China’s Deepening Housing Problems Spook Investors | Kanebridge News
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China’s Deepening Housing Problems Spook Investors

Stocks in Hong Kong and mainland China drop after developer Country Garden flags more debt problems

By WEILUN SOON
Tue, Aug 15, 2023 8:54amGrey Clock 3 min

China’s latest property crisis is threatening to spill over into the broader economy, worrying investors and causing a broad market selloff.

Chinese stocks fell in Hong Kong and mainland China on Monday, with real-estate developers, electric-vehicle manufacturers and other companies in economically sensitive sectors declining the most. The Hang Seng Index, which is loaded with Chinese companies, dropped 1.6%, taking its year-to-date loss to 5.1%. China’s CSI 300 of large-cap stocks fell 0.73%, and is also in the red for 2023.

The financial struggles of Country Garden Holdings, China’s top surviving privately run developer, have been front-and-centre since it missed interest payments on two U.S. dollar bonds a week ago. The property giant said over the weekend that trading in 11 of its yuan-denominated domestic bonds has been suspended, and that it intends to discuss repayment plans with investors. Country Garden’s Hong Kong-listed shares, which had been relegated to penny-stock status last week, fell another 18%on Monday.

China’s property sector has gone from being a major contributor to the country’s overall growth to a drag on its economy. New home sales increased in the first few months of 2023, providing a glimmer of hope that the worst of the housing downturn was over. The market turned in April, and nationwide sales at China’s top developers have slumped since. Country Garden’s latest problems are likely to turn off potential home buyers, further delaying a housing recovery.

Data released last week showed that China was slipping into deflation. Households, which have racked up high levels of savings, are also borrowing less.

Chinese banks extended the equivalent of $47.8 billion in new loans in July, down nearly half from the same month a year ago. It was also the lowest monthly total in more than a decade, according to data provider Wind. The July figures reflected slightly higher corporate lending and a drop in lending to households.

The loan data was “a big letdown,” as it reflected a lack of demand for borrowing, said May Ling Wee, a Chinese equities portfolio manager at Janus Henderson Investors. “Animal spirits are very low in China, and the government may need to do some pump-priming,” said Wee.

China’s economic troubles are also weighing on its currency. The offshore yuan depreciated past 7.28 to the U.S. dollar on Monday, and is close to its weakest level this year.

The country is scheduled to release a barrage of economic data on Tuesday, including monthly updates for real-estate investment, factory output and retail sales.

Problems are also cropping up in other financial-asset classes in China. Three publicly listed companies said in recent days that they didn’t receive payments they were promised on wealth-management products sold by Zhongrong International Trust, which is part of Zhongzhi Enterprise Group, a large domestic Chinese conglomerate. The missed payments are making investors worried about China’s sprawling trust industry, which has been a source of funding for property developers in the past.

Country Garden admitted to having liquidity problems last week and said it expects to post a big first-half loss. A default by the 31-year-old developer could have a bigger impact on China’s economy than the slow-motion fallout from China Evergrande Group’s debt crisis that began in 2021, some economists predict.

The company withstood the earlier slump that took down Evergrande and Sunac China, which together with Country Garden had been China’s three biggest privately run developers. “Country Garden’s default would mean a complete reshuffle and reorganisation of China’s real-estate industry,” said Wang Shengzu, global head of asset management at Haitong International.

When Evergrande defaulted on its international debt, China’s economy was in much better shape. The country was enjoying a boom in exports, and global investors widely believed that growth and domestic demand were being suppressed by its strict Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. China has since lifted those restrictions, but its economy has sputtered.

Before the downturn, Country Garden’s annual contracted sales were close to that of Evergrande’s by total value, but the former’s larger presence in China’s less prosperous cities meant it sold more homes at cheaper prices.

Country Garden also has a lot of unfinished property projects, as it was common for Chinese developers to sell partially built homes along with commitments to complete them in a few years. The company’s contract liabilities, a proxy for its unfinished projects, totalled the equivalent of $92.3 billion at the end of 2022, according to Country Garden’s last financial report.

The property sector is at a critical juncture, said Larry Hu, chief China economist at Macquarie Group. Plunging sales are a result of weak consumer confidence, and it is going to be hard for non-state-owned developers to survive in the absence of government help, he added. “Policy is the only game in town,” he said, referring to expectations that Chinese authorities will act to stop the market’s continued slide.

Shares of China’s homegrown electric-vehicle manufacturers dropped Monday, after Elon Musk’s Tesla cut prices in the country for two versions of its top-end Model Y car. Domestic rival BYD declined 6.1% in Hong Kong, while Nio, XPeng and Li Auto fell 2% to 3%.



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AACCI’s Strategic Vision for Enhancing Australia-Arab Trade Relations

The Australian Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry (AACCI) is fostering robust trade relations between Australia and Arab countries.

Mon, May 20, 2024 5 min

In an era where global trade and international relationships are more crucial than ever, the Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry (AACCI) serves as a bridge, for cooperation and growth between Australia and the Arab nations. Led by its Chairman, Mr. Mohamed Hage, the AACCI has taken on projects aimed at strengthening relationships and fostering development across borders.

