“Seeds Of Change” Starting To Appear In Formerly Destitute Areas, Motivating Entrepreneurs To Develop Remote Countryside
China's rural areas remain far behind the wealthy east coast in terms of economic development. If entrepreneurs have their way, this will change over the next few decades
For years, China’s hinterlands have benefitted little from the huge economic growth that has transformed the country’s prosperous east coast, remaining underdeveloped and relying mainly on agriculture mainly as a result of their remoteness and often harsh terrain. If an article in today’s Financial Times is accurate, though, the next few years may be seen as a turning point for the mainly rural provinces in China’s interior. As much of China’s future growth will (or should) depend on domestic consumption and investment rather than foreign exports, the country’s interior — with its plentiful and comparatively cheap land and labor and delayed development (making it something of a “blank slate” for business) — should, if development is done correctly, make it one of China’s main engines of economic activity for decades to come. While this is obviously easier said than done, a number of motivated Chinese entrepreneurs have set out to do everything possible to make rural China prosperous, and — given the right mix of time and incentive — they might just be successful.
From James Kynge in today’s FT:
Reforms in rural finance, the monetisation of agricultural land and social welfare appear poised to turn China’s countryside from an indigent backwater to a driver of national economic growth over the next five to 10 years…Goldman Sachs has invested successfully in a leading sausage-maker. Wahaha Group, China’s biggest beverage company, owes its buoyant earnings performance largely to the rural market, where it commands a 60 per cent share. Rural China has also been a main force this year behind the surging sales of cars with a capacity of under 1.6-litres.
The fact that China’s second- and third-tier cities are the country’s major hope for sustainable business is well established. But what about the country’s fifth- and sixth-tier cities? With the sweeping changes already brought about by land privatization (perhaps downplayed by Chinese media, but a revolution in itself) and rapid commercialization of rural areas like Hubei, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Shandong, Henan and Shanxi (as designated by the FT), still relatively impoverished and underdeveloped areas, the next 10 to 20 years could prove a windfall as companies invest in large-scale infrastructure projects (wind & hydro power plants), rail, housing, farms and heavy industry. The effect on common people’s lives could (hopefully) be dramatic.
Much like America’s continued economic strength was built largely on the development of its interior, China’s best option for growth based less on exports will be to lift its central and western provinces out of the centuries-old poverty that remains a plague in many areas.
Posted in Business, China, Economics, Economy, Investment
Tagged agriculture, China, development, economic development, Economics, financial times, hu jintao, infrastructure, Investment, railroad, rural
Increased Interest In Buying “Portable China” By Domestic Bidders At Auctions Around The World Has Wider Implications
Economist Ha Jiming sees a fully internationalized yuan within the next decade
Today, a piece on the internationalization of the Chinese yuan by Ha Jiming, the chief economist at China International Capital, China’s largest investment bank, was published on Forbes.com. Ha believes that — within the next decade — the yuan will be a fully internationalized currency, and that the implications for this will be important and far-ranging:
Not long ago, China’s currency, the yuan, wasn’t traded beyond the country’s borders. Yet in the next 10 years, it will become fully internationalized and join the ranks of the world’s main reserve currencies, beside the dollar and the yen.
The global march of the yuan is an extension of China’s success since the launch of its economic reforms 30 years ago. The status of a currency is commensurate with the economic power of a country. The U.S. share of global GDP, for instance, increased from 10% at the turn of the 20th century to 20% after World War I, raising the dollar’s importance; the rise in Japan’s share of global GDP from 7% in 1970 to 16% in 1988 also elevated the yen’s role as a reserve currency.
[T]he internationalization of the yuan will benefit China in general by increasing the appeal of Chinese assets and pool of investment funds. This is similar to what happens when a company’s stock becomes a blue chip. International demand for yen assets increased significantly in the 1980s, as did global demand for U.S. assets at the turn of the century.
