Tuesday 20 December 2016 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Tuesday. 20/12/2016

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

China on tour

China appears to be capitalising on its clout in Latin America and the Caribbean following the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency in November. Days before delivering a eulogy for Fidel Castro last month, Chinese president Xi Jinping embarked on a tour of the region, opening a hydroelectric plant in Ecuador and delivering the opening address at a conference of the region’s journalists in Santiago. Despite the relatively low profile of these events, they formed part of a broader diplomatic strategy to compound China’s place with developing economies in the Americas. China has been particularly willing to use its economic influence to build regional relationships in the Caribbean, helping to fund highways in Jamaica and, in 2007, spending $40m (€37m) on the construction of a cricket stadium in Grenada – an apparent “thank you” to the island for its denunciation of Taiwan. These are relationships that China will look to deepen as Trump’s first term begins in January.

Image: PA Images

Testing Trudeau

Justin Trudeau’s first year in office was a honeymoon that many prime ministers around the world eyed enviously. His responses to the refugee crisis and the historical abuses against Canada’s First Nations Communities were welcomed by the public, as was his eagerness to march in the annual Pride parade as the first sitting Canadian prime minister. However, his second year in office will pose its challenges. Trudeau’s ambitious plans to revive the nation’s flagging economy will begin to take root, spurred on by the Canadian Infrastructure Bank’s first projects. He will also have to navigate the pitfalls of leadership both domestically and abroad. A fundraising controversy at home and much-derided comments following the death of Fidel Castro dented brand Trudeau; 2017 will show whether youth and exuberance are enough to overcome the dryer nuances of governing.

Image: Federico Parra/Getty Images

Change of tune

What a difference a few years can make. Not long ago South America was awash with the so-called “pink tide” of left-wing leaders, riding on the wave of a commodities boom mixed with popular discontent. Fast-forward to the present and all has changed: market-orientated policies are once again the order of the day in Paraguay and Argentina; Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff has been impeached and ousted; Chilean president Michelle Bachelet has historically poor approval ratings; and Venezuela is battling food shortages and extreme polarisation. Two pink-tide titans are also set to leave office in the short and medium term: in February, Ecuador votes in presidential elections without Rafael Correa on the ballot for the first time since 2007; and after losing a constitutional referendum earlier this year, Bolivia’s Evo Morales won’t be able to stand again in 2019. Now that’s what we call a sea change.

On the road again

It has been decades since the heyday of the recreation vehicle (RV) but this year’s sales of homes-on-wheels are back on track to being the highest since the 1970s, with an expected 4.4 per cent increase over the coming year. With a new effort to target a younger generation rather than rely on the baby boomers, Airstream has recently released Basecamp: a petite, lightweight RV that can be hauled by a car as small as a Subaru. It boasts Italian cabinetry, a solar-power kit and Bose speaker system. With US unemployment and gas prices down, as well as a generation of millennials with an appetite to spend excess cash on travel experiences, the RV industry is poised for a second coming.

Eureka #28: Josh Udashkin

‘Eureka’ is a spotlight on business origins brought to you by Daniel Giacopelli and the team behind ‘The Entrepreneurs’. This week Josh Udashkin tells us how he became inspired to create the New York-based “smart” luggage start-up Raden.

The Monocle Travel Guide Series: Toronto

Toronto is a city where small businesses thrive and independent retailers are treasured. So hit the streets with our guide to discover the best in fashion, homeware, vinyl and everything in between. Published by Gestalten, The Monocle Travel Guide to Toronto is available now at The Monocle Shop.


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