The Taplow Group – Global Business Report - March 2021
The Taplow Group S.A. with 21 partner firms has its presence vai our 30 offices across 6 continents. Our expert consultants not only bring a wealth of expertise in their respective countries but also internationally. We have put together this report to bring business leaders the global economic and business information.
Africa’s economic outlook continues to brighten. Its real GDP growth, is projected to accelerate to 3.9 percent in 2020 and to 4.1 percent in 2021. Leading the way are six economies among the world’s 10 fastest growers: Rwanda, Ethiopia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Tanzania, and Benin. Growth’s fundamentals are also improving, with a gradual shift from private consumption toward investment and exports. And for the first time in a decade, investment accounted for more than half the continent’s growth, with private consumption accounting for less than one third.
The economy grew by 1.5% in the fourth quarter, giving an annualised growth rate of 6.3%. This follows the revised 13.7% (annualised: 67.3%) rise in economic activity recorded in the third quarter.
Eight of the ten industries made positive gains in the fourth quarter, most notably manufacturing (bolstered by increased production in food, beverages, and motor vehicles) and trade (driven by retail, motor trade, catering and accommodation). Mining and finance, real estate and business services were the two industries that recorded a decline in economic activity.
Investment weekly reports that China will be a key driver of global growth in 2021. China’s firm handle on the coronavirus puts it in an enviable position compared to its peers. Japan is looking to "Sugenomics" to jumpstart its sluggish economy, while the central bank has already exhausted many policy options. Within Emerging Asia, the recovery is likely to be more muted in 2021 as it enters a more mechanical phase.
Other parts of Emerging Asia are facing political risks that could impede growth. However, Vietnam is a bright spot, with positive growth likely given its success containing the virus and position as a beneficiary of US-China trade tensions.
The Australian National Accounts released on the 3rd of March 2021 show the Australian economy is strengthening and the Commonwealth Government COVID-19 economic recovery plan is working.
It has been underpinned by strong export receipts and that Australia has maintained its AAA credit rating. Real GDP increased in the December quarter by 3.1%. The forecast was for an increase of only 2.5% and is consistent with the growth in the previous quarter of over 3%.
In 2020 the Australian economy contracted 2.5% comparing favourably against the USA 3.3%, Japan 4.8%, and Italy 8.9%.
The national rollout of vaccine for COVID-19 is underway and it is forecasted to get the great majority of the Australian population covered by September 2021. Australia is also going to provide vaccine for Pacific nations. As 2021 progresses the Commonwealth, State and territory governments will reduce the emergency and direct economic support.
Signs are positive however with 320,000 new jobs and 2.1 million Australian workers coming off employment support benefits, and with 94% of the 1.3 million Australians who lost their jobs or saw their working hours reduced to zero, now back at work.
(Sources include the Australian National Accounts and the Federal Treasurer.)
GDP growth target at “above 6%
China targeted its GDP growth this year at “above 6%” in the annual National People’s Congress (NPC) session. China also committed to make “no sharp turns” on its monetary policy stance. Market interpreted the “above 6%” growth target as too conservative because China will avoid pushing the growth target in 2022.
CPI inflation target lowered to ~3.0%
The official CPI inflation target was set at “~3.0%” for 2021, lower than “~3.5%” for 2020. The market assumes a gradual and moderate policy may be implemented in 2021.
Slightly higher job market targets
The target for new urban employment in 2021 was set at over 11million people. It is a good sign for job market. But it also raised the concern about the real unemployment rate impacted by the COVID-19 in 2021.
Some longer-term plan issued
China vowed to cut energy use per unit of GDP by 13.5% and reduce CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 18% by 2025. New energy industry could benefit from this plan. China also adopted some favorable policies to encourage the development of high technology manufacturing sector. Talent demands in high technology manufacturing is booming.
Rating agency Moody has upped India's growth projection for the financial year beginning 1st April, to 13.7% from 10.8% that was estimated earlier. The revised numbers came on the back of normalisation of activity and growing confidence in the market with the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines.
COVID-19 has provided a stimulus to India's ecommerce market and is expected to touch $111 billion as per a report by financial technology firm FIS.
Germany’s Volkswagen group has started to pump in fresh investments to the tune of nearly $1 Billion for an India fightback and group company Skoda that will lead the charge will launch four new cars in the market.
Apple will start manufacturing iPhone 12 in India this year. The Indian government has reportedly approved a proposal of about $1 billion to push local manufacturing, including cashback of 1% to 4% to manufacturers.
