Category: Latest Asia-Pacific Insights & Trends
The Asia-Pacific Circle publishes timely Asia-Pacific Insights and APAC Thought Leadership, in good business intelligence. We follow and analyze past and present trends in the global political economy to produce regionally relevant Asia-Pacific insights and thought leadership. We then publish mind-challenging analyses and opinions, taking a multidisciplinary political, financial, legal, philosophical but always business-oriented approach.
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Looking for hints and tips about business trends? Our Asia-Pacific Business Insights closely look at Business developments in the APAC region. From regional investments to blockchain developments, from approaching Chinese markets to understanding China’s digital economy, our expert contributors connect the dots. [Read our Asia-Pacific Business Insights].
Financial Markets are predominant nowadays, hence our Asia-Pacific Insights closely look at financial developments in the APAC region. From financial regulation to Fintech policy and cryptocurrencies, the Circle’s Financial Market Insights connect the dots. [Read our Asia-Pacific Financial Markets Insights].
Pro-business policies or interventionism? Free trade or protectionism? What is the impact of China-US relations on global and APAC trade and business? Globalization is at risk, but trade diplomacy is an important aspect of Asia-Pacific relations. Our APAC Trade Diplomacy insights also connect the dots! [Read our Asia-Pacific Trade Insights].
Read our latest Asia-Pacific Insights & APAC Trends:
In this Asia-Pacific Insight, Fabien Pacory explores the impact and influence of Free Trade Zones in China's Belt and Road Initiative. Free Trade Zones have more than a role to play in Beijing's strategy, he explains. In various countries, these zones serve various purposes, starting with an economic laboratory role and a pro-reform role which eventually help making the initiative stronger and stronger. There is a genuine strategy here, Pacory explains. The question is: which one?
In this Asia-Pacific insight, HEC Eurasia Institute Founder and Honorary Chairman Jacques Gravereau analyses recent trends relating to the debt generated as a result of the heavily discussed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Whilst the BRI is probably China's most strategic undertaking, the question of its medium and long-term impacts on the partnering countries deserves to be explored. In reality, Jacques Gravereau writes, the issue is not just black or white. At the end of the day, China is not just taking over the world: it bears the cost of significant business mistakes and it learns. By imprudently developing its BRI project, Beijing is indeed likely to create political misconceptions …
Is there a currency manipulation policy in China? Christophe Granier analyses recent trends relating to CNY valuation. The CNY traded at its lowest level against the US Dollar in ten years, which raised currency manipulation concerns in the United States. In doing so, Mr. Granier writes, the US made a confusion between causes and consequences.
In this interview, we talk about Asia-Pacific trends with Nicolas Michaux, the Managing Director of the Hong Kong office of Fidinam. As a fiscal adviser to entrepreneurs and corporate executives, Nicolas explores several developments. First, he discusses the increasing interest for Vietnam as a business destination contrasting with China in many ways. Second, he elaborates on the various international initiatives which have recently been put into place as a means to curb fiscal evasion and explains their impact when it comes to doing business in the region. Keep reading for more.
In this Insight, John Barclay and Teresa Tan (Primasia) comment on the recent enhancement of Hong Kong's Anti-Money Laundering (AML) framework. Following an initiative from the very international Financial Action Task Force (FAFT), Hong Kong has set up licensing requirements which will impact businesses. The question is how? Keep reading for more.
In this Insight, Fargo Group Managing Director and French External Trade Advisor Paul Clerc-Renaud analyzes the current technology landscape of China. Paul explores the issue through various lenses, starting with the idea that the microchip and semiconductors sector currently are China's greatest technological weakness. He considers the related strategic, market control and future development aspects of the issue, and he elaborates on those sectors in which China is at the forefront: Telecoms, ICT & Internet services or Fintechs, Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Computing. Not to forget new energies, transportation or aeronautics. He concludes, overall, on the idea that R&D and Education represent the nexus of the current technological war.
In this Asia-Pacific Insight originally published in the South China Morning Post, Philippe Bonnet and Antoine Martin comment on the recent of an EU-Asia Connectivity strategic policy proposal by the European Commission. Whilst building ties between Asia and Europe make a lot of sense from a business cooperation perspective, they write, trying to create connectivity "the European way" - i.e. by imposing a rules-based mindset to Asia - is a rather surprising idea. A change in mindsets would be interesting, however...
We recently interviewed Daniël de Blocq van Scheltinga, a Hong Kong-based M&A advisor and Circle Contributor who provided some personal insights on the Chinese M&A markets. As the first Western CEO to a Chinese State-Owned Enterprise (SOE), Daniël has a unique perspective on how large Chinese companies think and operate. Hence, his interview provides very exclusive food for thought on how to do business in China, on the reasons and consequences of current US-China relations, on China's technology ambitions, and more generally on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and its long-term impacts.
