(CNN) - The IMF says global growth in 2013 will be an uphill climb but projects growth to reach 3.5% with emerging markets providing much of that boost. We’re already seeing signs of this through the scope of corporate earnings. In January, corporate earnings drove stock markets up, thanks in large part to emerging markets. GE’s fourth quarter revenues rose 4% beating expectations. GE cited China and other emerging economies as the driver for them. Apple reported record quarterly profits. CEO Tim Cook said in an earlier interview with Xinhua News Agency, “China is currently our second largest market. I believe it will become our first.”
While it’s not new that emerging markets are giving much-needed horsepower against the headwinds of the US and the Eurozone, it is interesting to note that countries like China, Indonesia and India still hold a wealth of untapped potential for investors. Younghao Pu, UBS chief investment officer for Asia Pacific, points out that emerging markets account for 50% of global GDP, but only 20% of stock market capitalization. That means there’s a lot of potential to grow. He believes Tier 1 Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai are saturated, mature markets where growth is decelerating.
“In China, multinationals need to penetrate into Tier 2 or Tier 3 cities like Chengdu and Xian where the growth rate is stronger,” Pu says. “Different companies are using agencies and I don’t think that model is building up the potential there in those cities.”
One reason for under-investing appears to be multi-layered. The business advisory group, Economist Corporate Network, recently surveyed 500 corporate clients about the current business climate in Asia. The majority of responses were from Western multinationals. According to the survey results, the companies found “murky” investment climates in certain regions, regulations that swung from unpredictable to protectionist and difficulty in finding reliable local employees.
Hans Paul Burkner, chairman of Boston Consulting Group, takes a much more optimistic approach and looks at emerging markets from the inside looking out. He recently spoke with CNN about what he calls “global challengers,” companies from emerging markets that are growing quickly. These are companies like Malaysia’s Air Asia, China’s Alibaba Group and Brazil’s building products company Tigre.
"They are fast growth, high ambition…and acquiring business models in North America, Europe and Japan. You should not be afraid because it’s not that they are coming in, sucking out all the technology and walking home. They want to really build a position (globally.)”
Hong Kong (CNN) - My cousin Anson Chiou, who lives in Boston, has three passions: Movies, the New England Patriots and wristwatches. I saw him in the U.S. a few weeks ago for the Thanksgiving holiday and we got into a long conversation about two of those passions.
While watching Ben Affleck's new movie "Argo," he noticed something odd in a one-second scene. Ben Affleck's character, (pictured in the image above) was putting on a Rolex in his hotel room. FULL POST
Editor's note: The Outlook series spotlights a country to give a deeper understanding of the business, industry and consumer trends that fuel its economy. While exploring the current challenges and opportunities facing a country's economic progress, Outlook also seeks to provide an insight into its future development.
Hong Kong (CNN) – American businessman Scott Huff has a tough juggling act. His business spans three countries: China, Cambodia and the United States. That means keeping his eye on many things, including three separate corporate tax codes. "My advice about corporate taxes is to stay on your toes. It's always changing. It's part of the total burden," he says.
Huff's company, Innovate International, is a design engineering firm based in Shenzhen, China that manufactures everything from hand tools to pet toys. Corporate tax in China is a flat rate of 25%. Cambodia has none if you get can "qualified investor status." Most international companies easily obtain this status because the Cambodian government is trying to attract more business to the country. The U.S. corporate tax rate can be as high as 35% but will likely change since the Republican candidates and President Obama have all proposed to lower the tax rate in order to stimulate the U.S. economy.
Hong Kong (CNN) – There are a lot of critical meetings scheduled this week in Europe, and Asia is watching.
There's no more talk now of financial decoupling from developed economies. The global economy is tightly interwoven and as Yonghao Pu, chief investment strategist of UBS Asia Pacific, frankly says, "At the moment, we (Asia) are kind of a hostage to what's going on in Europe."
We're seeing the weakness in the global economy force China's hand.
Beijing recently relaxed capital reserve requirements of its major banks after already loosening requirements for some rural banks. This was to make it easier for the banks to make loans and to partially offset the ripple effects of the global economy. China's latest PMI data have shown manufacturing contracting because of reduced demand. Europe is China's biggest export market. If Europe goes into a recession, Asian exports will certainly suffer a huge dip.
If Asia is supposed to be where most of the global growth is, why have the markets there been more volatile than their U.S. counterparts recently?
Let's take the 3rd quarter (July-September) and compare. FULL POST
(CNN) – You're starting your holiday and you get on a chartered plane that brings you to a private island. Then you check into your private villa with an endless view of the ocean. If you choose, your only visitor can be the gourmet chef who comes over to cook your meals every day. This is not the Seychelles. This is Cambodia.
That's the vision Rory and Melita Hunter have for anyone dreaming of the ultimate luxury experience. They plan to open Song Saa resort on December 31. It will be the first luxury resort on a private island in Cambodia.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia (CNN) – The most common image of Cambodia is the land of ancient temples and budget travelers. There's now something else putting Cambodia on the map: foreign investors.
Cambodia's devastating recent history set the country back a generation. From 1975-78, the Communist Khmer Rouge killed intellectuals, destroyed the education system and pushed for an agrarian society that required families to be uprooted and separated.
By the end of the terror, between 1.7 million to 3 million Cambodians are estimated to have died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. The Vietnamese occupation that followed and civil war between a weakened Khmer Rouge and the Cambodian government also stripped the country of stability for another two decades.
(CNN) – Kei San is a Japanese chef who lives in Hong Kong. He also hosts a television cooking show showcasing Japanese seafood.
Lucky for him, his uncle is a fisherman in Hokkaido who supplies him with succulent Hokkaido scallops. But his uncle has seen his business plummet more than 50% because of the nuclear crisis in Fukushima. Even though Hokkaido is 840 kilometers from the nuclear site, the global concern over radioactive contamination has hurt all Japanese food exports.
"My uncle is 60 years old and he's thinking of retiring early. Business is so bad he's basically taking a few months off as a vacation," Kei San says.
Six months after the March 11 trio of calamities – earthquake, tsunami then nuclear disaster – sales of sushi, soba, ramen and other Japanese food industry staples has not fully recovered – and it may be some time before it does. The main obstacle is the lingering doubts about the safety of Japanese food both in Japan and overseas.
(CNN) – For a month that's normally slow in the markets, August is turning out to be a roller-coaster ride.
First, the United States finally raises its debt ceiling but Wall Street does not react with much relief. Instead, weak spending and manufacturing data cause the markets to slide. FULL POST
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