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Food production and the spread of pandemics #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 27, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

Food production and the spread of pandemics

Jan 26. 2020
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg Opinion · David Fickling · OPINION, OP-ED 
With the world’s largest high-speed rail network, a payments system that’s largely conducted via phone apps, and half the world’s solar-power plants, China often looks like a country at the technological frontier. When you consider how it feeds itself, though, it’s still just catching up.

About 44% of the country’s livestock in 2010 were still raised in backyards and traditional mixed farms, where they mingle with crops and other animals. While that’s a dramatic fall from a generation ago, when about 97% of livestock were raised in traditional conditions, it trails countries like the U.S. and Europe, where 95% or more of pigs and poultry are raised in so-called “intensive systems” – in common parlance, factory farms.

That transition is likely to be a major factor in the spread of new diseases such as the coronavirus, which has killed 17 people since it was first detected last month in Wuhan. The central Chinese city was put on lockdown Thursday to contain the virus. How China handles the changes taking place in its food industry will determine the future of infections for everyone on the planet.

Epidemics are a product of urbanization. Only when humans started to pack themselves into densely populated cities around 5,000 years ago were infections able to attain the critical mass needed to kill us in large numbers. The worldwide disease outbreaks we call pandemics started to emerge only when our urban civilization went global.

Think about that in terms of the livestock industry and the implications are concerning. In the space of 50 years or so factory farming has “urbanized” an animal population that was previously scattered between small and midsize holdings. Epidemic conditions that once only affected humans can increasingly pose threats to our food animals, too.

Then consider each animal as a potential laboratory for the mutations that can cause new epidemics to emerge. Globally, the population of farm animals is about three times that of humans. Some of the most serious disease outbreaks in recent decades have resulted from infections crossing the species barrier from intensively farmed livestock to people.

H5N1 avian flu may have started to spread when migratory birds wound up in close proximity to the new intensive poultry farms that sprang up across eastern China in the 1990s. The origins of the H1N1 swine flu pandemic are harder to unpick, but several studies have suggested diverse origins relating to global movements of pigs and poultry between Europe, Asia and North America.

The Wuhan virus, similarly, was first found among people linked to the city’s wet market. As my colleague Adam Minter has written, the conditions in these open-air stalls – where many animals are slaughtered to order or taken home alive – are a major factor in the spread of disease in China in recent years.

It’s not all bad news. Precisely because they’re such potent sources of infection, biosecurity measures and surveillance on intensive farms are generally much tighter than they are on traditional holdings. China’s bureaucracy has often been characterized by secrecy and indecision in the face of epidemics and food safety problems. It seems to take strong direction from the top for this stasis to be reversed, so it’s good that President Xi Jinping has called for action around the latest outbreak. Even so, the devastating spread of African swine fever over the past year suggests that food safety is still weaker than it should be.

The changing nature of the retail grocery trade may improve matters. As amazing as the persistence of China’s wet markets may seem to outsiders, it’s easy to overlook how quickly they’re fading. Until the 1990s, supermarkets didn’t exist, rationing was common, and meat in many areas was a treat reserved for rare occasions like the coming Lunar New Year festival. Nowadays, the market share of modern grocery stores is about 65%, according to Euromonitor International. That puts far more of the meat supply chain into large-scale facilities with better biosecurity procedures.

The bigger problem is likely to be a political one. Food-safety measures work best where there’s a high degree of trust in society. Farmers are most likely to pay the personal costs of following hygiene rules when they think they can benefit more from the integrity of the system than from smuggling infected livestock. As even Beijing acknowledges, trust is one commodity that’s in short supply in China these days.

– – –

David Fickling is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering commodities, as well as industrial and consumer companies. He has been a reporter for Bloomberg News, Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the Guardian.

Will Davos save the world, or put it out of its misery? #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 26, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

Will Davos save the world, or put it out of its misery?

Jan 26. 2020
Dan Zak is a reporter for The Washington Post. He writes a wide range of news stories, narratives and profiles from local, national and foreign assignments, from the Academy Awards to Fallujah, Iraq. He joined The Post in 2005.

Dan Zak is a reporter for The Washington Post. He writes a wide range of news stories, narratives and profiles from local, national and foreign assignments, from the Academy Awards to Fallujah, Iraq. He joined The Post in 2005.
By The Washington Post · Dan Zak · FEATURES 

DAVOS, Switzerland – When this hot planet finally begins to evict us en masse, the global elites might seek refuge up here in the Alps, in the highest town in Europe – if only out of habit.

They’re here at this time every year, to negotiate and network and divide up the exciting business of solving the world’s problems. This week was the 50th meeting of the World Economic Forum. The themes were cohesion and sustainability, though humanity seems capable of neither right now. See the mega-fires in Australia. See the situation with Iran, whose foreign minister scrapped his attendance here at the last minute. See the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, or Prince Harry leaving the United Kingdom. See the world leaders and billionaires park their jets in Zurich and then float into Davos on helicopters to watch the leader of the free world make misleading boasts about the U.S. economy as the Senate tries him back home on an abuse-of-power charge.

In Davos, the trials are both incredibly broad and exquisitely niche. “ACT ON CLIMATE,” someone has written in big letters, in the snow, near the helicopter landing zone. In the center of town, lupine packs of black Benzes prowl the jammed streets looking for fossil fuel executives and hedge fund managers to scoop up. Cryptocurrency traders shatter their wrists slipping on black ice after too many glasses of $5,000-a-bottle wine. A sketchy guesthouse rents single bedrooms with communal bathrooms for $1,000 a night despite online reviews like this one, translated from a Polish guest: There is a terrible chaos.

There is a terrible chaos elsewhere, yes, but not here at Davos. Here the chaos is orderly, policed and profitable. Here the chaos is shoehorned into sessions on “escaping the liquidity trap” and “the global impact of a tech cold war.” The chaos is blurred by flutes of Cristal at parties thrown by corporations and entire nation-states, who plaster the town with garish pleas for investment (Canada: Everyone else is investing in us; why aren’t you?). Poverty, disease, climate change, artificial intelligence – in Davos, these are not obstacles but opportunities for collaboration among 3,000 invited diplomats, corporate swashbucklers, academics, “thought leaders” and “changemakers.”

Why are we all here? It’s a practical question that can turn metaphorical in the rarefied air. Davos is an impossible summit. It’s a place where guests can attend a session on resilience at a mountain base camp, preceded by Yo-Yo Ma himself playing Bach’s Suite No. 3 in C Major. At its worst, it is not merely an example but a celebration of luxury, hierarchy, exclusivity. But it’s also a place where people gather to talk in idealistic terms about the future of the species – presidents and CEOs and royal highnesses, who can move massive amounts of capital (intellectual and otherwise). If the key to our collective fate cannot be found here . . .

But hold that thought, because now comes Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist, to suggest that being here matters not at all.

