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on flood defence work south of the border in and around York.
Now on BBC News all the latest business news live from Singapore.
Jelly car ban: cars taken off the row to reduce pollution, but will
take a difference? And, we look at the latest technology trends --
Delhi. Happy New Year, glad you could join us for this Monday
edition of Asia Business Report. It is Monday morning in Delhi and only
vehicles with license plates ending in an even number can be on the
road. It is the start of a two-week trial to cut pollution levels.
Schools and businesses have closed in anticipation of the total chaos.
Tomorrow, only odd-numbered vehicles will be allowed. The city has an
estimated 8.5 million cars on the road, and it is thought that grows
by an incredible 1400 everyday. We often hear about that dreadful air
quality in China, but Delhi holds the unenviable title of the world's
most polluted city. Holding up these cards, volunteers
remind drivers to follow the new experiment, in a bid to curb
alarming levels of pollution. Private cars with even an odd
numbered plates are being allowed on alternate days. Government has
closed schools and diverted buses to ease the extra pressure on the
public transport network. But what do people make of it? We need
desperate measures like this, it is a good move. Anyone caught flouting
it should be fined heavily. If you look at this pollution metre set up
outside the Delhi Secretariat, you will understand why the city needs
drastic measures to improve air quality. Many people question the
effectiveness of this, given the number of people who are exempt,
especially over 5 million two wheelers who can contribute heavily.
The web-based taxi service Uber has a special service to fill cars that
have few passengers. There are several seats in each car, and only
two people. That is three cars that can be taken off the road. We can
lead people who need rights to these empty seats, and that will solve a
problem. Capital city is not alone. India has 13 of the world's 20 most
polluted cities, the WHO reported last year. If this experiment
succeeds, the hope is that other Indian cities may take to it as
well. In other business news, Kia motors
reported flat sales last year, which is the first time it missed annual
targets since 2008. The South Korean auto giant has been struggling in
recent years, with Japanese and American rivals making a comeback in
the US, while demand is slowing in China and other emerging markets.
But they expect sales to bounce back, thanks to tax cuts on small
vehicles. China looks set to have a muted start to 2016 after timidity
in the manufacturing sector contract that fought the sixth straight
month. There was a slight improvement on the previous month,
but it was below expectations. Despite China's economic slowdown,
investment in the country's railways only grew last year. $126 billion
was spent on rail projects in 2015. This new high-speed rail service has
become one of the latest to start operations. China now has 19,000
kilometres of high-speed track. 2015 may well be remembered as the
year where Asian countries really stepped up to the global stage.
Chinese technology brands continue their phenomenal growth, and Asia's
love affair with these applications went even deeper. Steve McGuinness,
who heads up a grand consultancy company, believes 2016 will be a
good year for the regional brands. For the first time there is a
combination of three big fat is. The opening up of the ASEAN economic
community, the level playing field that e-commerce gives all the global
brands and the smaller brands to fight on an even playing field, and
also the growth of the emerging market brands working closely
selling to other emerging markets. You have these big brands like
Alibaba and Huawei, they have strength in social media, but the
big question is making it did in the Western world, in America and
Europe. But do they need to make it big in the Western world and Europe?
The opening up of the ASEAN market is millions of consumers. If you
look at Alibaba, they dominate what they do in China, but this year they
are launching their streaming movies and TV channel, which will go
head-to-head with Netflix, and China is already the second biggest movie
market in the world. Do they need to go battling in the West when in fact
by merely playing on their understanding, positioning and
dominance where they are, has already made them one of the biggest
brands in the world. We also have big brands here in the region,
particularly in Singapore, can they make it big in Asia and the world?
Absolutely, they already understand the consumer. They understand the
Diamond consumer, which is the largest growth market and segment in
the world. They understand what people want, how to sell to them,
and they already have a local following.
No doubt many of you were lucky enough to get a new bit of
technology this Christmas. The brains behind it are likely to be
heading to the annual consumer electronics show. Much of the talk
is about virtual reality, look at this guy with this big thing on his
face! And how it might change our lives in the real world. We take a
look at what virtual reality is doing so far.
In a freezing seller with fake snow under feet I am inching across a
crevasse on my way up the world's highest peak. I am getting a demo of
Everest, a virtual reality game due out later this year. The headsets
and software that deliver VR have come a long way in the last few
years. Now, the manufacturers believe gamers are ready to invest
themselves in virtual reality. It is a natural progression. It is all
about trying to immerse us as much as possible. The next thing is
taking us into a virtual environment and locking out everything else so
we are focused on exactly what they are trying to tell us. In Kings
College Hospital in south London, patients on the children's ward are
getting their first VR experience, using this simple cardboard headset.
They are taking a virtual tour of the Dulwich picture gallery, one of
a number of museums hoping to reach a large amount of people with this
experience. You kind of get the feel of being there and seeing all the
paintings, it is really cool. Getting into a lift, especially one
as old as this, can be a scary experience for some people. Could
virtual reality help them to get over their phobia? I have come to
see how some psychologists are working with the technology. They
have developed a programme that allows patients to try out the
experience of getting into a lift. Challenges are you feeling at the
moment? About seven. It is not the real world, but I call it a visual
experience. You feel your heart beating faster, you sweat, you're
creeping changes, you get a physiological reaction that you
don't get into 2-D environment. Let's see if it has worked for
Helena. I'm quite proud that I'm doing this! You should be proud. Do
you think the virtual reality thing has helped that all? Honestly, I
would have been taking the stairs about a month ago.
Before we go, a quick look at the markets. It is a New Year and a new
trading week for Asia. It is currently mixed, with Japan and Hong
Kong in negative territory by three points. This is after Wall Street
closed for the day in negative territory.
Saudi Arabia has cut diplomatic relations with Iran
amid worsening tensions following the execution by Riyadh