The Partnership That Benefits More Than 150,000 SMEs in Brazil and Further Afield

Brazil

B2Brazil, the largest online business-to-business platform in the Americas, signed a partnership agreement this month with Bexs Banco, a Brazilian bank specializing in digital payment and foreign exchange services. The agreement aims to offer foreign exchange solutions to the more than 150 thousand importing and exporting companies registered on B2Brazil’s platform, in addition to offering increasingly efficient foreign exchange services, through digitalized processes.

“B2Brazil aims to facilitate foreign trade for micro, small and medium-sized companies. Through our platforms we connect international buyers and sellers and we increasingly want to provide value-added services to benefit and retain our growing base,” said Alexandre Ferreira Martins, partner and director of B2Brazil.

With the signing of the agreement, the companies are now working on implementing the partnership to promote and offer Bexs Banco’s exchange services through B2Brazil’s portal. The forecast is that the service will be available to the more than 150,000 companies using the platform starting in July, and that it will generate transactions of R$ 100 million in one year.

“Bexs Banco is a very innovative and pioneering bank in offering online solutions for foreign exchange services in Brazil. We are very much in sync with the objective of bringing solutions that facilitate our customers’ foreign trade operations in an increasingly digitalized world,” explained Martins.

For Luiz Henrique Didier Jr., President of Bexs Banco, the partnership comes at a time when e-commerce is hot around the world. “We will work to increasingly digitize our foreign exchange services and continue our mission of offering the best services and products in the world to Brazilians, as well as offering the best of Brazil to the world,” he said.

“We understand that foreign trade operations have a lot of growth potential in Brazil, and, like others in other sectors, they tend to migrate to the digital world. The union of our technological solutions for foreign exchange with the capillarity of B2Brazil will bring great benefits to Brazilian companies,” he added.

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US Dollar Second Only to Gold as Good Investment Right Now

us dollar

As long as currency-debasing policies abound, then gold, will remain a primary investment for the fund. The US dollar (USD), however, also remains key according to Fenton. Unlike gold, going long on USD is anti-consensus, as is evident from positioning reports, the press, and the price action.

Naysayers of the world’s reserve currency forget its potential as an asset in what are still crisis conditions, says RWC Diversified Returns Fund Manager Clark Fenton.

As aggressive fiscal and monetary policies mean risk is shifting from private to government balance sheets, foreign exchange will feature more prominently, more so in the near term than government debt while heavy-handed central banks keep QE programmes at full throttle. 

As long as currency-debasing policies abound, then gold, will remain a primary investment for the fund. The US dollar (USD), however, also remains key according to Fenton. Unlike gold, going long on USD is anti-consensus, as is evident from positioning reports, the press, and the price action.

“We concede that the cost of USD has gone down, with US real rates of interest plummeting. However, we do not think the Fed will take its policy rate negative. Critical USD funding markets such as commercial paper would struggle to function under such a scenario.

“Meanwhile, we think other governments will struggle to keep policy rates where they are, for example, the Bank of England. Negative nominal rates out to seven years on the yield curve suggest more inevitability than debate. 

“The failure of American leadership to respond effectively to the coronavirus has been tragic and humiliating. However, what is bad for the world’s largest economy is bad for the world.  Yes, the USD looks less attractive in isolation, but do the large alternatives actually look much better?” 

Fenton believes despite talk of the US dollar losing its cherished position as the global reserve currency, amid wider political disruption in the US as Presidential elections loom, the dollar is still so widely used by financial institutions that its position is unassailable.

“Foreign exchange is by definition a relative investment. Most of the world’s governments have a choice between politically-unpalatable corporate and household defaults on a massive scale, or more stimulus and forbearance. The latter goes hand in hand with currency depreciation. 

“But the most compelling reason to own USD is because of how it behaves in a liquidity crisis.  It rallied powerfully in March even when havens like government bonds and gold were losing value. This is the supply argument. 