“I’ve been warned that telling people to panic about the climate crisis is a very dangerous thing to do,” Thunberg announced to 200 attendees Tuesday, referring to her comments in Davos last year. “But don’t worry, it’s fine. Trust me, I’ve done this before, and I can assure you: It doesn’t lead to anything.”

Then again, try telling that to Anthony Scaramucci, who felt like a small fish at his first Davos 13 years ago but made deals here, built his company’s management portfolio into $11.5 billion, did an extremely brief but very eventful turn as White House communications director and now hosts one of the week’s most popular parties. At his yearly “wine forum,” there is jollity, not panic, and 100-point Spanish Riojas, not trillions of flecks of ocean-bound plastic.

“I would say that in the last 50 years, collectively, we’re having a frat party with the environment,” Scaramucci said over a quadruple espresso Thursday. “Now Greta and her children and my grandchildren and great-grandchildren are going to be living in the frat house on Sunday morning after we destroyed the place on Saturday night. And so the problem is: When you are an impermanent person on Earth and you’re enjoying the frat party, it’s very hard for you to stop the frat party.”

– – –

At the start of the week, in a bar at the InterContinental hotel, billionaire Marc Benioff and the musician brought down mallets on a cask of Japanese whiskey, poured themselves a shot and toasted the guests at Time magazine’s kickoff party.

“Thank you for making me feel like family here on this mountain,” said from the stage. “It’s a brand new decade, y’all. This decade is going to define the rest of freaking humanity.”

That’s the consensus here among the elites: This is it! We were made for this moment! And the way that humanity survives itself while maintaining the world order – and adapting to the “fourth industrial revolution” – is through something called “stakeholder capitalism,” which is an academic way of saying “capitalism that doesn’t grind people into chuck, and suck the planet dry, but still makes us lots of money.”

The forum has set itself the ambitious goal of improving the state of the world.

If Davos is a microcosm of stakeholder capitalism, then the rest of the world can look forward to cigarette giant Philip Morris transforming a storefront on every Main Street into a swanky lounge where Sheryl Crow performs near signage advising customers to “UNSMOKE YOUR MIND,” which is probably what a million cancer patients wish they could do to their lungs.

On a WhatsApp group of Davos denizens, one man reviewed the Philip Morris lounge thusly: “Upbeat music. Hot attendants. Cocktails. It’s a nice change from sustainability and gender pay gap etc etc.”

The et cetera et cetera – the serious discussions about the outside world – is happening in the World Economic Forum’s official gathering place, a congress center fortified like a castle, where actors like Big Tobacco are banned. There you can bump into both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the 15-year-old chief water commissioner for the Anishinabek Nation of Canada. There you can drink celery juice from the health bar while watching a digital map the size of a one-bedroom apartment that depicts the incidence of child slave labor around the world. There you can watch foreign ministers puzzle over the future of NATO, and a 25-year-old blind YouTuber from Los Angeles talk about how to understand disability.

In keeping with the forum’s hard pivot toward the climate crisis, the carpets were made from used fishing nets and the paint on the walls was made from seaweed. The forum is heavily promoting a global effort to plant 1 trillion trees by 2030 and has asked its business participants to commit to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Banks and pension funds with CEOs attending Davos are collectively financially exposed to fossil fuel companies to the tune of $1.4 trillion,” Greenpeace reported this week.

Old habits, you know.

Outside the et cetera et cetera, Davos becomes a four-day funhouse for media outlets and corporations, consisting of a hierarchy of badges and titles, where the currency is the perception of importance and even millionaires grovel for invites to private suppers in chalets. (George Soros is a perennial host.) The great-granddaughter of J. Paul Getty is Instagramming from a mountaintop hot tub. The great-grandson of Sigmund Freud is throwing parties at the town golf club. Magician David Blaine keeps appearing everywhere. Russia, like other countries, has rented out a whole building for its own junket; last summer, two Russians who claimed to be plumbers supposedly tried to install surveillance equipment around town. This week, Davos was wallpapered with ads from the Saudi government that encourage investment and tout the foundation of its crown prince, who would like the focus on youth leaders rather than his kingdom’s execution of journalists and dissidents.

“This whole event is sort of a dictator’s bazaar,” mused activist-investor Bill Browder, known as Putin’s Enemy No. 1, over a dinner of rosti Wednesday. (Says a managing director of the forum: “Our message is clear: Institutions, rule of law and good governance underpin the world’s most successful economies.”)

Down the street in this world of stakeholder capitalism, a neon sign by Deutsche Bank asks, almost mockingly: “Is growth an illusion?” Nearby, Russian oligarchs mingle at a lounge named “Caspian Week,” which sounds like a tourism bureau for Azerbaijan but is actually a small energy conference co-sponsored by a Swiss oil company.

Don’t tell Greta, who walks around Davos with a police entourage the size of a world leader’s. But she is a world leader, isn’t she? Her name is on everyone’s lips here. On the opening day of the meeting, she was in the 10th row of the congress hall to listen to President Donald Trump, who addressed the 17-year-old obliquely.

“To embrace the possibilities of tomorrow, we must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse,” said Trump, who is derided by much of the Davos crowd for his nativist anti-intellectualism but tolerated for his anti-tax philosophy.

Before introducing Trump and thanking him for his leadership, Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum, praised the “transformational power” in the auditorium.

“If you aggregate our goodwill and action,” Schwab told attendees in his German baritone, “we can say to the next generation: ‘You can rely on us.’ ”

That morning, a small army of activists from that generation had blockaded the road into Davos, choking off Uber’s black-car service and sending a ripple of inconvenience through the town.

– – –

“This era is over.”

Robert Julius Blokker, 32, had just marched 13 miles to Klosters, one town over from Davos.

“Millionairism is done.”

He was sitting on a sleeping pad in an auditorium crawling with activists, who were on their way to tell the World Economic Forum that 50 years was enough.

Davos “is not some fun classy getaway cool thing to do if you’re a CEO,” said Blokker, who is from the Netherlands. “This is a besieged fortress of the last people building walls against reality, thinking that they’re still in charge of a world they lost control of a long time ago. And it’s very troubling that we might see how far they’re willing to go to uphold the illusion.”

If Davos is an illusion, it’s a good one. In 1971, Schwab chose the town, a former health resort for tuberculosis patients, to host a “a workshop of the elite” from the business world, as the first invitation described it. What used to be a yearly salon of nerdy men in wool sweaters and tweed jackets became, over a half century, a kind of shadow United Nations that attracts a dizzying panoply of fascinating, impressive people with a genuine desire to better the world. Davos is the place where the heads of East and West Germany first met for negotiations, and where Nelson Mandela and Frederik Willem de Klerk first appeared together abroad.

Not merely a frat party, but also a college.

Fifty years on, amid trade wars and a retaliation against globalism, the forum and its annual meeting are needed more than ever, says Tony Fratto, who has attended Davos as both a U.S. Treasury Department official and partner at a private communications firm.

