04/01/2016 Asia Business Report


04/01/2016

Live from Singapore, the essential business news as it breaks and a look ahead to the news that will shape the business day.


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on flood defence work south of the border in and around York.

:00:00.:00:07.

Now on BBC News all the latest business news live from Singapore.

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Jelly car ban: cars taken off the row to reduce pollution, but will

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take a difference? And, we look at the latest technology trends --

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Delhi. Happy New Year, glad you could join us for this Monday

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edition of Asia Business Report. It is Monday morning in Delhi and only

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vehicles with license plates ending in an even number can be on the

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road. It is the start of a two-week trial to cut pollution levels.

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Schools and businesses have closed in anticipation of the total chaos.

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Tomorrow, only odd-numbered vehicles will be allowed. The city has an

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estimated 8.5 million cars on the road, and it is thought that grows

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by an incredible 1400 everyday. We often hear about that dreadful air

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quality in China, but Delhi holds the unenviable title of the world's

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most polluted city. Holding up these cards, volunteers

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remind drivers to follow the new experiment, in a bid to curb

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alarming levels of pollution. Private cars with even an odd

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numbered plates are being allowed on alternate days. Government has

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closed schools and diverted buses to ease the extra pressure on the

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public transport network. But what do people make of it? We need

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desperate measures like this, it is a good move. Anyone caught flouting

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it should be fined heavily. If you look at this pollution metre set up

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outside the Delhi Secretariat, you will understand why the city needs

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drastic measures to improve air quality. Many people question the

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effectiveness of this, given the number of people who are exempt,

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especially over 5 million two wheelers who can contribute heavily.

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The web-based taxi service Uber has a special service to fill cars that

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have few passengers. There are several seats in each car, and only

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two people. That is three cars that can be taken off the road. We can

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lead people who need rights to these empty seats, and that will solve a

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problem. Capital city is not alone. India has 13 of the world's 20 most

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polluted cities, the WHO reported last year. If this experiment

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succeeds, the hope is that other Indian cities may take to it as

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well. In other business news, Kia motors

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reported flat sales last year, which is the first time it missed annual

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targets since 2008. The South Korean auto giant has been struggling in

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recent years, with Japanese and American rivals making a comeback in

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the US, while demand is slowing in China and other emerging markets.

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But they expect sales to bounce back, thanks to tax cuts on small

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vehicles. China looks set to have a muted start to 2016 after timidity

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in the manufacturing sector contract that fought the sixth straight

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month. There was a slight improvement on the previous month,

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but it was below expectations. Despite China's economic slowdown,

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investment in the country's railways only grew last year. $126 billion

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was spent on rail projects in 2015. This new high-speed rail service has

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become one of the latest to start operations. China now has 19,000

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kilometres of high-speed track. 2015 may well be remembered as the

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year where Asian countries really stepped up to the global stage.

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Chinese technology brands continue their phenomenal growth, and Asia's

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love affair with these applications went even deeper. Steve McGuinness,

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who heads up a grand consultancy company, believes 2016 will be a

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good year for the regional brands. For the first time there is a

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combination of three big fat is. The opening up of the ASEAN economic

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community, the level playing field that e-commerce gives all the global

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brands and the smaller brands to fight on an even playing field, and

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also the growth of the emerging market brands working closely

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selling to other emerging markets. You have these big brands like

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Alibaba and Huawei, they have strength in social media, but the

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big question is making it did in the Western world, in America and

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Europe. But do they need to make it big in the Western world and Europe?

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The opening up of the ASEAN market is millions of consumers. If you

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look at Alibaba, they dominate what they do in China, but this year they

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are launching their streaming movies and TV channel, which will go

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head-to-head with Netflix, and China is already the second biggest movie

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market in the world. Do they need to go battling in the West when in fact

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by merely playing on their understanding, positioning and

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dominance where they are, has already made them one of the biggest

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brands in the world. We also have big brands here in the region,

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particularly in Singapore, can they make it big in Asia and the world?

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Absolutely, they already understand the consumer. They understand the

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Diamond consumer, which is the largest growth market and segment in

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the world. They understand what people want, how to sell to them,

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and they already have a local following.

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No doubt many of you were lucky enough to get a new bit of

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technology this Christmas. The brains behind it are likely to be

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heading to the annual consumer electronics show. Much of the talk

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is about virtual reality, look at this guy with this big thing on his

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face! And how it might change our lives in the real world. We take a

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look at what virtual reality is doing so far.

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In a freezing seller with fake snow under feet I am inching across a

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crevasse on my way up the world's highest peak. I am getting a demo of

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Everest, a virtual reality game due out later this year. The headsets

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and software that deliver VR have come a long way in the last few

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years. Now, the manufacturers believe gamers are ready to invest

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themselves in virtual reality. It is a natural progression. It is all

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about trying to immerse us as much as possible. The next thing is

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taking us into a virtual environment and locking out everything else so

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we are focused on exactly what they are trying to tell us. In Kings

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College Hospital in south London, patients on the children's ward are

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getting their first VR experience, using this simple cardboard headset.

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They are taking a virtual tour of the Dulwich picture gallery, one of

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a number of museums hoping to reach a large amount of people with this

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experience. You kind of get the feel of being there and seeing all the

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paintings, it is really cool. Getting into a lift, especially one

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as old as this, can be a scary experience for some people. Could

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virtual reality help them to get over their phobia? I have come to

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see how some psychologists are working with the technology. They

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have developed a programme that allows patients to try out the

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experience of getting into a lift. Challenges are you feeling at the

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moment? About seven. It is not the real world, but I call it a visual

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experience. You feel your heart beating faster, you sweat, you're

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creeping changes, you get a physiological reaction that you

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don't get into 2-D environment. Let's see if it has worked for

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Helena. I'm quite proud that I'm doing this! You should be proud. Do

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you think the virtual reality thing has helped that all? Honestly, I

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would have been taking the stairs about a month ago.

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Before we go, a quick look at the markets. It is a New Year and a new

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trading week for Asia. It is currently mixed, with Japan and Hong

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Kong in negative territory by three points. This is after Wall Street

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closed for the day in negative territory.

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Saudi Arabia has cut diplomatic relations with Iran

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amid worsening tensions following the execution by Riyadh

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