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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 11 August 2016

Image: Christopher Pillitz/Getty Images

Positivity in Paraguay

Paraguay doesn’t get a lot of press – and when it does it’s not always very flattering. Once one of the richest countries in the region, it was brought to its knees during the 19th-century War of the Triple Alliance. It pricked the ears of the world most recently in 2013 when Horacio Cartes – whose past business dealings have been questioned – was elected as president. But now the landlocked nation is trying to project a positive story using its rivers and inlets along the Paraguay-Paraná Waterway – a network that links with Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia – to position itself as a logistics hub. Paraguayan leaders have been studying the Mississippi Delta, which carries about 500 million tonnes of food a year, and are hoping that their waterway can up its current load of 30 million tonnes annually.

Image: Aero Pixels

Tricks of the trade?

With bipartisan opposition putting Obama’s Trans-Pacific trade deal on increasingly shaky ground and the UK’s decision to leave the EU prompting a wave of euroscepticism on the continent, now would not seem like the most opportune moment for the EU and US to conduct their first arbitration. Yet this is the case. Up for debate is whether Norwegian Air Shuttle’s move to register its subsidiary – Norwegian Air International – in Ireland constitutes a “flag of convenience”, which opponents say allows the airline to bypass labour laws and safety regulations. US trade unions and airlines have joined their European counterparts in expressing concern over the move while European commissioner for transport Violeta Buluc has warned that the lengthy arbitration process could disturb transatlantic trade relations. With Norwegian Air International vehemently denying accusations of foul play, it would seem that the jury’s out until September when the process commences.

Image: Phillippe Lopez/Getty Images

Mixed media

Hong Kong’s media landscape is experiencing a dynamic 2016 across TV, radio and print. The year kicked off with the launch of a new weekly print publication called HK01, which expanded in July after opening its own café and co-working space. Beijing-based technology conglomerate LeEco is expanding too: it’s building a television studio in Hong Kong for its 24-hour sports channel, launched just in time for the Olympics and the start of the UK Premier League. Meanwhile digital radio station Digital Broadcasting Corporation decided to throw in the towel this week, narrowing the market to three stations of which two are in private hands. Clearly there is plenty to keep an eye on in Hong Kong – even if freedom of expression remains the hottest debate.

Image: Getty Images

Watch this space

In a little over a week’s time, Rio de Janeiro’s Barra Olympic Park will go from being the centre of the world’s attention to an empty ghost town and the city will be tasked with how to best repurpose the sprawling 120-hectare space. Four years on from its own Olympics staging, London is in the throes of grappling with this conundrum. But change is afoot: University College London has charged UK architecture firms Stanton Williams and Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands with designing two new academic facilities in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London. The buildings will form part of a worthy €1.5bn cultural development that also includes new outposts for the Victoria and Albert Museum and Sadler’s Wells Theatre. Rio should take note if it wishes to avoid suffering the same fate as Athens and its notoriously deserted sports complex.

From Monocle 24

Distill Ventures

How do you build a profitable new brand in the world of spirits? Launched in 2013, Distill Ventures helps brands navigate those early years with investment and mentoring. Since then they’ve invested millions in promising new spirits companies. But what makes a drinks brand stand out? What’s more crucial: marketing or taste? And what’s the next big thing? Daniel Giacopelli speaks to the company’s partner and chief tasting officer Frank Lampen.

From Monocle Films

A closer look at Chengdu

Investment from Beijing and abroad has brought a boom to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province. Monocle Films visits the city to gauge its progress.

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