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May 2021 Global Business Report

Author: socialmedia@taplowgroup.com/Monday, May 17, 2021/Categories: News

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In 2021, the region’s economy is expected to resume expansion at 3.4 percent, amid a continued lack of access to vaccines and limited policy space to support the crisis response and recovery. Macroeconomic policies will in many countries entail some difficult choices.

South Africa

Government welcomed the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) revised upward growth outlook of South Africa from 2.8% to 3.1% for 2021. The upgrade to South Africa's growth outlook affirms the robustness of the economy and positive economic interventions despite tough conditions.

The projected 3.1% growth follows a period where economic activity decreased by 7.0% in 2020 compared with 2019 due to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Based on historical data, this is the biggest annual fall in economic activity the country has seen since at least 1946. Prior to the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic activity in South Africa increased by 0.2% in 2019, following an increase of 0.8% in 2018. The annual real gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 0.2% in 2019 was primarily led by increased economic activity in finance, real estate, and business services, as well as general government and personal services.

The IMF growth projection revision is attributed to the additional fiscal support in large economies and the global roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines. South Africa’s own vaccination roll-out programme holds the potential to further uplift and turn the economy around.

Contact: Joyce Ambale, Managing Partner, Africa, E: jambale@taplowgroup.com



The Asia and Pacific region are starting to recover tentatively, but at multiple speeds. Economic activity is expected to grow by 6.9 percent in 2021—0.6 percentage point lower and 0.3 percentage point higher, respectively, than in the June 2020 World Economic Outlook Update.


Australia has reported its Annual Federal Government Budget this month. Last year, Australia’s economy amid the global pandemic contracted by just 2.5%, this contrasts strongly against other economies of the United Kingdom, France and Italy that all contracted by more than 8% and Australia has seen employment go above its pre-pandemic levels.

The underlying cash balance for 2020/21 is estimated at 8% of GDP, S&P maintained its negative outlook for Australia’s AAA credit rating and has said that a narrowing in the deficit towards 3% of GDP is more consistent with a AAA rating. The outlook for the Australian economy is that it will continue to recover over the next couple of years. It is forecast that business investment will increase in the near term; housing investment will continue with new house starts now the highest in 20 years.

It is also forecast that Government sees stronger consumption and a bigger contribution from net exports and unemployment falling below 5% in the near term with weak wage growth. Government spending will continue to turbocharge the national economy with significant spending in key sectors particularly health, defence, and infrastructure. *Sources Federal Treasurer and NAB


China will remain cautious about high rate of export growth. The stimulus policy made by developed countries (especially the US) triggered demand for products manufactured in China, while the worsening Covid-19 pandemic in many emerging markets including India as one competitor also accelerate the export from China as backup. However, China will remain cautious as the currently high rate of export growth may not sustain.

Surging prices of imported commodities sustain China’s “no sharp shift” policy stance. China is also alert to the surging prices of imported commodities which can both trigger higher inflation and depress domestic demand. That is why China may stick to its “no sharp shift” policy stance, although there is elevated trend of export growth.

China releases 7th population census data. Total population numbers 1.41 billion and sex ratio heading to a more balanced direction. More Chinese moving to eastern region and round 850,000 foreigners living in China. The census data raised the concern the low annual population growth and high percentage of aged person.

China's consumer price index up 0.9% in April and tightening the prices surge of property sector. Rising international commodity prices pushed up China's producer price index. High increase of exports supports China’s recovery and may also support China’s tough stance on tightening policy on the property sector in big cities.

Contact: Derek Zhang, Managing Partner, China, E: derek.zhang@chinadox.com


Moody’s Investors Service joined other rating agencies slashing its FY22 economic growth forecast for India from 13.7% estimated earlier to 9.3%, citing negative impact of the second wave of coronavirus pandemic. The rating agency cautioned that risks from deeper stresses in the economy and financial system could lead to a more severe and prolonged erosion in fiscal strength, exerting further pressure on the credit profile of Asia’s third largest economy.

