Global Business Development

Biweekly Global Business Newsletter Issue 110, Tuesday, June 11, 2024

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

Comments About This 110th Issue: Countries – other than the USA – begin to cut interest rates.  McDonald’s loses the right to call a chicken Big Mac, a Big Mac.  The almost continually strong US$ is not helping US exports of products and services. Heathrow is like a Second World War airport (but we knew that!). The world’s biggest shopping center is getting bigger. A query into ChatGPT requires about 10 times as much electricity to process as a Google search


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.

Bedwards@edwardsglobal.com, +1 949 375 1896



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

“Technological advancements are vastly overrated in the short term, and vastly underrated in the long term. All failure is failure to adapt, all success is successful adaptation.” ― Arthur C. Clarke

“Risk-taking is the cornerstone of empires.” — Estée Lauder

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” — Stephen Covey


Highlights in issue #110:

The Dollar Is at Its Strongest Since the 1980s. Can It Last?

The Great Global Rate Cut Cycle Is Going to Be a Bumpy Ride

China economy gathers pace on back of services growth

Asia and Mideast Dominate Latest Port Performance Ranking

The world’s largest shopping mall is about to get even bigger

Irish fast food chain’s victory over McDonald’s to use Big Mac name

Brand Global News SectionAnthony’s Coal Fired Pizza & Wings®, Jimmy Johns®, McDonalds® and Starbucks®


Interesting Data, Articles, and Studies

The state of AI in early 2024: Gen AI adoption spikes and starts to generate value – As generative AI adoption accelerates, survey respondents report measurable benefits and increased mitigation of the risk of inaccuracy. A small group of high performers lead the way. If 2023 was the year the world discovered generative AI (gen AI), 2024 is the year organizations truly began using—and deriving business value from—this new technology. In the latest McKinsey Global Survey on AI, 65 percent of respondents report that their organizations are regularly using gen AI, nearly double the percentage from our previous survey just ten months ago.”, McKinsey & Co., May 30, 2024

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The Great Global Rate Cut Cycle Is Going to Be a Bumpy Ride– After the steepest interest-rate tightening cycle in decades and a long holding cycle, how fast to unwind such settings is now a dominant theme. The Bank of Canada and European Central Bank both cut rates by 25 basis points in the Group of Seven’s first easing moves since the pandemic. They joined officials in Switzerland and Sweden who moved earlier this year.”, Bloomberg, June 7, 2024


The U.S. Global Food Security and Global Water Strategies: Increasing Coherence and Navigating Challenges – Adequate supplies of clean water and nutritious food are vital to human well-being. They are also increasingly important to U.S. foreign policy. Globally, 71 percent of all the water withdrawn from the Earth’s rivers, lakes, and aquifers is devoted to agriculture. Worldwide, food production will have to rise 50 percent by 2050 to meet the increasing demands of growing populations, prospectively requiring global water withdrawals 30 percent greater than today.”, Center for Strategic and International Studies, May 30, 2024

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

Costs of Economic Fragmentation Include Moving to Hard-to-Work Places – Global supply chains are realigning through geopolitically neutral economies to boost resilience and hedge dependencies on the US and China. In some cases, though, shifting to new places comes with a costly drawback: extra red tape. Four of nine so-called bridge nations — a grouping Bloomberg dubbed “connectors” in an analysis last year — were among the world’s top 20 most complex jurisdictions in which to start and operate a business, according to TMF Group….Greece ranks as the most complex jurisdiction, according to TMF Group. The gauge, which ranks 79 economies based on 292 business indicators like the speed of obtaining a business license…..The ranking shows how re-globalization, while necessary to diversify sourcing in a world of geopolitical fragmentation, often moves operations to markets where companies might sacrifice productivity gains and back-office efficiencies.”, Bloomberg, May 30, 2024


The mounting strains on global shipping – Pirate attacks, Middle East instability and drought are causing disruption and congestion at the world’s ports.  The problems follow many shipping lines’ decisions, at the end of 2023, to reroute voyages away from the waters off Yemen after facing attacks from Iran-backed Houthi militias. Container ship arrivals in the Gulf of Aden, at the entrance to the Red Sea, are down 90 per cent on the same period last year according to data from Clarksons, the shipping services provider. Diverting vessels from Asia and bound for Europe around the Cape of Good Hope adds an additional nine to 14 days to voyage times.”, The Financial Times, May 27, 2024


Asia and Mideast Dominate Latest Port Performance Ranking – Global container ports got a breather in 2023 as the pandemic’s hit to supply chains eased and trade volumes stabilized after a few turbulent years. But even in a so-called normal year, labor issues, extreme weather and attacks on vessels near Yemen complicated operations at marine gateways all over the world. Despite that, more than 100 ports improved their efficiency ranking from the year before, according to a new report.”, Bloomberg, June 5, 2024


Global & Regional Travel

Hyatt reaches record global pipeline of 129K rooms – Hyatt Hotels Corporation has revealed that its pipeline has grown by nearly 85% since 2017, reaching a record 129,000 rooms. The company said it has doubled its luxury rooms, tripled its resort rooms and quintupled its lifestyle rooms since 2017. Additionally, the World of Hyatt loyalty program has quadrupled its membership since 2017 and was up 22% as of the end of the first quarter compared to the same period last year, reaching 46 million members globally.”, Hotel Business, June 3, 2024

Heathrow like a Second World War airport, laments Emirates chief – Airline president Sir Tim Clark says the airport is lagging behind in terms of customer experience. The president of Emirates airlines has likened Heathrow to a dilapidated Second World War airport in terms of the experience it offers customers.  Sir Tim Clark, the boss of the UAE flag-carrier, said the airport put its shareholders and paying dividends before running a world-class business. Clark said the terminal needs to be redesigned, with the plaza reduced in size to allow more room for security and check-in. He said: ‘It’s an old airport. I’m afraid it’s very difficult. You need to open up the whole terminal. Where we are based, new airports are being built employing the latest technologies to streamline the process of all the customer-facing elements. That is not the case at Heathrow.”, The Times of London, June 3, 2024


Country & Regional Updates

Canada

Canada first major central bank to cut rates ahead of ECB – The Bank of Canada became the first major central bank among the Group of Seven countries to cut interest rates, opening the door for others to follow suit before the US Federal Reserve. While the Canadian central bank’s decision to cut its cash rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 4.75 per cent was widely expected, BoC governor Tiff Macklem flagged further reductions which bolstered market sentiment. Inflation in Canada has slowed this year to hit a three-year low of 2.7 per cent in April. While inflation has stayed below 3 per cent for four straight months, it is still above the central bank’s 2 per cent target.’, Australian Financial Review, June 6, 2024


China

Hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio says benefits of investing in China outweigh risks  – ‘Diversification and investment in China is desirable,’ Dalio said in a virtual presentation at the Greenwich Economic Forum in Hong Kong on Wednesday. ‘Chinese assets are very attractively priced.’  There are concerns among international investors about potentially being penalised by their governments for investing in the country, with anti-China policies set to gain bipartisan support in the US election this year, he said. Meanwhile, China’s own economic problems, including its protracted real estate crisis, debt issues and the knock-on effects of those, are also making investors anxious.”, South China Morning Post, June 5, 2024


China economy gathers pace on back of services growth – Caixin services sector purchasing managers’ index for May jumped to 54, the highest reading since July 2023. Interest rates have been lowered, borrowing increased to lift public investment and taxes cut, all as part of a concerted effort to reverse slowing economic activity. The International Monetary Fund recently raised its GDP growth projection for China this year to 5 per cent from 4.6 per cent on the back of more policy support, matching Beijing’s 5 per cent annual target. The IMF urged the CCP to focus future policy on stimulating domestic demand rather than prioritising strategic industries.”, The Times of London, June 5, 2024


Euro Zone

The Eurozone Has Come a Long Way Since the 2009 Debt Crisis, but Risks Remain – In the face of the quasi-existential debt crisis, the euro area has seen major institutional reform, which have helped make the single currency more resilient. Although the euro area proved resilient in the face of recent shocks brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, the current institutional architecture continues to make it vulnerable to severe shocks.”, Stratfor Worldview, June 6, 2024


Saudi Arabia

Aramco Sale Set to Raise at Least $11.2 Billion for Saudi Arabia – Saudi Aramco’s mega stock offering is set to raise at least $11.2 billion, the biggest such deal globally in three years that will help fund the government’s multitrillion-dollar push to transform the kingdom’s economy. The proceeds will help Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s ambitious plans to revamp the economy with investments including in sports, artificial intelligence, tourism and the desert project of Neom. The kingdom’s budget has been in a deficit for six quarters, and it has raised over $40 billion from local and international markets this year to fill the gap.”, Bloomberg, June 6, 2024

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United Arab Emirates

The world’s largest shopping mall is about to get even bigger – United Arab Emirates real estate developer Emaar Properties announced Monday plans for a 1.5 billion dirham ($408 million) expansion of Dubai Mall. The 12-million-square-foot mall is already the largest shopping center in the world by total area, and the expansion will add a further 240 luxury stores, along with new food outlets. Last year, Dubai welcomed a record number of tourists, and the mall says it received 105 million visitors last year, up 19% from 2022.”, CNN, June 5, 2024


United Kingdom

“UK Survey of Executives Finds Confidence at Highest Since 2021 – UK businesses entered the general election campaign at their most optimistic in over 2 1/2 years after the economy quickly bounced back from recession, according to the Institute of Directors. The business lobby group said “green shoots” of recovery are “clearly visible” after its economic confidence index rose to minus 3 in May. It was up from minus 10 the previous month and the highest since September 2021 just after the economy emerged from lockdown. Business sentiment has moved into a ‘neutral phase’ after being relatively pessimistic for much of last year, said Roger Barker, director of policy at the IOD. ‘Green shoots are clearly visible, and the direction of travel is positive.’”, Bloomberg, May 31, 2024


United States

The Dollar Is at Its Strongest Since the 1980s. Can It Last? – The greenback is historically very expensive amid a recovery in global growth and a fraught election campaign. The U.S. dollar has defied analysts’ expectations and appreciated again this year relative to a basket of other currencies. For a decade now, currency markets have been ruled by the strengthening dollar….. Contrary to what many on Wall Street expected, the U.S. dollar has gotten a fresh wind this year, as bumpy inflation data has prompted investors to dial back bets on rate cuts.  Perhaps more important, economic growth is accelerating beyond America’s borders. Recent economic data suggests that the eurozone and Japan are finally turning up, and China’s recovery seems to be building momentum. Beijing is actively intervening to push up the yuan. A fall in the dollar usually greases the wheels of global growth.” The Wall Street Journal, June 4, 2024


