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Emerging Markets Daily - August 13
South Korea's Unicorns, Turkey Tech Stars Rising, Japan Covid Cases Hit Record, Foreign Investors Flock to Saudi, China Ports Congestion Slows Trade
The Top 5 Emerging Markets Stories from Global Media - August 13
The Rise and Rise of South Korea’s Unicorns
“In early March, South Korean e-commerce giant Coupang made its landmark debut on the New York Stock Exchange, raising $4.6 billion in an initial public offering that shattered expectations.”
“The successful debut of the South Korean flag-waving Softbank-backed startup in the US stock market soon became a major talking point in an economy heavily dominated by a handful of conglomerates, capturing the excitement surrounding the growing number of local startups.”
“The move also followed a year marked by the rise of unicorns -- a term coined for startups worth over $1 billion -- of which the country boasted 15 as of July this year. In a further sign of the trend, Kakao Chairman Kim Beom-su, whose company began as a startup, beat Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index to become the richest man in the country, boasting $13 billion in net assets as of this month.”
”From property technology app Zigbang, blockchain fintech firm Dunamu to Kurly, the operator of e-commerce platform Market Kurly, the Ministry of SMEs and Startups says more unicorns now exist than ever before in the country, though Coupang was pushed out of the list following its US listing.”
”These three companies -- whose respective services cover real estate listings, cryptocurrency investing and grocery shopping -- have continued to serve the needs of many as the coronavirus pandemic engulfed multiple sectors of the economy including tourism and physical retail.” Tim Hyun Su reports.
By the Numbers: South Korea Start-Ups
15 - Number of Unicorns in South Korea
Turkey Emerging As Star of European Tech
“This year’s hottest new idea in online retail started not in Silicon Valley but in Istanbul. Tech investors have poured billions of dollars into start-ups delivering groceries in just 10 minutes and its pioneer, Getir, is now valued at $7.5bn.”
“But back in 2018, according to Getir co-founder Nazım Salur, no venture capitalists would return calls from a Turkish start-up. ‘The right funding wasn’t there,’ Salur said, which led him to delay his ambitions to launch Getir overseas by almost three years. The turnround in Getir’s fortunes during the past year is part of a huge shift in Turkey’s technology industry.”
“Since last summer, Turkish tech companies, including ecommerce platforms Trendyol and Hepsiburada and games developers Peak Games and Dream Games, have seen their valuations vault above the billion-dollar mark that is seen as a global marker for start-up success. ‘The Turkish ecommerce market is at an inflection point,’ said Hanzade Dogan, founder of Hepsiburada, which is now valued at $4.4bn after an initial public offering on the Nasdaq last month…”
“Many of today’s tech executives in Turkey cut their teeth at one of two companies: Rocket Internet, the German start-up incubator that launched in Turkey in 2011 then abruptly pulled out of the market a year later; and Peak Games, the mobile games developer that was founded in 2010 and acquired by Zynga last year for $1.8bn.” Tim Bradshaw reports.
Japan Covid Cases Hit Record High
“Tokyo confirmed 5,773 new COVID-19 cases and 227 patients in serious condition on Aug. 13, both the highest on record, according to metropolitan government officials. More than 20,000 new infections were reported across Japan as of 6 p.m., setting a new record for the third day in a row.”
“The daily tally for Kyoto also exceeded its previous high for three consecutive days to reach 450, while the figures for Shizuoka and Kagoshima each set a record for the third straight day at 379 and 159, respectively.”
“The capital’s latest daily case count was up 731 from the previous high of 5,042, logged on Aug. 5. Its number of serious cases requiring ventilators or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, also known as an ECMO lung bypass machine, rose by nine from Aug. 12.” Asahi Shimbun reports.
Foreign Investors Flock to Saudi Arabia, Record-Breaking Licenses Granted
“The Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia (MISA) reported today that it issued 478 new licenses in Q1 2021, the most number in a single quarter since records began in 2005.”
“It reported a 36 per cent annual increase in new licenses issued compared to Q1 2020, and the latest figure also marks a 2.6 per cent quarterly increase. The first quarter of 2021 also recorded the fourth consecutive increase in the number of new foreign investment projects since the peak of the pandemic in Q2 2020.”
“The manufacturing sector led the way in Q1 2021, with 114 new licenses issued. Data from the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources show that $4.7bn worth of industrial investments were made in Q1 2021, more than four times higher than the same quarter in 2020.”
“The retail and e-commerce (78 licences), construction (78 licences), professional and scientific (62 licences) and ICT (41 licences) sectors also accounted for a significant proportion of growth.” Gulf Business reports.
