15/03/2017 Asia Business Report

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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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I will be back with more of the day's news, including the breaking


news from America. MSNBC have got hold of Donald Trump's tax returns


from the year 2005. Now on BBC News, all the latest


business news live from Singapore. China's message for the world. The


National People's Congress comes to a close. What have we learnt? And


one Southeast Asian city claims the ranks to number one when it comes to


having the best quality of living. Hello, and welcome to Asia Business


Report, the National People's Congress in Beijing has come to a


close. Delegates from across China pledged to implement the use of


technology to strengthen the military. Well, the 10-day session


had kicked off with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announcing slower growth


this year compared with last year's 6.7% expansion. I spoke with our


correspondent in Beijing and asked for some of the highlights from this


year's National People's Congress. I think the headline news is the


government is targeting lower growth this year than last year. In actual


fact, sentiment in Beijing is relatively up heat on the economy at


the moment so 6.5% growth for this year as a whole -- upbeat. We are


seeing a bit of a recovery in the industrial manufacturing sector


here. So the mood and sentiment is relatively upbeat despite the


lowering of the headline growth target. You say it is upbeat,


nonetheless that lower growth target to 6.5%, it is still the lowest in


more than 25 years, so how might that impact a lot of China's


neighbours which rely on it as an engine of growth? I think china's


neighbours will welcome slower growth, China is going to make


progress on structural reform in tackling some of the imbalances in


its economy. This is the key to sustainable long-term growth in


China and that should be something which its neighbours, with China a


significant export market, should welcome. Slower growth doesn't mean


necessarily a bad thing for the global economy if it means China


will be a more stable footing in the years to come, that will be a


positive. We heard from Premier Li Keqiang at the National People's


Congress essentially reiterating a lot of pledges we have heard before,


the need to tackle large data and enterprises, zombie companies


producing too much coal and steel, the need to tackle pollution. As I


mentioned, we have heard this before and they have proven hard to fulfil.


How effective is the National People's Congress really? I think


they are moving a little bit too late on both the issue of tackling


zombie companies and tackling air-pollution, but last year they


move more aggressively than they have before on both those areas. In


terms of implementation, there is still a lot to be desired. We think


capacity cuts this year will be difficult, because they haven't


really reformed the state-owned sector, which is potentially more


difficult than the cuts in the private sector last year. And we are


also hearing a lot more protectionist language from the new


Trump administration, especially in the US. Were there any clues from


the National People's Congress on how China might deal with trade


tensions with the US? Well, I think in one sense China sees this as an


opportunity for itself to assume some of the global leadership roles


in globalisation, although its own record in terms of opening its own


economy leaves much to be desired. I think that Trump and Xi Jinping are


going to meet next month in the US, which is a positive sign and suggest


those trade tensions might not spill over to the extent of having


significant implications for both the US, Chinese and global economies


in the future. So if they are meeting, it probably suggest there


is room for compromise on some of the issues which divided them. That


is Tom Rafferty speaking to me earlier. It is the news that


investors have been waiting for. The US Federal Reserve is expected to


announce an interest rate increase at the world's largest economy,


gaining momentum. It comes as many await more concrete details about


Donald Trump's economic policies. So what does a rate hike mean for the


average American worker? Our correspondent reports from New York.


An increasingly common sight in America today. Machines making


everything from factory robots to aircraft landing gear. After a


painfully slow recovery, the sights and sounds of economic activity.


Nearly everyone who wants a job in the US has one. It has been getting


better for us since 2008, 2009. That was the worst I have seen in my


working life. I have seen more jobs coming back to the United States.


This shop in Brooklyn they make metal parts, mainly for the aviation


industry. Like many factories across the US, there is lots going on in


room to grow. Were fortunate we have a steady flow of business. Now and


for the foreseeable future, we have a steady flow of business. Activity


that hasn't gone unnoticed by this woman. Fed chair Janet Yellen is


among those making the case that the world's largest economy is strong


enough to withstand higher interest rates, making the prospect of a rate


hike in March a near certainty. The economy is clearly ready for another


rate hike, inflation is moving towards the Fed's inflation target


of 2%. The job market is in very good shape, and financial market


conditions have eased. Back at the tool shop, this man sees the


prospect of a higher rate as a vote of confidence in the economy.


Probably is a good time to raise interest rates, although I don't


want to pay more interest. And a few miles away on what will your Mac


Wall Street, investors are prepared, even looking ahead, wondering about


the pace of future hikes -- on Wall Street. If the Federal Reserve


raises interest rates this will be only the third time it has done so


since the global financial crisis. Almost a decade later, it would send


a signal that the US economy is returning to some kind of normality.


In other business news, Toshiba shares are down by more than 7% in


Tokyo this morning. The Tokyo stock exchange has placed the shares under


supervision for a possible delisting. On Tuesday, Toshiba said


it may sell its majority stake in the US nuclear unit Westinghouse.


The Japanese firm bought Westinghouse in 2006 but it has been


suffering huge cost overruns. Toshiba has been granted permission


to delay reporting its earnings second time, until 11 April, and is


expected to announce a write-down of about $6 billion for the struggling


nuclear business. Now, the list is in the cities with the best quality


of living, and the worst. Vienna in Austria ranked number one in the


world, according to consultancy farm Mercer, Auckland, Sydney, Wellington


and Melbourne remain in the top 20 however in Asia, Singapore ranked


the highest, moving up one place, in fact, since last year, for its


business opportunities as well as it in the structure. It is followed by


several Japanese cities, including Tokyo, Yokohama and Kobe. Hong Kong


moved down one spot but it is still the highest of all its neighbouring


cities, including Taipei, Shanghai and Beijing. I asked a correspondent


from Mercer consulting firm what factors they consider in their


ranking system. There are clear focus is on air pollution. There is


focus on traffic congestion. There is focus on freedom of speech, there


is focus on economic environment, including access to currency


exchange rates. And all of those factors relatively have kind of push


down the Chinese cities to a lower ranking. You have got the likes of


Auckland at number three. It has out ranked Singapore for the


Asia-Pacific region, but if you think about multinationals who you


are aiming this study at, don't you think that Auckland perhaps might be


seen to be too far away to set up a big business, or a regional company?


I think you need to differentiate between quality of living bursars,


you know, what might make sense for a multinational from a regional hub


perspective -- versus. Access to raw materials, access to clients,


availability of different kinds of talent, all might have a bearing on


where you want to set up. Let's take a look at the cities at the bottom.


For this part of the world, Baghdad and Dhaka it near the bottom, what


is it about these cities? Safety and security has a clear bearing, and


clearly Baghdad, Dhaka, and some of the other cities which are ranked


much lower, have clearly been impacted by the safety and security


issue, of a safe environment. Plus, there are additional factors. As I


said, there are 39 different factors. Air pollution, traffic


conditions, economic stability, access to international flights, all


of those have kind of played a part in some of those cities being scored


lower. All right, but in terms of infrastructure, this is the first


year you have put out a list which assesses the best infrastructure,


Singapore tops are but we know that there are many other Asian cities


with equally good infrastructure. What is it about Singapore


specifically? I am very proud to say that Singapore is ranked number one


worldwide in city infrastructure rankings we came out with. In the


way they are measured are around uninterrupted electricity supply,


water availability, integrated public transportation system, and,


you know, traffic conditions, access to international airports all


flights. Singapore clearly scored a much higher ranking in lots of


those. Let's take a quick look at the market before we go, because


there is a lot of caution setting and in the markets. That is why they


are all lower. A lot of investors sidelined ahead of those meetings,


the Fed reserve, the Bank of England and the bank of Japan. That is it


for the show, thank you for