Data Centers Are Driving An Electricity Demand Surge From AI Platforms Like ChatGPT – Did you know that every time you type a query into ChatGPT, it requires about 10 times as much electricity to process as a Google search? Did you know that every time you type a query into ChatGPT, it requires about 10 times as much electricity to process as a Google search? To help put things in perspective, ChatGPT currently has over 180 million users, but there are around 5.3 billion internet users around the world. Imagine if each of them became a regular user of energy-intensive ChatGPT, whose servers are located in the U.S., according to owner OpenAI.”, Forbes, June 3, 2024


Brand & Franchising News

Irish fast food chain’s victory over McDonald’s to use Big Mac name – Galway-based Supermac’s hails ‘David v Goliath’ legal win after European court backs its fight to use the name on chicken products. “McDonald’s loses the EU trademark Big Mac in respect of poultry products,” judges ruled. “McDonald’s has not proved genuine use within a continuous period of five years in the European Union in connection with certain goods and services,” they said. Supermac’s chicken burger, which can now be sold as a Big Mac in Europe.”, The Times of London, June 5, 2024


China’s Luckin Coffee Is Back From the Brink and Beating Starbucks – Consumers are getting hooked on cheap caffeine hits and coconut lattes, helping the chain overcome a scandal. Once derided as a cheap imitation of the Seattle-based giant, it’s now being emulated by other Chinese chains and even Starbucks appears to have taken a page or two from its playbook. The company’s focus on cashless, takeout kiosk counters, originally designed to save costs, paid off during the Covid years as strict lockdown policies restricted in-person exchanges.”, Bloomberg, June 6, 2024


Jimmy John’s global expansion continues with Korea! Today Inspire announced an international franchise agreement with YeokJeon FnC — an experienced food and beverage operator and the number-one pub franchise in the Korean market. We are thrilled to work with such a strong operator to bring Jimmy John’s quality, convenience and delicious sandwiches to the Asian market for the first time. Many thanks to our VP of Asia, Paolo Nicolas, his team and our development team for making this happen. Korea is Jimmy John’s third international market. We kicked off the brand’s global journey earlier this year with the announcement of deals in Canada and Latin America.”, LinkedIn, June 5, 2024


Another popular fast-food chain considers Chapter 11 bankruptcy – The fast-food brand’s sister company, a pizza chain, is also fighting for its survival. BurgerFi International (BFI) runs two brands: Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza & Wings and its namesake burger chain. The company markets BurgerFi as being a superior product to traditional fast food (without directly calling out any competitors). Anthony’s currently has 60 locations; the company owns 59 and a franchisee runs one. BurgerFi has 102 locations, 75 franchised and 27 corporate-owned. The company said that it had filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission that acknowledge that there are situations where the company could not be able to survive.”, The Street, June 5, 2024


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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 Business 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.

“To his many clients who are going global, Bill oversees overseas.” — Franchise Times magazine

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

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EGS Biweekly Global Business Newsletter Issue 109, Tuesday, May 28, 2024

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

Comments About This 109th Issue:  This extended issue covers trend and happenings in Argentina, Australia, China, Europe, Germany, the GCC countries, India, Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States. Scroll down to find out how ‘Swiftonomics’ seems to have helped the Singapore economy. Who are the world’s most valuable soccer (football) teams? Should airlines stop meal service when the seatbelt sign is on? Emerging markets are pushing back at China’s subsidized exports. And for us world travelers, what are the most dangerous cities in the world?


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.

Bedwards@edwardsglobal.com, +1 949 375 1896



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

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change.” ― Leon C. Megginson

“All failure is failure to adapt, all success is successful adaptation.” ― Max McKeown

“The secret to living well and longer is: eat half, walk double, laugh triple and love without measure.”, Tibetan Proverb


Highlights in issue #109:

  • Brand Global News Section: Burger King®, Carl’s Jr®, Dominos®, KFC®, McDonalds® and Wendy’s®

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Interesting Data, Articles and Studies

The Top 6 Economies by Share of Global GDP (1980-2024) – Over time, the distribution of global GDP among the world’s largest economies has shifted dynamically, reflecting changes in economic policies, technological advancements, and demographic trends. To see how this has played out in recent decades, we visualized the world’s top six economies by their share of global GDP from 1980 to 2024. All figures were sourced from the IMF’s World Economic Outlook (April 2024 edition) and are based on using current prices.”, Visual Capitalist, IMF, May 14, 2024


Google Is About to Change the Whole Internet — AgainThe company’s all-in investment in AI. Will search engines be replaced by AI chatbots? In May, the company offered some clarity: ‘In the next era of search, AI will do the work so you don’t have to,’ according to a video announcing that AI Overviews, Google’s new name for AI-generated answers, would soon be showing up at the top of users’ results pages. The popular notion that the AI boom represents a disruptive threat to the internet giants deserves more skepticism than it’s gotten so far — the needs of the tech industry past, present, and future are neatly and logically aligned.”, New Yorker, May 19, 2024


The world’s economic order is breaking down – Critics will miss globalisation when it is gone. The dysfunction at the WTO (World Trade Organization) is emblematic of a world where the institutions and rules intended to foster international trade and investment are falling into abeyance. Every day brings alarming new headlines. The European Union, although supposedly both more supportive of free trade and more determined to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions than other economic powers, is on the verge of imposing duties on Chinese electric vehicles. The proliferation of subsidies and sanctions is one of the most obvious signs of the unravelling of the “international rules-based order”, as policy wonks like to call it.”, The Economist, May 9, 2024


The World’s Most Valuable Soccer Teams 2024 – The average team is now worth $2.3 billion, a 5.1% increase from a year ago—despite headwinds in TV rights across Europe. When Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the billionaire founder and CEO of the Ineos chemical group, bought 27.7% of Manchester United in February for an enterprise value of $6.5 billion, it was the richest price ever paid for sports team in which the buyer also got operating rights. Real Madrid generated the most revenue ($873 million) of any team and has won the Champions League five of the past nine years.  Despite the speed bump in European broadcasting revenue, the average soccer team is now worth $2.3 billion, a 5.1% increase from a year ago.  Forbes, May 23, 2024

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

A New Trade War Offers No Easy Way Back for Old Global Order – Rules-based trade fades as policies cement protectionism. Once a free-market cheerleader, US borrows from China playbook. The world’s three dominant economies are entering a new, combative phase as the US increasingly uses trade weapons borrowed from China’s playbook. That’s threatening to deepen international fractures and to challenge decades of free-market orthodoxy — and it leaves Europe with big decisions to make. The $31 trillion arena of international commerce has withstood a series of shocks in recent years, including the US-China trade war. This time, the linchpin is the European Union — caught between preserving its self-styled role as defender of multilateral rules and fearing the loss of millions of jobs and tens of billions in investment while the US and China wield market-distorting subsidies and tariffs.”, Bloomberg, May 23, 2024

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Shipping rates spike as businesses expect more Red Sea attacks – Companies prepare to ship goods for festive season early as attacks by Yemen’s Houthis force ships to take longer route. The average cost of shipping a 40ft container between the Far East and northern Europe at short notice, the figure that is most sensitive to market prices, hit $4,343 last week, roughly three times higher than the same period last year, according to freight market tracker Xeneta.”, The Financial Times, May 25, 2024

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US East Coast Ports Are Spending Billions to Profit From Asia’s Shifting Exports– Savannah and Brunswick in Georgia are looking to win business away from Pacific Coast rivals. As more export production destined for the US migrates to South Asia from China, the geographic edge is tilting toward the East Coast, which boasts quicker deliveries through the Suez Canal and across the Atlantic from such countries as India and Sri Lanka. Savannah also stands to benefit from a host of domestic factors, including the US population shift to Sun Belt boom states.”, Bloomberg, May 14, 2024

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Global & Regional Travel

Singapore Airlines turbulence: stopping meal service may not reduce risk to passengers, Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific union says – Paul Weatherilt, chairman of the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association, told the Post on Saturday tightening cabin service rules could bring about undesirable results and the best way to prevent injuries during flights was to require passengers to keep their seat belts fastened at all times.

‘I’m not convinced that stopping the [meal] service will necessarily change anything, and I think it is possible that it could have a counterproductive effect,’ he said. Weatherilt said Singapore Airlines’ rule revisions could make cabin crew hesitant to put the seat belt sign on, while meal service might not be halted quickly enough as it took time to retrieve the food carts.”, The South China Morning Post, May 25, 2024

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Most Dangerous Cities in the World 2024 – You can yield a little less caution in some of the world’s safest countries, such as IcelandNew Zealand, and Portugal. With over 4,416 cities in the world, there are seemingly endless places to travel to and cultures to experience around the world. The world’s 50 most dangerous cities are located in 11 countries: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Africa, the United States, and Venezuela. Brazil has the most cities on the list with 17, followed by Mexico with 12. Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela are the only countries with cities in the top ten most dangerous cities. Mexico has five cities, Brazil has three, and Venezuela has two.”, World Population Review, May 2024

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Country & Regional Updates

South Africa

South African Assets Primed for Post-Election Rally, but Old Challenges Persist – Rally has room to run after poll, Bloomberg survey finds Most investors overweight or neutral on South Africa. There’s a widespread belief among investors that stocks, bonds and the rand will keep soaring after the May 29 election, especially as record-hitting commodity prices boost the exports that South Africa’s economy relies on. In a Bloomberg survey of 26 emerging-market investors, most were overweight or neutral on South Africa, and said they preferred the country over investing in Egypt or Nigeria, Africa’s two other powerhouses.”, Bloomberg, May 23, 2024

