The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 11 September 2018

Politics

Image: Getty Images

At a standstill

Sweden’s PM has dismissed a deal with the Democrats but, with time running out, will he make a right turn?

Sweden’s political deadlock endured yesterday as incumbent prime minister Stefan Löfven resisted calls from his centre-right opposition, the Alliance, to resign. With no single party emerging from Sunday’s elections with enough votes to form a government, Löfven faces a protracted phase of negotiations where he will try to cobble together enough support to assume power. It has been commonplace for Sweden to be ruled by a coalition in recent years but far-right gains threaten to reshape the political landscape in the country. So far, he has ruled out a deal with the Swedish Democrats, the right-wing party that snatched 17.6 per cent of votes with its anti-immigration stance. But a looming confidence vote may spur Löfven to make a deal with the right-wingers. If these concessions are made, Sweden must be careful to keep the rising tide of xenophobia and populism in check.

Geopolitics

Image: Getty Images

Taxing times

China has landed the latest blow in its bout with Taiwan – and it looks like it could be a painful one.

It has been a rocky summer for China and Taiwan; in recent months there have been military drills, diplomatic rows, and thinly veiled threats between Beijing and the self-governed island. Now China is allegedly targeting Taiwan-owned businesses on the mainland with new rules designed to hurt profitability. The Mainland Affairs Council (Mac) yesterday issued a report that outlined 23 risks to Taiwanese businesses, ranging from surprise tax audits to land taxations. If Mac is to be believed, the threat is very real: the report claims that €25m in taxes have already been extracted from Taiwanese businesses operating in China.

Retail

Image: Getty Images

Seal the deal

The much-anticipated merger of two German department-store giants should breathe new life into the businesses – if it goes ahead.

It’s looking exceedingly likely that this week the long-awaited merger of two giants of European retail – the German department-store groups Karstadt and Kaufhof – will finally go through. René Benko, the Austrian at the helm of Signa Holding (the umbrella company that owns Karstadt) has come to an agreement with Canadian business Hudson’s Bay, which owns Kaufhof. This will not only make Benko the largest owner of department stores in Europe, it will also mark a new chapter for bricks-and-mortar retail in Germany. Since buying Karstadt in 2014, Benko has transformed the business by cutting costs, updating shops and promoting e-commerce – and in the process brought it back into profitability. Will he have the same impact at Kaufhof, which has also been struggling against the tide? It’s a big ask but, thankfully, it looks as though the deal will include a cash injection for the ailing business. If invested wisely, it could get the tills ringing.

Travel

Riding the wave

Tokyo’s forthcoming cruise-ship terminal promises a sea change in the city’s tourism industry.

It looks to be plain sailing for those invested in the cruise industry, with 27.2 million passengers globally estimated to board ships this year for a holiday on the high seas. The Japanese capital is keen not to miss the boat, announcing that its ¥38bn (€295m) Tokyo International Cruise Terminal will open by July 2020. The new terminal, by Yasui Architects & Engineers, will be able to dock modern mega-ships such as the 168,666-tonne Spectrum of the Seas operated by US company Royal Caribbean (and the first ship scheduled to arrive at the new terminal). The new terminal will also mean a huge influx of tourism for Tokyo; the government anticipates a three-fold increase in cruise traffic, up from the current level of 33 ships per year.

From Monocle 24

What does Brexit mean for British Overseas Territories?

The Foreign Desk

Among the ever-increasing number of things that weren’t really considered during the run up to the Brexit vote was what would happen to Britain’s 14 overseas territories. For some it might pose some minor inconveniences but for others it could cut off vital trade and travel routes – or even lead to conflict

From Monocle Films

Japanese architecture: Toukouen hotel

We travel to Japan’s least-populous prefecture, Tottori, where we explore one of its most-famous hotels.

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