Posted in Art, Business, China, Chinese Art, Currency, Economics, Economy, Investment
Tagged China, Economics, exchange rates, forbes, foreign exchange, forex, ha jiming, Investment, renminbi, RMB, US dollar, yuan
Growing Demand In China’s Interior, Other Asian Countries Should Counterbalance Tepid Consumption Elsewhere
Although Chinese consumers have shown a taste for foreign luxury brands, domestic labels will present stiff competition in coming years
As a result of the fast-paced development of China’s eastern coastline and special administrative regions, only recently have major luxury brands made it to the country’s vast interior region, where a number of second- and third-tier cities remain relative blank slates. Since so many companies are only reaching these areas now, the spread of luxury brands in China has become a regular news story. This has only intensified over the last year, as formerly free-spending Japanese and American customers have thought twice about luxury goods while emerging customers in places like the BRIC countries and relatively fast-growing economies like Vietnam become more regular (and brand-loyal) buyers. Nonetheless, the luxury sector is still experiencing only modest growth one year on from the onset of the global economic slowdown despite their best efforts at wooing new customers.
If many recent articles are correct, though, what we’ve seen over the last year — severe as it has been — should only prove to be a blip in the grand scheme of luxury revenues. From Financier Worldwide:
Sales of designer shoes, handbags, and beauty products have weathered the financial storm particularly well. At the end of August, French cosmetics company L’Oréal reported higher than expected profits of €1.37bn for H1 2009. In June, Hermès revealed it was farming crocodiles in Australia to feed demand for its coveted £4000 Birkin bag. Around the same time, Mulberry announced that its handbag sales had recovered, climbing 21 percent in the first 10 weeks of the new financial year. Shoe supplier Kurt Geiger, which operates in upmarket department stores across the UK, also reported double-digit growth in profits for the first five months of the year.
Bain & Company predicts that trading in the developed markets will remain tough for the rest of the year, with growth of around 1 percent in 2010 before a slow recovery. However, despite the recession slowing the pace of development in emerging markets, Bain believes that, as a consequence of increasing personal wealth, growth in global GDP, and rising tourism in Russia, China, India and Brazil, spending will surge between 20 percent and 35 percent over the next five years. This is expected to aid the recovery of the luxury goods sector.
Posted in Business, China, Economy, Fashion, Luxury
Tagged asia, asian, brands, brazil, China, chinese, consumer, customer, economic growth, Economics, Fashion, global economic crisis, india, Luxury, luxury goods, middle class, russia, spending, wealth
Ausen Real Estate Development Set To Invest US$22 Million In Luxury Home Furnishing Retail Complex, Due To Open Next Year
Ausen World will bring a Western-style furniture shopping experience to Shanghai
While announcements of new large-scale real estate projects in China are nothing new, nor are they particularly exciting on the whole, Ausen Real Estate Development Co.’s recently-announced plans to open a massive home furnishing retail complex near Shanghai next year stand out. Set to be located in Xinbang, in Shanghai’s Songjiang District (less than an hour’s drive southwest of downtown), the austerely named Ausen World Brand Home Furnishings Center will include features not often seen at furniture stores, including a hotel and restaurant for shoppers who prefer to make a weekend out of their shopping trips. Although slapping a hotel onto a massive furniture store isn’t exactly unheard of, it most certainly is unusual.
According to company spokespeople, Ausen World‘s main focus will be on American and European furniture, popular but often poorly understood by Shanghai-area residents. The center will also include Premium home furnishing areas designed to emulate “DIY” stores like the Home Depot. From Furniture Today:
Another unusual feature for a Chinese retail center will be the presence of on-site interior designers, who can help consumers with home design and product choices.
In a statement, Ausen said it intends to be a door to the Chinese market for Western brands. It will offer help with operating in the country, including support of import entry, logistics and storage.
Zhang said he believes the center will offer a “family feel” that is missing from most Chinese retail spaces, with a rewarding consumer experience for shoppers and their children. An Australian company will design the “eco-garden” look of the complex, including outdoor leisure areas.
Posted in Business, China, Culture, Economics, Investment, Luxury
Tagged ausen world, Business, China, chinese, Economics, furnishing, furniture, home, hotel, IKEA, Investment, Luxury, real estate, restaurant, shanghai, trade, western
High Proportion Of New Chinese Collectors Boosting Sales As Economic Mood Remains Relatively Tepid In More Mature Markets
Up for auction in Hong Kong on October 6: Ai Weiwei's “A Gift from Beijing (set of three works)”
Next week, Sotheby’s will hold one of the most anticipated auctions of the season, its autumn auction of contemporary Chinese and other Asian art, in Hong Kong. For this closely-watched sale, the location is no coincidence. According to recent stories in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, The Economist and dozens of art blogs, mainland Chinese buyers have rapidly become one of the fastest-growing buyer and collector groups in the world. Considering art collection was virtually nonexistent for much of the last 60 years in China (and probably significantly longer than that), many newly wealthy Chinese are taking advantage of the readjustment in prices of pretty much anything up for grabs at auction to bring home everything from Chinese antiquities to contemporary art by living artists.