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Argentina

The State of Argentina’s ‘Transformation’ – Milei’s government has been more pragmatic than it said it would be. One of the public’s biggest complaints is the decline of purchasing power, which owes to inflation brought on by the government’s decision to lift market controls. Private employees fared significantly better than public employees, with respective decreases of 11.2 percent and 21.3 percent. More concerning is that in the past six months, the country’s minimum wage has lost 29 percent of its purchasing power, pushing more people into poverty. Argentina’s Pontifical Catholic University estimates that the poverty rate now stands at 57 percent. While better insulated from economic shock, even the country’s upper class has started to feel the pinch as inflation outpaces favorable exchange rates and a sharp decline in disposable income.”, Geopolitical Futures, May 24, 2024


Australia

Australian wine pours back into China as tariff-free shipments surge to over US$10 million in April – With import tariffs removed for the first time in three years, shipments of Australian wine to China surged in April, with analysts expecting producers to jump back into the lucrative market “quite quickly”. China imported US$10.4 million of wine from Australia in April, up from US$126,045 a year earlier, representing a roughly eightyfold increase, according to Chinese customs data. Imports by volume, meanwhile, increased more than sevenfold year on year to 462,518 litres (813,918 pints).”, The South China Morning Post, May 23, 2024

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China

Brazil, India and Mexico are taking on China’s exports – To avoid an economic shock, they are pursuing a strange mix of free trade and protectionism. ‘The biggest threat of Chinese overcapacity is to developing countries,’ says Jorge Guajardo, Mexico’s former ambassador to China. In his country, which is proud of its car industry, the market share of Chinese-made vehicles has grown from next to nothing in 2016 to a fifth. Emerging economies are thus introducing import restrictions on Chinese goods, while accelerating a push for free trade elsewhere. This emerging-market attempt to lower trade barriers with the West is happening at the same time as they are being raised with China. Officials see this as necessary to protect domestic manufacturers until China’s subsidy wave subsides.”, The Economist, May 24, 2024

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The United States used to have cachet in ChinaNot anymore. ‘Soft power’ is even more important during times of sharp words and military bluster, but the cultural appeal of American culture and ideas has waned in China. America, which is called “Meiguo” or “beautiful country” in Chinese, was the bastion of wealth and ease. Now, Chinese media and commentators mockingly refer to the United States not as “Meiguo” but as “Meidi” — “the beautiful imperialist.” And Chinese shoppers are more likely to be sipping a drink from Luckin, a Chinese coffee chain, than Starbucks or lining up all night to buy Huawei’s Mate 60 Pro than the latest Apple device. “, The Washington Post, May 25, 2024


Europe

Has Europe already reached its demographic tipping point? – The EU’s population is shrinking faster than expected, putting strain on government finances and the bloc’s long-term prospects.  The EU population rose in the year to January 2023, helped by an influx of displaced persons from Ukraine, after a temporary two-year dip that reflected the impact of the pandemic. Last year, Eurostat forecast that the population would peak at 453mn in 2026. But the 2023 numbers came in below expectations as EU births fell to levels Eurostat had not forecast for another two decades, suggesting the peak may come before 2026. What is becoming clear is that the EU’s long-predicted demographic inversion appears to be coming sooner than many experts predicted.”, The Financial Times, May 23, 2024


Europe’s New Power Map, From ASML to the Arctic – Places other than Paris, Brussels and Berlin are wielding economic influence. The power wielded by ASML (the Netherlands) from its campus in Veldhoven is one example of how Europe’s geographyis changing. French munitions factories and Italian shipyards are whirring as the war in Ukraine forces defense matters to front of mind. Chip factories are being built in cities that still bear the scars of World War II. Kalundborg, production hub for Ozempic maker Novo Nordisk A/S, is turning Denmark into a one-company country. Sweden is tapping raw-material deposits essential for the green transition; Finland is converting paper mills into supercomputers.”, Bloomberg, May 14, 2024


Germany

German economy expands slightly in first quarter of 2024 – The final estimate for Germany’s quarter-on-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) report for Q1 2024 came out on Friday morning. It revealed that GDP grew by 0.2%, according to the Federal Statistical Office. This was a surge from the previous quarter’s -0.5% and in line with analyst estimates. This increase was mainly due to a jump in gross fixed capital formation, which rose to 1.2% in the first quarter of the year, from -2.1% in Q4 2023, primarily driven by advances in construction investment.”, Euronews, May 24, 2024


Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Countries

Industries with huge potential: Saudi and the Gulf – As the world rapidly evolves, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman, are actively diversifying their economies and investing in innovative industries poised for growth. From harnessing renewable energy to pioneering artificial intelligence (AI) and architecting awe-inspiring structures, these nations are carving their paths toward a prosperous and sustainable future. Here are some of the industries that are poised to thrive in the future.”, Middle East Sunday Pages, May 19, 2024. Compliments of Corina Goetz


India

Global firms are tapping India’s workers like never before – They want their brains more than their brawn. Back in the 1990s global firms such as General Electric, a once-mighty conglomerate, began to rely on Indian workers to perform tedious tasks such as filling in forms and patching software for mainframe computers. More recently, technologies such as cloud computing and video conferencing have made it less cumbersome to tap India’s vast pool of brainy workers. Having learned how to supervise employees remotely through the covid-19 pandemic, plenty of bosses will have now pondered whether some roles could be done from farther afield.”, The Economist, May 23, 2024

Japan

How Japan Thinks about Energy Security – Energy security is a significant challenge for Japan. As an import-dependent country, Japan has sought to protect itself from fossil fuel supply disruptions and shocks by cultivating strong relationships with exporting countries and investing throughout the energy value chain. When the Biden administration “paused” approvals of new U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects, the strongest international reaction was not in Europe—the destination for most U.S. LNG cargoes since 2022—but in Japan. Japanese officials registered concerns about potential restrictions on future gas supply.”, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), May 22, 2024

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Singapore 

“Taylor Swift and Coldplay concerts may have saved Singapore’s economy from shrinking last quarter – ‘Swiftonomics’ could have helped drag Singapore’s economy across the finish line. The Southeast Asian country banked on several high-profile events—most notably concerts by superstar Taylor Swift—to jump-start tourism spending.  Some 4.36 million visitors arrived in Singapore in the first three months of the year, according to data from the Singapore Tourism Board. The average hotel occupancy rate for that period was 81.49%, compared with 77.8% for the same period in 2023. Half the audience for both the Coldplay and Taylor Swift concerts came from overseas, according to the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

United Kingdom

The five key business issues the next government needs to address – Whether Labour or the Conservatives win the election, they will have momentous decisions to take. With Rishi Sunak having fired the starting gun for a snap general election for July 4, business is moving quickly to lobby the political parties on key reforms that boardrooms want from the next government. During the next six weeks of campaigning, leading business groups representing large parts of the economy will promote their own manifestos, having consulted with member companies, including some of the country’s biggest employers. The British Chambers of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses, UK Finance and Make UK are all due to publish blueprints.”, The Times of London, May 24, 2024

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United States

“ (U.S.) Consumer Confidence Dips In April – Consumer confidence was down in April. Consumers expressed concerns about the job market, nonessential spending, and their ability to make ends meet, according to the Numerator Consumer Sentiment Tracker that captures more than 6,000 responses a month and provides a comprehensive monthly view of consumer confidence, spending and saving considerations, and future financial outlook. The April Consumer Confidence Score was 56.9 (-0.4 vs. March), which is an average of how consumers feel about the job market, their household finances, and their spending comfort levels.”, Franchising.com, May 25, 2024

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“ (U.S.) Small Business Owners Feel Inflationary Pressures – New survey data from Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses Voices finds that business owners across the country are reporting significant inflationary impacts on the costs of doing business. Compared to three months ago, 71% say inflationary pressures have increased on their businesses, and 49% say they’ve had to raise the prices on their goods or services over that period.”, Franchising.com, May 24, 2024

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Brand & Franchising News

Burger King-parent RBI completes Carrols acquisition – Company buys largest U.S. franchisee and plans $500M investment in reimaging 600 restaurants. Restaurant Brands International Inc. has completed its acquisition of Carrols Restaurant Group Inc., its largest Burger King franchisee in the United States, for about $1 billion and plans to invest an additional $500 million to reimage 600 Carrols restaurants, the company said Thursday. Toronto, Canada-based Restaurant Brands International, which offered $9.55 a share in the all-cash transaction that was announced in January, said the $500 million reimaging was part of its “Reclaim the Flame” plan, announced in fall 2022.”, Nation’s Restaurant News, May 16, 2024


Carl’s Jr. to Expand into the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland under a New Master License Agreement with Boparan Restaurant Group – Under this agreement, BRG will open, operate, and franchise restaurants throughout the territory as the exclusive Carl’s Jr. developer. This partnership further solidifies Carl’s Jr.’s European presence which includes nearly 100 restaurants across Spain, France, Denmark, Turkey, and Switzerland.”, PRNewswire, May 22, 2024


Wendy’s sold to global restaurant management firm Flynn – The New Zealand business of burger restaurant chain Wendy’s has been sold to US franchise operator Flynn Group, marking the company’s first change in ownership in more than three decades. The Lendich family, which has operated the franchise since 1988, put it up for sale in June 2022. The franchise includes 22 restaurants with 12 stores in Auckland, eight in other parts of the North Island, and two on the South Island.”, InsideRetail, May 21, 2024


Anti-Israel Boycotts Hurting McDonald’s, KFC in Asia, Mideast – McDonald’s saw impact in Middle East, Muslim countries Pakistani can maker to Coca Cola, Pepsi had 11% sales dip. The situation has inflamed tensons in the Middle East that has led to an outpouring of support for Palestinians. Many Muslims in the region changed their consumption habits since the war started, slashing demand for fast food from American retailers. More than 100 KFC outlets in Malaysia were forced to close temporarily. Malaysian operator QSR Brands (M) Holdings Bhd. appealed to its large Muslim consumer base that it has over 18,000 team members in the country, of which, approximately 85% were Muslims.”, Bloomberg, May 24, 2024


Jubilant FoodWorks Poised for Massive Expansion – Jubilant FoodWorks Ltd (JFL), the master franchisee of Domino’s Pizza in India and several other markets, with a market capitalization of INR 31,517 crore, announced plans on Wednesday to significantly expand its store network. The company aims to increase its Domino’s Pizza outlets from 2,793 to over 5,500 across six global markets in the medium term.  JFL operates in India, Turkey, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Last year, its subsidiary, Jubilant Foodworks (NS:JUBI) Netherlands BV (JFN), acquired DP Eurasia, the master franchisee of Domino’s in Turkey and Georgia, thus expanding JFL’s footprint beyond Asia.”, Investing, May 22, 2024


The Food Court Is Back – Attention, mall shoppers: Restaurants are taking up more retail space. It’s good news for fixtures like Cinnabon and bubble tea shops.  Floor space in malls as in-store shopping declines and consumers seek experiences rather than goods, says Emily Arft, an analyst at Green Street, a real estate research firm. Formats are changing: “A lot of landlords are thinking about making a more cohesive retail experience where you have dining throughout, not just in one dedicated center,” Arft says. Still, that’s been good for food court newcomers and stalwarts, including everyone’s favorite auntie.”, Bloomberg, May 17, 2024


To receive our biweekly newsletter in your email every other Tuesday, click here –  https://insider.edwardsglobal.com

Our Mission, Information Sources & Who We Are

Our biweekly global business update newsletter focuses on what is happening around the worldthat 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 bedwards@edwardsglobal.com or +1 949 224 3896. 

www.edwardsglobal.com

And download our latest chart ranking 40+ countries as places to do business at this link:

Our latest GlobalVue™ 40 country ranking


EGS Biweekly Global Business Newsletter Issue 107, Tuesday, April 30, 2024

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

Comments About This 107th Issue:  AI tools, global patents and developments around the world. Political stability in Italy. Global coal production continues to rise. International business travel is definitely back.  And business news from Argentina, Canada, China, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the USA.