“Yes, it’s expensive and they’re spending money and having parties and you can hear the jewelry jangling,” Fratto says. “But it is people who are committed to trying to elevate standards of living and expand rights and opportunities for people.”

During the lifetime of the forum, says author and political scientist Ian Bremmer, globalism created incredible wealth, buoyed life expectancy, broadened access to education, lifted droves out of poverty.

“But environmental catastrophe is the bad side of it, and, inside the advanced industrial democracies, we have failed our people,” says Bremmer, who was first invited to Davos more than a decade ago as part of program for young global leaders. “Inequality has grown and grown and grown. I think the globalist ideology and Davos have become synonymous with the system being rigged.”

This is a besieged fortress of the last people building walls against reality.

On Wednesday, a Wall Street Journal party on the promenade was blasting the Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” into the frozen starry night, and it felt exactly right.

And you may ask yourself, “Well – how did I get here?”

The answer to that question is Klaus Schwab, the great convener, the first and only sovereign of the World Economic Forum. He is regarded as a visionary, a genius, an enlightened being, a narcissist, a cult leader, a wannabe Nobel laureate. Depending on whom you talk to, his creation is viewed as a magnificent achievement that has nurtured the world, or a brilliant boondoggle that prizes chat above action and revenue above the public good. A few high-ranking former employees contacted for this story would not comment on the record because they fear his power. Civil-society groups have charged the forum with exerting undemocratic, pro-business influence over the United Nations.

Angela Merkel, however, keeps coming back for the et cetera et cetera. This was her 12th Davos.

“This is something unique that was created here in the Swiss mountains,” Merkel said in her keynote speech Thursday. “The forum has set itself the ambitious goal of improving the state of the world. . . . I think if you look back five decades, you can tell that the world has indeed gotten better.”

Schwab was not available for comment on short notice – it was, after all, the busiest week of his year – but his personality shines through a self-congratulating coffee table book about the forum that was distributed to attendees.

“It is my deep personal conviction that we must move towards a society which is no longer based on production and consumption,” Schwab says in a Q&A in the book. The World Economic Forum “aims to be a pioneer in this new social order based on ideals rather than on material values.”

Capitalism is all about materials, though, and they swirled around the congress center: mutual funds, cloud technology, petroleum, cannabis, consultancy, cryptocurrency.

There’s a feeling one gets here, as an outsider here: that there is a system, or a game, and that these people have figured out how to play it. The hive of social activity is the Belvedere hotel, which was transformed this week into a labyrinth of branded cocktail hours and candlelit dinners in private rooms.

A quote from a senior consultant at Deloitte welcomes people into this realm: “Profit and purpose can exist in harmony.”

If you pass the guards with submachine guns, scan your badge on a blinking kiosk and shuffle through security, you find yourself in front of four portals, each leading to a different ecosystem labeled with the acronyms of big sponsors: PwC, Citi, WSJ, KPMG. It’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” but with business cards instead of playing cards and a lucrative contract as the white rabbit.

And you may ask yourself, “How do I work this?”

Maybe the key to the future can be found in Davos.

Maybe the only people who can get to it are the ones who arrived with keys of their own.

– – –

What is Davos good for? Whom is it good for? Is it good for someone like Scaramucci, with his ingratiating self-awareness? Is Davos good for someone like the Prince of Wales, who loaned his fusty imprimatur to a hip-sounding “Sustainable Markets Initiative”? Is it good for Ivanka Trump, who met with the prime minister of Pakistan and co-hosted a breakfast with American CEOs? Is it good for, who appeared with primatologist Jane Goodall on a panel titled “Leadership in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” or is it good for Jane Goodall, who appeared on the panel with

Is Davos good for the rest of us, who may indirectly benefit from the forum’s focus on strengthening cybersecurity in global aviation?

On Wednesday, the forum launched “Reskilling Revolution” (yet another initiative) to “provide one billion people with better education, skills and jobs by 2030.”

A billion jobs.

A trillion trees.

Sounds wonderful. (Sounds too good to be true.)

If you want to pursue a united front, probably the only place on Earth where that could even be moved from fantasy into a reality is Davos.

Maybe Davos is good for someone like Micah White, who protested the World Economic Forum in New York in 2002, when he was 20 years old, and helped start the Occupy movement in 2011. On Tuesday, White was walking the sunny promenade of Davos as a guest. He wore a navy suit and carried a backpack branded with the logo of the World Economic Forum, which has been recruiting more activists, women and young people into its fold.

Accepting the invitation could be “reputational suicide,” White says, but he views climate change as a threat that requires immediate collaboration between activists and elites, not a time-consuming political revolution where one tries to overthrow the other.

“If you want to pursue a united front, probably the only place on Earth where that could even be moved from fantasy into a reality is Davos,” says White, seated in Facebook’s hub after a private meeting with industry leaders. “That’s not my fault. We have 10 years [to act on climate], and we have to work with what exists right now.”

You can see Davos as everything that’s wrong with the world, or you can see it as an opportunity to save the world. Sometimes you can see both at the same time.

On the edge of town, by the ski slopes, an activist for the homeless camped in a tent in 20-degree weather as forum attendees paid thousands of dollars a night for lodging. During the day, Andrew Funk hoped to educate them whenever they stepped out of their inner sanctum. On Thursday, he spotted and approached Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, and came away believing that Wales might join him for a frigid camp-out at next year’s Davos.

“Three thousand euros ends homelessness for one person through our program,” says Funk, who lives in Barcelona and runs an organization called Homeless Entrepreneur. “Every night a person stays in Davos could end homelessness for one to three people.”

It was something real and true to think about, whenever confronted by absurdity here. Like the lone bagpiper flown in from Scotland to blow his instrument for 2 1/2 hours outside a whiskey bar, which was set up by an asset manager from Edinburgh with a portfolio worth $700 billion. The bagpiper wore a kilt, so his knees were bare. His undercarriage was well acquainted with the Swiss winter. He stood behind a large, branded frame that said, “This is #MyDavos,” to encourage selfies and Instagrams.

There on the promenade, a company had turned a man into a product.

How much longer does he have to do this?

“Counting the minutes,” he said. Then he kept blowing into the frigid night.

Managing global talent mobility through a global employment company #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 21, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

Managing global talent mobility through a global employment company

Jan 21. 2020
Anthony Loh, Partner, Tax & Legal Services,
Deloitte Thailand

Anthony Loh, Partner, Tax & Legal Services, Deloitte Thailand
By Special to The Nation

The Thai economy has been growing at a slower pace since 2016, and is experiencing a further slowdown due to weaker domestic demands, strong baht impacting export/tourism industry, and varies external factors.

The overall Thai economy growth is forecast to remain flat in 2020. Due to such sluggish domestic economy performance, many Thai-based businesses either are resorting to opportunities offered by the international market, including investing abroad or buying up Thai assets that are previously owned by foreigner investors, or attracting highly skilled talents from other countries.

While expanding their overseas operations, companies might face the situation where employees have to be seconded for a period of time to complete certain assignments abroad, and vice versa.

