The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 21 February 2018

Business

Image: Shutterstock

Pulse check

Canada PM Justin Trudeau’s timely trip to India has helped to keep alive trade relations between the two.

In recent months, trade relations between India and Canada have been tripped up by an unlikely nemesis: the humble chickpea. In December, India, which is the biggest market for Canadian pulses, slapped a 40 per cent tariff on lentils and chickpeas. But the relationship might be on the mend as Justin Trudeau’s state visit to India looks to have paid off. In Mumbai on Tuesday both governments announced a two-way investment agreement that is estimated to be worth about CA$1bn (€640m). A broader free-trade agreement between the two governments is making slow progress but this current deal – which Ottawa says will create nearly 6,000 jobs in Canada – is a new chapter in Trudeau’s recent economic courtship of India.

Urbanism

Image: Tetsuo Kashivada

Raising the stakes

Tokyo boards the timber bandwagon as it unveils plans for a new wooden wonder.

With several wooden high-rises set for completion this year, urban-planners seem to be thinking differently about tall buildings in cities. As Brisbane builders lay the foundations for what will be the world’s tallest timber office building, a Japanese developer has unveiled plans for a Tokyo project that, if approved, will dwarf its Aussie counterpart. Taller than the Eiffel Tower and three times larger than any other timber building, Sumitomo Forestry’s proposed mixed-use W350 tower demonstrates the ambitious nature of this architectural trend. As we explore in Monocle’s March issue (on sale from this Thursday), timber towers have the potential to form a more sustainable built environment and are remarkably quick to construct. While W350’s high cost – an estimated ¥600bn (€4.5bn) – could prevent it from getting off the ground, we’re heartened to see more eco-friendly options being considered for Tokyo’s teardown-rebuild urban climate.

Retail

Image: Alamy

Business of fashion

Online retail platform Farfetch has struck a deal with Chanel to augment the French label’s boutiques.

In a seemingly surprising move, Chanel has announced that it is teaming up with Farfetch, the world’s biggest online retailer. The Parisian luxury house has been famously reticent about e-shopping – it only sells eyewear and beauty products online – but this collaboration is actually about bricks and mortar. In the past year Farfetch has expanded its purview offline, unveiling a Store of the Future prototype that uses technology such as digital mirrors and mobile-operated payment systems (and can be seen in shops such as London’s Browns East). Chanel is looking to tap into that expertise. While details are still to be revealed, Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel’s president of fashion, has said that the partnership could, for example, see customers booking private shopping appointments via their WhatsApp or WeChat accounts. Physical shopping remains the cornerstone of retail (it currently accounts for 92 per cent of luxury purchases) and the key is to provide customers with dynamic experiences and to make shopping as seamless as possible. With this deal Chanel will be hoping it can make things even easier for its customers. 

Transport

Image: Getty Images

Road block

Buenos Aires is waging war on Uber – but the taxi service is pulling rank.

Of all the battles between Uber and individual cities, the ride-sharing company’s fight with Buenos Aires is perhaps the most heated. There have been threats of violence and protests from the world-weary drivers of the Argentine capital’s black-and-yellow taxis, while earlier this month a city court ordered a block on Uber’s website and app. Uber promptly appealed, pushing the somewhat baffling argument that the ruling violates the human-rights accords that the country is signed up to. Although Uber remains in legal limbo it has continued to operate in the city but drivers have started taking precautions. Fearful of assaults by provocateurs posing as passengers, drivers have taken to asking riders to sit up front to keep an eye on them. Visitors to the city might want to avoid the ride altogether.  

From Monocle 24

Image: Maria Eklind

The Maat effect

Tall Stories

Monocle editor Andrew Tuck looks to the banks of the River Tagus in Lisbon to assess just how powerful the new Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology can be for the city.

From Monocle Films

Future of travel

We find out how the world of mobility is changing and what challenges lay ahead for car-sharing, single-pilot planes and slow travel.

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