Kabul residents withdraw cash, flee metropolis as Taliban advances | Asia Information

Hundreds of Kabul residents rushed to banks to withdraw money from their accounts when Taliban fighters entered the city on Sunday demanding the unconditional surrender of the central government.

Afghans and foreigners also rushed to leave the city, signaling the end of a 20-year Western experiment to reshape Afghanistan.

Civilians, fearful that the Taliban might re-impose the kind of brutal rule that nearly obliterated women’s rights, hurriedly left the country and turned to ATMs to withdraw their savings.

When he came to collect his salary, Bostan Shah, a 24-year-old who was serving as a police officer in Kandahar, told the Associated Press that “the government is not solving our problems.”

Another police officer, 32-year-old Abdul Mossawer, complained about waiting in front of the bank, saying bank employees had come out repeatedly and given various reasons for the delay.

The ailing Afghan government had hoped for a transitional government, but had fewer and fewer cards to play.

The Taliban said they would soon proclaim the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from the presidential palace as Afghanistan’s contested president fled the country On Sunday.

Helicopters buzzed overhead to evacuate U.S. embassy staff while smoke rose near the site as staff destroyed vital documents. Several other Western missions were also preparing to withdraw their people.

In one overwhelming defeat, the Taliban took almost all of Afghanistan in just over a week, despite the fact that the US and NATO had spent billions of dollars building Afghan security forces for nearly 20 years.

Just days earlier, an American military assessment estimated it would be a month before the capital came under Taliban pressure.

Asia Covid resurgence drags down shopper spending

View of the traditional Pasar Baru market during the Covid-19 emergency restrictions in Bandung.

Algi Febri Sugita | SOPA pictures | LightRocket via Getty Images

How Consumer spending in China continues to lag behind Similar weakness in retail sales is evident in other parts of Asia as the economy rebounds from the pandemic.

“We are still seeing a recovery in private consumption in most parts of Asia, but it is slow and below pre-pandemic levels,” said Lloyd Chan, chief economist at Oxford Economics.

Chan said the “bumpy and rather uneven” recovery in consumer spending in the region was largely due to the ongoing pandemic, as sporadic outbreaks continued to occur in several Asian countries.

Often referred to as the “first in, first out” of the Covid crisis, China has been largely successful in keeping the resurgent waves of the coronavirus at bay. Still The country’s economic recovery was hampered by sluggish retail spending despite government efforts to increase spending.

Meanwhile, the upswing elsewhere in Asia has likely had a negative impact on consumer sentiment as well as mobility, said Taimur Baig, chief economist at DBS Bank in Singapore.

“As we saw last year, mobility is a very strong requirement for consumption because you sit at home and order a lot of things via e-commerce – but you still don’t spend the money you would if you did could go out regularly, “said Baig.

In North Asia, Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture is still in a state of emergency, while other areas – including Tokyo – are subject to priority preventive measures, information from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Affairs showed.

As long as there are mobility restrictions, as long as political support remains relatively soft, we will see a very sluggish recovery in consumption.

Taimur Baig

Chief Economist, DBS Bank

Meanwhile in Southeast Asia, said the Indonesian health minister in June that parts of the country are running out of hospital beds as cases related to the delta variant of the Covid surge.

India, which has the second highest number of Covid cases in the world, saw the total number of cases over 30 million End of June. Until recently, the South Asian country had to contend with a devastating second wave as cases soared and overwhelmed the health system.

Asian governments have provided less fiscal and monetary support compared to their Western counterparts – and this will likely continue to weigh on the region’s economic recovery, Baig added.

“As long as there are mobility restrictions, as long as political support remains relatively soft, we will see a very sluggish recovery in consumption,” said the DBS economist.

Asia’s slow adoption of vaccinations

Compared to the developed countries of the West, most of the Asian countries have been slow to vaccinate their populations, mainly for reasons such as the lack of an excess of vaccinations.

Oxford Economics’ Chan said the company is placing “quite a lot of emphasis” on covid vaccination as a solution to a return to consumer spending in Asia.

However, Baig was not as optimistic, pointing out that most of Asia “is so low on vaccination rates that doubling or tripling that rate will not change anything significant”.

“You don’t necessarily see an increase in consumption at low vaccination rates, it has to reach critical mass and most countries in Asia are many, many months away from reaching critical mass,” said the DBS economist.

According to Our World in Data, as of July 1, only 12.65% of the Japanese population were fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

In Southeast Asia, countries like Indonesia and the Philippines both have only 5% or less of their populations fully vaccinated. Singapore is one of the regional outliers and on July 4th fully vaccinated nearly 37% of its population.

In contrast, both the US and the UK have already fully vaccinated more than 40% of their populations.

