|March 2011 Edition
Canada lost ground to Mexico last year in auto production. Mexico has posted the strongest turnaround in North America from the industry's crisis, passing Canada in output and turning out a record number of vehicles in 2010. This was due to global auto makers' big investments to make small cars in Mexico. This trend helped Mexico to increase auto production by 44 per cent last year to 2.254-million vehicles, exceeding Canada's production of 2.065-million. Mexico now has 19 per cent of North American auto production.
A new generation of smart packaging is being developed in Glasgow which flags food that is going off. Researchers from Strathclyde University are working on indicators made from "intelligent plastics" which change colour when food loses its freshness. A commercially viable product should be available soon which will improve food safety and cut waste. UK households are estimated to throw out about 8.3-million tonnes of food annually, most of which could be eaten. There is also thought to be about one million cases of food poisoning in the UK each year.
According to the World Bank, access to electricity is one of the biggest constraints to doing business in countries all around the world. A sampling of the time required to obtain a permanent electricity connection for a newly built warehouse: Liberia; 586 days, Russia: 302 days, Canada; 168 days and St. Kitts and Nevis; 18 days.
Canada is winning patents at a record pace as companies push to innovate. U.S. patent authorities issued a record 5,223 patents to Canadian firms and individual inventors last year, up 20 per cent over the previous year. The U.S. is the preferred global venue for those seeking to enforce their legal rights and secure commercial success. The four countries ahead of Canada in registering patents are: the U.S; up 24 per cent, Japan; up 26 per cent, Germany; up 25 per cent and South Korea up 26 per cent. In 2010, IBM registered 5,896 patents; Samsung, 4,551 and Microsoft 3,094 patents.
The uranium market is active again, set on fire by China's quest to secure nuclear fuel. There are now 442 operable nuclear reactors worldwide, 63 are under construction and a further 156 are planned. 14 per cent of the world's electricity is generated by nuclear power. In France that figure is over 75 per cent and in Canada it is 14.8 per cent. Australia has 31 per cent of the world's known recoverable reserves; Kazakhstan has 12 per cent and Canada three per cent.
According to the United Nations, developing countries and economies in transition attracted more foreign investment than developed countries in 2010 for the first time. This indicates that economic recovery is more robust in developing than rich countries. Overall, flows of foreign direct investment (FDI) stagnated at almost US$1.12-trillion in 2010 after $1.14-trillion in 2009, but are still 25 per cent below pre-crisis levels.
Chinese box office takings increased by 64 per cent last year helped by Hollywood blockbusters such as 3D movie Avatar which grossed US$204-million. Movie revenues surged to $1.39-billion: (the North America box office made $10.6-billion). More than 300 new cinemas opened in China last year, their 1,533 new screen bring the total number of screens up to 6,200.
Some of the world's most dangerous roads are South African. An average of 43 people are killed each day in a population of 50-million. The government hopes to cut the annual road-death total in half by 2015, using the grim tally of 16,000 in 2007 as a benchmark. Though it still has less than one registered vehicle for every five inhabitants, Africa's most advanced country recorded 33 road deaths for 100,000 inhabitants in 2007, That was double the fatality rate in the U.S. with almost one vehicle per inhabitant and six times the rate in the UK.
The world's fleet of cargo ships is set to grow at a rapid pace in coming years despite some cancellations of new tonnage in the wake of the financial crisis. World seaborne trade declined by 4.5 per cent in 2009 but the world's merchant fleet grew by 7 per cent. Though the world economy is improving, the problem of new vessels on order will present a challenge for shipping companies. Overcapacity, particularly in the dry-bulk sector that carries iron ore, coal and grain, is likely to worsen in 2011 as new ships are launched. This will put pressure on freight rates and shipping companies' profits.
For centuries people living in the Middle East have dreamed of turning the sandy desert into land fit for growing crops with fresh water on tap. That is now a step closer after scientists from Switzerland employed by the ruler of Abu Dhabi claim to have generated a series of rainstorms. Fifty downpours were created last year in the state's eastern Al Ain region using technology designed to control the weather. Most of the storms were at the height of the summer in July and August when there is no rain at all.
Having tripled in size since 2006, the Isle of Man's lucrative online gaming industry expects to nearly double this year. Now accounting for five per cent of the island's economy, the Isle of Man's e-gaming industry was last year responsible for pumping US$216-million into the local economy and employing about 700 people. With 24 licensed companies already operating, a further 22 are in various stages of set-up. Thanks to the quick 10-12 week licence application process, the low licensing fee and duty rate, and a sound technical infrastructure, the Isle of Man is now considered one of the top four e-gaming jurisdictions, along with Gibraltar, Alderney and Malta.