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.

Bedwards@edwardsglobal.com, +1 949 375 1896



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

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge”, Stephen Hawking and Daniel J. Boorstin

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”, Winston Churchill. Compliments of Neil Sahota

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” — C.S. Lewis


Highlights in issue #107:

  • Brand Global News Section: Red Lobster®, Snap Fitness® and Tropical Smoothie®

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Interesting Data, Articles and Studies

“Vistage U.S. Small Business Index – Each month, we share the insights of small businesses with the understanding that the sentiment captured in the WSJ/Vistage Small Business CEO Confidence Index predicts economic changes. This month, we see a slight decline in the overall Index, but the trend remains above last year.”, Vistage, April 24, 2024


I Tried These AI-Based Productivity Tools. Here’s What Happened – Hoping to make life easier, I tested six AI-powered tools meant to help me write better and work smarter. Every writer I know is talking about AI tools and whether they’re ethical to use. But what’s just as interesting to me is why we’re so enamored with them even if they produce outrageous or below-average results. Why do we chase the shiny new thing even if it’s not better, faster, or cheaper? This year my LinkedIn feed has been full of posts touting the best new AI tools for doing absolutely everything, and I’ve already fallen for too many new thing even if it’s not better, faster, or cheaper?”, Wired magazine, April 2024


Where Women Are Most Likely To Be Your Boss – The latest data from 2022 and 2023 shows that in Burkina Faso and Nigeria, between 67% and 70% of all managers are women. Jamaica and Botswana are the only other countries with available data listing more female than male managers, at around 60% and 52%, respectively. More countries with a high share of women in managerial positions are the Philippines and Caribbean island nation Saint Lucia as well as Jordan and Zambia. The share of female managers is also high in Eastern Europe at almost 42% as of 2022, North America at around 40%, Southeast Asia at around 39% and Northern Europe at approximately 38%. The MENA region had the lowest share of managers who are women at just over 15%. Yet, Jordan is featured among the countries with the most female managers, again due to female-centric fields.”, Forbes, April 23, 2024


AI Patents By Country – This infographic shows the number of AI-related patents granted each year from 2010 to 2022 (latest data available). These figures come from the Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), accessed via Stanford University’s 2024 AI Index Report. From this data, we can see that China first overtook the U.S. in 2013. Since then, the country has seen enormous growth in the number of AI patents granted each year. In 2022, China was granted more patents than every other country combined.  While this suggests that the country is very active in researching the field of artificial intelligence, it doesn’t necessarily mean that China is the farthest in terms of capability.”, Visual Capitalist, April 24, 2024


How People Are Really Using GenAIThere are many use cases for generative AI, spanning a vast number of areas of domestic and work life. Looking through thousands of comments on sites such as Reddit and Quora, the author’s team found that the use of this technology is as wide-ranging as the problems we encounter in our lives. The 100 categories they identified can be divided into six top-level themes, which give an immediate sense of what generative AI is being used for: Technical Assistance & Troubleshooting (23%), Content Creation & Editing (22%), Personal & Professional Support (17%), Learning & Education (15%), Creativity & Recreation (13%), Research, Analysis & Decision Making (10%).” Harvard Business Review, March 19, 2024

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

Global operating coal power capacity increased 2% in 2023 and 11% since 2015. 2,130 gigawatts (GW) operating coal power capacity. An increase of 217 GW coal power capacity since 2015. And 578 GW new coal power capacity currently under development.”, Global Energy Monitor, January 2024


Asia Has a Strong Dollar Problem Stretching Far Beyond Japan – Strong dollar means Asian central banks likely to delay easing Swaps suggest dovish bets for Korea, Malaysia scaled back. Investors are looking for the next policy domino to fall in Asia amid an escalating campaign against a resurgent dollar, after Indonesia used a surprise interest rate hike to defend the rupiah. The currencies of Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines and India are all trading within sight of multi-year lows, raising the odds for local authorities to take firmer action to stem the slide. Won and ringgit swaps, for example, are already pricing in a less dovish stance by the two local central banks.”, Bloomberg, April 24, 2024


Suez trade plunges after war forces ships to reroute – Containers’ trip round Cape of Good Hope adds 20 days to journey. A substantial share of containers pass through the Red Sea, carrying everything from commodities to consumer goods. An escalation in tensions in the region prompted carriers to reroute their vessels around the Cape of Good Hope. The ONS said there had been an annual 57 per cent increase in the number of ships passing through the alternative and longer trade route……the average price of a container has leapt to $2,719 in April from $1,390 in early October, although that is down from a recent peak of nearly $4,000 in January and nowhere near the levels hit in the aftermath of the pandemic.”, The Times of London, April 25

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Global & Regional Travel

Hilton Sees Full Corporate Travel Rebound in Hotel Stays in 2024 Hilton has ridden high on a surging wave of vacationers. But executives at the hotel giant now see the return of corporate trips and conferences as powering the next phase of its growth. Executives predicted Wednesday that occupancy by corporate road warriors and conference-goers would fully recover to pre-pandemic levels soon. ‘By the end of the year from a demand point of view, we think there’s an awfully good chance that BT [business travel] will get there, too,’ said Christopher Nassetta, president and CEO. ‘Just given continued growth in the big corporates and very resilient SMB [small-and-medium-sized] businesses.’”, Skift, April 24, 2024


Welcome Back, Road Warriors: Business Travel ReturnsAirlines, hotels say work trips are rebounding to near prepandemic levels—‘they’re hungry to meet in person’. Videoconferencing hasn’t made in-person meetings obsolete. Scattered workforces have in some cases resulted in more trips, not fewer. Companies are sending employees back on the road again, driving business travel closer to prepandemic levels. The banks, tech companies and consultants who are among the travel industry’s most lucrative customers are hitting the road again.  Airlines reported big increases in revenues from corporate accounts in the first quarter, with Delta and United both reporting a 14% bump from a year ago.”, The Wall Street Journal, April 28, 2024


India’s Hotel Boom: Latest Investments from Marriott, Hilton and Other ChainsThe world’s biggest hotel chains are doubling down on India, betting that the country’s rising affluence will fuel a surge in travel demand for years to come. In the past six weeks, all the global hotel groups — including Marriott International and Hilton Worldwide — have unveiled ambitious expansion plans in India. They see a golden opportunity to establish a bigger foothold on the subcontinent in what may become the world’s third-largest economy as soon as 2027.”, Skift, April 27, 2024

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Country & Regional Updates

Africa

For Multinationals, Africa’s Allure Is Fading – After decades of optimism about the region, global giants such as Bayer, Nestlé and Unilever are cutting back. Drawn by rapid growth, youthful populations and increasing wealth, legions of top multinationals rushed into Africa in recent decades. But lately, the difficulties of doing business there—cratering currencies, overweening bureaucracies, unreliable power and congested ports—have dimmed the allure. ‘It doesn’t justify the effort,’ says Kuseni Dlamini, a former chairman of Walmart Inc.’s African unit who now heads the American Chamber of Commerce in South Africa.”, Bloomberg, April 16, 2024


Argentina

Argentina President Announces First Quarterly Fiscal Surplus in 16 YearsArgentina reached a fiscal surplus of 0.2% of gross domestic product due to severe spending cuts and the halting of public works, marking the country’s first quarterly fiscal surplus since 2008. Since taking office in December 2023, Milei’s government has focused on spending cuts and freezes to reduce the country’s very high inflation rates. While the plan is working, inflation is falling at the cost of a severe reduction in Argentines’ purchasing power, leading to a contraction in economic activity.”, Stratfor Worldview, April 23, 2024


Canada

Canada’s per capita output drops 7% below trend – To return to trend over the next decade, real gross domestic product per capita would need to grow at an average annual rate of 1.7 per cent – similar to the robust expansion in the United States in recent years.  Real GDP per capita has fallen to levels seen in 2017. For decades, Canada has struggled with lacklustre capital investment. A Statscan report published in February noted that investment per worker in 2021 was 20 per cent lower than in 2006.”, The Globe and Mail, April 24, 2024


China

China’s consumers seek security in ‘the only safe asset’ as gold purchases remain strong – Consumers in China bought 308.9 tonnes (10.9 million ounces) of gold in the first quarter, representing a 5.9 per cent increase compared with the same period in 2023, according to data released by the China Gold Association on Friday. ‘Gold represents the only safe asset for [Chinese consumers] to protect their wealth against domestic inflation, asset price declines as well as against geopolitical risks,’ said Chen Zhiwu, the chair professor of finance at the University of Hong Kong. ‘I expect Chinese household demand for gold to rise more in the future. And the Chinese central bank will also continue to purchase more gold to prepare for more geopolitical turmoil ahead.’”,  The South China Morning Post, April 29, 2024


