Global Business Development

Biweekly Global Business Newsletter Issue 111, Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Edited and curated by: William (Bill) Edwards, CFE, CEO of Edwards Global Services, Inc. (EGS)

Commentary about the 111th Issue: The USA now gets a third of all global capital flows while China inbound investment craters. Birth rates in rich countries halve to hit record low. Norway discovers a huge source of rare minerals. The Philippines becomes the world’s hottest luxury housing market. The new owner of the chicken Big Mac trademark will expand into Europe. Southeast Asia is the go to place for companies leaving China. Managers around the world are learning Gen Z is different. Starbucks® and Hilton® ‘marry’. The top 20 tech companies control almost 20% of the world’s stock market value. India will need 100 million new homes in the next decade. India’s stock market out grows China. And KFC® is selling panini sandwiches, wagyu burgers and hot bagels in their new ‘healthy’ brand in Shanghai.

Edited and curated by: William (Bill) Edwards, CEO & Global Advisor, Edwards Global Services, Inc. (EGS), Irvine, California, USA. Contact Bill with any questions, comments and contributions., +1 949 375 1896


The mission of this newsletter is to use trusted global and regional information sources plus our network of 20+ in-country Associates to update our global readers on key global and local trends that can impact the success of their businesses at home and abroad. We subscribe to about 40 international information sources to keep our readers up to date on the world’s business.  Some of the information sources that we provide links to require a paid subscription for our readers to access.  


First, A Few Words of Wisdom From Others For These Times

“The biggest threat to your organization is the lack of imagination in your leadership” Hari Abburi .

“One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.”, Paul Coelho

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”, T. S. Eliot

Highlights in issue #111:

Brand Global News Section: Guzman y Gomez®, Hilton®, KFC®, Mathnasium®, McDonalds®, Quiznos®, Starbucks® and Supermac®


Interesting Data, Articles and Studies

The 20 Biggest Tech Companies by Market CapThe world’s 20 biggest tech companies are worth over $20 trillion in total. To put this in perspective, this is nearly 18% of the stock market value globally. This graphic shows which companies top the ranks, using data from Market capitalization (market cap) measures what a company is worth by taking the current share price and multiplying it by the number of shares outstanding. Here are the biggest tech companies according to their market cap on June 13, 2024.  It’s clear from the biggest tech companies that involvement in AI can contribute to investor confidence. Among S&P 500 companies, AI has certainly become a focus topic. In fact, 199 companies cited the term “AI” during their first quarter earnings calls, the highest on record. The companies who mentioned AI the most were Meta (95 times), Nvidia (86 times), and Microsoft (74 times).”, Visual Capitalist, June 17, 2024

Europe’s EV Battery Plans Are Getting Crushed by China, US – As electric-vehicle sales slow, companies including Volkswagen, Stellantis and Mercedes-Benz are scaling back or refocusing battery projects. Chinese manufacturers are slashing costs and the US is drawing away investment with lucrative subsidies. China already has excess battery-making capacity, can make cells at a fraction of the cost it takes in Europe, and has a head start on the next generation of cell technology.”, Bloomberg, June 20, 2024


Number of Children Per Woman

“Birth rates in rich countries halve to hit record low – Steep decline in fertility will ‘change face of societies’ and affect growth prospects, says OECD Steep decline in fertility will ‘change face of societies’ and affect growth prospects, says OECD. The average number of children per woman across the 38 most industrialised countries has fallen from 3.3 in 1960 to 1.5 in 2022, according to a study by the OECD published on Thursday. The fertility rate is now well below the “replacement level” of 2.1 children per woman — at which a country’s population is considered to be stable without immigration…”, The Financial Times, June 20, 2024