Ladies participation in Asia ecommerce is a $280 billion alternative

Southeast Asia’s e-commerce market could grow by more than $ 280 billion by 2030 if large online shopping marketplaces emerge do more to encourage and empower women entrepreneurs, a new report by the International Finance Corporation found.

The “anonymity” of e-commerce has lowered many of the barriers to entry women traditionally face and given them opportunities to thrive in new sectors, said Amy Luinstra, IFC’s gender program manager for East Asia and the Pacific CNBC on Thursday.

Still, “many of the inequalities women face in traditional retailing are bleeding into the online world,” she said, including securing access to finance.

Luinstra urged major e-commerce players to do more to support female sellers and capitalize on the market opportunity.

For platforms with funding opportunities, this is a great way to attract more women and help them thrive.

Amy Luinstra

Gender Program Manager (East Asia and Pacific), IFC

This includes expanding funding for women, providing training and encouraging them to get involved in higher value sectors like electronics, she said.

“For platforms with funding opportunities, this is a great way to attract more women and help them thrive by making sure they are aware of and are able to take advantage of funding opportunities,” Luinstra told CNBC’s Squawk Box Asia . “

A woman wears a protective face mask while waiting for customers at her store in Jakarta, Indonesia on Tuesday March 31, 2020.

NurPhoto | Getty Images

Your comments are against the background of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is said to have disproportionately disadvantaged women.

The IFC report, which drew on data from Southeast Asian e-commerce website Lazada, found that women were on their way to achieving gender equality in e-commerce in 2019. But even with the surge in online retail over the past year, the additional caregiving and time constraints women faced meant that progress took a step backwards.

“Before the pandemic, women stood their ground – in some cases outperformed men and even … participating men,” Luinstra said.

For example, in the Philippines, women made up 64% of the sellers on Lazada’s website, but their sales fell 27% during the pandemic, the report said.

“That has changed under the pandemic and so we are starting to fill the void and the ability to fill that void which adds up to the huge $ 280 billion figure,” she said, referring to the im Report called Market Opportunity.

Correction: This article has been updated to correctly reflect the report’s 2030 growth estimates.

Shake Shack has ‘large plans for Asia’ because it expands in China, Macao

The New York burger chain Shake Shack has “big plans for Asia,” said the CEO as the company embarks on a regional expansion drive.

Southern China and Macau are top priority for new branches – with locations in Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Macau’s casino resort The Londoner Randy Garutti, set to open in the coming months, told CNBC on Thursday.

According to Singapore, Singapore and Beijing are also preparing for new openings the company’s website.

Our business in Asia has been incredibly robust.

Randy Garutti

CEO, Shake Shack

The CEO said the rollout responds to strong demand over the past year and will cement Asia as “one of the most important positions” in the company.

“Our business in Asia has been incredibly robust,” Garutti told Street Signs.

“We opened in Shanghai. Even last year, due to the pandemic, we opened in Beijing in August. We now have Macau and the south in our sights, starting in Shenzhen.”

Overall, the store is to be opened 35 to 40 new locations worldwide in fiscal year 2021. In 2022 another 45 to 50 openings will be added. Garutti didn’t say how many of them would be in Asia.

An order of fast food meal (hamburgers, fries and soft drink) in a Shake Shack restaurant in Sanitun on August 13, 2020 in Beijing, China.

VCG | Visual China Group | Getty Images

Shake Shack already has at least 48 locations in Asia, including Japan, South Korea and the Philippines.

Garutti said the brand will continue to work with Maxim’s Caterers in Hong Kong to facilitate its rollout in Greater China.

He insisted that customers would continue to enjoy the classic taste of Shake Shack, but added that specialty shakes, such as Shenzhen and Macau, as well as localized artwork would be offered in some new locations.

“People want us to be Shake Shack from New York,” Garutti said. “They don’t want us to change the menu. But we’re finding ways to have these little cameos.”

Asia, Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong most costly cities for the rich

Asia is still the most expensive place in the world to get rich. This emerges from a new report in which the region’s resilience to the Covid-19 pandemic kept high prices stable.

The world’s most populous continent was still the most expensive for high net worth individuals (HNWIs) Bank Julius Baer’s global wealth and lifestyle report 2021 The rapid response to the global health crisis and overall currency stability have kept the cost of luxury goods in the region sustained.

Four of the top five most expensive cities for HNWIs – those with investable assets of $ 1 million or more – are now in Asia, according to the annual report.

Shanghai, China jumped to the top of the ranking of 25 world cities and was named the most expensive place for a wealthy individual. Hong Kong, number one last year, slipped to third place while Tokyo, Japan stayed in second place.

Monaco, a small affluent state in Western Europe, and Taipei, Taiwan rounded out the top 5.

Covid did not become an epidemic (in Asia) like the other countries in the index.

