The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 29 November 2018

Trade

Image: Getty Images

Art of the deal

The deadline for Canada, the US and Mexico to reach agreement on Nafta is looming but officials are still making a meal of it.

This evening, G20 finance ministers will sit down to dinner in Buenos Aires as a precursor to the summit tomorrow. It’s unlikely to be a relaxing affair for Canadian, Mexican and American representatives. Friday is the target date for all three to sign the revised Nafta deal and, despite some 15 months of gruelling negotiations, trade officials are still at odds over the details – from the official name of the deal to tariffs on dairy, poultry and eggs. Even if pens are put to paper on Friday the hard work won’t be over. In the US, Congress must ratify the deal and, come January, the House will be controlled by Democrats eager to undo President Trump’s efforts before the 2020 election. Whatever Trump says on camera tomorrow, Nafta’s future remains uncertain.

Urbanism

Image: Getty Images

Road to hope

Despite some misgivings, starchitects’ proposals for a new bridge in Genoa provide an opportunity to reinvigorate the city’s urban fabric.

After Genoa’s Morandi motorway bridge collapsed in August, killing 43 people, renowned (and Genoa-born) architect Renzo Piano was quick to present his proposal for a new structure. Now, Spanish-Swiss architect Santiago Calatrava has weighed in with two proposals of his own: one for a linear steel bridge, another for a cable-stayed bridge inspired by fishing nets. Their projects are considered the favourites amid the 15 submissions that will be examined from next week, ahead of the demolition of what remains of the previous bridge. Some members of the public have been critical of a starchitect dictating the future of the bridge with what they perceive as showy, sweeping statements. But the tragedy of the collapse can, and should, be used as an opportunity to give Genoa a new face. For our report on the city’s infrastructural conundrum, head to our special episode of The Urbanist.

Culture

Image: Alamy

Leap of faith

Japan’s public broadcaster is warming up for the Olympic Games by cutting its licence fee.

Public broadcasters around the world have been under increased pressure by the reach, quality and financial heft of streaming services such as Netflix. With viewers paying more attention to these new providers, traditional television networks have tried to muscle in on the market. Japan’s public broadcaster NHK announced this week that it will cut its annual licence fee by 4.5 per cent over the next two years, lowering the total income by ¥32.8bn (€21.8m). The reduction is part of a deal with the government to allow NHK to stream programmes in 2019 with a view to showing the Olympics and Paralympics the following year. The broadcaster hopes that these “simulcasts” – which allow viewers to see the same shows through different mediums – will tempt viewers away from online-content providers. NHK also hopes that the lure of the Olympics will help to make up the licence-fee shortfall.

Business

Image: Getty Images

Gearing up

Indonesia’s Go-Jek rolls out its ride-hailing business in Singapore today, posing fresh competition to rival Grab.

Singapore is a key technology hub for Southeast Asia; home to numerous start-ups in the sector. Now one of Indonesia’s most famous start-ups, Go-Jek, is coming to town. A ride-share and delivery-service app, Go-Jek was the first Indonesian start-up to be valued at $1bn and now in bold move it’s taking on its Singaporean rival Grab, a company that currently has a monopoly on such services after it took over Uber’s Southeast Asian business. Given the speed at which Go-Jek dominated its home market, it’s likely causing some nervousness at Grab’s HQ.

From Monocle 24

Why is Asia so behind on LGBT rights?

The Foreign Desk: Explainer

The results of last weekend’s referendum on equal marriage rights in Taiwan were unexpected – and have wider implications for LGBT rights across the continent. Monocle’s HK bureau chief, James Chambers, explores why Asia is so reluctant to change its conservative views.

From Monocle Films

Art is Therapy

Art is about more than just a nice painting – it can be a tool for understanding the many brushstrokes of life. So says philosopher Alain de Botton, who co-curated an exhibition in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam called 'Art is Therapy'. Monocle's Robert Bound met De Botton in the Rijksmuseum to learn more about his artistic treatment.

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