Top 10 most expensive cities for expats in 2024 – Hong Kong retained its pole position as the world’s most expensive city for expats in 2024, according to Mercer. Asia’s biggest financial hubs have once again clinched the top spots for being the costliest cities for international workers to live in, according to Mercer.  Hong Kong was ranked as the most expensive city for expats to live in, followed by Singapore and Zurich, according to the Cost of Living City Ranking 2024. Cities in Switzerland — Zurich, Geneva, Basel and Bern — snagged four out of 10 spots. New York City ranked No. 7. The top five spots had no change from the year before, but London climbed 9 positions from No. 17 to 8. The survey compared the costs of more than 200 items in each of the 226 cities studied — including the price of housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. New York City was used as the benchmark and currency fluctuations were measured against the U.S. dollar.”, June 18, CNBC


Global Supply Chain, Energy, Commodities, Inflation, Taxes & Trade Issues

This Mexican Port Is Angling to Be a Nearshoring GatewayThe Guaymas Port in Mexico is looking to reposition itself as a transport hub that officials say will accelerate nearshoring in the region. Sonora Governor Alfonso Durazo announced this week that the port in the northwest region of Mexico would be revamped under a deal signed with the Port of Antwerp-Bruges International in Belgium and backed by a $220 million investment from the federal government. Ford Motor is one of the first companies looking to take advantage. The carmaker will kick off a pilot out of Guaymas starting this week— some 2,000 cars will make their way out of the port to Chile by the end of the year. Ford estimates that switching to exporting from Guaymas will reduce highway transport by 3,300 kilometers (2,050 miles) per vehicle.”, Bloomberg, June 19, 2024


Ocean Shipping Prices Are Pushing Toward Pandemic-Era Highs as Congestion SwellsDisruptions from the diversions around the Red Sea violence are backing up vessels with the peak shipping season still looming. The Port of Singapore, a global hub for container lines, has been swamped, leading to long wait times for a berth and increased shipping costs. Ship backups that plagued seaports during the Covid pandemic are making a comeback, as vessel diversions because of attacks in the Red Sea trigger gridlock and soaring costs at the start of the peak shipping season. Flotillas of containerships and bulk carriers are growing off the coasts of Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and China while ports in Spain and other parts of Europe look to dig out from container piles. Houthi rebel attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea, which have effectively closed the Suez Canal since the end of last year, are being felt at faraway ports as the disruptions extend voyage times, throw ships off schedule and strand sea containers. T he average worldwide cost of shipping a 40-foot container hit $4,119 the week ending June 14, according to Freightos, more than triple the cost in June last year and the highest rate since September 2022.”, The Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2024


Is nearshoring in fashion? Nearshoring—locating production close to consumer markets—has been a top priority for US and European apparel executives since 2016, according to McKinsey surveys. But in practice, nearshoring has remained flat, senior partner Karl-Hendrik Magnus and colleagues find. Although apparel companies are shifting sourcing away from China, production has moved primarily to other Asian countries.”, McKinsey & Co., June 12, 2924


Norway just loosened China’s stranglehold on rare minerals critical to the global economyand it’s a huge win for Europe and the U.S. Norway just struck a gold mine. Well, a rare mineral mine – The Norwegian mining company, Rare Earths Norway, just uncovered the largest deposit of rare earth elements in Europe. The discovery has major implications not just for the company, which is certainly poised for a windfall, but for global geopolitics. Norway’s discovery would finally make Europe a player in the industry.   In January, the Norwegian parliament voted 80–20 to allow offshore, deep-sea mining of rare minerals in remote waters to the north of the country. Norway, which is already a major producer of oil and natural gas, would become the first country to allow its seabed to be mined for rare minerals.”, Fortune, June 11, 2024

We’re in a new era’ of supply chain disruption, HSBC analyst saysAfter a series of COVID-19 pandemic disruptions, ongoing geopolitical conflicts, and now a historic year in which more than 60 countries are holding elections, supply chain managers face a growing number of challenges. ‘I would actually say that we’re in a new era,’ HSBC Americas head of global trade solutions Marissa Adams told Yahoo Finance in a video interview. ‘I don’t think that there is a normalization anymore. I think that what companies are now facing is that supply chain disruption is the new norm.’ Supply chain disruptions have always been a part of global trade, even dating back to the Silk Road, which connected trade routes in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. However, companies in the current market are more exposed to unexpected global events, which impacts their ability to trade effectively.”, Yahoo Finance, June 16, 2024