Traditionally, the employee will usually be seconded by the home entity directly to the host entity (eg the main entity at the designated location). The home entity may continue to control the employment as well as the work product(s) of such seconded employee.

However, depending on the volume and complexity (eg number of countries involved), both the home entity and the host entity may be exposed to various risks, including governance, compliance and reporting risks, tax-related exposures, and other talent mobility considerations.

To be more specific, internationally mobile employees can create significant tax exposures, especially in light of the recent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) developments initiated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

For example, seconding employees to carry on business of the home entity at the place of the host entity for a period of time could be considered as constituting a permanent establishment (PE) of the home entity situated in the host country, thereby creating tax obligation of the home entity in that host country.

In this regard, to facilitate global expansion via outbound investment whilst managing associated obligations and risks, companies, having the needs to (frequently) send or receive employees for international assignments, can consider to accomplish so through a global employment company (GEC).

The GEC structure has been around and is essentially a special purpose entity established for the purpose of scrutinising mobility status of employees and facilitating international mobility arrangements in order to quarantine risks.

Under the GEC model, the seconded employee will cut ties with the home entity and conclude a new employment contract with the GEC (ie, the GEC will be the employer of record). The GEC will then assign the employee to the host entity. The GEC model would be the most optimal to manage high volumes of mobile employees with a number of home and host country combinations.

The GEC model comes with several advantages. For instance, a GEC can help:

1 Streamline the internal policies and processes for improving operational efficiency (e.g., eliminate lengthy negotiations on compensation and benefits concerning each secondment), thereby facilitating timely redeployment of talent;

2 Increase the available talent pool for deployment in the best interests of the organisation and the employees;

3 Establish specialized central management of administrative and regulatory obligations for better compliance (e.g., visa and immigration processes);

4 Mitigate cross-border tax-related impacts (e.g., PE exposure, personal income tax complications, and transfer pricing issues).

It is worth noting that, in order for the GEC model to achieve its objective, choosing the right location to set up the GEC is one of the most critical exercises involved in the model.

Key considerations of the favored locations includes stable political, economic, and regulatory environment, ease of traveling in and out of the country, less stringent foreign exchange control, availability of local talent and relevant support services (required by the GEC), as well as the existence of a robust treaty network.

Additionally, depending on the intention of operating through a GEC, the potential structures could be either global, regional or in-country. In other words, the structure could range from a straightforward in-country entity (in this case, a Thai entity) set up for the sole purpose of checking employee’s mobility status to a larger scaled entity which might be involved in managing more complex aspects of global talent mobility.

Nevertheless, the GEC model is not free from challenges. One of the challenges are the evolving transfer pricing rules governing intercompany pricing of transfers of property and services.

In light of the worldwide anti-avoidance trend, intercompany transactions are increasingly being scrutinised and movement of highly skillful employees could be viewed, in certain circumstances, as transferring valuable intellectual property rather than just a provision of services, thus warranting careful pricing analysis.

To avoid complications and challenges from tax authorities, it is essential for companies to set up a proper transfer pricing policy in relation to secondment arrangements when implementing the GEC model.

Although the GEC structure has been introduced years ago, the implementation of the structure has not been particularly pervasive. However, given the vast scale of cross-border talent migration nowadays, it is believed that the GEC structure is coming back in trend to better support multinational enterprises with their ever-complexing worldwide operations.

From the perspective of Thai-based companies looking to expand overseas, managing global talent mobility through a GEC would allow Thai-based multinationals to enjoy various benefits, such as operational efficiency and tax risk management, as mentioned above in the article.

Contributed by Anthony Loh, Partner, Tax & Legal Services,

Deloitte Thailand

When even Target misses, it’s time to worry #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 16, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

When even Target misses, it’s time to worry

Jan 16. 2020
Empty shopping carts at a Target store in the Queens borough of New York on Nov. 28, 2019. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Bess Adler.

Empty shopping carts at a Target store in the Queens borough of New York on Nov. 28, 2019. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Bess Adler.
Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg Opinion · Andrea Felsted

There’s an old saying in retail that despite all the bluster, not much really changes over the holiday shopping season: Those store groups that have been winning keep on doing so, while the losers continue to suffer.

Target Corp. just became the exception to this rule.

The big-box retailer has been a consistently strong performer over the past couple of years, but in the latest holiday season it stumbled badly. Same store sales in November and December rose by just 1.4 % – significantly below expectations. The shares fell more than 6 percent in morning trading.

Target seems to be suffering from issues across the market. But if the company – one of the more resilient of the bunch – is feeling the pinch, that bodes ill for weaker store chains, or those that have been less proactive in adapting to changing consumer tastes. The slip also suggests there may be limits to how much more its turnaround efforts can achieve.

Same-store sales in electronics fell by more than 6%. This wasn’t helped by an uninspiring technology lineup – there was no one big standout game or gadget. Toys was also a difficult area, and there have been signs in Europe that demand is moving away from traditional playthings to tech.

But Target has made a big bet on toys, in order to capture the customers who would previously have shopped at Toys R Us. Although it said it gained share over the holidays, if demand is permanently shifting away from this category, this looks like a rare misstep. Moreover, given that Target has invested heavily – it pledged in 2017 to spend $7 billion over three years on in its stores, products and online offerings – it should be outperforming even in these more challenging categories.

The one silver lining is that both toys and electronics are low margin segments. So although Target cut its forecast of same store sales growth in the fourth quarter to 1.4%, from its previous expectations of as much as 4%, it maintained its profit guidance for the final quarter and the full year.

What’s troubling about Target’s performance is that while it could have made some changes in the run-up to the holiday – given the highly competitive landscape and Black Friday falling later – it is generally doing the right things. It’s one of the few retailers investing in giving consumers the products they actually want to buy. In areas such as clothing, beauty and food, where it has been revitalizing its exclusive brands and overhauling departments, same-store sales rose.

Target, as mentioned, has also been spending on revamping its stores. That might be counterintuitive, but it is sensible. When consumers do want to go to a physical outlet, they want that to be a pleasant experience. And it hasn’t neglected its digital offerings, particularly in areas such as click and collect, where customers order online but pick up their purchases at a store. While the digital performance was disappointing – up just 19% in November and December – same-day delivery options were up 50%.

Even before the holiday miss, Target was facing a challenge to maintain momentum. It is entering the final year of its big store refurbishments, and it will be coming up against difficult sales comparisons going forward. But a knee-jerk reaction, say curbing investment in stores, products, and digital, would be a mistake. It probably has more to go for in food, and can capture more sales from department stores and mid-market clothing brands.

Analysts see little gain in Trump’s trade war #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 16, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

Analysts see little gain in Trump’s trade war

Jan 16. 2020
President Donald Trump signs a trade agreement with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He at the White House on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford

President Donald Trump signs a trade agreement with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He at the White House on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford
By TRADE-ANALYSIS/The Washington Post · Heather Long 

One of the most basic questions as President Donald Trump and China’s Vice Premier Liu He formally sign the “phase one” trade agreement is whether Trump’s trade war was worth it.

