Saturday, March 25, 2017

China sees globalisation 'unstoppable'; Eurozone growth near six-year high; When shrinkflation bites

1 China sees globalization ‘unstoppable’ (Gulf News) Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli told a gathering of Asian leaders that the world must commit to multilateral free trade under the World Trade Organisation and needs to reform global economic governance.

Negotiations on the 16-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, an Asia-wide agreement that’s favoured by China, should be concluded soon and regional cooperation such as with the Association of South East Asian Nations should be advanced, Zhang said.

“The river of globalisation and free trade will always move forward with unstoppable momentum to the vast ocean of the global economy,” Zhang said. China will remain a strong force in the world economy and for peace and stability, he said, adding that countries must respect one another’s core interests and refrain from undermining regional stability.

China has become a strong advocate for free trade after US President Donald Trump’s election, with President Xi Jinping and other top leaders working to boost its role in global governance. Zhang, 70, serves on the Communist Party’s seven-member standing committee, the top ruling body.

2 Eurozone growth near six-year high (BBC) Eurozone businesses grew at the fastest rate in nearly six years in March, led higher by France and Germany, a closely-watched survey has indicated. The latest Markit Composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose to 56.7 from February's 56.0. A reading above 50 indicates growth.

The findings signalled the bloc's recovery was "surging higher", the report's authors said. Job creation was at its best level for almost a decade, they added. Fuelling the growth were strong performances from France and Germany's services sectors, the survey found.

Economists said the PMI data could encourage the European Central Bank (ECB) to move towards raising interest rates and further easing its monthly bond-buying programme.

3 When shrinkflation bites  (Zoe Wood in The Guardian) Confectionery firm Mars is shrinking the pack size of favourite sweets including Maltesers, M&M’s and Minstrels by up to 15% in the latest example of an industry trend that is shortchanging shoppers.

It is the second time within a year that Mars has reduced the number of Maltesers in its sharing bags, which now weigh in at just 93g. Last autumn packs of Maltesers, billed as the lighter way to enjoy chocolate, shrank from 121g to 103g.

The American food giant appears to have taken action across its bestselling brands: family packs of M&M’s are now 25g lighter at 140g, while bags of Minstrels and Revels are also almost 10% lighter. Prices are unchanged.

Food manufacturers are either increasing prices or shrinking pack sizes – described as “shrinkflation” – as ingredient and transport costs rise and then presumably hoping that consumers don’t notice the difference.

Shrinkflation started during the last recession and in recent years chocolate-lovers have been regularly targeted. Last year Mondelēz, the American food giant that owns Cadbury, caused a furore after it cut the weight of Toblerone bars by widening the gaps between the chocolate “peaks”.

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