Global & Regional Travel

Thailand is still attracting fewer visitors than before COVIDBut its tourism sector is thriving thanks to AI, savvy marketing, and Season 3 of ‘White Lotus’. “There are three reasons for the slow recovery,” says Bill Barnett, founder and managing director of C9 Hotelworks, a Phuket-based hospitality consultancy: “China, China, and China.” The country was the largest source of tourists for Thailand in 2019, sending 11 million. But just 3.5 million Chinese visited in 2023, mostly because of China’s gloomy economy. Hotels have also cut costs by choosing not to restore positions slashed during COVID. They’ve automated repetitive tasks like check-ins. Chatbots can answer many guest inquiries, and existing staff have learned to multitask.”, Fortune, June 17, 2024

Country & Regional Updates

BRICS Countries

Malaysia, Thailand Declare Intentions to Join BRICS Ahead of Russia Summit(Malaysia) Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim declared his intention to apply to the bloc after it doubled in size this year by luring Global South nations — partly by offering access to financing but also by providing a political venue independent of Washington’s influence. 

Thailand — a U.S. treaty ally — last month announced its own bid to join BRICS, named after members Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The bloc “represents a south-south cooperative framework which Thailand has long desired to be a part of,” Foreign Minister Maris Sangiampongsa told reporters last week. For countries seeking to mitigate the economic risks of intensifying U.S.-China competition, joining BRICS is an attempt to straddle some of those tensions. In Southeast Asia, many nations depend economically on trade with China while also simultaneously welcoming the security presence and investment Washington provides.”, Caixin Global, June 21, 2024



Market conditions drive international airlines away from Brazil, Airbus saysAirbus executive Gilberto Peralta said in an interview last week that the reluctance from international airlines to enter Brazil was mainly due to judicial uncertainty, citing a high number of legal actions taken by Brazilian customers against airlines, as well as high fuel prices. ‘Capital barriers are gone, a foreigner could come and set up a company in Brazil, but they don’t… It’s a lot of trouble,’ he said. Brazil’s strong consumer protections make it easy for flyers to sue carriers for a range of issues, including delayed or canceled flights.”, Reuters, June 17, 2024



What managers are getting wrong about early career Gen Z talent – Generation Z, the demographic cohort born between 1997 and 2012, may be the most misunderstood generation in the work force. Despite their dynamic capabilities and intelligence, Gen Z professionals have gained a reputation for being ‘difficult.’ Consider a recent survey by online resume platform Resume Builder, 40 per cent of hiring managers self-reported a bias against hiring Gen Z workers. But to address these issues, a recent panel of experts at the University of British Columbia found Gen Z needs empowerment that meets their needs as individuals, rather than criticism. In this case, generational prejudice, may, more than anything, be a sign that this is a cohort of early career workers unlike any the workplace has seen before.”, The Globe and Mail, June 18, 2024



How China’s Human Capital Impacts Its National Competitiveness – China’s efforts to maintain economic growth, strengthen supply chains, develop strategic science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) sectors, and secure a modern military edge hinges on the ability to cultivate and utilize human capital. China’s ability to cultivate, attract, and retain human capital—or as Beijing more commonly puts it, national “talent”—will shape its competitiveness vis-à-vis the United States as a global power and impact the future of innovation and talent on the world stage. Inequality between urban and rural populations in China presents a critical challenge to the country’s economic productivity and opportunities to develop human capital.”, Center for Strategic and International Studies, June 17, 2024