Hero MotoCorp ties up with Taiwan's Gogoro Inc with focus on electric mobility. The country's largest two-wheeler maker Hero MotoCorp has partnered with Taiwan-based Gogoro Inc., to collaborate in the field of electric mobility. As per the partnership, the companies will establish a battery swapping joint venture to bring Gogoro's industry leading battery swapping platform to India and will collaborate on electric vehicle development to bring Hero-branded, powered by Gogoro network vehicles to market.

Dutch SHV Energy to invest $250 Million in SunSource Energy in two years. Netherlands-based conglomerate SHV Energy, part of one of the largest global private trading groups SHV Holdings, has marked its foray into solar energy space by acquisition of a majority stake in India headquartered SunSource Energy.

Israeli firm produces solar technology in India for project in UAE. The Israeli embassy announced that a partnership has been initiated by the International Federation of Indo-Israel Chambers of Commerce (IFIICC) through which an Israel-based company is producing an innovative robotic solar technology in India for a landmark project in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This is a first-of-its-kind trilateral cooperation between India, Israel and the UAE

Electric Vehicle (EV) space sees top level hiring to fill up new technology advancements. Experts maintain that with the EV business at an inflection point and poised to grow exponentially, companies in this space are getting more focussed on the talent eco-system, which is technical and specialised in nature. With corporates staying bullish on their electric vehicle (EV) plans, they have upped the ante regarding top level hiring.

Contact: Sangeeta Sabharwal, Managing Partner, India E: sangeeta.sabharwal@taplowgroupindia.com


Singapore's gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 2 per cent between January and March, extending the 3.8 per cent growth in the previous quarter, advance estimates by the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

"The expansion is a strong signal that our economy is slowly but surely recovering from the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 last year," said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing.

Contact: Lee Fang Xing, Managing Partner, Singapore, E: lfang@taplowgroup.com

New Zealand

Economic Outlook: In their February Quarterly Economic Outlook, ANZ Bank expect that it will take until early 2022 for some form of normalisation to occur to the New Zealand economy. They anticipate that International tourism and education will resume, and household spending patterns will shift with households willing to spend more as incomes grow and travel again. Unfortunately, more travel by New Zealanders means more spending overseas and less in New Zealand.

International Travel Bubble Opens: The New Zealand Government announced that travel between New Zealand and Australia will be quarantine-free from 19th April 2021. This was soon followed by the announcement that travel between New Zealand and Rarotonga would also be quarantine-free from the 17th of May 2021.

Tourism New Zealand estimates quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand resuming soon could bring in $1 billion to the economy by the end of the year. Despite solid domestic tourism, there is an estimated $12.9 billion expected gap from the loss of international visitors. The return of Australian visitors will go some way to helping reduce this gap. Australians spent $2.7 billion in New Zealand in 2019.

Prior to COVID-19, Australians made up almost 40% of international arrivals to New Zealand and contributed around 24% or $2.7 billion of New Zealand's annual international visitor spend.

Unemployment Rate Falls Again: New Zealand’s unemployment rate fell to 4.7% in the March Quarter. This was down from the previous quarters rate of 4.9%. The labour market in New Zealand is extremely tight which is a good signal that then labour market is in good shape, which is completely against the predictions that were being made when New Zealand headed into the Covid crisis.

Supply Chain and Shipping Delays Impacting: Temporary shipping delays caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is leading to shortages of products across New Zealand industries. These are likely to continue until the end of the year, experts say.

Contact: Graeme Sandri, Managing Partner, New Zealand, E: graeme@swr.nz


With new waves of COVID-19 infections hitting Europe, the recovery remains static. However, vaccinations are progressing and thus Europe’s GDP growth is projected to rebound by 4.5 percent in 2021.


The Danish economy has been constrained by a long lockdown until April 2021. The hospitality industry has been especially influenced by this. Denmark's real GDP is forecast to expand by a solid 2.8% in 2021 and around 2.9% in 2022 according to the IMF. The number is low due to the low commercial activity at Q1 but is expected to increase later this year.

The latest lockdown has increased unemployment to 4.6% of the workforce, but not as much as the start of 2020 where it peaked at 5.6%. In the Capital Region of Denmark, the unemployment rate reached 6.7% in Q1 2021. Nevertheless, the highest unemployment rate was documented in the Region of North Denmark.