In this China Business Insight, Eleonore William continues to explore and document the growth of globalized Chinese Groups, taking the case of Xiaomi. While Xiaomi is known for having put into place a "high technology accessible to all" business model, but the strategy developed by the group in order to diversify its activities, develop a robust user community and turn into an international company with a truly global reach is interesting for one major reason: it works.
In this Asia Financial Insight, Jack Chia and Antoine Martin comment on the recent release by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) of a framework on the regulation of virtual Assets. Understand, cryptocurrencies and related investments. The initiative goes in the right direction, they conclude, and might help position Hong Kong as a moving-forward financial place. Considering the complexity currently surrounding Digital Assets and cryptos, indeed, regulating portfolio managers and fund distributors could bring certainty and trust to the market. The challenge, however, will consist in building a framework applicable to crypto exchanges, which remain the unregulated actor in the industry.
In this Insight, Soo-Hyun Lee (Asan Institute, Seoul) discusses developments in South Korea's trade and investment climate. Borrowing the blue pill - red pill image from The Matrix, he places South Korea's approach to liberal policies into the broader and more global context of political and economic alliances with the West, and particularly the United States. The blue pill, on the one hand, equals safety and stability. The red pill, on the other hand, would bring some public interest and independence, provided of course that the country departs from its current ways. The question overall comes as follows: could South Korea follow a different roadmap in the future?
In this insight, Paul Clerc-Renaud analyses the so-called Trade War which has opposed China and the United States since the arrival to power of President Trump. He comments on the various progress made by the Chinese over the past few years, provides a summary of the recent trade sanctions put into place by Washington and Beijing, and considers why the tensions have arisen. Technological progress, he concludes, is at the root of the problem, and chances are that Beijing's 'Made in China 2025' are the actual reason why the U.S. is so embarrassed with China's development.
In this financial markets Insight, Cryptology Managing Director Jack Chia provides some food for thought on what the recent ups and downs in the global ICO and crypto market mean. Jack sees two important trends here: the rise of Security Tokens Offerings (STOs) and the arrival of new Blockchain applications capable of bringing a large number of companies into a new era of business. His point of view is clear, however: current ICO and crypto developments lead to one conclusion: Blockchain projects developed as Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) will have to do much better from now on.
Change is a long-lasting topic which has been explored alongside technological developments for years. Yet, it remains a challenge which needs to be managed as a process, in a strategic manner. In this Asia-Pacific Insight, we explore the operational aspects of dealing with change with Ms. Isabelle Michelet, Founder of the Human Resources and change management consulting firm Prasena (Bangkok, Thailand). From last-mover advantages to change strategy-building and implementation mindsets, Ms. Michelet interview provides a very practical and interesting perspective on how technological adaptation happens in Asia.
In this China Insight, Daniel de Blocq van Scheltinga comments on the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. While not long ago the world thought that China was merely able to copy technology, he writes, the inauguration of the 'Bridge of Dreams' suggests that significant change has happened. Overall, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge is not just a bridge. "The HZMB is a clear symbol of the New China: The old days of copycats are clearly over; it is breaking new ground and setting new standards for the world in many aspects of its economic achievements".
Telecom talk, with Alain Lejeune (TLC Communications, BlackBerry Mobile Division): In this Chinese markets insight, Alain Lejeune explores past, current and future developments in China's Telecoms market. From the rise of a market to the development of a truly globalized telecommunication industry strategically supported under the "Made in China 2025" efforts, Mr Lejeune tells a fascinating industrial story built around innovation, forward-looking anticipation, daring business models and far-reaching investments. In case you wondered what global (and Chinese) telecoms are about, this insight is a must read. Would you like more business trends and tips from regional Asia-Pacific experts? Read our latest Asia-Pacific Insights!
Business talk: we recently had an unconventional discussion with Franck Benhamou, an entrepreneur based between Hong Kong and Chiang Mai (Thailand) who invests in building online communities. Franck is an atypical businessman, a former corporate executive who eventually moved to Asia to live a different life with his family and turned into a digital nomad, managing his international marketing activities from the region. His message is unusual but makes a lot of sense: ad hoc digital marketing as many people do has its limits but building real communities with intent has strong potential. Hence, you should invest in communities. Not tomorrow, right now!