India Beats China in Stock PerformanceIndia’s market has boomed while China’s has slumped, and their wide valuation gap seems justified. Not many stock markets can hold a candle to the red-hot Nasdaq. India is an exception. Strong profit growth, geopolitical tailwinds and favorable demographics have presented a compelling investment case for the country. From the end of 2019 through Tuesday, the MSCI India Index surged 110%, ahead of the U.S. tech-heavy index’s 99% gain. Even more surprising, though, is how well India has fared compared with what is—for now, at least—the world’s largest emerging stock market: MSCI China is down by 30% over the same period.”, The Wall Street Journal, June 19, 2024


India Will Need to Build 100 Million Homes This Decade Amid Rising Household IncomesThe nation’s property market has heated up since the pandemic. About 70 million Indian households will turn eligible for home ownership over the next 10 years, which, along with people seeking to upgrade their apartments, should create requirement for as many as 100 million new houses. Real estate consulting firm Knight Frank expects the demand for homes created by rising income levels to translate into $906 billion of economic output over the next ten years.’, Bloomberg, June 12, 2024



Malaysia is emerging as a data center powerhouse amid booming demand from AIOver the past few years, the country has attracted billions of dollars in data center investments, including from tech giants like GoogleNvidia and Microsoft.  Much of the investments have been in the small city of Johor Bahru, located on the border with Singapore, according to James Murphy, APAC managing director at data center intelligence company DC Byte. ‘It looks like in the space of a couple of years, [Johor Bahru] alone will overtake Singapore to become the largest market in Southeast Asia from a base of essentially zero just two years ago,’ he said.”, CNBC, June 16, 2024


The Philippines

Philippines Becomes World’s Hottest Luxury Housing Market As Developers Push Million Dollar Homes – Major real estate companies are accelerating the development of luxury residential projects in the Philippines and introducing more million dollar homes to tap resilient demand from both affluent local and foreign buyers in the world’s best-performing prime housing market.Prime residential prices in the Makati financial district and nearby towns climbed 26% in the 12 months through March 2024, the biggest jump among 44 cities tracked by Knight Frank in the Prime Global Cities report published in May. The growth can be attributed to the Philippines’ robust economic performance (among Southeast Asia’s fastest growing economies), as well as significant infrastructure investments in and around Metro Manila, according to the British property consultancy.”, June 11, 2024


South Africa

South Africa’s Big Chance to Move Beyond Its PastSome South Africans are prone to saying that the country has a habit of rushing to the cliff’s edge, staring into the abyss and then stepping back.  Avoiding a civil war and negotiating the end of Whites-only rule in 1994 was one such moment. This month’s unlikely alliance between the African National Congress and its most implacable critic, the Democratic Alliance, may be another. The magnitude of the ANC’s decline in popularity means the only alternative would have been an alliance with one or both of its large populist rivals.  Negotiations over cabinet positions have only just started, and compromises need to be made in areas where the ANC and DA remain diametrically opposed.”, Bloomberg, June 22, 2024


Southeast Asia

Fortune Southeast Asia 500The region’s GDP grew more than 56% to nearly $4 trillion between 2015 to 2023, according to the International Monetary Fund. The Fortune Southeast Asia 500 debuts right as global business is starting to pay closer attention to the region. Southeast Asian economies are benefiting from supply chain diversification as rapid domestic development builds the next wave of global middle-class consumers. Our new ranking reflects the rise and fall of energy markets, multinational supply chains, and tourism in some of the world’s most dynamic economies.”, Fortune, June 22, 2024


Southeast Asia is a top choice for firms diversifying supply chains amid U.S.-China tensions – Southeast Asia has emerged as a top beneficiary of the “China Plus One” strategy where businesses seek to reduce the risks associated with full reliance on China’s market or supply chain. Companies, even as they maintain a presence in China, have been diversifying manufacturing operations by expanding into other countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia. ‘Southeast Asia is well-placed to benefit significantly from the China+1 phenomenon as both foreign and Chinese companies diversify their supply chains and operations,’ said Kuo-Yi Lim of Monk’s Hill Ventures. ‘Geopolitical [tensions have] accelerated these activities, which started during the Covid lockdowns’ Lim added. The ‘China Plus One’ strategy seeks to reduce the risks associated with total reliance on China’s market or supply chain through diversifying manufacturing operations, expanding into other countries even as companies’ maintain a presence in China.”, CNBC, June 23, 2024