This exclusive interview explores the initiatives implemented by the AACCI to expand its presence and influence in the region including the significant establishment of a new operational hub in Dubai. We also delve into how the Chamber embraces education through training and research, its participation in major international exhibitions, and its active support for both large corporations and small businesses.

Looking towards tomorrow, Mr. Mohamed shares his vision for broadening AACCI’s reach emphasizing the importance of the on-ground operations and cultural understanding in building business connections.

-Could you elaborate on the Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry, including its objectives and main areas of focus?

The Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry (AACCI) plays a fundamental role, in promoting business partnerships and trade between Australia and the 22 Arab countries. As a member of the Union of Arab Chambers affiliated with the Arab League, AACCI focuses on strengthening trade and investment ties, across these countries.

To nurture these connections effectively AACCI has outlined four objectives: facilitating trade and investment activities, certifying documents, educating stakeholders, and offering marketing assistance.

Our initiatives are designed not only to empower trade and investment endeavors but to also ensure engagement with specific sectors that drive these activities. With an understanding of the characteristics, strengths and preferences of each country, AACCI prides itself on its specialized knowledge customized to suit the distinct business environments of these nations.

– As the AACCI approaches its 50th anniversary, what have been some of the key milestones and achievements?

I believe one of AACCI’s accomplishments is the opportunities it has opened up for numerous Australian companies to access markets, in the region. Moreover, the strong bilateral trade relationship that has developed between Australia and the 22 Arab nations over the five decades has led to trade transactions amounting to billions of dollars.

This extensive trade covers industries such as food and beverages, luxury hotels and many more services. Each successive generation, within AACCI has built upon the foundation laid by its predecessors enriching their knowledge base and expanding their range of services.

– How does the AACCI leverage its diverse leadership team to enhance trade and investment opportunities between Australia and the Arab region?

Since taking on the role of chairman, my main focus has been on expanding our presence in the region. This led to the idea of opening an office in Dubai, which symbolizes our dedication to deepening our engagement in that area. We have successfully secured the license to open our first office in Dubai after 50 years, which will serve as a gateway to the GCC and North Africa.

I strongly believe that building two-way trade and investment ties requires more than a degree of business connectivity; it demands having local representatives present in each region. With trends emphasizing strategies the value of face-to-face engagements cannot be overstated.

Setting up offices in the region is essential for the Chamber to truly serve as a link and support system for business activities. Ultimately this expansion will bring benefits to our members and partners by providing them with access, to dynamic markets and diverse prospects.

– Can you discuss the significance of AACCI’s role in cultural and business exchanges between the two regions?

The importance of understanding cultures in our operations cannot be overstated. To address this, we have included a training platform within the Chamber to strengthen our cultural awareness initiatives. This new program offers our members access to modules on our website focusing on global business practices.

Furthermore, we have set up a Center of Excellence specifically dedicated to researching areas like food security and cultural awareness. These research endeavors are essential for promoting knowledge between the two regions.

By combining the resources of the Center of Excellence, our training resources, and the forthcoming local office in Dubai, we’re providing cultural awareness not only in the region but also in Australia. This approach ensures that our members are well equipped and knowledgeable boosting their effectiveness and involvement, in markets.

– What is the objective of your on-ground presence at conferences and events?

Participating in conferences and on ground events is very important for increasing awareness in industries like construction where knowledge of opportunities in the Arab world may not be widespread. When we see projects such as NEOM or notice the construction boom happening in the region it becomes important for organizations like the Chamber of Commerce to highlight these prospects. By taking part in large scale expos such as the Sydney Build Expo we position ourselves at the forefront of these advancements.

Our presence at these events enables interaction giving entrepreneurs a chance to visit our booth engage in discussions and learn more about the region in an approachable and personalized manner. This plays a role in simplifying the process and making opportunities concrete.

– With such a diverse membership base, how does AACCI tailor its services to meet the needs of both large corporations and small startups?

When it comes to discussing business it’s important to grasp how influence and vision come into play. Businesses looking to expand are often motivated by a desire to achieve something whether they are big companies or small enterprises. Small businesses typically aim to raise their brands profile while larger corporations seek recognition and market dominance.

Standing out in this area can be tough mainly because the key driving force is the passion to showcase the brand and products on a platform. This determination serves as a motivator for entrepreneurs.

At the Chamber we make a point of recognizing the needs of both big and small players by understanding each members individual situation. We ensure that every member is well informed about the opportunities and risks that come with expanding. For small businesses, this means being aware of the financial demands, while large businesses are advised on the necessity of both financial and emotional resilience.

– How does AACCI plan to expand or evolve its services in the coming years to further support its members?

The importance of having resources on the ground cannot be emphasized enough. Having local staff is key to establishing connections with the communities we serve. Without a presence in the area staying updated on events and activities becomes quite challenging.

This is why, as I’ve mentioned before, we have established an office in Dubai, staffed with personnel dedicated to supporting our members. This local office will help us effectively bridge the gap between Australia and the Arab world. And our members will benefit from insights and assistance from someone who truly knows the landscape.

In Australia we have equipped offices throughout the country staffed by individuals who play a significant role in our operations. This strong domestic network complements our efforts ensuring that we provide support to our members both locally and globally. This strategic approach is crucial, for nurturing business relationships and fostering continental understanding.

 

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