the US on the Apple App Store and the Android store for the first time.
More recently: Shein’s rise has been controversial. Last year, numerous lawsuits had been filed against the fashion behemoth in the US alone, with plaintiffs citing intellectual property (IP) violations, a common theme for the past few years. For example, last year, H&M sued Shein in Hong Kong for copyright infringement. Some lawyers also say that Shein's way of doing business involves stealing ideas from designers as a core part of its strategy, which it then resolves by offering a small amount of money to the impacted designers.
The development: You know those shoulder bags from Uniqlo that are hugely popular? Well, they’re one of the brand’s best-selling items, with fashion trend-spotting sites calling it one of the hottest crossbody bags of 2023. But now, Fast Retailing (the parent company of Uniqlo) has filed a lawsuit against Shein in Japan, saying that it copied its Round Mini Shoulder Bag and asking for compensation for the damage caused. Click the link here for more.
To end, we'll look into:
Emmys 2023 recap
It’s finally upon us – awards season. This is the time of year for events like the Golden Globes, Oscars, Grammys and … the Emmys? The Emmy Awards is an event recognizing the best of the best in the TV industry, and it’s usually slated for September each year. But the 2023 Emmys were postponed because of the months-long Hollywood strikes of writers and actors. Now that the strikes are over, the Emmys were finally held on Monday at the Peacock Theater in Los Angeles. So click here for a recap of the evening’s highlights. We've run down the biggest wins (and snubs) for last year.
In other news ...
📉Market snapshot and key quotes:
- In the US: US stocks fell on Tuesday as bond yields rose, with investors eyeing Q4 earnings for more insight.
- In Hong Kong: Hong Kong stocks dropped on Tuesday, part of a wider decline in Asia, driven by geopolitical concerns and uncertainties about Federal Reserve interest rate cuts.
📊Top gainers/losers and company news:
- In Hong Kong: JD Health International lost over 6% amid the overall market decline.
- In the US: Boeing fell over 7% after a Wells Fargo downgrade linked to ongoing issues with its 737 Max 9 model.
👀The numbers everyone is watching:
- In the US: Goldman Sachs beat expectations, while Morgan Stanley posted Q4 revenue gains.
- In Hong Kong: Investors are eagerly awaiting China’s Q4 GDP numbers this Wednesday.
📅To check out our economic calendar for this week, click here.
More headlines ...
📰Middle East update: With the ongoing war in Israel and Palestine, the world has worried about the violence spilling over and becoming a bigger conflict in the region. Houthi rebels have been attacking ships in the Red Sea in protest of Israel's offensive, and on Tuesday, the US carried out a new strike in Yemen on four Houthi anti-ship ballistic missiles, according to US officials. Meanwhile, Hamas took responsibility for an attack by militants in Gaza, who fired at least 25 rockets toward a nearby city in Israel, according to the Israeli military. Qatar and France managed to broker a deal between Israel and Hamas that will get urgent medication to around 45 Israeli hostages held in Gaza in return for humanitarian and medical aid for the most vulnerable civilians. The aid will leave Qatar for Egypt on Wednesday and go into Gaza through the Rafah border crossing.
On Monday, stoking more fears of a wider regional conflict breaking out, Iran struck its ally Iraq to destroy what it said was an "Israeli spy base." The strike led to Baghdad recalling its ambassador in protest, saying it would take "all legal measures," including filing a complaint with the UN Security Council. Iran also said it launched missile strikes in Syria targeting Isis, which claimed responsibility for this month's suicide bombing in southern Iran that killed almost 100 people, according to Iranian state media.
🗞️Russian city declares state of emergency: Voronezh, a city of over one million people situated about 250 kilometers from the Ukraine border, has declared a state of emergency after what officials said was a Kyiv drone attack. Several buildings were damaged, and two children were injured. The Russian Ministry of Defense said it destroyed five of the drones in the region and intercepted three more overnight. Officials also reported intercepting four drones in the nearby Russian Belgorod region.
📩Trump wins Iowa by a landslide: Former US President Donald Trump is running for president again, and he's prevailed in the first major contest in the race for presidential nominee. In the Iowa Republican caucuses, Trump won 98 of the 99 counties in the state with 51% of the vote, well ahead of any rivals. On top of that, Republican rival Vivek Ramaswamy announced he was dropping out and would endorse Trump for president. Trump's victory has set a strong precedent that could quickly lead to an election rematch with President Biden in November.