United Kingdom

UK inflation hits Bank of England’s 2% target in MayThe figure marks a milestone for the UK economy after the worst inflationary upsurge in a generation. The Bank of England last hit its 2 per cent inflation target in July 2021. The Office for National Statistics data, which was in line with forecasts by economists polled by Reuters, means that headline inflation in the UK is now below that of the US and Eurozone. Core inflation, which strips out food and energy, fell to 3.5 per cent in May, down from 3.9 per cent in April but still relatively high.”, The Financial Times, June 19. 2024


United States

How the US Mopped Up a Third of Global Capital Flows Since Covid – De-dollarization narrative swept aside by overseas investors Key question is whether policies shift, upending the dynamic. In the face of calls around the world to diversify out of the dollar in recent years, the US has nabbed almost one-third of all the investment that flowed across borders since Covid struck. An International Monetary Fund analysis sent by request to Bloomberg News shows that the share of global flows has climbed — not fallen — since a shortage of dollars in 2020 spooked global investors and the 2022 freezing of Russian assets stoked questions about respect for free movement of capital. The trend marks a major shift from the pre-pandemic days when capital poured into emerging markets, including a rapidly growing China. The big US geopolitical rival has seen its share of gross global inflows more than halve since the pandemic hit.”, Bloomberg, June 16, 2024


California restaurants have lost traffic since the minimum wage increaseAccording to new data from, traffic patterns in California shifted to negative compared to the national average after the minimum wage increase went into place April 1. It’s probably still way too early to understand the full impact of California’s minimum wage increase to $20 an hour on April 1. But for now, we do know several chains have raised their prices in response to that 25% increase and, so far, those increases have led to lower foot traffic. It has also led to a perception shift among consumers, 78% of whom now think of fast food as a “luxury,” according to recent Lending Tree data. As such, several brands have adjusted their strategy to be more value focused and that value is defined differently depending on market.”, Nation’s Restaurant News, June 14, 2024



Vietnam F&B industry in 2024 continues growth with new trendsThe value of the Vietnamese F&B market is expected to grow by 10.92% this year compared to 2023. In 2024, the value of the food and beverage (F&B) market in Vietnam is expected to increase by 10.92% compared to 2023, generating revenues of over VND655 trillion (US$26.1 billion). Despite the economic challenges, the survey found that around 80% of businesses in Vietnam remain positive and have the resources to grow in the future, with nearly 52% planning to expand.”, VF Franchising, Ho Chi Min City, June 2024


Brand & Franchising News

Gen Z demand makes Guzman y Gomez the hottest (Australian) retail stockGuzman y Gomez accounted for nearly a third of all trades on some of the country’s most popular retail platforms after it hit the ASX on Thursday, as investors rushed to buy as many shares as they could in the Mexican-themed restaurant group. Guzman y Gomez has set a target of 1000 stores in Australia.”, Australian Financial Review, June 21, 2024


‘Big Mac’ trademark win increases appetite for Supermac’s – as inquiries from potential franchisees in Europe flood in.  Supermac’s, the fast-food restaurant chain founded by entrepreneur Pat McDonagh, received around 50 enquiries from potential franchisees across Europe after winning a trademark case against McDonald’s. Any expansion into Europe or Great Britain would be Supermac’s first foray outside the island of Ireland.”, Irish Independent, June 15, 2024