Ola plans to invest $2 billion in a two-wheeler factory in Tamil Nadu. The Future Factory will be able to produce 10 million electric scooters per year. The cement industry is set to hit a decadal high-volume growth of 13% in the next fiscal, helped by an expected revival in demand from the infrastructure and urban housing sectors, according to CRISIL ratings.
FDI in 2021 may be more than 2020. Experts largely feel the sectors which can attract more FDI could be Services, IT, Telecom, and Chemicals. Apart from that, Pharma and Automobile segment can also attract flow.
Economists have upgraded their forecasts for Singapore's gross domestic product and is expected to increase 5.8 per cent this year, according to the median forecast of 24 economists surveyed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). This is in anticipation of improvements in the manufacturing and finance sectors in 2021.
Indonesia hopes that the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), signed in Oct 2018 with Singapore could potentially boost two-way investment between 18 per cent to 22 per cent over the next five years. According to the Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board, Singapore was Indonesia’s largest foreign investor last year, with a total investment worth US$9.8 billion. This figure was a significant increase from the year before when Singapore’s investment in the country was US$6.5 billion.
Singaporean companies have been among the first to invest in the Kendal Industrial Park (KIP) in Indonesia’s Central Java province. Since the park opened in 2016, more than 60 companies have set up their operations in the special economic zone, pumping in US$1.73 billion worth of investment and creating 9,000 jobs.
Aside from KIP, Nongsa Digital Park has also served as a digital bridge for tech companies from both Singapore and Indonesia. Since its launch in 2018, the digital park has grown from a handful of companies and employees to more than 150 companies and startups today.
One of the key sectors that has helped to bolster New Zealand’s economic fortunes in the wake of the outbreak has been the agricultural sector. The latest dairy auction is a good example. Prices rose 15% at the early March event, which saw prices 39% above year earlier levels. Strong demand (including from China) is bumping up against limited supply resulting in rapid price escalation. While the extent of this lift is unlikely to be sustained in the medium term, Economists suspect a fair amount will be on for a while yet. It will flow through to higher incomes domestically.
International visitor flows fell to near zero after the New Zealand borders closed in March last year. This was always going to have a big impact on the New Zealand tourism industry (our biggest sector). Visitor arrival numbers in December were down 99% compared to a year earlier. According to the latest data, spending in Q4 2020 was around $1.3b. This is down two thirds on the same quarter a year earlier. Economist’s estimate that international visitor expenditure in the year to March 2021 will be around $5.8b. This would be nearly $10b lower than a year earlier.
New Zealanders’ spending offshore slumped around 80% compared to prior year levels after the borders closed. This decline resulted in a material support to domestic spending through Q2 and Q3 2020 as New Zealander’s who might have gone offshore at this time of year stayed put and spent money at home be it on travel or purchasing other items or investing in property or undertaking renovations.
The other key area where significant strength is occurring is the construction sector, with strength in new home building. Residential construction levels are already around 5% above the levels seen prior to the outbreak of Covid, and the outlook for the coming year is looking increasingly strong.
The European Union consumer confidence survey in February 2021, the DG ECFIN estimate of the consumer confidence indicator picked up in both the EU (0.8 points up) and the euro area (0.7 points up) compared to January 2021. At −15.7 points (EU) and −14.8 points (euro area), the indicator continues scoring well below its long-term average of −10.6 (EU) and −11.1 (euro area).
The French gross domestic product (GDP) should be "slightly up in the first quarter compared to the previous quarter", but the level of activity would remain 5% below its pre-crisis level in February and March, the Banque de France estimates. "Sectors not directly exposed to sanitary measures show an activity close to normal" while the others "maintain a high level of loss", specifies the central bank in its economic note.
The level of activity has thus reached 95% of the pre-crisis level, i.e., that of February 2020, since December. This level was 69% in April 2020, before rising to 97% in August, September, and October. The Banque de France specifies that its "forecast for the month of March remains surrounded by a large margin of uncertainty" linked to the progress of the vaccination campaign on the one hand, and of the coronavirus variants on the other. Its projections are based on its survey of 8,500 businesses conducted between 24 February and 3 March, but also on bank card spending, which "remained broadly stable over January and February".