Contact: Ole Norby, Managing Partner, Denmark E: onb@taplow.dk


2021 GDP growth will be 2.6%, supported by the strengthening of private consumption towards the end of the year. In 2022, GDP growth will continue to gather pace and reach 2.7%, reflecting a gradual pick-up in investment. In 2023, economic growth will slow to close to 1% and approach the level of potential output in the economy.

The employment rate decreased by just under one percentage point, to 71.6% in 2020, but will return to pre-pandemic levels in 2022. During the COVID-19 crisis, jobs have been lost particularly in services. Although the crisis has weakened employment in services, the effects may only be temporary as the demand for services returns. Much of the employment growth in recent years has taken place in services. Towards the end of the forecast period, improvements in employment will be impeded by slow economic growth and a further contraction in the working-age population

Timo Toivanen, Managing Partner, Finland, E: Timo.Toivanen@taplow.fi


For the month of May, with the easing of sanitary constraints, business leaders anticipate an improvement in activity in both industry and services. In industry, the recovery is expected to be marked in the pharmaceutical industry; activity is expected to increase in the automotive sector, although it will remain relatively weak.

Production in the aeronautics and other transport sector is also expected to remain well below its pre-crisis level. The increase in activity should be more significant in services than in industry. In the accommodation and food services sector, the easing of sanitary measures would allow a slight recovery in activity, which would nevertheless remain at very low levels. The improvement would also be noticeable in leisure activities and personal services, as well as in equipment rental (automobiles, etc.). The improvement would be less significant in business services. In the construction sector, activity is expected to be stable, at a level very close to its pre-crisis level.

Thus, economic activity would rebound rapidly in May to - 4%, below the pre-crisis level, and then to - 2.5% in June, reaching the August 2020 high point. In industry, the recovery is expected to continue, particularly in those sectors benefiting from the lifting of sanitary restrictions (food industry, which could benefit from the gradual recovery of the restaurant sector).

Similarly, construction is expected to be boosted by strong demand, as suggested by the business surveys, and this is linked to the recovery in investment by municipalities at this stage of the electoral cycle. It should be noted that the 2021 departmental and regional elections will take place on the 20th and 27th of June 2021.

Market services should reach a level of activity similar to that of the end of the third quarter of 2020, with a notable rebound in trade - with the reopening of "non-essential" stores -, in accommodation and food services and transport services - with a rebound in French and foreign tourism, and the reopening of establishments -, and in other service activities - with the resumption of cultural and sports activities.

Non-market services are expected to be stable, above normal, with the decline in COVID tests being offset by the continuation of vaccination and the catching up of operations that had to be postponed in the health context of recent months. Overall, in the second quarter of 2021, GDP would be about 4% below the pre-crisis level, slightly higher than in the first quarter of 2021 (about +0.25%). At the end of the first half of 2021, the annual growth rate would then be +4.25%. However, this scenario of a rebound in activity in May and especially in June remains surrounded by uncertainty: it is conditional, in on the lockdown ending.

Contact: Stéphane Martinod, Managing Partner, France, E: smartinod@taplowgroup.com


In 2021, it is expected that economic output in Germany will expand by 3.5% year-on-year. Growth in the first quarter is currently expected to remain considerably weak due to the rising number of infections and renewed restrictions at the beginning of 2021. However, as the third wave of infection subsides and vaccines becoming more easily available throughout Germany the economic recovery should continue at a somewhat faster pace.

Data from German Central Bank shows these indicators: Cross all sectors production and order entry in March was positive and turned negative numbers from 1st of January onwards into positive ones over all in Q1, this applies to retail, trade and services as well. Loans to non-financial firms declined ca. 1% and those to private institutions and households increased about 1% similarly, savings of households grew 6% on annual basis while debts grew 4% approximately, all data median on 12 months basis.

Germany's unemployment rate had been at a record low of around 5%. On average around 44.8 million people were employed in Germany in 2020. The unemployment rate is expected to continue to grow slowly in the coming months and will only start to decline in the 3rd quarter of 2021.

Contact: Andreas C. Köchling, Senior Partner, Germany, E: akoechling@taplowgroup.com


Unemployment is 211,000 people (registered) 7,6%, being the highest since world war II, and increased since Q1. GNP for 2020 ended on a drop of 2.5%. Less than anticipated in January.

