The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 30 October 2018

Trade

Image: PA Images

Almighty dollar

If you thought Saudi Arabia’s trade partners might be put off after Jamal Khashoggi’s death, you’d be wrong.

The EU-Arab World Summit continues today with 30 nations from Europe, the Middle East and North Africa assembled in Athens with the intention to deepen trade ties. But there’s a sizeable elephant in the room: the Saudi Arabian delegation led by Sami Al-Obaidy, chairman of the Council of Saudi Chambers. Al-Obaidy is there to drum up investment in the Gulf nation’s Vision 2030 reform plan and will be straining to disassociate his country from the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month. Will the Khashoggi affair mean leaders won’t be lining up to do business with Al-Obaidy? If the €30bn in deals that oil-and-petrol giant Saudi Aramco announced this week are anything to go by, we’d argue that money still talks.

Diplomacy

Image: Getty Images

Money spinner

An IMF loan could be just what Pakistan’s economy needs but it’s newest business partner – China – probably won’t be very pleased.

Staying friends with everyone isn’t easy. Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan, still in his political salad days, is learning the rules of the diplomatic balancing act necessary if you want to be chummy with both the US and China. This week he visits Beijing to discuss the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC): a grand modernisation of railways, roads and energy production in Pakistan that will provide greater access to and from China. It’s good news in the long term but right now Khan’s ailing economy needs a boost. Pakistan could dig its way out of the doldrums with a proposed loan from the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF). But the IMF will demand total transparency on just how Pakistan and China set about building the CPEC: a condition that isn’t likely to please Khan’s partners in Beijing.

Aviation

Image: Getty Images

Fly in the ointment

Turkey’s new airport is open but Erdogan’s hoped-for popularity boost won’t take-off if he overlooks human rights.

Yesterday Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan unveiled the country’s gleaming new airport which, after some expansion, will be the biggest – and busiest – in the world. The date for the opening of Istanbul New Airport (its working title) is significant: yesterday was the 95th anniversary of Turkish independence from the Ottoman Empire. Although the day had all the usual pomp, ceremony and ribbon-cutting one might expect, the opening was mainly symbolic: only a handful of flights are scheduled for this week. Darkening the proceedings is also the knowledge that 30 construction workers and one union leader have been jailed for protesting the dangerous working conditions. Building an air hub is one thing but Erdogan’s hopes of a soft-power lift will be grounded as long as he ignores basic human rights.

F&B

Image: Getty Images

Message in a bottle

After successfully reinventing its whisky industry, Japan’s taking steps to do the same for its wine.

Most wine drinkers in Japan don’t know it but only one fifth of bottles produced in the country actually use grapes that aren’t flown or shipped in from somewhere else. This is why as of today the government has ordered that only wine made with domestically grown grapes can call itself “Japan Wine”. The rule also requires producers to specify when they are using concentrated grape juice and allows the mentioning of a region only if 85 per cent of the grapes were grown in the area. It’s a long-overdue step that could help small wineries distinguish themselves in overseas markets and compete with European imports. In recent years Japan has been competing with Scotland for the status of best whisky-maker. Perhaps this initiative will have the best wines in the world one day turning Japanese.

From Monocle 24

Image: Samuel Zeller

Live from Zürich: ‘NZZ am Sonntag’, ‘Republik’, ‘Folha de São Paulo’

The Stack

The Stack is live from Zürich. We speak to one of the editors of the NZZ am Sonntag, the editor of Republik and, ahead of Brazil’s elections, the political editor of Folha de São Paulo.

From Monocle Films

Athens’ favourite neighbourhoods

Do you want to visit the heart of Athens but steer clear of the tourist traps? Take a walk around Petralona, Koukaki and Filopappou to discover the best areas of the capital according to Athenians themselves.

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