Whether they are doing this more for personal reasons (decorating their house while holding on to something of great financial value which is expected to grow along with the Chinese yuan) or for patriotic reasons remains to be known. My assumption is that there is a little bit of both involved.
In the run-up to the October 6 auction in Hong Kong, a spate of auctions of Chinese art have taken place over the past few weeks, with Chinese bidders going far beyond the estimates and shocking many observers. The new Chinese collector has, in many ways, signaled his arrival by the manner in which he’s seemed completely impervious to either the global economic slowdown or auction trends, and is quickly building a reputation as willing to spend, brash, motivated and savvy.
This week, on Economist.com, the Chinese collector’s knack for repatriating Chinese art is examined, with the writer concluding that auctions — as a buyer’s game — are all about who brings the money and who’s willing to spend it. At recent auctions (and, I would have to assume, future auctions) many of these individuals are mainland Chinese:
Anyone who believes the art market has been felled by the financial crisis should have been in New York earlier this month for the seasonal auctions of Chinese bronzes, furniture and ceramics. The salerooms at Sotheby’s and Christie’s were overflowing with bidders, more than three-quarters of them from Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan. Extra Mandarin-speakers, all of them fluent and young, had been taken on specially to handle additional telephone bidding from Asia.
Posted in auction, Business, China, Chinese Art, Culture, Currency, Investment, Museums
Tagged ai weiwei, Art, art collectors, auction, China, Chinese Art, chinese contemporary art, christie's, doyle, Economics, Investment, new chinese collector, patriotism, sotheby's
Japanese Luxury Automaker Plans To Open Beijing Showroom By Q1 2010
The Mitsuoka Orochi will retail for around 800,000 RMB (US $117,177) in China when it arrives next year
The growing Chinese luxury market is a prime target for many Asian companies that have found demand in their home countries — mainly South Korea and Japan — either growing at a snail’s pace or simply remaining stagnant. As formerly luxury-mad consumers in traditional markets like Japan cut back on their spending, high-end Japanese companies have started to look abroad for more opportunities, with China remaining the natural choice as a result of its proximity and massive population.
Recently, Japan’s Mitsuoka Motor Co., one of the country’s major luxury automakers, announced their plans to enter the Chinese market next year, starting with a showroom in Beijing that is slated to open in April. To lead their China efforts, the company will display their Orochi model at next year’s Beijing Auto Show and follow up their Beijing strategy with new dealerships in other top-tier cities:
The Orochi will spearhead Mitsuoka’s debut into China. The company plans to display the car at next year’s Beijing Auto Show, and to open dealerships in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
Posted in Automobile, Business, China, Investment, Luxury
Tagged auto, Automobile, beijing, car, China, Economics, guangzhou, japan, japanese, Luxury, mitsuoka, mitsuoka orochi, orochi, shanghai, vehicle
Astronomical Prices Paid For Historical And Quality Pieces In Recent Asian Auctions Defies Global Economic Woes As More Chinese Collectors Get In The Game
Since good works by historical artists like Yue Minjun are becoming more scarce, Chinese collectors are expected to continue to flex their muscles in upcoming auctions of Chinese contemporary art
Hardly any industry has escaped the global economic slowdown unscathed, and art is no exception, but recent auction results indicate that the art market — or at least pockets of the art market — are coming back to life. As the Wall Street Journal reports today, in some recent auctions some pieces have sold for exponentially more than their estimates, surprising collectors and market analysts alike. The common bond shared by most of these pieces? They were Chinese — or, if not Chinese, Asian:
Last week, the longest string of Asian art sales since the Zodiac clock dispute was held in the U.S.—and amid the most entrenched art-market recession in nearly two decades, the auction prices of many more than a handful of pieces went through the roof. At the Sotheby’s sale of works from the collection of Arthur M. Sackler, for example, the auctioneer sang out fast-rising numbers, first in English, then Chinese, as if he were rising in the elevator of some fantastically tall Hong Kong skyscraper.
