Issue #3, Monday, May 4, 2020
By William (Bill) Edwards, CEO of Edwards Global Services, Inc. (EGS)
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change”. Darwin
“Keep calm and carry on”
“When one door closes, another door opens”, Alexander Graham Bell
The goal of this newsletter is to keep the reader up to date on the economic and business situation in key trading countries. We constantly monitor 30 countries, 25 daily international information sources and six business sectors to keep up with what is going on in this ever-changing environment. Our team on the ground covers 43 countries and provides us with updates about what is happening in their specific countries.
Please do not hesitate to send us your input and perspectives so that we can publish a balanced view about the world every other week. Our contact information is at the bottom of this newsletter. You may opt out from receiving this biweekly global business update email at the bottom of this email.
William Edwards is an executive with 46 years of international operations, development, executive and entrepreneurial experience. He has lived in China, the Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iran, and Turkey. With experience in the franchise, oil and gas, information technology and management consulting sectors, he has directed projects on-site in Alaska, Asia, Europe and the Middle and Near East.
Founded in 2001, Edwards Global Services, Inc. takes U.S. businesses global and currently has activity in over 25 countries. Our U.S. Clients are all consumer-faced brands.
The Focus of This Issue
This newsletter issue focuses on what is happening in 29 countries that impact consumer spending. The theme of this issue can best be summed up by the following quote form the Financial Times on May 1, 2020: “Governments in Europe, the US, Australia and New Zealand have begun to ease the extraordinary stay-at-home orders that have helped contain the spread of Covid-19. But in most places, it will be anything but business-as-usual. Instead, the next few months are going to feel like an empty-chair economy, with new shift patterns at factories, half-full buses and trains, staggered opening hours and unusually roomy restaurants.”
Contact Tracing Apps Are Being Used in More than Two Dozen Countries
“At least 27 countries are using data from cellphone companies to track the movements of citizens, according to Eden Manovich, the advocacy director for Privacy International, which is keeping a record of surveillance programs. In South Korea, millions of people have signed up to use websites or apps that show how the virus is spreading. More than 2 million Australians quickly downloaded a coronavirus contact-tracing app that was released last Sunday.” The Washington Post, May 2, 2020
“Italy is preparing to join Germany in launching a Coved 19 contact-tracing mobile application that will avoid location tracking and a centralized database, opting for a standard created by technology companies Apple and Google that they regard as more privacy friendly. Switzerland and Austria also opted last week to use the US tech giants’ standards for their apps. However, France, the UK and Norway – one of the first European countries to launch its app – are all using a technology in which a central server holds data on who came into contact with an infected person.” Financial Times, April 30, 2020
“Singapore will from May 12th require all businesses to adopt a system that logs visitors to their premises using their smartphones, in the name of tracking COVID-19 cases.… Called “SafeEntry”, the service requires visitors to either scan a QR code or allow their phones to be scanned to record a barcode in the national e-services app. That scans are taken when visitors enter and exit premises.” A Register, May 4, 2020
International Travel Update
Delta recently announced that this month it will resume “certain international flights”. Most of these flights will be between North and South America and the company will reinstate flights to Canada.
“United will resume seven routes in June, with more to follow later in the summer assuming all goes to plan. The routes coming back in June are: Newark to Paris, Shanghai and Tokyo; and San Francisco to Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai and Frankfurt.” Forbes, May 4, 2020
“Cathay Pacific looks to increase passenger flights in late June if coronavirus travel restrictions are eased. Carrier targets return of daily services to major Asian cities and more frequent long-haul services.” South China Morning Post, April 28, 2020
“South Korea says it has agreed with China to start facilitating some business travel between the two Asian neighbors, As China signaled initial success in containing its domestic coronavirus contagion, its officials have proposed efforts to facilitate essential travel with foreign counterparts from more than a dozen countries across the Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere.” Wall Street Journal, April 29, 2020.
“”If there is any country in the world with whom we can reconnect with first, undoubtedly that’s New Zealand,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement, according to CNN. “Our number one focus at the moment is making sure that both our countries are in the position where we’re domestically managing Covid-19 to a point where we can with confidence open borders,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a press conference last week.” Travel & Leisure, May 4, 2020
“A national lockdown, originally imposed March 20, was extended to May 10 over the weekend. Now, the country says it will enact a complete ban on all flight sales to, from, or within Argentina until September 1.” CNN Traveler, April 28, 2020
“All frontiers with foreign countries will not open until September. Everybody is teleworking except for “essentials” – healthcare, security and food (supermarkets and small shops selling food). Banks opened only to pay retired people. Slowly opening 2nd tier of essentials including take-aways and messaging companies; private medical attention if emergency (dentists, labs, etc. Children, teen-agers and over 60 years are NOT allowed out. All Tourism and Attractions are out of the question i.e. Restaurants, Theatres, Football. Restaurants are trying to keep alive with take away services.” Diana Brandon, U.S. Commercial Services, Buenos Aires.
