Category Archives: BUSINESS

Competition in Asia: too little of a good thing

Authors: Adam Triggs and Jake Read, ANU

Weak competition is worrying Western economies. It has been linked to inadequate investment, mounting mark-ups, increasing inequality, weak wages, struggling start-ups, pricey products and insufficient innovation. Asian economies could learn from their mistakes. Many of them will face, or are already facing, similar challenges. Working together through a multilateral approach to these challenges will make them easier to address. Addressing these challenges early will pay dividends into the future.

Containers and trucks are seen on a snowy day at an automated container terminal in Qingdao port, Shandong province, China, 10 December 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Stringer).

Advanced economies are ticking-off many of the symptoms of weak competition. While market concentration, mark-ups, mergers and profits are often increasing, business formation, investment, wages and productivity growth are often declining. Economists, including Jason Furman, Larry Summers, Paul Krugman, Andrew Leigh and Joseph Stiglitz, point to weak competition as a key culprit.

The story in Asia is mixed. The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2018 Global Competitiveness Report measures countries ‘extent of market dominance’. Of course, having concentrated markets does not necessarily mean a lack of competition. But for Asia, market concentration …continue reading


What comes after the Trump–Kim no deal in Hanoi

Author: Editorial Board, ANU

After much hype, the second Trump–Kim summit in Hanoi ended a half-day early as the two leaders failed to reach agreement. There is still a long road ahead to realise ‘the McDonald’s and Trump tower’ transformation that President Trump promises to deliver to North Korea.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump listen to questions from the media during their one-on-one bilateral meeting at the second North Korea–US summit in the Metropole hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam, 28 February 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Leah Millis).

The choice of Vietnam as the host was supposed to be symbolic of where North Korea could go. After the bloodshed of the Vietnam War, the United States and Vietnam reconciled. The United States lifted its trade embargo against Vietnam in 1994 and the two countries normalised their diplomatic relations in 1995. Of course, Vietnam opened up to other countries, including Australia, before it achieved reconciliation with the United States, a choice not so readily open to North Korea. This helped to transform Vietnam’s economy, now one of the fastest growing in the world.

The first US­–DPRK summit in Singapore in June 2018 was criticised for producing an agreement …continue reading


New apartment price across Japan reaches record high in 2018

According to the Real Estate Economic Institute, a total of 80,256 brand-new apartments were released for sale across Japan in 2018, up 3.7% from 2017, and the first time since 2014 to see supply exceed 80,000 units. Greater Tokyo saw a 3.4% increase in supply, while the Kinki, Chubu and Tokai regions saw increases of over 7%. Another 80,000 new apartments are expected to be supplied for sale in 2019. This is still below the recent peak of 105,282 units supplied in 2013.

37,132 new apartments were released for sale across greater Tokyo, while the Kinki region, which includes Osaka, saw 20,958 new apartments.

The average price nationwide was 47,590,000 Yen, up 0.4% from 2017, and the highest price in the history of reporting. The average price per square meter was 713,000 Yen, up 2.4% from the previous year.

Data for January 2019:

A total of 1,900 brand-new apartments were released for sale across greater Tokyo in January, down 74.5% from December and down 1.8% from January 2018. The drop in supply is attributed to developers focusing on selling existing inventory before releasing more apartments.

The contract rate for the month was 67.5%, up 18.1 points from the previous month and up 2.3 points from last year. Chiba Prefecture saw a contract rate of 78.6%, while Tokyo’s 23 wards recorded a 58.7% rate.

The average price of a new apartment was 56,530,000 Yen, up 6.8% from last year. The average price per square meter was 813,000 Yen, up 3.3% from last year.

Existing inventory was 9,040 units as at the end of January, down 512 from the end of December but up from 6,875 units as at the end of January 2018.

The average new apartment price in Tokyo’s 23 wards was 75,770,000 Yen, up 22.3% from last year, while the average price …continue reading

Take a look at just about any science fiction film. They don’t use dollars, they use some universal currency that can be transferred at the click of a button. Today we’re seeing the emergence of digital currency. What are Bitcoins and are they the future. That’s one conversation taking place in Asia… now.

What are Bitcoins and are they the future?

Take a look at just about any science fiction film. They don’t use dollars, they use some universal currency that can be transferred at the click of a button. Today we’re seeing the emergence of digital currency. What are Bitcoins and are they the future. That’s one conversation taking place in Asia… now.

Saturday | April 11, 2015

I love traveling. I’ve been all across Asia and it’s my mission during the winter to vacate the cold and take refuge in Southeast Asia. But the thing I hate most about traveling is dealing with money.

I’m not talking about the expense of traveling, I’m talking about having to deal with switching currencies when crossing borders. 

Dollars to won to yen to pesos to… you get the idea.

What I loved about science fiction was this notion of a universal currency embraced by the world community. We’re a long way off from that; however we are seeing the emergence of various digital currencies.

The most famous of which is the bitcoin.

Joining me via Skype on this week’s Asia Now podcast is Chris Williams, Meetup organizer for the Seoul Bitcoin Center. We discuss what bitcoins are, their history, the controversy behind them, and where things might lead in the future.

After the podcast, please let me know what you think about bitcoins. Are they the currency of the future or just a fad?

Keep up with news from the region by following Asia News Weekly on Facebook or Twitter. You can also send an email to the show with your comments, questions, and feedback. Just drop a line to

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Source: ACCJ Journal


Outlook Positive, but Weaker

By Brandi Goode

The 26th Foreign Chambers in Japan Business Confidence Survey was conducted over 10 days at the end of October. About 300 responses were received, of which the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan’s members accounted for some 30 percent.

Forty percent of the respondents are from North America, and 60 percent from Europe. Most participating companies are involved in service industries or sales and trading, and have been in Japan for over 20 years.

Overall, foreign firms remain bullish about Japan’s economy, although they are less positive than in the previous two surveys. When asked about the economic forecast for the country over the next 12 months, growth was projected, but at a much lower level than in the previous survey in spring 2014. The index is now +.42, compared with +.70 in the spring.

Sales and trading businesses lost significant confidence, with the fall index (+.25) coming in more than 50 percent lower than the spring projection (+.63). Some 55 percent of respondents in this industry category projected “no change” or “some decline” in their operations over the next year.

The reported performance of companies surveyed continued to improve, but at a lower rate than …continue reading