Folio rate from Bank of Norway has been 0 percent for the past 10 months. Economists expect this rate to be increased 1 or 2 times during second half of 2021, and further in 2022.

Despite low interest rate Norwegians has record high private savings in banks. Expected to be caused by reduced ability to travel and activity in cultural events, as well as fine dining.

Many industries are slowly starting to get back to where they were before Covid, but many are still suffering. Heavy industry: oil, gas, aluminium and fishery are still suffering. Crude oil has recently experienced positivity in production and pricing, but it is still difficult to see how this can relate to the actual supply and demand on a global level. Expected to drop before it increases further.

Classic political economical tools are sourcing billions of Euros into infrastructure, aiding the construction business. May 10th, the Norwegian Government reported a record-high use of savings into regular economy.

Contact: Hans Holter-Sorensen, Managing Partner, Norway, E: hhs@taplow.no


The Economic Ministry in Moscow expects a GDP growth of 2.9 % for 2021, which is below the estimate of the IMF for global growth. However, this is related to the fact that Russia’s GPD of 2020 decreased only by 3 %, less than for most other countries. The Russian Economic Ministry further estimates a decline of unemployment from 5.8% to 5.2% for 2021 and an increase in wages of around 2%.

China and countries within the Eurasian Tradeunion managed to increase their trading within Russia, whereas the EU saw a slight decline of 3%, but remains Russia’s most important trading partner. The Government expects growth of imports by 10% and exports by 24%, mainly related to the increased pricing of oil and gas.

With the Roadmap 2030, the Government wants to fund around 140 projects with an investment volume of 5 billion EUR within the chemical industry. Russia’s goal is to grow this sector (especially fine chemicals) to reduce imports and increase the own production.

Another sector still on the rise is the Agricultural Industry. It is one of the most steadily developing sectors in the country. Also, neighbouring Kazakhstan has now started to plan the expansion of its agricultural sector and is finalising a new investment plan.

Contact: Henric Nilsson, Managing Partner, Russia, E: henric.nilsson@humansearch.ru


Spain will be the fastest-growing European economy this year, according to the EU The European Commission has upgraded its growth forecast for Spain to 5.9% this year and 6.8% next year. “The strong rebound expected from the second quarter of 2021 should allow Spanish GDP to return to its pre-pandemic level by the end of 2022", says the Commission in its latest spring projections.

The EU executive stresses that the implementation of Spain’s Recovery and Resilience Plan "will play an important role" in this economic expansion, particularly in 2022. In addition, the end of the restrictions will also boost domestic consumption and tourism, so the contribution of external demand will also be strong.

Thanks to the alignment of all these factors, our economy will outperform the rest of Europe's. It will grow the most this year, followed by France (5.7%), and next year, ahead of Greece (6%).

Contact: Carmen Alarcon, Managing Partner, Spain, E: calarcon@taplowgroup.com


Sweden’s economy expanded more than expected in the first quarter, a surprise that’s likely to silence calls for the Riksbank to cut interest rates below zero again to accelerate the recovery.

Gross domestic product grew 1.1%, Statistics Sweden said. Analysts polled by Bloomberg expected a 0.5% expansion, slightly below the central bank’s forecast.

“The strong trends make a rate cut or other stimulus measures less likely,” Nordea’s economist Torbjorn Isaksson said in a report. Still, “it is not likely that inflation will be high enough for the bank to take the foot off the accelerator,” he said.

Contact: Emma Tilson, Managing Partner, Sweden, E: emma.tilson@asearch.se


The UK economy shrank by 1.5% in the first three months of 2021 but gathered speed in March as lockdown restrictions began to ease, official figures show. The reopening of schools and strong retail spending helped the economy grow 2.1% in March, its fastest monthly growth since last August.

But the economy is still 8.7% smaller than it was before the pandemic. However, March marked a possible turning point, economists suggested. Tej Parikh, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, predicted the UK economy was now on course for a bumper bounce-back this year.

"The first quarter should mark the low point for the economy in 2021," said Mr Parikh. "The lockdown and added costs of navigating new trading terms with the EU, limited many businesses' trading activities at the start of the year."