“The USD trades like a scarce asset when there is a liquidity squeeze by virtue of its status as the lead funding currency. The Bank for International Settlements recently reported that non-US bank claims on the US official sector rose $564 billion in the first quarter, larger than any quarterly increase in bank claims on the official sector globally ever recorded. In other words, global finance still relies on the US dollar.”

Fenton believes the dollar should then still be a very influential defensive component of a portfolio, as ongoing uncertainty keeps the potential for dollar scarcity alive. The currency, he believes, could even perform like a precious metal in the right set of circumstances.

“As a defensive asset, we believe the USD will perform well in financial turmoil, but it is less likely to be manipulated in the meantime. Furthermore, recent USD weakness has been highly correlated to the rise of other risky assets, so a reversal should boost its protective properties. 

“Foreign exchange volatility has fallen significantly, meaning convexity is relatively inexpensive. Cheap convexity with the potential trigger of a sudden change in correlation is a great combination for an investment playing a defensive role.

“Finally, while it serves as a counterbalance, the US dollar position is more than a hedge.  In other words, there are certain scenarios when it could perform at the same time as precious metals.”

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The Billion Dollar Cost of the US-China Trade War

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Two years after Trump imposed the first $34 billion of tariffs on Chinese goods, sparking an on-going and bitter trade war, the billion dollar cost to businesses around the world is continuing to rise. With the latest postponement to US-China trade talks, every delay will cost businesses more and it’s imperative they happen soon. This latest breakdown brings further uncertainty to global SMEs and is the latest example of governments letting them down.

Trump’s executive order against TikTok and WeChat is a sure sign of economic tensions between the U.S. and China, escalating the trade war.

Newly released figures from trade finance provider Stenn reveal the cost of the US-China trade war and how it has impacted businesses in the UK, US and China.

The global study was conducted of over 700 senior executives at medium-large sized firms in the UK, US and China.

Tensions are rising as senior US and Chinese officials plan to assess the nations’ trade agreements this month (August 2020) and look to review the phase one trade deal. The US-China trade war has also featured as a prominent part of Trump’s presidency, and is key in the 2020 presidential election with Joe Biden claiming he will end the tariff war if elected.

 

Figures:

  • UK firms estimate the US-China trade war will cost them $3.93 million (approx. £3 million) each on average, meaning it could cost up to a staggering $170.1 billion[1] (approx. £130.4 billion) across the UK
  • In the US, firms estimate the US-China trade war will cost them $3.7 million each on average
  • Chinese firms have been worst hit with businesses estimating the tariffs will cost them $4.46 million each
  • As the US has imposed tariffs on more than $360bn (£268bn) of Chinese goods, China has retaliated with tariffs on more than $110bn of US products
  • The severity of business concern about the trade war is worst felt in the US. 41% of firms are very concerned, compared to just 24% in the UK and China
  • Businesses across all three markets are seeing significant impact to industries, with higher operating costs, fewer orders, and being less likely to trade internationally as a result of the US-China trade war
  • To insulate themselves from the effects of the US-China trade war, businesses are implementing a number of changes including raising prices, switching suppliers to outside of China, postponing orders and making impacts to recruitment.

 

Cost of the US-China trade war to businesses (each)

The UK

The USA

China

 

$3.93m

$3.7m

$4.46m

 

Changes organisations are making or planning to make to insulate itself from the effects of the US-China trade war, a possible recession, or any other negative macro-economic changes

The UK

The USA

China

Raise prices

29%

39%

28%

Switch suppliers to outside of China

33%

31%

n/a

Postpone orders

24%

24%

25%

Make long-term strategic changes

35%

41%

62%

Take on more staff

19%

19%

22%

Reduce our staff numbers

21%

27%

27%

Boost marketing in other locations (i.e. attempt to reduce reliance on US imports)

14%

17%

40%

 

How has the US-China trade war affected your business?