The White House released a 94-page deal on Wednesday, and there are some big gains for the United States: China has agreed to buy about $200 billion more of U.S. goods over the next two years, and U.S. companies will get more access to the Chinese market and a bit more intellectual property protection. In return, the U.S. has agreed to hold off on more tariffs on China and to reduce tariffs on some items, notably clothing.

Looking strictly at the numbers, the deal doesn’t look so great. China’s additional purchases make up for a fraction of the trade war’s hit to the economy over the past two years, analysts say. And many critics have pointed out that China was offering to buy more agricultural and energy back in spring 2018 – before Trump escalated the trade war substantially.

But where this agreement has the potential to be game-changing is in reshaping trade relations with China. Trump has shifted the dialogue about China. There is now a wide consensus in the United States to challenge China on its worst actions. After this agreement, U.S. firms in China are no longer supposed to be forced to hand their technology over to Chinese companies, a longstanding problem. The tariffs have also caused what some are dubbing a “partial divorce” between the U.S. and China, with supply chains once rooted in China now moving to other nations, especially Vietnam and Taiwan, making the U.S. slightly less reliant on China for daily goods.

“Today we take a momentous step with China, one that has never been taken before China,” Trump said Wednesday before signing the deal in a lengthy ceremony. “We mark a sea change in international trade.”

Yet, leading up to this point, the trade war inflicted a lot of pain, pretty much everyone agrees. As Trump hiked tariffs on China, U.S. economic growth slowed, business investment froze, and companies didn’t hire as many people. Across the nation, a lot of farmers went bankrupt and the manufacturing and freight transportation sectors tumbled into a recession. Trump’s actions amounted to one of the largest tax increases in years.

Oxford Economics and Moody’s Analytics calculate that the U.S.-China trade war shaved 0.3% off growth – the equivalent of $65 billion – last year. And that is likely to grow to $85 billion in 2020, according to Gregory Daco of Oxford Economics, since this deal does not end the trade war. Many of the tariffs will remain in place, covering about two-thirds of Chinese imports, meaning there will be an ongoing drag on the economy this year.

Given all of this, economists say this trade conflict has been a net loss to the economy, albeit a modest one, in the short term.

Even Trump and his team ultimately acknowledged that the U.S. did suffer from the trade war. But they claimed that the benefits to the United States from a deal would outweigh the costs and that the tariffs were hurting China more.

Trump points out that Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama didn’t get this far with the Chinese and that there’s the prospect of new punishments if China does not do what it promised, in the form of more tariffs. Also, the White House says it will launch “phase two” negotiations to address deeper structural problems in the Chinese economy that hurt competition, but there’s a lot of skepticism about whether another pact can be secured.

The trade deal has loomed large on Wall Street over the past two years. And the markets applauded the deal, sending stocks soaring to new highs, mainly because of relief over a trade truce with China. Tariffs are unlikely to go higher and could even come down after the election, Trump hinted.

“I am much more positive and optimistic than you might think,” Blackstone chief executive Stephen Schwarzman said on Fox Business. “I think the Chinese will honor this deal.”

Critics of the deal, though, point out that it is far more modest than what Trump promised, that China has a history of not following through and that there is little in the deal that alters President Xi Jinping’s ambitious “Made in China 2025” plans. For example, one of the biggest problems is how much the Chinese government subsidizes certain industries. The deal doesn’t address that.

China promised to purchase “at least” $200 billion more of American products ― more meat, soybeans, energy, manufactured goods and services. But in remarks at the White House, China’s vice premier went out of his way to say that Chinese firms will buy more “based on market conditions,” which already suggests some hesitancy to do exactly what was written down.

And this $200 billion promise of Chinese purchases doesn’t necessarily mean new sales that wouldn’t have happened. Many experts say U.S. farmers, manufacturers and others will simply sell to China what they would have sold to other nations, significantly lessening the economic gains.

“Let’s not forget that the $200 billion is a promise that will likely come from trade diversion rather than trade creation,” Daco said in an email.

Some industries make out well in the agreement. Financial services and insurance companies have long wanted to get access to China’s market without having to partner with a local bank. JPMorgan Chase is already making moves to enter China, a huge potential market. And China has agreed to lift restrictions on American dairy products, infant formula and beef, enabling U.S. farmers to sell more in China.

On paper, China has also agreed to increase its punishments for intellectual property theft, including larger fines and even imprisonment to deter stealing. And it said it would allow witness testimony in civil cases. China also agreed to “market-based” exchange rates. China’s government used to devalue its currency regularly to gain more trade advantage, though that has not been a problem recently.

Trump’s trade war with China has been going on for nearly two years, causing U.S. companies to lose their foothold in China as firms from Europe, Canada, Brazil and other nations swoop in to take advantage. And the trade war continues as the truce leaves in place tariffs on $360 billion worth of Chinese imports.

Whether this deal ultimately pays off depends on whether U.S. firms and farmers really do get more access to China. That remains to be seen.

U.S. job market this good didn’t seem likely 3 years ago #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 15, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

U.S. job market this good didn’t seem likely 3 years ago

Jan 15. 2020
By JOBS-COMMENT: Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg Opinion · Conor Sen · OPINION

With labor-market data for the 2010s behind us after Friday’s employment report, the big takeaway for the decade is that a much higher level of employment was possible without generating inflation.

President Donald Trump also has an argument to claim that not only is he presiding over the best labor market in decades but also that the continued improvement is historic. This isn’t to suggest his specific policy decisions deserve credit for the improvement – manufacturing weakness resulting from the trade war is clearly evident in 2019 jobs data. But during his administration, prime-age employment has increased faster over his three years in office than it has in decades – and it’s happened without an acceleration in inflation.

Because a hallmark of this expansion has been the consistency of labor market and overall economic growth, it’s easy to forget how improbable the current conditions seemed just three years ago. At the December 2016 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, the forecast for the end of 2019 included an unemployment rate of 4.5%, core inflation excluding food and energy of 2%, a federal funds rate of 2.9% and average real gross domestic product growth between 2017 and 2019 of 2%. As it turns out, policy makers underestimated both economic growth and the improvement in the labor market while overestimating inflation and the level of interest rates. Unemployment ended 2019 at 3.5%, a full percentage point lower than the estimate, while core inflation has yet to hit 2% on a sustained basis. Real GDP growth was 2.8% in 2017, 2.5% in 2018 and is likely to have grown more that 2% in 2019. And after the Fed’s three interest-rate cuts in 2019, the fed funds target rate sits at 1.75%.

These figure don’t fully capture the improvement in the labor market for prime-age workers, those between the ages of 25 and 54. The unemployment rate for these workers has fallen from 4% to 3% over the past three years, flirting with the lowest levels in 50 years. Conventional wisdom might suggest that eventually the improvement in the labor market would start to taper off. But what we’ve seen is that by using the employment-to-population ratio for prime-age workers rather than the unemployment rate for this group, the pace of improvement during this period has been the best since the late 1980s. Essentially, economists and people like myself were arguing that late 2016 marked something close to full employment, but what’s followed has shown that was far from the case.