Apple Inc., approaching bankruptcy before the return of CEO Steve Jobs in 2007, has become the world's second-most valuable company, lifted by investor optimism for sales of the iPhone, iPad and Macintosh. Apple's market value has now surpassed PetroChina Co. and trails only Exxon Mobil Corp. Exxon's market value is US$377-billion. Apple's is $306-billion, PetroChina's $300-billion. Fourth is Microsoft which is valued at $239-billion.
Britons have stashed more than US$10.9-billion of cash at home as low interest rates deter depositors. The average U.K. household has about $400 at home. In a recent poll, 37 per cent of those questioned said they had less than $28.00, 4 per cent said they had more than $1450. This included one per cent that said they had at least $14,500 at home. About a third of those polled saw no point in depositing money when interest rates were so low.
Vietnam earned an estimated record high of US$2-billion last year from its shrimp exports as prawn-loving Americans paid more to satisfy their appetites, partly the result of demand generated by the Gulf Coast oil spill. Vietnam exported an estimated 240,000 tons of shrimp, up from 210,000 tons in 2009, which was valued at $1.7-billion. Japan remains Vietnam's largest shrimp market.
Auto makers recalled about 20-million vehicles in 2010, with high profile recalls led by Toyota that prompted new scrutiny of the auto industry's safety record. The number of recalls was the largest in the U.S. since 2004 when Toyota recalled about 7.1-million vehicles; GM recalled about four million and Japanese auto makers Honda and Nissan both recalled more than two million cars and trucks. The auto industry set a record in 2004 with 30.8 million vehicles recalled.
Singapore has lost its crown as the world's busiest container port, losing its place to Chinese rival Shanghai. Shanghai handled more than 29-million containers last year compared with Singapore's 28.4-million. Shanghai also outperformed Singapore in terms of overall cargo handled, processing 650-million tonnes compared with the 502-million tonnes handled by Singapore.
Nearly half of Canadians failed to take all their vacation time in 2010. An online survey of 627 employees by a management company found that 46 per cent said they had not used all their allotted vacation time. In 2009, two-thirds of Canadian workers surveyed said they weren't taking all the time that was due to them.
When taking a taxi in a foreign city it is hard to know what it will cost in the end. Now, thanks to a website priceoftravel.com, you can find the metered price of a three-km ride in heavy traffic conditions, in more than 70 big cities. A sampling: US$1.58 in Delhi; $3.27 in Dubai; $6.20 in Singapore and $16.13 in Tokyo.
Building wind farms offshore in the Great Lakes could generate thousands of jobs in Ontario according to the Conference Board of Canada. If 2,000 megawatts of generation was built over the next 15 years, it would add as much as C$45.5-billion to the province's economy and create as many as 4,400 construction jobs. The province has currently 1,300 megawatts of onshore wind generation capacity.
Imports of gold into China in 2010 surged five-fold turning the country, already the largest bullion miner, into a major overseas buyer for the first time in recent memory. The surge comes as Chinese investors look for insurance against rising inflation and currency appreciation. China imported more than 205 tonnes in the first ten months, an increase from the 45 tonnes imported the previous year. In the past, China has kept these figures secret. India imported 612 tonnes of gold in 2009.
U.S. cargo theft rose 4.1 per cent to a record high in 2010 with a reported 75 cargo thefts each month across the transport industry. The food and beverage industry was the most heavily hit by theft, accounting for 21 per cent of total theft activity with an average loss of US$125,000 per incident, closely followed by the electronics sector, accounting for 19 per cent of all thefts and an average loss of $512,000 per theft.
Wal-Mart is installing wine vending machines in some of its U.S. stores. Thirsty shoppers must insert their driver's licence into the kiosk and the image is compared with video-camera footage from the machine. Each transaction is monitored remotely, and the kiosks have a built-in breathalyzer that prevents buyers from purchasing wine if they are drunk.
Growers in the tropical Assam state, India's main tea growing region, say rising temperatures have led not only to a drop in production but to subtle unwelcome changes in the taste of their brews. Assam produced 564,000 tons of tea in 2007, 487,000 tons in 2009 and about 460,000 tons in 2010.
The average stagehand at Lincoln Centre in New York earns US$290,000 annually while the top paid stagehand at Carnegie Hall makes $422,599 a year in salary and $107,445 in benefits and deferred compensation.