By the Numbers: Africa Aviation
66% - The Percentage Fall in Africa Air Traffic in 2020 Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic
China Covid-Related Port Shutdowns Lead to Global Shipping Congestion
South China Morning Post and Channel News Asia
“The world’s largest shipping port by cargo tonnage has shut down one of its key terminals following a confirmed case of Covid-19, putting further strain on the global shipping industry and disrupting supply chains,” SCMP reports.
“The news came as container shipping rates from China and Southeast Asia to the east coast of the United States hit a record high of more than US$20,600 per 20-foot equivalent unit (TEU) – the standard measure for freight container volume – according to the Freightos Baltic global container freight index...”
“The average wait time for ships at the Ningbo port was around one to three days, as of Thursday, according to Akhil Nair, vice-president of global carrier management and ocean strategy at Seko Logistics. ‘They will divert as many services as possible to other Ningbo terminals, but there is still the expectation that congestion will start to form,’ Nair said. ‘The average wait time is expected to increase back to what we saw in Yantian, which was seven to nine days.”
“Weeks of containment efforts following outbreaks of Covid-19 among dockworkers in China’s Pearl River Delta caused global shipping delays, supply-chain disruptions and surging freight costs. The problems have not been fully resolved.”
Channel News Asia reports that “ports in nearby Shanghai, where many vessels are being re-routed, are seeing the worst congestion in at least three years. About 30 vessels were queuing outside Yangshan port, a key container terminal in Shanghai, Refinitiv data showed.”
“The latest wave of port congestion in eastern China could further drive up container shipping rates, which recently topped US$20,000 per 40ft box for the first time on the critical China-US route as rising retailer orders ahead of the peak US shopping season added strain to global supply chains.” Channel News Asia reports.
Heard on the Street: Lebanon Woes
“They made us lose everything in Lebanon: no fuel, no electricity, no water, nothing. House rents now cost millions. Where should we go from here?" Lebanese national Hussein Ibrahim, protesting Lebanon’s government and the recent attempt by the Central Bank to end fuel subsidies, via ChannelNews Asia.
What We’re Also Reading…
Cambodia Pepper and Spice Traders Eye Middle East Markets For Growth
Phnom Penh Post
“The Cambodian Pepper and Spices Federation (CPSF) has been connecting with 25 local exporters to explore and foster new avenues to delve into the Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) markets, a whole world of diverse cuisines that are rich in spices and rely heavily on Piper nigrum peppercorn, according to the minutes of the CPSF’s second quarterly meeting.”
“CPSF president Mak Ny told The Post on August 12 that an export platform maintained by the federation is online, offering products to – among other destinations – MENA countries…’We will integrate 25 companies that sell Cambodian agricultural products’ into the platform, he said. ‘In addition to peppercorn, our exports focus on organic and natural produce’ such as ‘safe fruits and vegetables’, or those with reduced dependence on chemicals that are free of microbiological hazards.”
“He said the CPSF is pushing for broader international recognition of cultivars of Cambodian peppercorn that do not have geographical indication (GI) status, and is looking for new markets in less-treaded regions. These are primary objectives in the federation’s mission to transform the Kingdom into a thriving global producer of peppercorn, he noted.” Thou Vireak reports.
Egypt’s ‘Tuk-Tuk’s’ - Auto Rickshaws - Become Indispensable To Many
The three-wheeled Tuk-tuks (auto-rickshaw) are indispensable means of transportation in Egypt where about 3 million families depend on them as a source of livelihood, said Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry Nevin Gamea on Wednesday.
In media remarks to “On My Responsibility” talk show on Sada El Balad T.V. Channel, Gamea added that it is quite difficult to prevent the Tuk-tuk operation in Egypt, noting that this means of transportation spreads in rural areas’ number of cities and neighborhoods.
The Minister also said that cost of tuk-tuk licenses is high, so the government is working on reducing this cost.
In 2019, the Ministry of Local Development halted issuing licenses for the three-wheeled tuk-tuks (also known as auto-rickshaw), in an effort to replace them with safer minivans that use natural gas. Being unsafe and unlicensed, tuk-tuks were banned as a means of transportation as per a government decree.
However, in June 2020, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli asserted the need for legalizing tuk-tuks nationwide while facilitating their license measures. Madbouli instructed the ministers concerned to draft a memorandum including a package of facilitating measures and incentives that would encourage tuk-tuk owners to have their vehicles licensed. Egypt Today reports.