It’s difficult to say how much credit Trump deserves for this performance. The Federal Reserve chair in 2016 was Janet Yellen, and at this point it’s indisputable that her estimate of how much labor-market slack remained and what level of economic growth was likely during the next few years was too conservative. Although her successor, Jerome Powell – chosen by Trump – continued with the rate hikes started under the Yellen Fed, he’s also shown the flexibility to reverse course and put more emphasis on fresh economic data rather than to fixate on forecasts for when inflation would arrive. Whether this outcome would have resulted if unqualified Trump Fed nominees such as Stephen Moore and Judy Shelton had won seats on the Fed is open to debate.

On fiscal policy, there’s no evidence that Trump’s tax cuts delivered when it comes to stimulating investment or the labor market. One could argue that this was entirely foreseeable given how the tax bill was structured; most of its benefits went to corporations and the wealthy rather than to the middle class or workers, groups that would have been more inclined to spend the gains. At the same time, the economy’s trajectory since the passage of the tax bill suggests that the U.S. had a lot more fiscal firepower available in 2017 than deficit hawks argued.

A fair reading of Trump’s record would say that advocating for both fiscal and monetary stimulus starting in early 2017 was correct, that the Powell Fed has been an improvement on the Yellen Fed and that there remains no short-term reason to be concerned about the inflationary impact of a wider budget deficit. At the same time, the trade war has been a disaster, the structure of the tax cuts left a lot to be desired and – aside from Powell – the people Trump has wanted to put on the Fed have been generally bad. But if presidents get credit or the blame for the state of the labor market, then Trump is in a good place.

Goldman woos mom and pop with a 2% magic number #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 14, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

Goldman woos mom and pop with a 2% magic number

Jan 14. 2020
Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Brian Chappatta

Don’t believe anyone who says round numbers aren’t meaningful to investors.

It’s why you see guests on financial TV shows wearing “S&P 500 3,000” hats and why “Dow 30,000” merchandise is already available on eBay, even though that stock index just cracked 29,000 on Friday. It’s why there’s fanfare around Apple and reaching a $1 trillion market capitalization. It’s why bond traders throw around the terms “2-handle” about 10-year Treasury yields climbing back to 2% and “3-handle” about the potential pace of global growth in 2020. Sure, round numbers might be entirely psychological, but to the extent that they push money around, Wall Street can’t ignore them.

It seems Goldman Sachs, for one, gets this concept. In a recent email to users of its consumer bank, Marcus, it highlighted its 11-month, no-penalty certificate of deposit and argued “now is a great time to move your money from a lower-rate account at another bank” to the product. The annual percentage yield on the CD: 2%.

The no-penalty CD isn’t exactly a brand-new offering from Marcus – it rolled out the product in September 2018. But it’s not a widely known savings option across the personal financial world; as far as I can tell, only a handful exist. And the 2% rate for 11 months stands out, especially when compared with the alternatives. A seven-month, no-penalty CD with Marcus yields a fixed 1.9%, while a 13-month CD yields just 1.65%.

Meanwhile, the APY on its high-yield savings account is down to 1.7% from as high as 2.25% from January to June 2019. That decline, of course, was due to the Federal Reserve’s three quarter-point interest-rate cuts in July, September and October last year. Banks were struggling to balance staying competitive in the market while also adjusting to the new reality of lower short-term interest rates. Some chose to hold out above 2% for as long as possible and then dropped their rates drastically, while others, like Marcus, lowered them incrementally.

As for no-penalty CDs, they serve as something of a happy medium between a savings account and a traditional CD for consumers. The upside is that the yield is higher and there’s no cost for breaking the CD early – not even a clawback of interest payments. The one downside is that unlike a savings account, it’s an all-or-nothing proposition. If someone needs money, the entire balance has to be withdrawn (Marcus has a $500 minimum deposit).

The product is also intriguing because it effectively serves as an option on the direction of interest rates through a personal finance account. If they rise during the 11-month stretch, a saver can withdraw the funds immediately and place them in a higher-yielding CD. If they fall, then consumers have an above-market rate until the CD expires, in contrast to those in a savings account.

Goldman tends to promote whichever CD offers the top rate at a given moment – that was the 13-month one from late 2018 through mid-2019, then the seven-month one for the second half of last year as the Fed cut its benchmark lending rate. Now, with the central bank seemingly on hold at least through year-end, the 11-month term is in favor. The bank says it has attracted billions of dollars in deposits, with about 10% of accounts in 11-month CDs and the remaining 90% split evenly between seven-month and 13-month terms.

Deciding on a level of interest rates, and whether to raise or lower them, is crucial for banks as they vie for individual investors’ cash. It’s especially true for Goldman as a recent entrant into the industry. The Wall Street powerhouse is looking for ways to reach Main Street, diversify its business and lower its funding costs. In deciding to sharply boost its 11-month rate, it probably sees the gains from potential new customers as a more than fair trade-off for the elevated yield.

Goldman, which reports fourth-quarter earnings this week, recently revamped the way it breaks down results by division to make it more comparable to its big-bank peers. It created a consumer and wealth-management unit that includes Marcus and its credit-card venture with Apple Inc. That division generates just a fraction of Goldman’s overall profits, but some analysts say the simple fact that it’s now a separate segment indicates its importance to the firm’s long-term strategy.

For now, that most likely means Goldman will continue to offer interest rates that match or exceed its peers in the high-yield savings market. It doesn’t wield the type of power on Main Street like JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp., which kept interest rates on savings and checking accounts pinned near zero even during the Fed’s recent tightening cycle. Mom-and-pop savers still need to get used to parking their money with an institution they used to know only from afar.

A nice, round, 2% yield – a “2-handle,” if you will – makes that decision psychologically easier.

Apple’s case against the FBI is stronger than ever #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 12, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

Apple’s case against the FBI is stronger than ever

Jan 12. 2020
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg Opinion · Stephen L. Carter · OPINION 

As 2020 dawns, we’re mired in another privacy-vs.-security dispute between Apple and the federal government.

Once again, the Department of Justice is demanding that the company break into a locked iPhone. Once again, the company is resisting. And once again, the rest of us are silent, worried spectators in a game of “Whom do you trust?”

In particular, the Federal Bureau of Investigation wants Apple’s help in unlocking two phones belonging to Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, the Saudi Air Force trainee who killed three people last month at Pensacola Naval Air Station. Apple says it has turned over all the data it possesses but refuses to go further and create a backdoor past the encryption that protects its devices.

Presumably the issue is headed for the courts.