Why China Keeps Making More Cars Than It NeedsChina has the capacity to produce roughly two times as many cars as it sells at home each year. Despite overcapacity, government officials keep supporting automakers. China has a long history of auto overcapacity, with more than 100 domestic brands churning out more vehicles than the country’s drivers buy each year. China currently has the capacity to produce some 40 million vehicles a year, though it sells only around 22 million cars domestically, according to capacity data from Shanghai-based strategy firm Automobility and sales figures from the China Passenger Car Association.”, The Wall Street Journal, April 28, 2024


Italy

Political stability gives Italy a chance to step into the spotlight Historically, Italy’s political scene has been highly mercurial. But is it possible that politics in Rome is, dare it be said, boring now? Not exactly. Still, today’s political dynamics in Italy are not what international observers, or even Italians, may be used to. True, the country’s economic prospects remain weak, but Italy is living through a period of relative political stability under the government of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. This stability makes Italy well placed to push forward its foreign policy priorities and leadership.”, The Atlantic Council, April 24, 2024


Mexico

Why tech firms are investing in MexicoAs the US seeks to decrease its dependence on China, investments in Mexico are making the country a hot destination for AI hardware. Amidst an ongoing chip war between the US and China, investments in Mexico are making the country a hot destination for hardware manufacturing in the AI space. At the request of AI companies in the US, Taiwan-based companies are ramping up production efforts in Mexico….A 2020 free-trade agreement between the US, Mexico, and Canada has brought in billions from manufacturing companies “aiming to move operations from China to Mexico.”, IT Brew, April 24, 2024


Turkey

Turkey’s ‘Orthodox’ Pivot Makes Lira a Favorite for HSBC – Turkey’s return to a more conventional approach to monetary policy is boosting investor confidence, setting the stage for capital inflows and underpinning HSBC Holdings Plc’s bullish stance on the nation’s assets. Raising the benchmark interest rate and “normalizing” monetary policy have been at the center of a policy overhaul. Officials have previously said they see Turkish headline inflation peaking at around 75% in the coming months.”, Bloomberg, April 24, 2024


United Kingdom

Canary Wharf dangles £150m to convince Morgan Stanley to stay put – After exits of high-profile companies, owner of financial district agreed to pay towards refurbishment costs to keep US bank as a tenant.  In return, the US bank has removed a break clause, in effect committing to its European headquarters until 2038; its lease had originally been due to expire in 2028.  Canary Wharf has become a poster child for the turmoil in the office market, which has been hit hard by rises in interest rates and fears over the impact of flexible working. The decisions of both HSBC and law firm Clifford Chance to ditch their offices at Canary Wharf for buildings in the City have handed more negotiating power to the estate’s remaining tenants.”, The Times of London, April 27, 2024


UK Recovery Gains Pace as PMI Beats ForecastPMI composite gauge rises to 11-month high of 54 in April Pound rises as traders reduce wagers on scope for rate cuts. The UK economy’s recovery from recession unexpectedly gathered pace at the start of the second quarter as private-sector firms reported the strongest growth in almost a year.

S&P Global’s purchasing managers’ index rose to a stronger-than-expected 54 in April, an 11-month high and a jump from 52.8 the previous month. The pound rose. Firms responded by boosting hiring by the most for nine months. They also reported the strongest cost pressures in 11 months, particularly from staff wages after a near 10% in the minimum wage took effect in April.”, Bloomberg, April 23, 2024


United States

The US is one of the least trade-oriented countries in the world – despite laying the groundwork for today’s globalized system – In 2022, the U.S. trade-to-GDP ratio was 27%, according to the World Bank. That means the total value of U.S. imports and exports of goods and services combined equaled 27% of the country’s GDP. That’s far below the global average of 63%.  In fact, of the 193 countries examined by the World Bank, only two were less involved in international trade than the U.S. Those were Nigeria, at 26%, and Sudan at 3%. Most world economic powers scored considerably higher, with Germany at 100%, France at 73%, the U.K. at 70%, India at 49%, and China at 38%.”,  The Conversation, April 25, 2024


US Goes From Soft Landing Back to Sticky InflationWhile the economy is still humming along by most metrics, gross domestic product slowed in the first quarter and the Federal Reserve’s preferred gauge of underlying inflation—the core personal consumption expenditures price index—rose in March (though in line with expectations). The Fed’s expected delay in cutting rates is rippling across world economies and markets—from equities to bonds and forex.”, Bloomberg,  April 27, 2024

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Brand & Franchising News

Blackstone to buy Tropical Smoothie Cafe in $2B dealLevine Leichtman agrees to sell Atlanta-based 1,400-unit fast-casual brand. Blackstone said the deal for Atlanta-based fast-casual Tropical Smoothie Café LLC would be ‘the first transaction from Blackstone’s most recent vintage of its flagship private-equity vehicle’. Tropical Smoothie Cafe was founded in Destin, Fla., in 1997, and has grown to more than 1,400 locations in 44 states. It added 175 new restaurants in 2023, with 70% of those from existing franchisees, Blackstone said.”, Nation’s Restaurant News, April 24, 2024


Fair deal for franchisees as Government announces visa changesA change to the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) scheme announced today will mean the special franchisee accreditation category will be disestablished. Franchisees will be able to apply to bring in workers from overseas through the standard, high-volume, or triangular employment accreditation. The change, effective immediately, means that franchisees will no longer pay more for accreditation under the AEWV scheme. The previous scheme, introduced in July 2022, meant that franchisees had to pay up to five times the cost to employ the same employees as independently-owned businesses.”, Franchise New Zealand, April 7, 2024


The bounceback is always stronger than the setbackRecent data at Snap Fitness 24/7 show that membership numbers are up across the globe. Over the past two years we’ve seen membership numbers rise by an average of 22% across our global footprint of Snap Fitness locations. It seems the entire industry is experiencing a boom. A new report from Deloitte and EuropeActive has revealed that revenue and membership numbers topped pre-pandemic numbers for European operators in 2023. The numbers speak for themselves, with fitness memberships up to almost 68 million in 2023 compared to 62.9 million in 2022, and operators experiencing a 14% rise in revenue as a result.”, LinkedIn post, April 29, 2024


Red Lobster seeks a buyer as it looks to avoid bankruptcy filing – The company has considered filing for bankruptcy to help it restructure its debt and get out of a number of costly and lengthy leases, but it’s also sought a buyer in recent months, people familiar with the matter told CNBC.  For the past decade amidst ownership changes, Red Lobster has taken on debt and entered into a number of long-term leases across its 700-plus locations, which have weighed on its balance sheet.”, CNBC, April 25, 2024


To receive our biweekly newsletter in your email every other Tuesday, click here –  https://insider.edwardsglobal.com

Our Mission, Information Sources & Who We Are

Our biweekly global business update newsletter focuses on what is happening around the worldthat 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 bedwards@edwardsglobal.com or +1 949 224 3896. 

www.edwardsglobal.com

And download our latest chart ranking 40+ countries as places to do business at this link:

Our latest GlobalVue™ 40 country ranking



EGS Biweekly Global Business Newsletter Issue 106, Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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

Some Introductory Comments For This 106th Issue:  A definition of artificial intelligence (AI). Brazil will require bank statement to get a visa next year. An awesome quote from Yoda! The size of the rapidly growing global senior population. China’s Foreign Direct Investment is drying up. Global tourism continues to recover, but….Who runs the ‘Global South’? U.S. consumers are growing pessimistic about their economy while U.S. CEO are more optimistic (??). Private equity investment is about to massively change the U.S. franchise industry.

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.

Bedwards@edwardsglobal.com, +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.


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

“Do or Do Not, There Is No Try.” – Yoda

“Do not squander time for that is the stuff life is made of.” – Benjamin Franklin

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney


Highlights in issue #106:

  • Brand Global News Section: Body Fit®, Body Shop®, Jessey Mikes®, Little Chef® and Subway®

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Interesting Data, Articles and Studies

Global Smartphone Market Share: Apple Steals the Crown by Less than 1%. Apple and Samsung nearly tied. The two companies are the dominant names in the global market, holding a 20.1% and 19.4% market share. In terms of growth from 2022, though, Apple managed +3.7%, while Samsung shrank by -13.6%. Chinese firms round out the top five.”, Visual Capitalist and International Data Corporation’s (IDC), April 10, 2024


Semiconductor Companies by Industry Revenue Share – Did you know that some computer chips are now retailing for the price of a new BMW? As computers invade nearly every sphere of life, so too have the chips that power them, raising the revenues of the businesses dedicated to designing them. But how did various chipmakers measure against each other last year? We rank the biggest semiconductor companies by their percentage share of the industry’s revenues in 2023, using data from Omdia research.”, Visual Capitalist and Omdia Research, April 9, 2024


What is AI (artificial intelligence)? – Artificial intelligence is a machine’s ability to perform some cognitive functions we usually associate with human minds. AI is a machine’s ability to perform the cognitive functions we associate with human minds, such as perceiving, reasoning, learning, interacting with the environment, problem-solving, and even exercising creativity. Machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence that can adapt to a wide range of inputs, including large sets of historical data, synthesized data, or human inputs.”, McKinsey & Co., April 3, 2024


Visualizing the Size of the Global Senior Population – The growth of the senior population is a consequence of the demographic transition towards longer and healthier lives. Population aging, however, can pose economic and social challenges. The data is from the World Social Report 2023 by the United Nations. Currently, population aging is most advanced in Europe, Northern America, Australia, New Zealand, and parts (of) Eastern and Southeastern Asia.”, Visual Capitalist and United Nations, April 4, 2024


Economic conditions outlook, March 2024Executives’ latest views on the global economy and their countries’ economies lean much more positive than they did at the end of 2023. In the latest McKinsey Global Survey on economic conditions, the outlook on domestic conditions in most regions has become more hopeful, despite ongoing shared concerns about geopolitical instability and conflicts. In a year brimming with national elections, respondents increasingly see transitions of political leadership as a primary hazard to the global economy, particularly in Asia–Pacific, Europe, and North America. Furthermore, respondents now view policy and regulatory changes as a top threat to their companies’ performance, and they offer more muted optimism than in December about their companies’ prospects.”, McKinsey & Co., March 29, 2024


Space: The $1.8 trillion opportunity for global economic growth – The space industry is approaching the next frontier, with each week bringing news of a major development somewhere in the world. Be it a test of a new rocket system, the launch of an innovative satellite, or a robotic exploration mission safely landing on the moon, activity in space is accelerating. We estimate that the global space economy will be worth $1.8 trillion by 2035 (accounting for inflation), up from $630 billion in 2023.”, McKinsey & Co., April 8, 2024