KFC explores new KPro store type in Shanghai focusing on healthy light meals with single items priced at 30 yuan (US$4) per person – It is reported that the menu of the Shanghai store mainly promotes five staple foods: panini, wagyu burger, energy bowl, hot bagel, and toto rolls. It also provides snacks such as chicken wings, and drinks such as yogurt shakes, coffee, cola, and lemon tea. Most of the single products are priced at more than 30 yuan, and some products are more than 40 (US$5) yuan. There are already many players in the healthy light food market, including Wagas, Super Bowl FOODBOWL, and Shaye Light Food, all of which have advantages in different price ranges. The new KPro store in Shanghai focuses on “five signature energy staple foods, all-time, easy”, “high-quality protein, frying and grilling, cooked to order”., Industry Caiking, June 17, 2024. Compliments of Paul Jones, Jones & Co., Toronto


What Actually Caused The Downfall Of QuiznosThe reasons are complicated — while it does seem that sub sandwiches have declined in popularity, the reason for Quiznos’ precipitous downfall seems to be more about poor management rather than changing tastes. A big issue was that it expanded too fast — its initial decade was tame, starting from one Denver store in 1981, and only growing to 18 by 1991. Then it went public in 1994, and started expanding faster: Franchisees complained that there were too many locations too close together. The stores simply weren’t selling that many sandwiches: At the chain’s peak, Restaurant Business reports that the average per-restaurant revenue was $400,000 per year, a little over $1,000 per day.”, Chowhound, June 10, 2024


McDonald’s scraps AI drive-thrus after customer complaintsThe automated system struggled with accents and served the wrong food. McDonald’s partnered with IBM in 2021 to introduce the system, which promised to simplify and speed up operations with voice-activated ordering. It has been used in more than 100 restaurants in the US. There have been reports that the technology has struggled to differentiate between different accents, leading to incorrect orders. Customers shared videos online of the wrong orders, including the machine adding nine orders of sweet tea to one woman’s bill and adding bacon to another’s dessert. McDonald’s did not comment on accuracy or technology challenges. In a statement, IBM said its automated technology ‘is proven to have some of the most comprehensive capabilities in the industry’”., The Times of London, June 18, 2024


Mathnasium Expands into Romania with New Master Franchise AgreementMathnasium, a prominent name in math education, is set to launch in Romania following the announcement of a master franchise agreement. Led by Ms. Dana Bănică, this agreement aims to establish a minimum of 25 Mathnasium Learning Centers across Romania within the next six years, marking a significant expansion into a new market for the brand.”, VF Franchising, June 2024


Starbucks and Hilton marry (in mainland China) – Although they did not join the price war they rolled in the membership system. On June 20, Starbucks China announced that the Starbucks Rewards Club membership system has been upgraded. For the first time, Starbucks has joined hands with Hilton Group to jointly innovate the membership experience. From now on, members of both parties can join each other’s membership system through their respective apps and other channels to enjoy special benefits. Although it has its own rhythm, it is not difficult to see that Starbucks faces very fierce competition in the Chinese market. In the first fiscal quarter of 2024, Starbucks China’s same-store sales increased by 10% year-on-year, but the average customer spending decreased by 9% year-on-year.”, Yical. June 29, 2024. Compliments of Paul Jones, Jones & Co., Toronto


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Our Mission, Information Sources & Who We Are

Our biweekly global business update newsletter focuses on what is happening around the world that impacts new trends, health, consumer spending, business investment, the franchise sector, economic development, and travel. We daily monitor 30+ countries, 40+ international information sources and six business sectors to keep up with what is going on in this ever-changing business environment. And our GlobalTeam™ on the ground covering 25+ countries provide us with updates about what is actually happening in their specific countries. 

William “Bill” Edwards: Global Advisor Is Uniquely Qualified to Steer Sr. Executives Successfully Through the Complex Waters of Going Global.  With four decades of successful international business experience spanning virtually every corner of the world and many business sectors, Bill Edwards understands the global business landscape like no other.  He has been a County Master Franchisee in five countries in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East; the Senior VP for a franchisor operating in 15 countries and a full-service consultant since 2001 taking 40+ franchisors global.

For a complimentary 30-minute consultation on how to take your business global successfully, click on the QR code or contact Bill Edwards at or +1 949 224 3896.

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