The capacity utilisation rate in industry increased by one point in February, to 76%, compared to 79% before the crisis. But it is still "particularly low in the aeronautics and other transport sector" at 67%, while the chemical industry is "operating close to normal", according to the business report. The services sector "is registered overall in very slight progression, whereas the heads of companies rather anticipated a fall last month", still notes the Banque de France. If it remains at an extremely low level in the hotel and catering industry, activity "is returning to normal or approaching it" in publishing and "business services such as legal and accounting activities or consulting services". Finally, in construction, "activity increased slightly in February and is close to its pre-crisis level".
For 2021, the Banque de France has been forecasting 5% growth in the French economy since December. In the fourth quarter OF 2020 temporary work, the true compass of the employment market, continued to recover: +5.1% (+36,700 jobs) after +22.9% and +22.8% in the second and third quarters. But this does not compensate for the historic fall in the first quarter (-40.3%). Temporary employment at the end of 2020 therefore remains below its level at the end of 2019 (-5.3%, or -41,900 jobs).
The partial lockdown is still in place with different openings more or less depending on thresholds and on states and regions – schools will open only for youngest ones and last-year pupils. A lockdown-easing matrix with multiple steps to open or close is communicated countrywide. The daily increase of Covid-infections is accelerating again. People including business stakeholders increase lockdown complaints. Most work is performed from home. Government recovery schemes spending continue.
Financial Services sector remain solid. There may be adjustable assets in the books; some businesses grow with cost reductions. In retail only food and online perform well. Other sectors still vary, production sectors see small increases and business drivers are digitalization and robotics, also automation, automotive, machinery and plant engineering especially for environment topics. Most of the logistic business is performing at nearly 100% of capacity rates.
Covid-test rates are still small but expected to increase soon. Vaccination rate is slow like in some other major EU countries, and this may cost lots of billions of Euros in business. The expectation is federal elections this September shall ensure vaccination offers to these two–thirds that want it, maybe earlier but recently messages of delays are communicated again.
Some enthusiasts still expect full economy recovery next year, some predict 2023, although the downturn of the BIP 2020 had been corrected to -4.9 % by the ministry for economics.
COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting female workers across Europe:
70% of healthcare sector employees are women. Women working in healthcare are suffering from major stress (long hours under hard conditions; greater exposure to virus, leading to mental health issues).
40% of all employed women work in hard-hit sectors (accommodation, arts and entertainment, food and beverages, garment manufacturing, retail). Women shoulder an unfair share of increased care burden. Women provide >75% of all unpaid care work, 78% of single parents are women, 10.6% of women (vs. 6.7% of men) say family responsibilities make it harder to do their jobs, and 72% of domestic workers risk losing their jobs.
The pandemic is expected to delay gender equality in the EU workplace by at least seven years.
Source: Eurofound; European Commission; European Institute for Gender Equality; ILO; Kearney; OECD
The Spanish economy will rebound this year by seven tenths of a percentage point more than forecast then (5% to 5.7%) and by eight tenths of a percentage point more in 2022 (4.8% compared to 4% previously), according to figures published recently by the OECD.
One of the reasons for the upward revision of the Spanish forecast is that "there have been fewer mobility restrictions and Spain has coped better with the health situation" in recent times, OECD chief economist Laurence Boone said at the report's launch in Paris
The upward revision for Spain is the largest among the four economies analysed in the eurozone - Germany, France, Italy and Spain - in 2021, but falls short of the projected improvement for the G20 countries (up 1.5 percentage points to 6.2%) and for the world as a whole (up 1.4 points to 5.6%). At best, Spain will return to pre-pandemic levels in the course of 2023.
The Private Equity Business is growing fast; especially those firms that specialize in middle market and in Special/Turnaround situations. Also, the construction sector is growing again, overseas, followed by manufacturing logistics and digital companies.
Unemployment is 203.000 people (registered) 7,3%, being the highest since world war II. GNP of last 12 months vary from down 5,5% to down 6,7 %. Variation is due to who is calculating. Official numbers for Norway for 2020 are expected early April.
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 in 2021, and further in 2022. These signals in the past 2-3 weeks have resulted in strengthening the Norwegian currency; NOK (kroner)
Despite low interest rate Norwegians have recorded high private savings in banks. These savings are a direct result of reduced ability to travel and activity in cultural events, as well as fine dining. Some industries are doing well like sporting- and outdoors goods, refurbishing of own property (kitchen, paint etc.)
Also, online shopping (groceries and pharma) has recorded increase, but without showing profits. 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.
Classic political economical tools are sourcing billions of Euros into infrastructure, aiding the construction business sector.