“With no definitive answer as to when restrictions will be further lifted, the federal government has urged pubs, gyms and retailers to prepare for reopening. The good news comes as Employment Minister Michaelia Cash called on businesses and retailers to create ‘COVID-safe workplaces,’ so they’re able to safely welcome customers when they’re give the ‘green light’.” News.com.au, May 2, 2020, courtesy of Jason Gehrke, Managing Director, The Franchise Advisory Centre, Brisbane.
“Australia is in lockdown but this will be loosened in next weeks and kids will be going back to school on day per week. All retail foodservice, fast food and restaurants and non-essential retail is closed. Several States have offered small business grants and low interest deferred payment loans ranging from $10,000 to $250,000. The federal government has provided a JobKeeper program to all businesses with turnover less than $1B that have lost more than 30% of turnover (50% for businesses with turnover over $1B) compared with normal historic trading. The program pays the business $1500 per fortnight per employee backdated from 1 March to 31 September.” Rod Young, Managing Director, DC Strategy Group, Sydney
“Austria will become the first country in the European Union to reopen shops of all sizes today, as well as hairdressers, nail salons and other services. In two weeks Austria will also reopen restaurants and its famed cafés—albeit with restrictions on customer numbers and opening hours, and strict rules on hygiene—and allow religious services to resume.” The Economist Expresso, April 30, 2020
“Brazilian banks have so far postponed 22.2 billion reais ($3.91 billion) in debt installments due in the coming months, in a move to help consumers and companies amid the coronavirus outbreak, the country’s bank industry group said. In terms of new loan disbursements, large companies have taken out 101.5 billion reais while consumers took 36 billion reais, Febraban said.” Reuters, April 27, 2020
“The Canadian economy has contracted dramatically. Being a cooperative and polite country, social distancing is having a significant impact in “flattening the curve” of new infections and deaths. Canada is starting to reopen is businesses, schools and recreation areas. However, such openings are within the jurisdiction of the provinces and they have not all been affected the same. As a result, there is no uniformity in the timing and extent of the re-openings. Most franchise systems are either closed or operating on a very restrictive basis.” Ned Levitt, Partner, Dickinson Wright LLP
Mainland China: Beginning to get back to ‘normal’?
“China tourism numbers bounce back during Labour Day holiday: There were more than 50m tourism trips within the country on Friday and Saturday, according to figures cited by state media. That meant that two days into the five-day break, which ends on Tuesday, the number of journeys has overtaken the total over the three-day Qing Ming festival in early April. In Beijing, the Forbidden City was partially open for the first time since January 25. Last week, the Chinese capital announced that people arriving from most other parts of the country would no longer have to spend two weeks in quarantine. Beijing was still restricting access to cinemas and theatres, state media said on Sunday. Shanghai’s main tourist attractions received more than 1m visitors on Friday and Saturday combined, Xinhua said.” Financial Ties, May 4, 2020
“China signals coronavirus under control with resumption of parliament on May 22. Beijing announced the date for its long-delayed annual legislative session on Wednesday after the first disruption of China’s most important political event for decades, in a display of confidence that the new coronavirus outbreak is under control. As road traffic returns to normal across the country, the transport ministry on Tuesday said a nationwide waiver of highway tolls would end from next Wednesday. But restrictions on overseas arrivals at border checkpoints will remain in place.”, South China Morning Post, April 29, 2020
“Costa Rica’s government said on Monday it will start reopening its economy and lifting some coronavirus-related social distancing measures from May 1st, as the number of active infections has declined for 11 consecutive days. Movie theaters, gyms and hair salons will be able to open again for business on Friday, but under reduced hours and strict rules on the number of clients allowed at any one time, said President Carlos Alvarado.” Reuters, April 27, 2020
“The Czech government will allow cultural and sport events with up to 100 people to go ahead from May 11 as part of a next phase of relaxing restrictions imposed to combat the spread of the new coronavirus, officials said on Thursday. This will include cinema screenings, theatres performances and religious services, and comes sooner than the government had originally planned after it said the spread of the virus was now contained. Stores of up to 2,500 square metres reopened on Monday. From May 11, shopping malls and larger shops are also set to reopen, along with outdoor restaurants and pubs, hairdressers, and museums. The last phase is due on May 25 with restaurants, pubs and hotels returning to action.” Reuters, April 30, 2020