Official trade figures, published at the same time as growth figures, showed a shift away from trading with EU countries since Brexit. "Imports from Europe remained sluggish in the first three months of the year, being outstripped by non-EU imports for the first time on record," said ONS director of economic statistics Darren Morgan.

In the January to March quarter, the UK's exports to the EU fell 18.1% to £32.2bn, while exports to non-EU countries rose by 0.4% to £41.1bn, compared with the previous quarter.

The value of imports from the EU fell by 21.7% to £50.6bn, and imports from non-EU countries fell by 0.9% to £53.2bn.

Contact: Mark Firth, Managing Partner, UK, E: mfirth@taplowgroup.com




Regional economic activity is projected to grow by 3.7% in 2021 as pandemic mitigation measures are relaxed, a vaccine is rolled out, key commodity prices firm, and external conditions improve.


Recent data from IPEA – Brazil “Institute for Applied Economic Research”, indicate a recovery trajectory of the Brazilian economy, mostly led by the industry and the service sectors. However, the recent aggravation of the pandemic, which imposed a strong pressure on the health system, has forced the state governments to reintroduce social distancing measures to help contention of the number of new cases of the disease.

The economic forecast for the second semester of 2021 contemplates an advanced vaccinal coverage against Covid 19 and a growth recovery due to consumers’ and entrepreneurs’ increase in trust and the reduction of the social distancing measures. For 2022, IPEA forecasts a GDP growth of 2.8%. Although inferior to the GDP for 2021, the 2022 GDP rate contemplates a scenario of maintenance of the recovery activity of the second semester of 2021.

Key sectors of GDP rate for 2021 include Industry growth of 3.7%; Services: 2.8%, and Agribusiness: 2.8%. Conversely, same GDP components for 2022 show increase rates of: Services: 3.0%; Industry 2.5%, and Agribusiness: 2.0%.

Brazilian grain crop estimates for 2021 reached an all times record of 264.5 million tons, up 4.2% vs. 2020. Main grain crop of soya beans soared to 131.8 million tons, 8.5% higher than 2020 and other crops with much lower tonnage included corn, rice, wheat, other cereals and other leguminosae. Due to the current devaluated Brazilian real currency those commodity items became attractive export opportunities for the producers, affecting the internal market supply and raise in prices this year.

Unemployment rates are still extremely high, reaching 13.9% in the end of 2020 and the number of unemployed workers amounted to 14.1 million, 6.17% higher than the yearly average of 13.4 million in 2020. Occupied population in the last quarter of 2020 amounted to 86.2 million, 4.5% or 3.7 million above the previous quarter

Contact: Tácito Bocaiuva, Managing Partner, Brazil, E: tbocaiuva@taplowgroup.com


Business growth is widely reported as being quite robust. Reports from Bloomberg and from the US Labour Department suggest that front line workers are in short supply and many are not prepared to return to the workforce because low wages will not cover the cost of childcare. This will probably last until schools can broadly and safely re-open.

Trends in the US are a bit spotty as major firms seem to be more focused below the executive level. We note the following in executive and senior professional levels:

Corporate relocations to lower cost and less regulated states seem to be accelerating including businesses from Canada and other countries as well as other states

  • Some of the moves seem to be spontaneous and driven in part the size of the markets in some lower cost areas such as Arizona
  • Cost of Living and a well-educated work force seem to be driving these announcement.

Search is heavily focused on adding women and minority professionals in almost every market and every level.

Senior level departures slowed during the latter part of 2020 and now appear to be accelerating with 3 notable phenomenon

  • Internal promotions with women and minority professionals being appointed to executive level positions appear to be increasing
  • External hires into executive and professional levels appear to include an unexpectedly high number of previous employees who have grown in stature and experience working for other firms and
  • Executives in firms are being solicited even if they have fairly short service in a more senior role as the hiring company has run out of promotable professionals

At the most senior levels we are seeing quite a few executives who have departed their recent firms and are actively soliciting Board and Trusteeship appointments.

Contact: Steve Schrenzel, Managing Partner, USA, E: sschrenzel@taplowes.com


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