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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 4 August 2017

Diplomacy

Image: Getty Images

Current affairs

Fresh talks are aiming to calm stormy relations in the South China Sea.

Manila Bay has been ominously choppy ahead of the latest meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in the Philippines but calmer waters could lie ahead. Over the weekend China’s foreign minister Wang Yi will be meeting his international counterparts to agree a framework for a code of conduct in the South China Sea, where nations have squabbled over territories for centuries. This document will be a welcome step in the slow process of resolving these disputes, although questions about the legal standing of the final code could still sink the ship. Fifteen years since the process began, the waters in question are a lot more congested: the US, Japan and Australia – all of whom will be in attendance – routinely undertake freedom-of-navigation patrols, angering Beijing. It’s high time all parties found common ground.

Hospitality

Image: Alamy

Supply for demand

As visitors flock to Japan, a fund has been set up to help smaller hotels stand out.

Japan’s Hoshino Resorts is teaming up with the publicly funded Development Bank of Japan and three major domestic commercial banks to set up a ¥14.1bn (€108m) fund that will help domestic hotel operators tap into the surge of visitors from overseas. Many of the small hotels and traditional countryside inns that the fund will target lack the money and the marketing chops to attract international guests. Over the next decade, Hoshino Resorts, which specialises in building luxury resorts and reviving hot spring inns around the country, will invest in upgrading old properties and building new ones in overlooked but promising locales. It’s no wonder a number of municipalities have recently called on the company for advice about boosting tourism.

Retail

Cooking on gas

A food hall in a Sydney mall is so well designed that people actually want to eat there.

The retail world has a lot to learn from Australia, which seems to always be ahead of the curve in bringing life and custom to the homogenous mall. This week the bar was raised again in Sydney as David Jones, the country’s top department store, unveiled its latest food-hall concept, built around a restaurant from acclaimed Aussie chef Neil Perry. The timber-lined space places more emphasis on the preparation and presentation of fresh food, and less on squeezing the maximum amount of value from every inch of space. The result is a breezy, relaxed and appetising environment that showcases some of the world’s finest produce. Digital retail may be convenient but the smell, taste and excitement of experiencing good food offers a much more attractive incentive to buy it.

Business

Image: PA Images

Dream boat

AI captains and zero emissions: technology is revolutionising the maritime industry.

While the fear of an unfettered march towards the automation of our lives may be unfounded, no industry seems exempt from so-called technology “disruption”. And the latest sector to be targeted is shipping. Rolls-Royce’s maritime sector has called smart ships the future of the industry and is planning to launch an autonomous, unarmed, ocean-going vessel by 2020. Arguably more ambitious is the plan to launch the world’s first zero-emission, crewless cargo ship in Norway next year; a project headed by Norwegian technology group Kongsberg and chemical company Yara. Considering that 15 of the world’s biggest ships emit just as much pollution as all 760 million cars in the world, this could have a real impact.

From Monocle 24

Image: Flickr

IRC: Samer Saliba

The Urbanist

What are cities doing to make sure immigrant communities become resilient and successful? This was the question that Samer Saliba, the urban-response learning manager at the International Rescue Committee, posed at the summit.

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