The Russian developed vaccine EpiVacCorona will be launched for wide-scale vaccination from the second half of March. It was the second vaccine to be registered in Russia.
Consumer spending grew by 2.6% in February, which is the highest increase since the pandemic started. According to Sberbank, this is mainly due to a lower perceived risk regarding covid. Retail is doing better in household appliances, computers and electronics, and clothing retail. The entertainment industry is also steadily recovering. Car sales seem to go up as well, with almost 1 % higher sales in February this year compared with February last year.
Several Russian big corporates made quite a turnaround end of last year as the country defied a second wave. The recovery of the oil price and the removal of many restrictions certainly helped. The CEO of the Russian oil company Rosneft, Igor Sechin, claims that his company was one of few major oil companies in the world that finished 2020 profitable. Russia’s major bank, Sberbank, also saw a similar turnaround from a problematic first half-year to a strong end of 2020 and has continued well first months of 2021. Perhaps the strongest sector was food retail. For instance, X5, a prominent Russian group of several food retail chains, saw its total sales increase by 14% in 2020.
Hardest hit in the last quarter of 2020 were the consumer facing services such as retail trade, food- and beverage-serving activities, and travel and recreation. Latest official data suggest sharp declines in output in these sectors, although not the dramatic collapse they saw during the first wave in April 2020.
Manufacturing activity has held up, supported by Brexit-related stockpiling in the fourth quarter as companies built up inventories to mitigate the risk of a disruptive, no-deal departure from the European Union. But now that a trade deal has been struck, businesses are likely to run down their stockpiles, dampening first-quarter activity.
Overall, we expected the economy to contract in the fourth quarter 2020 and again in the first quarter 2021, leading to a double-dip recession. However, with the corporate sector better prepared to respond to tighter restrictions this time, and government support schemes already in place, these contractions are forecast to be much smaller in scale than the one seen in the second quarter of last year.
2020 was a topsy-turvy year for the UK economy. After the deepest economic downturn on record, a strong rebound was cut short by a surge in COVID-19 infections. This year, we expect vaccines and continued policy support to deliver a more sustainable recovery.
The U.S. economy for its part has stayed resilient through the pandemic. Consumer spending has nearly returned to pre-COVID-19 levels, while average personal incomes of U.S. households surpassed pre pandemic levels in September, even after the first round of fiscal support expired.
After the sharp contraction in the second quarter of last year, the brisk recovery in the third quarter exceeded expectations in some larger economies, like Brazil, Peru, and Argentina. Manufacturing recovered faster than services. Net exports have recovered to pre-crisis levels while consumption and investment are lagging.
In 2020, due to the adversities brought by Covid-19, the GDP fell 4.1% against 2019, the lowest rate of the timeline series started in 1966 (former estimates indicated a – 9.00%+ rate). In the cumulative yearly rate, GDP, in current values, amounted to US$ 1,443 trillion out of which US$ 1,241 trillion refers to Value Added at basic prices and US$ 193,9 billion to Net Taxes on Products.
There was an increase only in Agriculture of 2.0% and decreases in Industry of -3.5% and Services -4.5%. The GDP totalled US$ 1,443 trillion, in 2020. The Investment Rate in 2020 was 16.4% of GDP vs. 15.4% in 2019, and the Savings Rate was 15% vs. 12.5% in 2019.
The Per Capita GDP reached US$ 6,822 in 2020, down 4.8% in real terms. This was also the lowest rate in the timeline series.
In the foreign front, Export Goods and Services dropped by 1.8%, while Import of Goods and Services fell 10%. A new round of the monthly “Emergency Aid Pay” / “Corona voucher” Program, estimated at around R$ 300,00 (US$ 55.00) per capita, to be paid to a population of 65 million of small informal workers/micro entrepreneurs and unemployed workers will be launched by the government, either in March or April, this year, to be paid for four months.
Estimated cost is about US$ 8 billion. Current Unemployment Rate has reached 14.2%.
IBGE/” Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics” – Brazilian Government
Economic concerns about the recovery and a possible sell-off in the securities markets are serious concerns for our clients.
March has been a bit slower than January and February. Pricing pressure is greater than in prior recoveries. The numbers of reported searches are increasing nationally but with many opting for contingency searches only.
Executives are approachable and companies are installing email barriers. Year to date we are well ahead of 2020. We continue to stress business growth and diversity as a reason to visit with us. Technology outages and telephone exchange overload are still real problems.
We hope that you, your family, and work colleagues continue to stay healthy and safe. If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch with us.