 
 

The UK

The USA

China

Our operating costs are higher due to tariffs

21%

40%

48%

Our supply chain has been impacted due to restrictions on what we can import and export

29%

31%

56%

We have seen a reduction in business (fewer orders)

30%

26%

48%

We are more reluctant to trade internationally

25%

31%

30%

We are cutting back costs

29%

30%

35%

We are buying from/selling to different countries to avoid tariffs

20%

26%

35%

Our business is benefiting from the trade war

9%

9%

10%

 Dr. Kerstin Braun, President of Stenn Group, commented: “The US-China trade war has come at a huge cost to businesses and now the coronavirus has exacerbated the financial toll. Insolvencies will continue, particularly for firms that were already indebted prior to the crisis and unable to qualify for further loans.

“With tariffs still in place, Trump thinks he’s hitting China when it’s down, but he’s hurting US companies as well. It’s counterproductive.

“The phase one deal failed to cover the significant issues that prompted the war in the first place. This includes China’s preferential support of state-owned enterprises and technology transfer from American companies doing business there. Current actions, including sanctions on Chinese officials and the upcoming ban and possible forced sale of TikTok in the US won’t level the playing field for international companies operating in China.

“Purely protectionist policies – on both sides – will harm global companies. Tech companies in both countries need to maximise their customer base in order to spread R&D costs widely. Only then will innovation become affordable and turn their products into market leaders.

“Both sides need to accept the larger picture. For the US, it’s that China as an economic power is not going away. For China, it’s that to be in the world marketplace means complying with international business standards.

“No resolution will come until after the US presidential election in November. Any phase two deal will be long-awaited good news for global trade, which took a hit from the tariff war in 2019 to the tune of $420 billion in lost revenue for exporters. For businesses, it will help to provide some relief at a time when firms are seriously struggling to deal with the financial impact of COVID-19.”

 

[1] 35,600 medium sized businesses and 7,700 large businesses in the UK according to ONS. This totals 43,300 medium & large sized firms in the UK. 43,300 multiplied by $3.93 billion equals $170.1 billion.

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North American Commercial Real Estate Market Reacts Sharply to Economic Downturn

Canada real estatev

After a strong start to 2020, the impacts of COVID-19 on the commercial real estate industry became evident during the second quarter. The Midyear Market Sentiment Survey released by Transwestern and Devencore tallied responses from brokers across 43 North American markets on conditions in the office, medical office and industrial property sectors.                                 

“Across both countries, traditional office space is expected to lag as occupiers pause leasing decisions until the pandemic is under control,” said Elizabeth Norton, Senior Managing Director of Research Services at Transwestern. “Work-from-home strategies could offer cost-saving alternatives to select tenants, increasing the possibility of space reduction. However, medical office, while expected to soften slightly during the balance of 2020, has a more favorable long-term outlook.”

The U.S. industrial index averaged 104.4 for second half 2020, slightly above 100, which is considered flat conditions. This is only slightly below the 116.2 registered at year-end 2019, prior to the onset of the pandemic. In Canada, the industrial index dropped from the pre-pandemic 129.0 to 100.9 at midyear 2020. Industrial conditions are expected to remain steady in Canada, with 54% anticipating slightly higher leasing velocity.

The survey findings are supported by Transwestern’s second quarter 2020 national market reports.

In its latest U.S. Office Market Report, Transwestern found that in the second quarter of 2020, net absorption registered negative 14.2 million square feet, the first quarter an occupancy loss was recorded since the first three months of 2010. Office leasing slowed considerably as most tenants paused decisions due to COVID-19, pushing the national office vacancy rate up 20 basis points to 10.1%. Construction activity slowed, and groundbreakings are expected to be limited over the next 12 months due to elevated unemployment and continued uncertainty about the future use of office space. 

“In Canada, we are seeing very similar conditions to those in the U.S.,” said Jean Laurin, President and CEO of Devencore. “Across North America, demand for suburban office space could benefit in the current climate, as select tenants look for affordable space in a safely distanced environment.”