The emergence of the New Chinese Collector is a subject we’ve followed pretty much since our inception, and is a subject that is endlessly fascinating simply because it’s such a new phenomenon. While, technically, Chinese people have collected art for a few thousand years — with the exception of a few Mao-era decades where the practice was virtually nonexistent but for a few elite art lovers here and there — the New Chinese Collector has only existed for around 20 years, and arguably even less than that. This collector base was out in full force in recent auctions of Chinese and other Asian art — in New York, London and Hong Kong — and the motivation, desire and intensity of the Chinese collector is becoming somewhat legendary right before our eyes.
Posted in Art, auction, Business, China, Chinese Art, Culture, Economy, Investment, Museums
Tagged ai weiwei, alexandra peers, art collectors, asia, asia week, asian, bronze, China, chinese, Chinese Art, chinese art collectors, chinese contemporary art, collector, contemporary chinese art, east asia, Economics, globalization, hai bo, hong kong, Investment, j. paul getty museum, London, Luxury, moma, new chinese collector, New York, phillips de pury, qing dynasty, sackler, sotheby's, wall street journal, wealth, yue minjun, zhou dynasty, zodiac
Societe Generale — with offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin And Wuhan — Looks To Expand Private Banking Services In Fast-Growing Market
Societe General is looking to grow its private banking services in China
The Wall Street Journal reports today that Societe Generale (China) Ltd., the locally incorporated unit of Societe Generale SA, has received permission from China’s banking regulator to offer yuan-denominated retail services in the country. This could have major implications on foreign investment in China, as it simultaneously boosts the growing global influence of the Chinese yuan:
Societe Generale (China) will begin to offer these services once its branches receive yuan retail licenses from local bank regulators in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, Pierre Bonzom, managing director and head of commercial and personal banking for the French bank’s China unit, said in a statement Tuesday.
Posted in Business, China, Currency, Economics, Investment
Tagged China, chinese, Currency, Economics, france, renminbi, RMB, societe general, yuan
Middle Class Estimated At Upwards of 150 Million And Growing; Consumers Hungry For Entry-Level Luxury Products That Offer Status As Well As Quality
Spending by China's middle class is expected to grow exponentially in the next 20 years. Graphic © Foreign Policy magazine
It has become a well-established fact that companies of all stripes are looking at the Chinese market as a source of sustainable revenue over the long term, as the country’s growing middle class increasingly becomes a consumer class on par with many more established markets. However, as many brand marketers — particularly from western countries — have found, reaching the Chinese consumer can be a complicated task, as the Chinese market differs greatly from other developing and developed markets…another well-established fact.
Today, Investopedia examines two strategies that have been adopted by western brands like Luxottica and Coach in their quest for market share in China’s huge, competitive entry-level luxury market. While it will be incredibly difficult for ambitious brands to unseat luxury powerhouses like Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Porsche in China, as this article notes, brands that adopt a specifically China-centric strategy when dealing with the middle class may create a strong foundation for future growth:
Posted in Business, China, Culture, Economy, Luxury
Tagged asia, China, coach, Economics, Economy, emerging, gucci, louis vuitton, Luxury, middle class, porsche, spending
Those With A Taste For Luxury Goods In Emerging Markets Less Willing To Cut Back, HK Study Finds
While China has not remained unscathed by the global economic crisis, its luxury consumer market shows resilience in consumer confidence and willingness to shell out
One of the more surprising features of the global economic downturn, to some commentators, has been the relative health of the Asian consumer market throughout the crisis. Although developed markets like Japan and Korea have certainly been hit hard — as their high-tech and automotive export markets have declined substantially — emerging markets like Greater China and, to a lesser extent, India, where income gaps are still quite large and wealthy consumers have developed a taste for luxury goods are doing comparatively well.
This is not to say China hasn’t been hit by the slowdown — it has, as low-tech manufacturers and mass producers have, in many parts of the country, been forced to shut down or lay off thousands of workers. However, we are seeing that the specific class of Chinese luxury consumer is continuing to spend through the global recession, perhaps as a sort of badge of wealth, perhaps because these consumers just want to keep buying. There are plenty of theories why Chinese luxury consumers, unlike those in Japan and North America, aren’t waiting to buy their next handbag or car — however, one Hong Kong study in particular caught my eye:
Posted in Business, China, Economy, Fashion, Luxury
Tagged auto, beijing, China, Economics, global economic crisis, guangzhou, india, japan, korea, Luxury, mainland, mall, panamera, porsche, shanghai, shopping, taiwan, trend