In this Insight, China expert Christophe Granier continues his analysis of the maritimization policy of China. Having explored the development of a fisheries-related policy by Beijing in a previous contribution, he moves on to explore the remaining aspects of the country's sea industry. Whilst services ranging from luxury and passenger transportation to communication cables installation are likely to be the future of the maritime economy, more interesting aspects indeed deserve to be considered. All in all? Christophe Granier provides a surprising, challenging and fascinating overview of the Chinese ability to think ahead and plan.
In this Asia-Pacific business Insight, we talk about doing business in China and explore Chinese markets with Laurent Timmermans, an entrepreneur, consultant, and educator, Founder and Managing Director of the Hong Kong-based Athenasia Consulting. As an expert in Hong Kong company formation and structuration, Laurent discusses business in two main ways. First, he explains the strategic role of the city when it comes to Asia and China trade, and he provides his views on how Hong Kong competes with Singapore and other places out there. Second, he elaborates on the increasing importance of regional technology, blockchain, and digitalization developments in terms of business management. His perspective can be summarized in …
In this China Markets Insight, Entrepreneur and ConchSociety CEO Bertrand Ternat provides his views on the Asian and Chinese luxury market. Fascinated by China and eager to understand how the Chinese markets work and how the Western culture, habits, and mindsets can fit, Bertrand has learned that the best way to fail is to try and sell without making any effort to understand and fit in the system. In contrast, the best way to do business in China is to step foot in those circles and to be recognized as being valuable by those in the circles. Asia and even more China are network-based countries, don't think this is something …
In this Asia-Pacific Insight, we discuss current developments in the media and information industry with editor and publisher Catya Martin. While the information economy is at the heart of our society, the rise and continuous growth of the so-called 'connection economy' also increasingly matters. Information and communication is now channeled through digital means, and the impact is very significant as far as the industry is concerned. the connection economy is giving a major role to digital media whilst pushing paper away, thus revolutionizing our relationship with information. Words have a different function and a different power. And the economic model is changing inevitably.
In this Asia-Pacific Insight, Daniil Danchenko and Bitnewstoday.com explore the influence of South Korean technology on the cryptocurrencies market. While Asia as a whole plays a major leadership role when it comes to crypto and blockchain development, insights on which parts of Asia are the most productive and forward-moving have a weight. In the author's opinions, in fact, South Korea is a real leader in the field, to the extent that if there are innovations to be found out there, South Korean technology is most likely to be involved. And the reason for this is clear: the Koreans know that they need to keep innovating if they want to stay …
In this Asia-Pacific business Insight, Hong Kong Visa Geeza expert and Intelligent Content Marketing advocate Stephen Barnes discusses the complexity of creating a sustainable business brand in the region. "Asia is a race", he says. Hence, considering the current connection economy, "you need a monopoly business strategy" if you want to maximize your odds of succeeding. With the increasing importance of the connection economy, indeed, the role of information is shifting. And you definitely want to be on the right side of the digital transformation.
In this Asia-Pacific Business Insight, Cleantech entrepreneur and CEO of Waseco (Waste Eco Solution) Mathieu Vassal explores how business innovation, clean technologies (cleantechs) and insects can lead to a more sustainable food chain. As one of the few experts in this emerging industry, Mathieu Vassal has a unique perspective on what the current model does wrong and on what opportunities that creates from a regional and global business development perspective. He talks about the topic with passion and his argument is very straightforward: insects are the missing link for a sustainable food chain.
In this China business insight, Eleonore William from the France China Committee analyses the Tongwei Group's diversification approach, from aquaculture to solar energy. While the Group has historically been a giant in the marine food industry, it is progressively investing in new technologies and know-how, so at to become a leading player in China's growing solar power sector. For more, make sure to read our China business insights.
Ashley Galina Dudarenok is one of the key experts and opinion leaders on digital marketing strategy and social media in China. In this Asia-Pacific Insight, she explores the question of digital transformation in China, from technology developments to marketing strategy, she explains how she sees change happening. Ashley is very optimistic about digital developments and has lots to say about digital marketing developments, but her key take is very simple: "China is the future of digital technology". Read the interview for more.
On July 18th, 2018, the HKMA released its Open API Framework as a means to promote the development of Hong Kong's Fintech, banking and financial services industry. The initiative has been commented widely, and the idea that new applications will now be made available is often used as a conclusion. In this Asia-Pacific financial insight, Antoine Martin goes through the HKMA's Open API Framework document to explain its ins and outs. After a careful analysis of the document, he concludes that the stakes are much higher than mere flexibility. Especially considering the regulatory and financial burden to be imposed on banks.