“The Dominican Republic Senate has passed an extension of the State of Emergency until May 17th, still limiting movement and retail business operations until that date. All resorts are closed due to the lack of flights from Europe and the U.S. All businesses are shut down except for those in the medical sector (clinicas y hospitales, drugstores), food service (supermarkets and colmados are open, but some restaurants and fast foods are only offering services via delivery). Retail stores and schools are closed.” Maria Elena Portorreal De Alonso, Trade Specialist, U.S. Commercial Service, Santo Domingo
“France announced an array of measures to begin easing a strict lockdown and reignite an economy battered by the coronavirus, with plans to reopen shops starting May 11 one of the first steps toward normalization. Philippe said French restaurants and cafes may be allowed to reopen from June 2, and pupils can start returning to school from May 11 but with strict rules. Public events of more than 5,000 people are outlawed until September and working from home is encouraged for at least three more weeks, he said. Beaches won’t reopen until at least June 1. Fortune, April 28, 2020
“This is expected to include a gradual reopening of schools, starting with primary classes, based on voluntary attendance and with reduced class sizes. The government is also expected to allow shops to reopen, encourage businesses to get back to work and lift restrictions on movement within the country. Restaurants, bars, hotels and sports centres, however, will stay shut for the time being.” The Economist Expresso, April 27, 2020
“Germany’s success in battling the coronavirus pandemic has drawn international attention. The main lessons: Fight the virus locally, and keep politics out of it. Germany’s campaign against the virus has largely been fought by regional authorities that created and policed social-distancing rules, worked with businesses to manage shutdowns and safety measures, and prepared the already-robust health-care infrastructure for the illness’s onslaught.” Wall Street Journal, May 1, 2020
“Stores of up to 800 square metres (8,600 square feet) were allowed to open again last week, along with car and bicycle dealers and bookstores, provided they adhere to strict social distancing and hygiene rules. Reuters, April 28, 2020
“The government was swift in reacting to the crisis early and as a result the situation has not been anything like Italy or Spain or countries with similar populations like Belgium and Netherlands. In fact Greece has been written up in the international press as a great success story. Yesterday there were no deaths for the first time in weeks and only 7 new confirmed cases. We have been teleworking since March 16 and on lockdown since March 23.” Keith Silver, Senior Commercial Officer, U.S. Commercial Service, Athens
“Guatemala closed borders and went under a strict curfew early in March. Curfew was much stricter early, now it is from 6pm to 6am. Only primary companies can open (banks, supermarkets) but with strict social distancing and every citizen must wear a mask or will get fined. Restaurants can only offer delivery. Some factories are open. Schools, universities, malls, shopping centers etc. are shutdown. Citizens cannot move from city to city. Congress approved three fiscal packages, totaling around 3.4 percent of the GDP.” Antonio Prieto, Senior Trade Specialist, Embassy of the United States of America, Guatemala City
India Totally Shut Down???
“On March 25, Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed the world’s toughest lockdown—at the time it scored a perfect 100 on the University of Oxford’s lockdown stringency index—in an attempt to thwart the virus by essentially freezing 1.3 billion people in place. India’s shutdown includes transportation, manufacturing plants and almost all e-commerce. In many places, residents require passes to travel, or must show proof that they’re outside for an essential activity like buying groceries. Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers have sought shelter in temporary camps. On April 14, the federal government extended the lockdown to May 3.” Wall Street Journal, April 30, 2020
”Allied Irish Banks has processed “well over” 40,000 payment breaks for its loan customers as it helps homeowners and businesses cope with the impact of the coronavirus, its chief executive said on Wednesday. Ireland’s retail banks agreed last month to implement loan repayment breaks of up to three months for those affected. The breaks agreed by AIB include 16,000 mortgages, 12,000 business loans and 12,000 for personal customers, CEO Colin Hunt said.” Reuters, April 29, 2020
