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Daily Archives: January 17, 2022

In Pictures: Food of Den 傳 in Tokyo, Japan

Creative Kaiseki Cuisine

No. 11 of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021

China Cuts Interest Rates As Economic Growth Slows

China has unexpectedly cut a key interest rate for the first time in almost two years as official figures showed its economic growth had slowed.

Gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 4% for the last three months of 2021 from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

That was better than most economists had predicted but was a lot slower than the previous quarter.

In another sign of weakness retail sales growth for December fell to 1.7%.

For the year as a whole, official data showed that China’s economy grew by 8.1%, which beat economists’ forecasts and came in well above Beijing’s annual target of “over 6%.”

However, some economists highlighted that the growth data, which was the slowest in a year and a half, has yet to take into account the effect of the latest coronavirus outbreaks.

“The GDP figure didn’t reflect the impact of domestic spread of the omicron variant since late December which will hit the service industry significantly, especially offline consumption and transportation, Yue Su from the Economist Intelligence Unit said.

To help boost the economy the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said it was lowering the interest rate on 700bn yuan (£80.6bn; $110bn) worth of one-year medium-term lending facility loans to 2.85%. It was the first such cut since April 2020.

Another PBOC lending measure, the seven-day reverse repurchase rate, was also cut, while the bank pumped another 200bn yuan of medium-term cash into the financial system.

The moves put China further apart from other major central banks around the world.

The US Federal Reserve has signalled that it plans to increase its interest rate three times this year.

While in the UK, the Bank of England raised interest rate last month for the first time in more than three years, in response to calls to tackle surging price rises.

China’s economic outlook has been clouded by growing concerns about the effects of Beijing’s regulatory crackdown on businesses, the financial health of some of the country’s biggest property firms and the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

China’s economy grew by an impressive 8.1% last year but the country was in the middle of pandemic lockdowns in 2020 so that is coming off a low base.

And when you look at the latest data closely, there are two worrying signs.

The country’s property sector is attracting less investment as some of its biggest developers face a debt crisis.

The industry’s slowdown was triggered by Beijing’s measures to limit the amount of money some real estate firms could borrow so does not come as too much of a surprise. But a sharp contraction could affect the country’s overall economic growth as the sector accounts for about a quarter of its GDP.

Consumers also seem to be feeling less optimistic, with retail sales coming in much weaker than expected. China’s strict zero Covid policy has meant that some major cities started to go back into lockdown from last month due to the Omicron variant. We have yet to see the full impact of that.

To help cushion the slowdown, the country’s central bank has for the first time in almost two years taken the unexpected step of making some key loans for businesses cheaper.

While that may seem to be a loosening of President Xi’s “common prosperity” policies to curb corporate debt, it seems unlikely that Beijing will go much further to support big businesses and their billionaire owners.

The government is also unlikely ditch its zero Covid policy ahead of next month’s Winter Olympics and a Communist party meeting later this year where President Xi is expected to tighten his grip on the world’s second largest economy with a third term in power.

Source : BBC

Byd Partners with Nuro to Manufacture All-electric Autonomous Delivery Vehicle

BYD Co., Ltd. announced its partnership with leading autonomous vehicle company Nuro to begin producing the company’s third-generation electric autonomous delivery vehicle. The partnership is expected to scale Nuro’s more affordable, eco-friendly, and convenient services to millions of people across the country.

“BYD will leverage the manufacturing capacity of our Lancaster, California plant by finishing assembly of globally sourced hardware components to support Nuro and bring more jobs to the community,” said Stella Li, Executive Vice President of BYD Co. Ltd. and President of BYD North America, “Together we will build this autonomous delivery vehicle, with the mutual goal of creating a safer environment on streets across the United States.”

Combining both partners’ advanced technology, Nuro’s third-generation autonomous delivery vehicle will feature greater payload and new safety technologies. With twice the cargo volume of Nuro’s current R2 model, the automotive production grade vehicle will also feature modular inserts to customize storage and new temperature-controlled compartments to keep goods warm or cool. Safety enhancements include an external airbag to further improve safety for pedestrians outside the vehicle, as well as a multi-modal sensing suite, including cameras, radars, lidar, and thermal cameras, creating a redundant 360-degree view.

Nuro was founded in 2016 by Jiajun Zhu and Dave Ferguson, former principal engineers of Google’s self-driving car team. Specializing in developing zero-occupant vehicles designed specifically for transporting goods and not passengers, Nuro has launched two generations of autonomous vehicles, introduced delivery service with industry leaders including Domino’s, Kroger, and 7-Eleven, and announced a multi-year partnership with FedEx.