In this Asia-Pacific Business Insight, Gilbert Réveillon, Christophe Granier and Paul Clerc-Renaud explore the idea that new technologies have the power to impact us in ways we have not yet considered... especially as far as China is concerned. As of today, China is at the forefront. China invests heavily in supporting the development of Blockchain and quantum computing know-how, and in the field, the Chinese BATXHJs (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, Xiaomi, Huawei, JD) are already competing with the American GAFAs (Google s, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) when it comes to technological domination… fighting for supremacy. The question, in other words, is not to figure out whether China is making progress. It is to …
In this Asia-Pacific Insight, Christophe Granier analyses the rapid development of China's maritime economy - China's maritimization - both in terms of size and in diversity. He notes that China's maritimization is moving in (at least) three ways. One is the country's complex but powerful fisheries industry. Another relates to maritime farming and the major investments in technological development China is putting in place to acquire leadership on the matter. The third relates to China's efforts towards developing a non-fisheries-related maritime industry. Overall, Granier concludes, China's maritime industry has a promising future.
Asia-Pacific Insights: Japan - EU relations | The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (JEEPA) represents an important opportunity from a business and trade leadership perspective. On the business side of things, Japan and the European Union are historical trading partners. Hence, the Economic Partnership Agreement represents a significant opportunity for both countries to keep progressing... together. On the trade diplomacy perspective, the JEEPA also sends an important leadership signal. Global free trade dynamics have been altered and sided away since late 2016 and the arrival to power of President Trump. The withdrawal of the United States from the TPP agreement, indeed, had slowed the trade dynamics globally. With the JEEPA, however
Japan - Europe free trade insights: The Japan EU free trade agreement (JEEPA) is a fairly comprehensive agreement which answers the most pressing issues in international trade and investment regulation. From a facilitation perspective, the agreement contains the typical provisions on the market. Note, for instance, that the scope of application is very broad and tends to prohibit "any duty or charge of any kind". Otherwise, the agreement facilitates trade in services, trade in financial services, investment and e-commerce whilst ensuring fair competition and intellectual property rights preservation. At the same time, the agreement does not only open free trade, it also preserves some regulatory room to Japan and the …
In this Insight, business strategy adviser Philippe Bonnet explores the idea that Eurasia is shifting from an underutilized geographic notion into something much bigger. Looking at recent and forthcoming developments in the Asia-Pacific, he suggests that the Europe - China relationship needs to be significantly reconsidered, together with the way Westerners think about doing business with Asia (and China). The business equation is very different from one side of the continent to the other. In Europe, business with Asia is about threat mitigation. In Asia, in contrast, business is a matter of investment. As a result, a significant change in mindset is needed for business to become a win-win matter.
Asia-Pacific Trade Insights: Expert Soo-Hyun Lee (Asan Institute, Seoul) comments on the impact of the expiration of the South Korean Corporate Restructuring Promotion Act. While the act has helped major companies restructure in times of economic duress for the past twenty years, it has expired in late June 2018, thus leaving South Korea's giants without a much-needed support. Asking what ought to be the Korean Government’s economic role (i.e. letting things happen or supporting businesses in difficult times), Soo-Hyun Lee writes that Seoul cannot let go of the Act. Keep reading for more.
Asia-Pacific Financial Markets Insights: Antoine Martin analyses the recent release of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority's (HKMA) Revised Guideline on Authorization of Virtual Banks. Hong Kong is one of the world's leading financial places, yet the city's banking offer is limited for many. This move by the HKMA creates a significant new potential from a financial services perspective, but there is more. The Revised Virtual Banks Guideline has several objectives. First, opening access to financial services to non-banks. Second, solving a market deficiency which so far has left many citizens un-banked. Third, pushing Hong Kong's Fintech policy a little further. Keep reading for more.
Asia-Pacific Insight: Soo-Hyun Lee (Asan Institute, Seoul) discusses the recent interventionist policies of the governments of South Korea and Japan. From banks to shipyards and technology industries, Japan and Korea have stepped into the business realm at multiple occasions in the name of the public interest. Yet, questions remain as to what are the consequences of these policies on the two countries' domestic investment climates. From an international legal point of view, Lee concludes, the legitimacy of a government intervention ultimately depends on procedural fairness. South Korea and Japan need to proceed with care: without procedural fairness, public interventions can easily shift matters of public interest into bad business and investment climates.
US - China Trade Insights: Antoine Martin and Professor Bryan Mercurio (The Chinese University of Hong Kong) discuss China - United States relations in light of recent trade developments. With the announcement of new tariffs against Chinese steel and Aluminum, President Trump has forced President Xi to react. This analysis of the'trade war' developments leads to the conclusion that the political game is changing. On the one hand, the U.S. is turning nationalistic and protectionist, even if it harms itself in the process. On the other, China is reversing the usual rhetoric and positioning itself as the god international citizen who plays by the rules. Keep reading for more.