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

World coal capacity growth jeopardises peak emissions forecasts – Global fleet increases in 2023 as China brings on new plants and the pace of closures slows in EU and US. The global coal fleet grew by 2 per cent last year, mainly driven by new capacity additions in China and a slow down of closures in the EU and the US, the latest data shows. The new data found that coal capacity outside of China increased for the first time since 2019, according to the non-profit research group Global Energy Monitor, as less coal power was retired than in any single year of the past decade. Outside of China, new coal power was brought online in Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Japan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, South Korea, Greece, and Zimbabwe.”, The Financial Times, April 11, 2024


Businesses bank on Narendra Modi election win to ease India’s bottlenecks – World’s most populous country is emerging as key market for investors but many companies remain tangled in red tape. But in private many businesses still complain about India’s complex tax regulation, difficulties in acquiring land, rigid labour laws, weak intellectual property enforcement and clogged courts. It takes almost four years to enforce contracts in business disputes, among the slowest globally, according to the World Bank. “Is the country better managed than it was decades ago? Undoubtedly so,” said a London-based executive with business in India. “Modi is a great marketer, but the ease of doing business is still not that easy at all.”, The Financial Times, April 15, 2024

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Global & Regional Travel

Travel and Tourism Industry Poised to Break Records This Year – The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is predicting that 2024 will be a record-breaking year for the global travel industry, with an all-time high in global economic contribution and employment. The industry is expected to generate one in every 10 dollars worldwide, contributing $11.1 trillion to the global economy, according to WTTC’s 2024 Economic Impact Research. That’s $770 billion higher than its previous record.”, Travel Pulse, April 4, 2024


This country will require Americans to show their bank statements to visit – If you want to travel to Brazil next year, you’ll need to share your bank statements with the South American nation first. Travelers from the U.S., Canada, and Australia will need to obtain a visa before entering the country, beginning April 10, 2025, according to a Brazilian government-authorized website. To complete the visa application, visitors must provide proof of income for travel by showing their last three checking or savings account statements or their six previous pay stubs.”, The Hill, April 14, 2024


The World’s Top Flight Routes, by RevenueIn 2024, a record 4.7 billion people are projected to travel by air—200 million more than in 2019. While revenues surged to an estimated $896 billion globally last year, airlines face extremely slim margins. On average, they made just $5.44 in net profit per passenger in 2023. Today, the industry faces pressures from high interest rates, supply chain woes, and steep infrastructure costs. This graphic shows the highest earning flight routes worldwide, based on data from OAG.”, Visual Capitalist and OAG, April 9, 2024


Global tourism is recovering, but for Asia it’s a mixed bag at best Talk to the UN world tourism organisation – since January rebranded as UN Tourism – and the message is that international tourism is well on the road to recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. But talk to tourism officials in Hong Kong, South Korea, mainland China or Thailand and the story is: not so fast. According to the UN’s Tourism Recovery Tracker, global tourism last year recovered to within 12 per cent of the pre-Covid level, and is forecast to fully recover this year. In Europe, by far the world’s largest tourism market, it is a story of strong recovery. Across Asia, the story is anaemic at best. And it is a story of new tourism markets and travel patterns, with much excitement focused on Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other Gulf economies.”,  South China Morning Post, April 6, 2024

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Country & Regional Updates

Australia

RBA won’t cut interest rates until 2025 – Australia is expected to be almost the last major advanced economy to deliver an interest rate cut, after hot US inflation caused professional investors to push out bets for a local monetary easing until early next year. The deferral of an expected rate reduction until February is later than the Albanese government had hoped as a federal election approaches.”, Australian Financial Review, April 12, 2024


Canada

Canada Unveils Billions for Artificial Intelligence – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday said his government would spend nearly $2 billion to help fuel growth in the country’s domestic artificial-intelligence sector, the latest in a series of multibillion-dollar announcements the Canadian leader has vowed won’t stoke a fresh round of inflation…..Trudeau said Canada would spend C$2.4 billion that would, among other things, help build data centers and servers and ensure access to the computer power required to conduct research in the AI field. A report from consulting firm Deloitte & Touche’s Canadian unit said venture-capital investment in Canada’s AI sector reached C$8.6 billion in 2023, adding Canada ranks third among Group of Seven countries in terms of per capita venture-capital AI investments, trailing the U.S. and U.K.”, The Wall Street Journal, April 7, 2024


China

 “China Regrets Fitch’s Downward Revision of Its Outlook – The revision from stable to negative — regarding the rating outlook on China as a long-term foreign-currency debt issuer — was based on rising risks to the country’s public finances amid economic uncertainties and ‘a transition away from property-reliant growth to what the government views as a more sustainable growth model,’ Fitch said in a Tuesday commentary. ‘Wide fiscal deficits and rising government debt in recent years have eroded fiscal buffers from a ratings perspective,’ Fitch said. It maintained an ‘A+’ rating for China as a long-term debt issuer.”, Caixin Global, April 10, 2024


China’s Mammoth Effort to Help Foreigners Spend, Spend, Spend – Regulators have been pushing banks and nonbank payment platforms, such as Alipay, owned by Ant Group Co. Ltd., and WeChat Pay, operated by Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s Tenpay Payment Technology Co. Ltd., to improve services for international visitors and make it easier for them to spend money. The campaign is part of a broader strategy to boost China’s attraction as a destination for overseas visitors and reverse a slump in foreign investment.”, Caixin Global, April 9, 2024


Southern Europe

Southern Europe is the continent’s new economic growth engineSouthern European economies that were long sneered at by their richer northern neighbors have turned the tables as they cement their role as growth drivers in the sputtering euro area.Business surveys by S&P Global released this week showed Spain and Italy beat economists’ expectations with faster expansion in March. A manufacturing gauge for Greece indicated a similar trend. A tourism surge since the pandemic, booming exports, and lower energy prices thanks to renewables and limited reliance on Russian gas, have given so-called periphery countries on the Mediterranean the edge in the euro area. But the region’s relatively strong growth is mainly due to the fact that after many years, southern European countries have ‘corrected their imbalances, so now they are developing at a healthy rate without macroeconomic imbalances.’”, Fortune, April 9, 2024


Global South

Who’s the big boss of the global south? In a dog-eat-dog world, competition is fierce. The simplest working definition (of Global South) is that it refers to most, but not quite all, non-Western countries. Its use also denotes how emerging economies want more power over global affairs and often have a critical view of Western policy. Narendra Modi has suggested India could be its “voice”. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (known as Lula), the president of Brazil, reckons his country could be, too. Our conclusion is, counterintuitively, that America still has more influence than any other country over the global south, but that within the grouping itself China has become the most powerful member—giving Mr Xi the strongest claim to leadership.”, The Economist, April 8, 2024


India

How fast is India’s economy really growing? – Statisticians take the country’s figures with a pinch of salt. Today India again appears to be at the start of an upswing. In the year to the fourth quarter of 2023, GDP growth roared at 8.4%. But such figures tend to be treated with a pinch of salt. Economists inside and outside the government are debating just how fast the economy is growing—a question that has particular piquancy ahead of a general election that begins on April 19th. Since December 2019, real GDP has grown by 4.2% at an average annual rate, meaning that India, like many other countries, has not recovered to its pre-pandemic trend. Corporate and foreign investment remain weak.”, The Economist, April 11, 2024


United States

US Inflation Refuses to Bend, Fanning Fears It Will Stick – Consumer prices rose in March amid stronger services inflation. Report reorders bets on Fed easing, dashing hopes for June cut. A key US price gauge topped forecasts for a third straight month on gains in rents and transportation costs, spurring concerns that inflation is becoming entrenched and likely further delaying Federal Reserve interest-rate cuts., Bloomberg, April 10, 2024


Consumers are getting more pessimistic as inflation refuses to fallConsumer sentiment about the U.S. economy has ticked down but remains near a recent high, with Americans’ outlook largely unchanged this year.The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index, released Friday in a preliminary version, slipped to 77.9 this month, down from March’s figure of 79.4. Sentiment is about halfway between its all-time low, reached in June 2022 when inflation peaked, and its pre-pandemic averages. The survey has been conducted since 1980.Consumers are reserving judgment about the economy in light of the upcoming election, which, in the view of many consumers, could have a substantial impact on the trajectory of the economy,’ said Joanne Hsu, director of the consumer survey.”, Fortune, April 12, 2024


87% of CEOs confident in the U.S. economy, says KPMG – After years of uncertainty facing the economy, from the pandemic to supply-chain challenges to multiple wars, America’s CEOs feel confident in the country’s economy.  And chief executives are basking in the sunshine, overjoyed to be out from under the black clouds of economic uncertainty. The survey featured responses from 100 CEOs from companies with at least $500 million in revenue and 70% of which had at least $1 billion.”, Fortune, April 11, 2024

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Brand & Franchising News

Body Fit Training Opens Studio in Spain – Body Fit Training (BFT) announced today the opening of its 300th global studio in Barcelona, Spain. The Barcelona studio opening expands the brand’s presence in countries around the world, including its birthplace of Australia, along with New Zealand, Singapore, the U.K., the U.S., and Hong Kong, among others, as the demand for group strength training workouts continues to surge.”, Franchising.com, April 4, 2024


Little Chefs: What happened to roadside diner chainWith 439 restaurants on major routes across the UK, Little Chef once enjoyed a near monopoly on roadside dining. So, why did the restaurant chain disappear? Little Chef was started in 1958 by catering boss Peter Merchant and caravan manufacturer Sam Alper. The business’ decline was “gradual” according to Becky Parr-Phillips who started working for Little Chef as a waitress in the 1990s, rising through the managerial ranks to become head of operations around 15 years later.  The owners were keen to reduce costs and maximise profits as the chain still enjoyed something of a monopoly on roadside dining. ‘There were closures, the prices were hiked, you know the guests did start to call it Little Thief rather than Little Chef’, says Becky.”, BBC News, April 12, 2024