“BYD is one of the largest OEM networks of electric vehicles in the world, and we are thrilled to partner with them to help us move one step closer to scaled commercial operations,” said Jiajun Zhu, Nuro co-founder and CEO. “We look forward to transforming the hardware components of BYD’s globally sourced electric vehicle platform into innovative autonomous vehicles capable of operating on public roads at our new facility here in America. Through our partnership with BYD, we plan to produce autonomous vehicles at scale that can improve road safety, air quality, and overall access to goods.”

As a leader in the NEV industry, BYD has innovated rich technologies in the field of electrification. In this project, BYD is jointly working with Nuro on vehicle development, and is responsible for vehicle manufacturing and initial vehicle testing, and provides hardware like the Blade Battery, electric motors, electronic controls, and displays for human-machine interaction. Nuro integrates technologies such as autonomous driving, control modules and sensors. BYD will finish assembly of the hardware platform at its Lancaster plant in the United States using globally sourced components. Nuro will then complete the vehicle manufacturing process by installing and testing the autonomy systems that will make the platform capable of operation at the company’s new facilities in southern Nevada.

Source : BYD

Charts: China’s Trade Surplus Hit a Record in 2021

Source : Bloomberg

China’s Trade Surplus Surges to Record $676.4B in 2021

Joe Mcdonald wrote . . . . . . . . .

China’s politically volatile global trade surplus surged to $676.4 billion in 2021, likely the highest ever for any country, as exports jumped 29.9% over a year earlier despite semiconductor shortages that disrupted manufacturing.

The country’s monthly trade surplus in December swelled 20.8% over a year earlier to a record $94.4 billion, customs data showed Friday.

China piled up a series of monthly export surpluses in 2021 but they prompted less criticism from the United States and other trading partners than in earlier years while their governments focused on containing coronavirus infections.

Exports rose to $3.3 trillion in 2021 despite shortages of processor chips for smartphones and other goods as global demand rebounded from the coronavirus pandemic. Manufacturers also were hampered by power rationing in some areas to meet government efficiency targets.

The surplus with the United States, one of the irritants behind a lingering U.S.-Chinese trade war, rose 25.1% in 2021 over a year earlier to $396.6 billion. Trade envoys have talked since President Joe Biden took office in January but have yet to announce a date to resume face-to-face negotiations.

Exports to the United States gained 27.5% over 2020 to $576.1 billion despite tariff hikes by Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, that still are in place on many goods. Chinese imports of American goods rose 33.1% to $179.5 billion.

In December, China’s monthly trade surplus with the United States rose 31.1% over a year earlier to $39.2 billion. Exports to the U.S. market rose 21.1% to $56.4 billion while imports of American goods edged up 3.3% to $17.1 billion.

This month, China’s global export volumes are likely to weaken due to congestion at ports where anti-coronavirus restrictions are imposed and to changes in global demand as shippers clear backlogs, said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics.

“We’d still bet on export volumes being lower rather than higher by the end of this year,” said Evans-Pritchard in a report.

Chinese imports in 2021 rose 30.1% to $2.7 trillion as the world’s second-largest recovery rebounded from the pandemic.

Economic growth weakened in the second half of the year as Beijing carried out a campaign to reduce what it sees as dangerously high debt in the real estate industry, but consumer spending was above pre-pandemic levels.

Manufacturing activity edged higher in December but new export orders contracted, according to survey earlier by the government statistics bureau and an industry group, the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing.

Chinese exporters benefited from being allowed to resume most normal business in early 2020 while foreign competitors faced anti-coronavirus restrictions on travel and trade. That advantage carried into 2021 as other governments renewed controls in response to the spread of new virus variants.

Earlier, forecasters said Chinese exporters would benefit from the spread of the latest variant, omicron, which Beijing appeared to be keeping out of the country. More recently, however, China has responded to outbreaks within its own borders by imposing travel restrictions on major cities including Tianjin, a manufacturing center where omicron was found.

China’s global trade surplus was a 26.4% increase over 2020, which economists said then was among the highest ever reported by any economy. They said the only comparison as a percentage of the economy’s size likely was Saudi Arabia and other oil exporters during their price boom in the 1970s, but their total revenues were smaller.

The swollen trade surplus has strained the ability of China’s central bank to manage the exchange rate of its yuan, which has risen to multi-year highs against the U.S. dollar as money flows into the country. The People’s Bank of China has tried to limit the ability of banks and other traders to speculate on the currency’s movement.

China’s trade surplus with the 27-nation European Union, its second-largest trading partner, swelled 57.4% in 2021 over a year earlier to $208.4 billion. Exports to the EU rose 32.6% to $518.3 billion while imports of European goods gained 19.8% to $309.9 billion.

In December, China’s trade surplus with Europe widened by 85.9% over a year earlier to $25.1 billion.

Source : AP

Charts: 2021 China Economic Performance