“The country is relaxing its lockdown from Monday (May 4), when Italians will be able to exercise as long as they respect rules on maintaining physical distance. They will also be able to visit relatives – but not friends – within their region. However schools, cinemas and most shops will stay shut. Bars and restaurants are due to start allowing customers to sit at tables in June.” BBC, May 3, 2020
“Parks, factories and building sites will reopen, but schools will not restart classes until September. People will be allowed to move around their own regions – but not between different regions. Bars and restaurants will reopen for takeaway service from 4 May – not just delivery as now. Hairdressers, beauty salons, bars and restaurants are expected to reopen for dine-in service from 1 June. More retail shops will reopen on 18 May along with museums and libraries. Sports teams will also be able to hold group training from 18 May.” BBC.com, April 27, 2020
“Since March 11, non-Kuwaiti citizens were barred from entering Kuwait through the airport. Since March 14, the Kuwait International Airport has been closed until further notice to all inbound commercial flights except for arriving Kuwaiti citizens and their immediate relatives who are traveling with them. Cargo air traffic will continue to be permitted. A nationwide curfew from 4:00pm until 8:00am remains in effect. During Ramadan, food delivery services will be permitted to operate after curfew between 5:30pm and 11:30pm.” Talal Al Muhanna, General Manager & Co-Founder, Shiraa International for Projects Management, Kuwait
“Malaysia to reopen economy on May 4. Nearly all economic sectors to reopen, subject to conditions, says Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, but controls to remain on social gatherings. Move is sign of focus switching to rescuing business and saving jobs. Social gatherings, however, would still be controlled, schools would remain shut and interstate travel remained banned.” South China Morning Post. May 1, 2020
“Some non-essential businesses, including food takeaways, health and education services will be allowed to reopen. But people are still expected to stay at home unless they are undertaking essential activities, such as buying groceries, working or exercising.” Financial times, April 27, 2020
Hotels will be reopened along with some cultural institutions (libraries, museums and art galleries), beginning on May 4. 1 person per 15 square meters, 6 feet between people, and face coverings are required. Shopping malls, hotels, building supply stores will reopen at the same time. Museums and libraries will reopen. On May 6, nurseries/preschools are permitted to reopen, but local government/owners will make the decision. Restaurants will remain open for takeaway. Alicja Drolet, Trade Specialist, U.S. Commercial Service, Warsaw
“Singapore will let selected businesses reopen from May 12 in a cautious rollback of a two-month partial lockdown despite rising coronavirus infections among foreign workers. Businesses including food manufacturing, food retail outlets, laundry services, barbers and pet supplies will be permitted to reopen on May 12. Home-based businesses can also reopen. Small groups of students will be allowed back to school on May 19. ABC News, May 2, 2020
“South Koreans were out in droves in the balmy spring weather on Thursday (April 30). Seoul’s Gimpo airport was crowded with happy passengers flying to the southern resort island of Jeju, public parks buzzed with picnicking families and shopping centres were alive with customers. It was the start of a long weekend, but that wasn’t all. Television footage shows the grounds of Seoul’s Chogye Temple full of believers wearing masks and praying under rows of lanterns to celebrate Buddha’s Birthday.” South China Morning Post, April 30, 2020
“Domestic air travel has had not been closed. People are travelling more within the country. However international is still pretty much shut down stage. Still requires a 2-week isolation for those coming from outside of the country.” Joe Joon, BrandMasters Korea
“On Saturday adults were able to exercise outdoors on Saturday for the first time in seven weeks. The lockdown was eased for children under 14 a week ago. On Monday masks will become compulsory on public transport and some small businesses such as hairdressers will open for individual customer appointments.” BBC May 4, 2020
According to various sources, the first phase of lifting the lockdown on business activity in Spain officially began today, May 4. It will allow restaurants to reopen for takeaway and gyms for individual training sessions, and also allow training for professional athletes.
Miratorg Agro-Industrial Holding is looking for premises in the center of Moscow for its fast-food chain restaurants, known as “Burgers & Fries” in English. Essentially it is going around making offers on good locations that are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is contrary to an agreement reached among many operators not to raid each other’s locations.” Paul Jones, Barrister, Solicitor and Trade Mark Agent, Jones & Co., Toronto.