💦Flash flooding in Mauritius: Cyclone Belal brought torrential rain and flooding to the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius, which raised the maximum cyclone warning, but the worst of it has now passed. At least one person died in Mauritius and another in the French department of Réunion, and around 100 vehicles were damaged and abandoned. Authorities are now working on fully assessing the main roads and infrastructure.
📢Berlin protests: A November court ruling led to confusion and worry over Germany's finances, so the government coalition has been scrambling to reorganize its approach. Reducing diesel fuel tax breaks in the agricultural sector was one way it hoped to fill a hole in the 2024 budget. But farmers are not happy about it. After a week of protests across Germany over different government policies, on Monday, an estimated 30,000 protestors blocked the streets of Berlin's city center with tractors, lorries and other farming vehicles in protest of cutting fuel subsidies, which farmers say will hurt their businesses and even drive many into bankruptcy.
✈️Plane collision in Japan: Weeks after a plane landing at Toyko's Haneda Airport crashed into a Coast Guard plane, killing five people, another collision happened on Tuesday at New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido. A Korean Air plane carrying 289 passengers and crew clipped a parked Cathay Pacific aircraft, but luckily no injuries were reported. A Korean Air rep said the incident happened because the snowy conditions caused a ground handler towing the plane before its departure to slip.
🛢️Russian oil crude faces hurdles: The Group of Seven (G7) nations have put a price cap on Russian oil to limit the country's revenue in response to its war in Ukraine. Last month, the US tightened the cap's enforcement by sanctioning several traders of Russian oil. Now, Russian oil tankers are having trouble delivering cargo at Indian ports since they pay for it upon delivery. In an interview, India's Oil Minister Hardeep Puri said, "When Russian prices don't conform, we buy from Iraq, the UAE [and] Saudi Arabia."
👩⚖️Apple and Epic appeals rejected: Tech giant Apple and Fortnite maker Epic Games have been in a legal battle over how Apple handles its App Store. Last year, a ruling determined in the antitrust case that Apple didn't break antitrust laws overall, but it violated the California Unfair Competition Law by not letting app developers tell users about cheaper payment options. Both companies asked the US Supreme Court to hear appeals related to the case, but the Court refused, ending a temporary stay of the ruling. So now, developers can start directing iPhone users to cheaper options outside of the App Store, which will likely impact the tech giant's revenue.
💼Japanese investors call on China for visa-free entries: In 2003, China started letting Japanese travelers enter the country visa-free for 15 days, but that was suspended in 2020 because of the COVID pandemic. A recent survey has shown that hundreds of Japanese investors want China to restart visa-free entries into what they say is their "most important market."
💬Bill Gates on health care and climate change: At the Davos economic forum this week, Bill Gates expressed in an interview at the Bloomberg House in Davos that he believes the key to combating climate change is improving health care access in developing countries. In light of this, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (a nonprofit organization) that he co-chairs announced on Monday plans to spend a record US$8.6 billion on health care technology and programs this year. He also called for countries to donate 0.7% of their GDP to aid.
🌏China expects 9 billion trips over Lunar New Year: As the Lunar New Year approaches, China has estimated a record high of 9 billion trips over the 40-day holiday travel period, according to Vice Transport Minister Li Yang. Li said the country would take precautions to ensure the safety of hundreds of millions of people traveling by requiring inspection and maintenance of all vehicles, ships and transport facilities before the holiday rush.
📷Timothée Chalamet’s doppelganger?: A young Yemeni man called Rashid Al Haddad has gotten the nickname "Tim-Houthi Chalamet" across social media channels after posting a video of himself on a cargo ship seized by Houthi rebels last year. The TikToker resembles Hollywood actor Timothée Chalamet, who's starred in blockbusters like "Wonka" and "Dune." The ship, the Galaxy Leader, was hijacked by at least 10 armed Houthis in the Red Sea last November, and at least 25 crew members that were aboard are still being held hostage.
❓World's oldest dog?: Last year, we reported about "the world's oldest dog," Bobi, a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo who died in October. Bobi was said to have been over 31 years old, equivalent to a human living some 200 years. But vets and other skeptics have raised suspicion that this may not be true. Photos of Bobi in his youth show him with white paws, but in more recent photos, they were brown. While this is investigated, Guinness World Records has suspended the titles for the oldest dog living and the oldest dog ever.
What country’s investors have called on China to open up visa-free entries in a recent survey?
- The US
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