We’ve traveled this road before – and the path is instructive. In 2016, the FBI demanded that Apple develop special software that would allow it to unlock an iPhone 5C used by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of two shooters in a terror attack that killed 14 people in San Bernardino. When Apple refused, the government obtained a court order. Most of big tech weighed in on Apple’s side. Before the company’s appeal could be heard, however, the FBI surprised everybody with the announcement that it had unlocked Farook’s phone.

The DOJ’s inspector general later found that the FBI had not exhausted all possibilities before taking Apple to court. In particular – and it’s important to follow the rabbit down the hole here – the FBI’s Cryptographic and Electronic Analysis Unit had not asked for the assistance of the Remote Operations Unit of the Technical Surveillance Section of its own Operational Technology Division.

This mouthful of alphabet-soup matters because, as it turns out, the head of the Remote Operations Unit knew of a “vendor” that was “almost 90% of the way” to finding a way to break into a locked iPhone. Upon learning of this, the department invited the vendor to demonstrate the capability. The next day, the suit against Apple was dropped.

Presumably in-house communications have been better this time around. Even so, one can understand why the FBI is back to asking Apple for help. Back in 2016, techies agreed that whatever trick DOJ used would work only once. Apple would find out how the unnamed vendor broke the encryption, and close that vulnerability in the next generation of phones. Besides, Farook’s device was an iPhone 5. As as security goes, that’s practically the horse-and-buggy days. Quite likely, then, none of those alphabet-soup players have yet figured out how to break defeat the encryption on the newer devices.

Why does Apple continue to resist? And why do so many of us, notwithstanding our fears about terrorism, think Apple is right?

Here’s one reason: The company does not currently have a means of breaking into a locked phone. Forced to develop one, Apple would most likely create a software update that, once sent to the device, would allow the phone to be unlocked through some means other than a password (or facial recognition or fingerprint).

But the mere existence of such a technology is inconsistent with the basis on which the phone is sold. The company proudly trumpets its own inability to recover data from a locked iPhone once the user has exhausted 10 tries at entering the password. The value of this encryption is priced into the device.

Even if we assume that the value of this feature to the consumer is quite small – perhaps no more than one percent of the sale price – the total value is quite considerable to Apple. In the 12 months ended September 28, 2019, Apple’s total revenue from selling iPhones was a bit over $142 billion. Thus a one percent security premium would come to $1.4 billion – not pocket change even for a company whose market cap is currently thirteen figures.

Even if the value of the encryption to the buyer is only one half of one percent of the price of the phone, the loss to Apple is $700 million. If, on the other hand, you think the value of the security component is greater than one percent – very much my own suspicion – well, you can do the arithmetic.

In any case, lots of users are attracted to the notion that the Apple does not possess any secret way into the iPhone. (I certainly am.) The government, aware of this concern, insists it’s not asking Apple to create a backdoor; it only seeks a way to extract all the data on a pair of phones. This bizarre bit of linguistic legerdemain is meaningless. To borrow from one of my mentors, you can call it Thucydides or you can call it banana peel, but it’s a backdoor all the same. Whatever the label, software that enables recovery of data without the password would mean a lot less privacy for users.

Still, perhaps you’re wary of absolutes; maybe you believe that in a particular case, the need to prevent crimes – particularly acts of terrorism – should outweigh the individual’s right to privacy. Fair enough. But do ask yourself this: Does history teach that the federal government, once in possession of a surveillance tool, will remain discreet and humble in its use?

Sadly, the record isn’t good. That’s why we’re back here again. And why this time around, the fight will likely be to the finish.

– – –

Stephen L. Carter is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is a professor of law at Yale University and was a clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. His novels include “The Emperor of Ocean Park,” and his latest nonfiction book is “Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America’s Most Powerful Mobster.”

Building up the backbone of Thailand 4.0 #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 8, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

Building up the backbone of Thailand 4.0

Jan 07. 2020
Tarin Thaniyavarn, Country Head of Grab Thailand

Tarin Thaniyavarn, Country Head of Grab Thailand
By Tarin Thaniyavarn
Country Head of Grab Thailand

Leaders from the public and private sectors across Southeast Asia gathered in Bangkok in November for the Asean Business and Investment Summit (ABIS), part of the Asean Summit, to discuss how Asean businesses can best take advantage of and be ready for the digital era.

Under the theme of “Empowering MSMEs towards ASEAN 4.0”, I spoke about a topic that is closest to Grab’s business model and Grab For Good mission.

How do technology platforms like Grab empower micro-entrepreneurs, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to embrace the 4th Industrial Revolution, and why is this important?

First of all, MSMEs form the backbone of the Asean economy. Likewise in Thailand, local micro-entrepreneurs and small business owners make up more than 99 per cent of enterprises, and in 2018, accounted for 85 per cent of overall employment [1].

This is a critical business segment to digitally transform in order to progress towards Thailand 4.0.

Yet, despite the large number of MSMEs, these Thai businesses are only recognising a fraction of their potential, accounting for only 43 per cent of Thailand’s GDP [2]. There is a clear opportunity to increase their contribution.

Second, the Asean plus 6 countries across Southeast Asia, including Thailand, are developing national masterplans to shift away from a labour-based to a knowledge and service-based economy.

This is necessary to move out of the so-called “middle-income trap,” a condition where rapidly growing economies stagnate at middle-income and fail to transform into high-income economies.

The digital transformation of MSMEs through the adoption of technologies will accelerate this transition and drive greater economic progress for the nation.

Third, our region’s digital economy is projected to reach US$300 billion by 2025 [3], propelled by the phenomenal growth of e-commerce, mobile payments, ride-hailing, and on-demand food delivery and logistics services.

All Asean countries are aiming to get a much larger slice of this economic pie and are setting national agenda to bring more MSMEs into this sector.

But what’s impeding MSMEs from leveraging the explosive growth of technology? It has become increasingly clear that equitable access is the key.

Such gaps exist across all of Southeast Asia countries and caused by common challenges that MSMEs face on their path to digitalisation.

Barriers include ease of accessing credit, readiness to embrace tech and innovation, and progressiveness of government regulations to facilitate their digitalisation process. And this is where technology platforms like Grab hope to play our part.

Let me share the story of Nonthakarn Saigalakum who owns a small north-eastern Thai cuisine restaurant, Somtam Amorn.

In the past, his business solely relied on walk-in customers whose numbers rarely crossed the 100 mark. Even on a good day, he felt he didn’t earn enough as he was always constrained by the small space of the shop that could accommodate only 60 people at full capacity.

Things changed for the better when Nonthakarn set up an online extension of the shop on GrabFood platform.

As a merchant-partner, he was able to tap into Grab’s vast online consumer base and use digital tools and insights to tailor his menu to diverse consumers’ food choices.

After taking his business online, Nonthakarn stopped relying solely on walk-in customers. Grab’s extensive driver-partner network enabled him to extend his business without investing into a physical expansion.

Today, more than 75 per cent of Somtam Amorn’s revenue comes from GrabFood. Nonthakarn is a single example of millions of MSMEs on Grab platform that can leverage technologies to access to new revenue streams, and in doing so bring Thailand closer to seizing the USD 300 billion digital economy pie.