Rajesh Manwani

Bank Julius Baer, ​​Head of Markets and Wealth Management Solutions (Asia Pacific)

“Covid did not become an epidemic (in Asia) like the other countries in the index,” said Rajesh Manwani, head of markets and wealth management solutions for the Asia-Pacific region at Bank Julius Baer.

Europe and the Middle East took second place, with the majority of global cities represented in the region being sustained by the strength of the euro and the Swiss franc.

America, badly hit by the pandemic, turned out to be the cheapest region to live a luxurious lifestyle as the US dollar and Canadian dollar fell against other major global currencies.

The new must-have luxury goods

The ranking is based on the price of a basket of luxury goods representing discretionary purchases by HNWIs in the 25 world cities.

This year, significant changes were made to the list as four of the 18 items were replaced as the pandemic changed consumption habits.

Personal trainers, wedding banquets, botox, and pianos have been rolled out and replaced with bikes, treadmills, health insurance, and a technology package including a laptop and phone.

“During a year ravaged by global bans, personal technology and treadmills have grown in popularity while the price of women’s shoes has fallen,” the report said.

“We expect all of these items will continue to have a place on the list,” added Manwani, predicting the shifts caused by pandemics will be permanent.

Overall, the luxury goods that saw the largest drop in US dollar prices were women’s shoes (-11.7%), hotel suites (-9.3%) and wine (-5.3%). Business class flights (11.4%), whiskey (9.9%) and watches (6.6%) saw the largest increases.

Watch Asia prosperity trends

Asia is expected to maintain its stronghold as the most expensive region in the world for the rich in the coming years as economic growth continues to accelerate, the report said.

India – currently home to one of the region’s more affordable world cities, Mumbai – will be one of the leading countries, said Mark Matthews, director of research in Asia Pacific at Bank Julius Baer.

India is getting more expensive. Now it’s a bargain.

Mark Matthews

Head of Research (Asia Pacific), Bank Julius Baer

“India’s growth rate will increase,” he said. “India is getting more expensive. Now it’s a bargain.”

China, meanwhile, will remain the world’s leading luxury goods market as the affluent Chinese consumer moves in, he said. By 2025, China is projected to account for 47% to 49% of the luxury goods market, up from 16% to 18% in America and 12% to 14% in Europe.

However, two other trends could change the way wealthy individuals spend their money in the coming years, the report added: conscious consumption and preference for experience over goods.

“We believe that the consumer conscious lifestyle has really become mainstream,” said Manwani. Hence, people can restrict long-haul flights and buy electric vehicles, change their diet and reject fast fashion.

“Zillennials are interested in this trend,” he said, referring specifically to Generation Z consumers.

Do not miss: These are the most expensive cities in the world for expats

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Reaching herd immunity can be fairly a problem for Asia: UN official

SINGAPORE – Achieving herd immunity to Covid-19 could be difficult for developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region, a UN official told CNBC.

Herd immunity refers to the situation in which a disease cannot easily spread within a population because most people have become immune to it either from vaccination or from previous infection.

Around 60% to 70% of the population must be vaccinated to reach this state, said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, executive secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

“I think that’s quite a challenge,” she told CNBC “Street Signs Asia” On Wednesday.

“If we look at the data so far, the progress has been quite modest with the exception of some advanced countries,” she said during an interview at the Asian Development Bank’s Southeast Asia Virtual Development Symposium.

Although some countries have placed vaccine orders and others may even have supplies on hand, “implementation on the ground is quite slow,” she added.

Further challenges during the rollout

There are other challenges to successful vaccination programs as well.

Alisjahbana named the timely supply, limited financial resources and poor logistics infrastructure as obstacles that stand in the way of developing countries. Another approach is equitable access, which refers to equitable distribution to all who need it.

Richer nations have snapped up vaccines and placed bulk orders, poorer developing countries are at the bottom of the queue. Many of these countries may not have the money to buy enough cans.

A medical professional holds Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin vials during the nationwide vaccination campaign in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India on Saturday, February 6, 2021.

Vishal Bhatnagar | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Alisjahbana pointed out that there is help in the form of Covax, a global alliance trying to provide vaccines to poorer countries – but the supply is still limited for now.

“One of the main problems – especially now because it is still like that Early (in) the vaccination program and its implementation – is the adequate supply, “she said.

However, she noted that production is increasing and more vaccines are being approved by the World Health Organization and national authorities.

“I hope the vaccination schedule will be accelerated in the coming months, including in developing countries,” she said.

She expects vaccinations to increase in the second half of the year and further accelerate in 2022.

If countries can be consistent and speed up vaccinations for high-risk groups and key workers, economies and borders can open, she said.

“Economic activities, including tourism and so on, (the) flow of goods, the flow of people can resume,” Alisjahbana said.