“President Vladimir Putin extended the country’s lockdown measures for another two weeks, warning that the worst of the outbreak is still to come. The Russian president announced that he would be extending the country’s national lockdown, which had been set to expire Thursday, until May 11; He also directed his government to begin preparing guidelines for a “phased exit” and eventual reopening.” Forbes, April 28, 2020
“Swiss grandparents are told it’s SAFE to hug grandchildren if they are under ten because they don’t spread coronavirus. Public health officials in Switzerland have said that it is now safe for children under the age of ten to hug their grandparents. The relaxation of restrictions in the country comes after Swiss scientists concluded that grandparents are not at risk of catching Covid-19 from their young grandchildren as they do not have the ‘receptors’ targeted by the virus.” Daily Mail UK, April 28, 2020
“The Swiss government is pressing ahead with re-opening measures including for sporting events, shops, restaurants and museums, it said on Wednesday, even as it bans events with more than 1,000 people through. Border restrictions will also begin being eased from May 11 to allow families to reunite, officials said, while a “careful reopening” of restaurants will be permitted under strict conditions aimed at ensuring health and safety for guests and employees. Primary and secondary schools will be allowed to resume classes from May 11. Moreover, professional sports teams can resume play on June 8, although without spectators in attendance.” Reuters, April 29, 2020
“The country is partially reducing the lockdown by reopening restaurants, cafes and markets from May 3. While the national ban on international travellers remains in place until May 30, Thailand is looking at how to resume tourism. Thailand is still under nationwide curfew between 10pm and 4am will remain until the state of emergency ends on May 31.” The Sun UK, April 30, 2020
“The IMF expects (Thailand) GDP to fall by 6.7% this year. The country’s two economic mainstays, tourism and trade, are suffering. Although a fiscal stimulus equivalent to 3% of GDP is under way, domestic demand is in a funk. Some 20m people have applied for state aid and a third of the workforce faces unemployment….the government has extended the state of emergency and lockdown measures until the end of May.” The Economist Expresso, April 28, 2020
United Arab Emirates
“Dubai announced a partial reduction in the restrictions on movement in the Emirate. The move, which coincided with the start of Ramadan, allows people to move freely for the first time since April 4 and also saw the reopening of malls, cafes and restaurants, under strict conditions.” Arabian Business, April 27, 2020
“With fever checks and masks, Dubai’s mega-mall reopens. For weeks, only the mall’s grocery stores and pharmacies carried on working, but the UAE has now allowed malls, restaurants and even hair salons to reopen under social distancing rules. Thermal cameras fixed to the ceiling around Dubai Mall record temperatures of passers-by. Children aged between three and 12, and people of over 60 or in higher risk groups for the respiratory disease are not allowed in. Protective masks are compulsory — with staff sporting them both in ready-to-wear stores as well as high-end European designer boutiques. The mall’s cinema, skating rink and large fountains, which in normal times attract thousands of tourists packed in for evening shows, remain closed.” Yahoo News, April 29, 2020
“Many businesses are going through the process of thinking about what life post-Covid-19 could look like; this is especially true in the F&B sector where ambience, close physical presence, ‘buzz’ are all part of the dining out experience – and if people have to be socially distanced, wear masks etc., much of this is lost. In addition, of course, reducing restaurant capacity to meet social distancing requirements, could wreck the unit economic model. The impact runs all up the supply chain – some dairy farmers are having to pour their milk down the drain as a result of business lost because no-one is buying lattes currently!” Iain Martin, QFP, International Franchise Consultant, The Franchising Centre
“Costa Coffee is re-opening another 29 stores across the UK for deliveries and drive-throughs as all staff are given protective equipment (PPE).” Daily Mail, May 2, 2020
“McDonald’s To Reopen Some UK Stores in May. Fifteen stores will initially open from 13 May – for deliveries only – and will be operating a reduced menu, much like many of the company’s major rivals.” LAD Bible. May 1, 2020
“Huge Queue At First Burger King Drive-Thru To Reopen For Takeaways: The restaurant, in Havant, Hampshire, was the first to reopen in the UK after all fast food outlets closed in the wake of the UK’s lockdown restrictions, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. When it opened at midday, cars could be seen blocking the town’s roads, with people gagging to get at the stores meals.” LAD Bible, April 30, 2020
“The Asia Development Bank anticipates that if the pandemic is contained successfully within the next two or three months, Vietnam’s economic growth should rebound to 6.8% in 2020 and remain strong in the years thereafter. Every industry has been affected and the virus has significantly damaged industries in hospitality and tourism, transportation, food and beverages (F&B), retail, cinemas, and other entertainment. According to the Vietnam Tourism Advisory Council, the pandemic will result in an estimated loss of between $5.9 and $7 billion for the country’s tourism sector in the next three months.” Sean Ngo, CEO and Co-Founder of VF Franchise Consulting, Ho Chi Minh City
We keep our thumb on pulse of the global business market, monitoring daily changes and trends, and have insight on how you can protect and grow your brand in this critical market. We will continue to update this global business blog every other Monday.
Edwards Global Services, Inc. (EGS) provides a complete International solution for U.S. businesses Going Global. From initial global market research and country prioritization, to developing new international markets and providing operational support around the world. Our U.S. based executive team has living experience living and working in many countries. Our Associate network on the ground overseas covers 40+ countries. EGS is also known for our extensive country, cultural and sector research and publications, including the quarterly GlobalVue™ country ranking chart.
Find out more at: www.edwardsglobal.com
William Edwards, CFE, is CEO and Global Advisor to Chief Executives, of Edwards Global Services (EGS) which offers a complete international market research, operations and development solution for U.S. businesses. Contact Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 949 224 3896.