“The Future of The Body Shop and its International Franchisee Network – In February of this year, skincare and cosmetics retailer The Body Shop began appointing administrators across its operations in the UK and certain European territories. The Body Shop Canada and USA have since followed suit. While the future of one of the UK’s most well-known high street brands remains uncertain, we consider what went wrong, what impact this may have on The Body Shop’s international franchise network and intellectual property rights portfolio, and the potential impacts on the Asia-Pacific market….In mainland China, The Body Shop is still selling through cross-border e-commerce platforms but does not have any bricks and mortar stores.”, Bird & Bird, April 10, 2024. Compliments of Paul Jones, Jones & Co., Toronto


The Franchise Industry is on The Verge of Massive Change With Private Equity’s Potential $8 Billion Acquisition of Jersey Mike’s. Two iconic brands, Subway and Jersey Mike’s, may sell to private equity after years of being closely held. Heavyweight PE firms are an increasing force within the franchising sector, marking a strategic shift and altering the industry landscape. Private equity has successfully cherry-picked most top franchise brands with enough scale to attract professional investors. Jersey Mike’s and Subway are two high-profile holdouts.” Entrepreneur, April 11, 2024


Luckin Challenger Pushes China’s Coffee Price War Toward Boiling PointChina’s coffee market is in the midst of a price war, and it’s showing no sign of abating as the country’s leading affordable brand Luckin Coffee Inc. faces down challenger Cotti Coffee, the upstart launched by Luckin’s disgraced co-founders Lu Zhengyao and Qian Zhiya. Forced out of Luckin for their role in perpetrating a $300 million fraud, Lu and Qian returned in late 2022 with a new venture and promptly went to battle with their former brainchild. They adopted the same low-price strategy, at one point undercutting Luckin’s best discount. As of early March, Luckin had opened over 17,800 stores in China — significantly outstripping Starbucks’ 7,770 locations and Cotti’s close to 6,800, according to food and beverage industry information provider Canyan Data.”, Caixin Global, April 2, 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 worldthat 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 environment. And our GlobalTeam™ on the ground covering 25+ countries provides 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 bedwards@edwardsglobal.com or +1 949 224 3896. 

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EGS Biweekly Global Business Newsletter Issue 105, Tuesday, April 2, 2024

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

Introduction: Coca-Cola worldwide comsumption. Consumer sentiment is rising, inflation is falling, countries in Latin America are dropping interest rates, the first-ever call on a mobile phone was made 50 years ago. ‘Friendshoring’ is growing away from China. But China does finally remove the Australian wine boycott. China relaxes control of the flow of data in and out of country due to business pressure. And we look at the 12 most spoken languages in the world.

This year chocolate easter eggs were subject to ‘shrinkflation’. Egypt got another financial bailout. Starbucks® is now the second largest food brand in the world after McDonalds®, taking over from Subway®. Big tech increasingly has challenges finding energy to power their data centers. Global beer consumption explained. And AI data centers are spurring the use of more natural gas.

Edited and curated by: William (Bill) Edwards, CEO & Global Advisor, Edwards Global Services, Inc. (EGS), Irvine, California, USA

Bedwards@edwardsglobal.com, +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.


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

“Your time on earth is limited. Don’t try to ‘age with grace’, age with mischief, audacity, and a good story to tell.”, Compliments of Doug Bruhnke, Founder of the Global Chamber

“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new.”, Socrates, father of Western philosophy

“Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.”, Guy Kawasaki


Highlights in issue #105:

Coca Cola Consumption by Country 2024

China Loosens Cross-Border Data Rules on Business Pressure

U.S. Economic Growth Remains Robust, No Matter How You Slice It

Mexico becomes the latest major Latin American economy to cut rates

The 12 Most Spoken Languages In the World

Brand Global News Section: Anytime Fitness®, Dominos®, Olive Garden®, Orangetheory Fitness®, McDonalds®, and Starbucks®

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Interesting Data, Articles and Studies

Coca Cola Consumption by Country 2024 – In 1971, the Coca-Cola Company released a TV commercial that promoted quite lofty goals for a soft-drink company. At a tense time globally, “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” invited everyone on our planet to put aside their differences and come together to enjoy friendly music and a friendly beverage.  Looking at total consumption figures by country, the number varies from year to year, but Mexico holds the honor as of 2023, with an average of 634 8-ounce servings consumed per year by the 128 million residents, slightly down from 665 reported in 2016.

With three exceptions – CubaNorth Korea, and Russia — Coca-Cola is everywhere.”, Our World In Data, March 2024


The 12 Most Spoken Languages In the World – The top languages spoken in the world reflect economic trends, populated countries, and even colonial history. These are the most spoken languages around the world as of 2023. These figures come from Ethnologue, which publishes a list of the largest languages every year. English was born in the United Kingdom but today belongs to the modern world as the main international language of business and politics. That’s why it’s not very surprising to find English as the world’s most spoken language, with 1.5 billion speakers as of 2023.”, Visual Capitalist and Ethnologue, February 29, 2024


(Global) Consumers Remain Upbeat(In February 2024)Global economic uncertainty elevated but consumers upbeat; China faces deflation, real estate problems, and FDI decline; EU growth stagnant; high US interest rates affecting households and companies. Consumers remain upbeat as retail sales in the main economies show steady growth, despite elevated prices (Exhibit 1). Growing sentiment in the US saw the Consumer Confidence Index (Conference Board) rise to 114.8 in January, up from a revised 108.0 in December. By contrast, consumer confidence in Brazil dropped to its lowest level since May 2023 but is still 5.0 points higher than in January 2023.  Automobile sales in India (which are a proxy for consumer sales) grew by 37.3% to 393,074 units (286,390 in December). Passenger vehicles saw their highest-ever sales in January, posting a growth of around 14% compared with the previous year. Meanwhile, official news from China was that consumption during the 2024 Spring Festival holiday underwent a notable increase.”, McKinsey & Co., March 20, 2024


Global Beer Consumption by Country in 2022 – Global beer consumption exceeded 2019, showing a return to scale to pre-COVID levels despite unstable global conditions.  China was the largest overall consumer for the 20th straight year, with Asia the leading region. The Czech Republic remained the top per-capita consumer for the 30th consecutive year.”, Kirin Holdings, December 22, 2023


Replicating the Mobile RevolutionOn April 3, 1973, Martin Cooper, an engineer from Motorola, made the first-ever call on a mobile phone to another engineer at a telecommunications rival company. Fifty years later, the mobile phone is arguably the most transformational invention in recent human history. In just 50 years, the number of people using the device went from zero to more than 7.1 billion as of 2021. Over 91 percent of the world owns a mobile phone, and 90 percent of the world is covered by a commercial wireless signal.”, The Center for Strategic & International Studies,  March 19, 2024


10 Conflicts to Watch in 2024 – More leaders are pursuing their ends militarily. More believe they can get away with it. 2024 begins with wars burning in Gaza, Sudan and Ukraine and peacemaking in crisis. Worldwide, diplomatic efforts to end fighting are failing.  Gaza, Wider Middle East War, Sudan, Ukraine, Myanmar, Ethiopia, The Sahel, Haiti, Armenia-Azerbaijan and U.S.-China are the conflicts to watch this year.”, The International Crisis Group, January 1, 2024

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

Three Countries Accounted for One-Third of Global Oil Production in 2023 – Despite efforts to decarbonize the global economy, oil still remains one of the world’s most important resources. It’s also produced by a fairly limited group of countries, which can be a source of economic and political leverage. This graphic illustrates global crude oil production in 2023, measured in million barrels per day, sourced from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). In 2023, the United States, Russia, and Saudi Arabia collectively contributed 32.8 million barrels per day to global oil production. In 2024, analysts forecast that the U.S. will maintain its position as the top oil producer.”, Visual Capitalist and the  U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), March 26, 2024


Big Tech’s Latest Obsession Is Finding Enough Energy – The AI boom is fueling an insatiable appetite for electricity, which is creating risks to the grid and the transition to cleaner energy sources. It isn’t clear just how much electricity will be required to power an exponential increase in data centers worldwide. But most everyone agreed the data centers needed to advance AI will require so much power they could strain the power grid and stymie the transition to cleaner energy sources. After a long period of stagnant demand for electricity, utilities are dialing up forecasts by astonishing amounts. The five-year projection of U.S. electricity demand growth has doubled from a year ago, according to a report from consulting firm Grid Strategies.”, The Wall Street Journal, March 24, 2024


AI revolution will be boon for natural gas, say fossil fuel bossesData centres’ need for reliable power supply set to soar. A surge in demand for electricity to feed data centres and to power an artificial intelligence revolution will usher in a golden era for natural gas, producers say.  AI’s soaring energy needs will rise well beyond what renewable energy and batteries can deliver, executives argue, making more planet-warming fossil fuel supplies crucial even as governments vow to slash their use.”, The Financial Times, April 1, 2024


Friend-shoring having the desired anti-China effect – Biden’s drive to trade more with allies and less with rivals has seen Canada and Mexico supplant China as America’s largest trading partners. One of the most high-profile results of a friend-shoring policy is that Canada and Mexico have recently replaced China as America’s largest trading partners by total trade, while Mexico has overtaken China as America’s top importer.”, AsiaTimes, March 21, 2024


Which country will be last to escape inflation? A new dividing line in the global fight. In January prices across the rich world rose by 5.7% year on year, down from a peak in late 2022 of 10.7%. This conceals wide variation, however. Some countries have slain the inflation beast. Others are still in the fight of their lives.  Countries in the eu and Asia perform well; in the English-speaking world, inflation is taking longer to fade. Australia tops the ranking. Britain and Canada are not far behind. America is doing better, but even there inflation remains entrenched.”, The Economist, March 27, 2024


Shrinkflation’ is coming for your Easter egg – Higher prices for smaller products are drawing the ire of politicians on both sides of the Atlantic.  Last year, a Maltesers truffles luxury Easter egg could be snapped up in Waitrose for £8. Now it costs £13, according to UK consumer group Which? A Terry’s chocolate orange Easter egg with mini eggs has shrunk by 30g and a large Mars milk chocolate egg has dropped from 252g to 201g. It’s not just Easter eggs that are getting smaller and more expensive. So-called shrinkflation is hitting economies and consumers across the world and drawing the ire of politicians on both sides of the Atlantic.”, The Financial Times, March 28, 2024