In this Asia-Pacific financial Insight, Antoine Martin analyzes recent regional cryptocurrency developments and asks why governments seem so keen on developing their own sovereign digital currencies lately. He concludes that, somehow, the original spirit of cryptocurrencies - avoiding state interference - is being distorted by a variety of initiatives aimed at creating sovereign digital currencies.
In this Asia-Pacific financial insight, Antoine Martin comments on recent moves against Bitcoins, Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and crypto exchanges by China's financial authorities. From speculation controls to ambitious political projects, the relationship between China, Bitcoins and cryptocurrencies in general is complex. This Insight aims at bringing some clarity to the debate.
Asia-Pacific Fintech Insights: In may 2017 the FSDC released a Report named The Future of Fintech in Hong Kong as a means to help promoting the development of Hong Kong Fintech industry. The report has been commented widely, but it was mainly interpreted as pointing to the limits of Hong Kong's Fintech policy. In reality, however, this document is more like a business plan and roadmap on, as its title suggests, the future of Fintechs in Hong Kong. Hence, it deserves more attention.
Financial Markets: Antoine Martin comments on the introduction of Chinese companies into MSCI's Emerging Markets Index after three consecutive years of rejection
Trade Research: Protectionism has become a trendy word recently and appears to be on the rise in various parts of the world. Starting with the United States. In reality, complex negotiations have eroded trade leadership at the WTO level and the trade policy dynamics in Washington and Brussels seem significantly compromised
Asia-Pacific Financial Insights: The Hong Kong – China Bond Connect has recently made the headlines following a public announcement in March 2017 by Mainland China’s Premier that further fixed-income markets links would be established across borders. Would the news help reinforcing China’s and Hong Kong’s financial positions in the Asia-Pacific and globally? In this Hong Kong and China markets insight, Pascal Charlot and Antoine Martin analyze the recent developments and explain their financial relevance.
Asia-Pacific Insights; Protectionism, elections, territorial stakes, foreign policy has become an increasingly relevant theme lately. In 2017, in fact, the global political economy as we know it will change. Foreign policies will be altered
China - US Relations: Antoine Martin analyzes Mr Trump's TPP and Trade policy, arguing that the 'America Great Again' idea will sooner than later give China a significant leadership role
We are living in troubled times. The British are paving their way out of the EU (trying, anyway), the major agreements which were once expected to foster growth between the United States, Europe, the Asia Pacific or Canada are seriously compromised. Trade has shifted from policy goal to political incorrectness. Let's face it
Globalization has become a major topic over the last decades and years. The issue is broad, ranging from policymaking to legal and financial, not to forget politics and politicisation.
Asia-Pacific Insight: The steel industry is one of China's most significant industries, but it lives difficult times at the moment. In fact, steel overcapacity in China is not just a reality, it has become a source of diplomatic troubles. In this China insight, Antoine Martin comments on the Agreement reached by the United States and China on the matter. He concludes that little change is to be expected. Beijing has little margin of maneuver on the topic, hence overcapacity is likely to remain a burden in China-US relations.
Argentina recently made the headlines because its recent move towards settling its severe debt-repayment crisis has given it a long-lost and most welcome access to international capital markets. But what does it mean in terms of business environment
Middle-East countries – particularly the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council countries including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) – have long made the headlines for dominating the world’s oil & gas markets. But the political economy of the region is shifting because of various factors
Monetary Policy: Antoine Martin comments on recent monetary talks involving IMF Director Christine Lagarde and Central Bank Governor Kuroda regarding capital controls in China
Asia-Pacific Trade Insights: Antoine Martin comments on recent regional developments pertaining to trade negotiations in a tense APEC, TPP and FTAAP context
Whether or not China should be considered as a market economy country is a polemical topic at the moment. On the one hand, Beijing claims that it has made significant efforts to open its economy to world markets since its accession to the WTO. On the other hand, the major competing countries such as the United States or the European Union complain that such effort are not significant enough and argue that China should not be considered a market economy. In this China business insight, Antoine Martin comments on recent EU and US talks regarding the issue.
Two years after Bali, the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference is taking place in Nairobi from December 15th to December 18th. Yet, the Conference’s Goals are not seen as ambitious and, despite the long known failure of the Doha Round negotiations, some of its remains seem to persist. For better or worse
Part of the political economy challenges ahead is the evolution of trade liberalization negotiations in the Asia-Pacific region. In a comment dated June 2014, Jayant Menon (Lead Economist at the Asian Development Bank’s Office of Regional Economic Integration) actually presented a rather interesting snapshot of Asia-Pacific trade negotiations