GrabKitchen, an innovative cloud kitchen which has recently launched in Thailand, is another example of how we support MSMEs through technology.

Through GrabKitchen, merchant-partners can expand the geographical areas they serve and reach more consumers.

GrabKitchen also help MSMEs manage their cost of operations by eliminating rental cost which is one of the highest barriers of entry for food MSMEs.

In Thailand, and across the region, tech companies like Grab are partnering with governments to empower MSMEs, including driver-partners, delivery-partners, merchant-partners and more, to elevate their quality of life.

For example, one in 70 MSMEs regionally have earned an income through the Grab platform, allowing them to work independently and flexibly.

For about 21 per cent of these individuals who did not work before joining Grab, this income was their first step on a path to financial independence [4].

In Thailand, Grab has been operating in 20 cities across 18 provinces, empowering hundreds of thousands of MSMEs to earn better livelihoods.

As Grab expands its business upcountry to more secondary provinces and cities in 2020, we will expand the benefits of the digital economy to millions more Thai citizens, particularly those living in rural areas, many of whom may not enjoy the same benefits as those in the urban cities.

Beyond economic access and inclusion, Grab has been bridging the gap in financial inclusion for the underserved population.

In Thailand, 18 per cent of people still don’t have access to financial services. At a regional level, the number is as high as 46 per cent.[5]

Since 2012, Grab has worked, along with key financial partners, to help as many as 1.7 million MSMEs across the region open their first bank account.

In addition, we have also been providing digital lending solutions to many of these micro-entrepreneurs and small, medium-sized businesses who would have been traditionally turned down by banks for not meeting income threshold or lacking supporting documentation for their credit worthiness.

We have also doubled down on driving Asean e-wallet adoption to ensure that every person and business has equal access to cashless payments solutions.

In Thailand, we have opened up our GrabPay wallet to merchant-partners to accept in-store cashless payments from our extensive consumer base.

This has immediately extended the reach of these MSMEs to a new pool of digitally-savvy, mobile-first consumers that they may not have been able to attract before.

Finally, Grab has been working to close another critical gap on the path to digital transformation–investing in future-ready workforce and nurturing the next tech unicorns.

Through our GrabVentures programme, we have been helping innovative start-ups, another critical driver of the digital economy, develop and scale technologies that validate their business models with our regional-base of over 163 million mobile downloads and over nine million microentrepreneurs partner network to further their reach.

Our Grab For Good vision for the future of Southeast Asia and Thailand is to enable equitable access to the benefits that technology provides.

By empowering the backbone of Asean economy – the MSMEs, Grab will create economic opportunities at scale and enable Thailand to fully capitalize the USD 300 billion digital economy.

2020 is the best year yet to fulfill our ambitious mission for the longer-term benefit of Thai people and community.

[1], [2] The Office of SMEs Promotion, 2019

[3] e-Conomy SEA Report 2019 by Google, Temasek and Bain & Company

[4] Grab Internal Data

[5] World Bank Global Financial Inclusion Data, 2019

Why 2020 is harder to predict than 2019 was #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 7, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

Why 2020 is harder to predict than 2019 was

Jan 07. 2020
Whatever your view, recent trends are not necessarily helpful in making predictions.

Whatever your view, recent trends are not necessarily helpful in making predictions.
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg Opinion · Tyler Cowen · OPINION, OP-ED 

My main prediction for 2020, if it can be called a prediction, is trend exhaustion: For the first time in a long while, several important trends have come to an end.

What do I mean by that? Trends ebb and flow, of course, but at any given moment many of them embody one of two distinct states: momentum, or reversion to the mean. The first is a continuation of past progress, either upward or downward. The second is a movement back toward “normal,” however that may be defined.

Now, in an especially wide variety of areas, neither of these conditions is prevalent. Start with the U.S. job market. Since the end of the recession, employment has been improving quite steadily. That has been great for the country, but with unemployment now at 3.5%, does that trend have much further to run? I am not pessimistic about the U.S. economy, but I would say that the direction of the next jobs report is now harder to predict than it used to be.

How about relations with China? For the last few years, it has been fairly easy to predict that U.S.-China relations will continue to get worse. But with a new U.S.-China trade deal due to be signed later this month, this is no longer such a sure bet. I tend to think the deal will not stick, and perhaps could create new terms for intensified conflict, but there is a decent chance the negative momentum has been reversed. Whatever your view, recent trends are not necessarily helpful in making predictions.

Chinese economic growth is yet another major issue where past trends seem to have been drained of their informative value. For a long time, a good and indeed continually verified prediction was this: “The Chinese economy will continue to grow at a rapid clip.” After that, “Chinese economic growth will slow down” did well for a number of years.

Today there are mixed signals. On one hand, corporate debt problems seem to be getting worse. On the other, there are signs the Chinese economy may be stabilizing. You could argue this one either way, but looking at recent trends isn’t going to settle it.

Or you might have thought that India was the obvious new candidate for economy on the rise. And maybe it still is. But it turns out a lot of Indian economic data was falsified or exaggerated, and the true Indian growth rate may be closer to 4% than 6% or 8%. Once again, the (ostensible) past trend turns out not to be so informative.

Similarly, the potential trend of Africa as the “next big thing” has not (yet?) been crystallized into a consistent series of economic growth numbers. The economies of Ghana and Ethiopia are doing quite well, but elsewhere on the continent growth rates have disappointed; the largest African economy, Nigeria, grew at only about 2% last year.

Another big trend has been the rise of right-wing populist parties in many countries. That has been a pretty solid prediction for a few years, but now there is evidence that those parties are no longer growing more popular. Will they retreat, as mainstream parties adopt their agendas, or is this just a slight pause? Again, I would say the previous trend has been exhausted and this is a new and hard-to-predict moment.

Another recent trend, the proliferation of new #MeToo cases and an accompanying rise in publicity, may also be losing momentum. Figures such as Jeffrey Epstein and Harvey Weinstein have receded from the news. Could this issue come back with another major celebrity-linked scandal? Absolutely – but it also might have cooled off for a while. The prediction that there will be more #MeToo cases is no longer so easy.

Are there examples of contrary cases, where an important preexisting trend still seems very much in force? Well, carbon emissions will almost certainly get worse before they get better. When it comes to temperatures, however, the global data have exhibited periodic flat periods or even declines before renewed rises. So at least in the short run, predictability there is not so great either.

One implication is that the coming year may hold an especially large number of surprises. Alternatively, rational people (and readers of Philip Tetlock, who has studied the difficulty of forecasting the future) might discard their hubris and not be very surprised at all.

In any case, it is a scary moment. Past performance is not indicative of future results, as they say on Wall Street, and that may be even more true in 2020. Don’t throw out your history books, but you may want to open your mind about what happens next.

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Tyler Cowen is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is a professor of economics at George Mason University and writes for the blog Marginal Revolution. His books include “Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero.”

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