Global inflation and interest rates trackerInflationary pressures are beginning to wane but not all central banks have taken action yet. Central banks around the world are expected to lower borrowing costs as global inflation eases from the multi-decade highs reached in many countries over the past two years.”, The Financial Times, March 28, 2024

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Country & Regional Updates

Australia

China removes punishing tariffs on Australian wine trade – China is removing punishing tariffs on Australian wine imposed more than three years ago, restrictions that have all but destroyed $1.2 billion export market for hundreds of local wineries. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce, late on Thursday, said the tariffs would be removed on Friday. They were imposed in late 2020.”, The Australian Financial Review, March 28, 2024


China

China Loosens Cross-Border Data Rules on Business PressureMore information will be exempt, top internet regulator says Foreign businesses have complained about the data rules. China relaxed rules governing cross-border data flows, addressing a key concern of foreign businesses that had complained previous regulations were disrupting their operations. Data collected in international trade, cross-border travel, manufacturing, academic research, and marketing that don’t contain either personal information or “important” information will be exempt from security evaluations when transfered out of the country, China’s top internet regulator said in a statement Friday.”, Bloomberg, March 22, 2024


Tim Cook opens Asia s biggest Apple StorePeople flocked to the Jing’an Temple area in Shanghai for the opening of Asia’s biggest Apple Store on Thursday night, and to see Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook. Shanghai now has eight Apple Stores, compared to six in Hong Kong and five in Beijing. New York city has seven. Since its first store in Shanghai – Apple Pudong – opened in July 2010, more than 163 million people have visited Apple’s seven retail locations in the city.”, Shine.cn, March 21, 2024. Compliments of Paul Jones, Jones & Co., Toronto


Egypt

After pushing its economy to the brink, Egypt gets a bail-out – But a record-setting investment from the UAE will not fix its chronic problems. On February 23rd Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed a $35bn deal to develop Ras el-Hekma, a wedge of land jutting off Egypt’s Mediterranean coast.  Within weeks of the announcement, the IMF more than doubled the $3bn loan it promised Egypt in December 2022, to $8bn. The European Union (EU) announced a €7.4bn ($8bn) aid package, and the World Bank stumped up another $6bn. All told, Egypt hauled in more than $50bn, a sum that dwarfs the central bank’s $35bn in foreign reserves.”, The Economist, March 27, 2024


Japan

“Japan Steps Closer to Intervention as Yen Hits Lowest Since 1990 – Finance Minister Suzuki ramps up forex intervention threat. Yen may quicken drop if 152 barrier broken, say traders. The yen dipped to 151.97 versus the dollar early on Wednesday in Tokyo, before recovering after comments from Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki, and his top currency official Masato Kanda indicating that Japan was ready to act. 


South Korea

South Korea prepares financial support for small businesses, builders – The government, together with commercial banks, plans to provide 40.6 trillion won ($30.3 billion) of financial support for small and medium-sized companies through loan guarantees and lower interest rates from April, the Financial Services Commission (FSC) said in a statement. The ministry in charge of financial policies also said it would continue to expand its joint scheme with commercial banks that returns interest income to small businesses and self-employed people who have taken out loans.”, Reuters, March 26, 2024


Mexico

Mexico becomes the latest major Latin American economy to cut rates – Region has already begun unwinding its response to soaring inflation that has affected monetary policy around the world. The decision by the Bank of Mexico on Thursday to cut rates by 25 basis points to 11 per cent comes as most central banks in developed countries have yet to loosen monetary policy. Latin American central bankers’ swift response to soaring inflation after the coronavirus pandemic has transformed their credibility as they emerge from the most serious wave of price pressures in decades.”, The Financial Times, March 21, 2024


United Kingdom

UK inflation falls to 3.4% as Bank of England mulls interest rate cut – Inflation slid faster than expected to its lowest level in two and a half years in February, strengthening hopes that the Bank of England will cut interest rates in the coming months, official figures showed. Inflation is now running at its slowest pace since September 2021. City analysts and the Bank of England had anticipated the rate to decline to 3.5 per cent. Inflation peaked at 11.1 per cent in October 2022, lifted by higher energy prices after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”, The Times of London, March 21, 2024


UK Restaurants and Bars Cut Hours as Costs Soar by £3.4 BillionHospitality sector is facing higher wages and business rates Sites are reducing shifts and opening hours to cope with costs. Restaurants and bars across Britain are having to slash staff working hours to cushion the blow of a £3.4 billion ($4.3 billion) spike in annual costs, according to the head of the sector’s trade body. Kate Nicholls, chief executive officer of UKHospitality, said sites were also cutting back their opening hours to deal with a ‘tsunami of costs.’”, Bloomberg, April 1, 2024


Domestic energy production falls to lowest level on recordBritain imported a net 41.1 per cent of its energy last year, up from 37.3 per cent in 2022, primarily from Norway and America. North Sea oil production last year fell to the weakest level since records began in 1948 and gas output was the second lowest, according to figures from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero. A rise in wind, solar and hydroelectric output failed to offset the fall in more carbon-intensive fuels, which meant that total UK energy production was 9 per cent lower than in 2022 and down by more than two thirds on 1999, when domestic production peaked. Maintenance outages and plant closures meant that nuclear output was also at a fresh low.”, The Times of London, March 29, 2024


United States

U.S. Economic Growth Remains Robust, No Matter How You Slice It –  The Bureau of Economic Analysis said real gross domestic product grew 3.4% in the last three months of 2023, an upward revision from its previous estimate of 3.2%. That was driven by the fact that government spending, particularly at the local and state level, was higher than originally estimated. After trailing GDP dramatically throughout 2023, real gross domestic income jumped by 4.8% in the fourth quarter. It was the first quarter that GDI outpaced GDP growth since the third quarter of 2022.”, Barrons, March 28, 2024

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Brand & Franchising News

Anytime Fitness to Expand into United Arab Emirates – High-profile financier Mark Mobius leads an investment group that will bring Anytime Fitness® to the United Arab Emirates, according to a news release from the gym brand’s parent, Self Esteem Brands. The umbrella franchisor owns a portfolio of diverse health and wellness brands. With the expansion into the UAE, Self Esteem Brands will have Anytime Fitness clubs operating 24/7/365 in more than 40 countries and territories around the world. Anytime Fitness is a fast-growing brand that serves nearly 5 million members at more than 5,200 clubs globally.”, FranchiseWire, March 24, 2024


3 Important Considerations in Adapting Your Restaurant Menu for Global Success – If you want to expand your restaurant franchise and reach a global audience, you must adapt your menu accordingly. Updating your menu items when you open locations in other countries is essential for your restaurant’s long-term stability and success.  Recognize cultural sensitivities. Evaluate profit margins and cost considerations. Retain brand consistency while adapting.”, Franchising.com, March 29, 2024


International Growth Session Highlights from the 2024 Multi-Unit Franchising Conference – A high-level panel discussion at last week’s 2024 Multi-Unit Franchising Conference (“How Franchise Brands Grow Outside Their Home Country”) provided advice—both encouraging and cautionary—for franchise brand attendees looking to expand outside of their national borders. Whether U.S. brands eyeing overseas growth, or international brands looking to expand into the U.S., the expert panel had something for everyone. Franchising, March 27, 2024


Domino’s China Franchisee Expands in Smaller Cities For GrowthThe Chinese franchisee of Domino’s Pizza Inc. is accelerating store expansions as consumers outside the country’s top cities show a bigger appetite for western food.The pizza chain wants to tap demand for fast food among residents in less prominent Chinese cities and towns that aspire to the lifestyle of glitzy megacities, Aileen Wang, chief executive officer of DPC Dash Ltd, also known as Domino’s Pizza China, told Bloomberg in an interview in Shanghai Thursday. Bloomberg, March 28, 2024


Quebec franchisees sue Tim Hortons, claiming declining profitsNearly a dozen Quebec franchisees are suing Tim Hortons QSR-T, claiming their profits have declined by millions of dollars in recent years. The store owners say the gap has narrowed between their own costs for supplies and menu prices, both of which are controlled by the company. Tim Hortons currently has more than 3,900 locations in Canada, approximately 615 of which are in Quebec. The company has acknowledged that franchisee profits fell during that time: The average Tim Hortons location made $320,000 in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in 2018, a number that declined to $220,000 by 2022.”, The Globe and Mail, March 29, 2024


Olive Garden’s earnings just pulled back the curtain on the economy: The rich are dining out while the poor are falling back. ‘We’re clearly seeing consumer behavior shifts,’ Darden CEO Rick Cardenas said in a third-quarter earnings call on Thursday. ‘Transactions from incomes below $75,000 were much lower than last year. And at every brand, transactions fell from incomes below $50,000.’  Meanwhile, transactions for higher-income individuals were higher than last year, according to the earnings call, so households earning at least $150,000 were dining out more.”, Fortune, March 22, 2024


Second-biggest restaurant chain in the world behind McDonald’s will surprise you – The burger chain is the biggest-restaurant chain in the world by unit, according to a Restaurant Business report, a publication focused on the foodservice industry. Hot on the heels in the No. 2 slot this year is a newcomer. For the first time, coffee giant Starbucks pushed past Subway to become the second-largest restaurant chain in the world. The Seattle-based coffee brand added 3,000 new locations in 2023, bringing the total number globally to 38,587, according to data from Technomic, an industry research and consulting firm. Starbucks operates 2,000 more locations than Subway, which once was the largest chain in the world by total unit count.”, Penn Live, March 23, 2024


Orangetheory Fitness and Self Esteem Brands Announce Intent to Merge as Equals, Creating a New Company Representing One of the Largest Footprints of Fitness, Health and Wellness Services……the new company will represent $3.5 billion in systemwide sales and approximately 7,000 franchise locations across 50 countries and territories on all seven continents. The merger will result in significant international scale for the new company, with continued investments in leading-edge data and analytics, technology, products and services that help franchisees across its brands outpace growing consumer demands for holistic health and wellness services.”, PR Newswire, February 29, 2024


18 International Starbucks Bakery Items You Need To Know About……the drink selection — and even more noticeably, the bakery options — tend to differ drastically at Starbucks locations outside the U.S. This makes sense, of course. The retailer operates stores in a staggering 80 countries as of March 2024, after all, and has made a conscious effort to adapt to the local culinary culture in each market. Here are 18 international Starbucks bakery items you need to know about.”, The Tasting Table, March 23, 2024

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