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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 26 January 2018

Affairs

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Cold shoulder

There’s been a lot of intrigue about Trump’s Davos speech – although seemingly not among the other world leaders at the summit.

Donald Trump’s impending speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos today has attendees curious about how the America First politician will address a summit that has long championed globalisation. Yet, for all the build-up of his appearance, many of the major figures at the gathering have spent the past few days sharing their vision of a world in which co-operation with Trump is incidental. French president Emmanuel Macron used his Davos speech to stress that his country’s success is impossible without European success; Angela Merkel used hes to praise Macron’s election as a “new impetus which will strengthen” the EU. Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau held a private roundtable with US business leaders, rather than the US president, to discuss modernising Nafta. Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the summit won’t be whether Trump will defend his America First position or abandon it – but whether anyone will care either way.

Manufacturing

Image: Shutterstock

Rush hour

Thailand’s accelerating car-making industry might be the bane of some citizens’ lives but at least the government has indicated support for greener models.

Drivers in car-clogged Bangkok might curse the idea of more cars being put on the road but Thailand’s automotive industry is booming. New results show a third year of growth in car manufacturing and, while numbers aren’t quite as high as the peak in 2013, the nation remains the region’s top producer, making just shy of two million vehicles last year. Yet it’s not all smooth cruising in the land of smiles: exports could suffer as other Southeast Asian car-making nations such as Vietnam seek to bolster their own production. So, sadly for those congested Thai streets there will be more cars but, on a positive note, they will potentially be better ones: the government has pledged more support for the development of electric vehicles in the country.

Politics

Image: Shutterstock

Lesson learned

With Michelle Bachelet having done her homework, Chile’s government has finally approved free higher education.

It’s been tough going for centre-left Chilean president Michelle Bachelet who has suffered poor approval ratings during her latest term in office. Indeed, towards the end of last year voters chose to return right-wing leader Sebastián Piñera to power, who assumes the presidency in March. But Bachelet is not going out without a fight. This week congress took a giant step towards making further education free again (as it was until 1981), approving legislation in the Chamber of Deputies. It would be a change that she has long championed in a country where university fees can be extortionate. The law would initially cover the neediest but would be an important step towards universality. The initiative now needs to pass through the Constitutional Tribunal before becoming law.

Business

Image: Shutterstock

High ideals

As Canada edges closer to legalising cannabis, plenty of companies are keen to have a toke. Will it start a global love-in?

The scramble for prime position in Canada's cannabis market intensified this week: the second-largest producer of marijuana, Aurora Cannabis, has agreed to buy smaller rival CanniMed, which will create the world's largest producer by market share. It’s indicative of the fact that businesses across the country are jostling in preparation for a huge shift in the marijuana sector; they’re all expecting legislation to come into force on 1 July that will make recreational use legal. Canada will become the largest nation to date to implement such laws, with proposals for regulation, sale and even branding being debated across the country. Meanwhile, the international mood towards recreational cannabis use is shifting: last summer, Macron unveiled plans to eliminate prison sentences for those caught with it in France. If Canada doesn’t make a hash of this experiment, recreational rulings could yet become a joint effort.

From Monocle 24

On Design 75: Half-baked design: Austria’s Kaisersemmel

Section D

The story of how the swirls found atop a traditional Austrian bun have had an outsized impact on art and design in the country.

From Monocle Films

Property prospectus: Turin

Large-scale manufacturing is on the wane in Turin. Discover how the Regio Parco area is making use of empty industrial spaces to create a new independent vibe.

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