According to the most recent U.S. Industrial Market Report, the industrial sector fared significantly better since the onset of the pandemic. In the second quarter, the streak of occupancy gains continued into its 42nd quarter, despite posting the lowest level in 10 years, as industrial leasing activity recovered swiftly in May/June after dipping earlier in the year. Rent growth also continued for the 34th straight quarter, increasing 39% during that period.

E-commerce, which accelerated during the pandemic, is primarily responsible for the strength of the industrial sector, with online grocery purchases due to the economic shutdown further fueling growth. However, manufacturing is also a contributor; in June, ISM Manufacturing PMI recorded the strongest expansion in factory activity in 14 months.

“New inventory coupled with increasing sublease space pushed the industrial vacancy rate slightly higher in the second quarter, to 5.4%,” said Matt Dolly, Director of Research at Transwestern. “However, the industrial property sector will continue to flourish as much of its tenant base is essential businesses.”

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Microsoft Commits to Achieve ‘Zero Waste’ Goals by 2030

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Microsoft Commits to Achieve ‘Zero Waste’ Goals by 2030

Every year, more than 11 billion tons of waste are produced worldwide according to the United Nations Environment Programme. A by-product of our daily lives and every sector of the world’s economies, the trash we discard pollutes our land, clogs our waterways, depletes our natural resources and contaminates the very air we breathe. Microsoft have recognised the urgent need to protect the world’s ecosystems and reduce the carbon emissions that come from the creation, distribution and disposal of waste. That’s why this week they announced their goal to achieve zero waste for Microsoft’s direct operations, products and packaging by 2030. 

Microsoft’s zero-waste goal is the third sprint in their broad environmental sustainability initiative launched earlier this year focusing on carbon, water, ecosystems and waste. They are hoping that by setting themselves these ambitious goals their customers will also be empowered to do the same.  

To address their own waste creation, Microsoft will reduce nearly as much waste as they generate while reusing, repurposing or recycling their solid, compost, electronics, construction and demolition, and hazardous wastes. They’ll do this by building first-of-their-kind Microsoft Circular Centers to reuse and repurpose servers and hardware in theidatacentersThey’ll also eliminate single-use plastics in their packaging and use technology to improve their waste accounting. They have also stated they will make new investments in Closed Loop Partners’ funds. And finally, they’ll enlist their own employees to reduce their own waste footprints. 

By 2030, they will divert at least 90 percent of the solid waste headed to landfills and incineration from their campuses and datacenters, manufacture 100 percent recyclable Surface devices, use 100 percent recyclable packaging (in Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD, countries), and achieve, at a minimum, 75 percent diversion of construction and demolition waste for all projects. This work builds on their ongoing waste reduction efforts that started in 2008 which resulted in the zero waste certifications of their Puget Sound Campus and their datacenters in Boydton, Virginia and Dublin, Ireland. 

 

Microsoft Circular Centers 

To meet the growing demand for their cloud services, their datacenter footprint – and the 3 million servers and related hardware that power it – must expand. Today, these servers have an average lifespan of five years and contribute to the world’s growing e-waste problem. To reduce this waste, Microsoft plan to repurpose and recycle these devices through new Microsoft Circular Centers, which will be located first on their new major datacenter campuses or regions, and eventually added to existing ones. 

YouTube Video

Using machine learning, Microsoft will process servers and hardware that are being decommissioned onsite. They’ll sort the pieces that can be reused and repurposed by themtheir customers, or sold. They will use their learnings about reuse, disassembly, reassembly and recycling with design and supply chain teams to help improve the sustainability of future generations of equipment. Microsoft Circular Centers build on Microsoft’s earlier circular cloud initiatives to extend the lifecycle of their servers and minimise the waste sent to landfills.  

In Amsterdam, the Microsoft Circular Center pilot reduced downtime at the datacenter and increased the availability of server and network parts for Microsoft’s own reuse and buy-back by their suppliers. It also reduced the cost of transporting and shipping servers and hardware to processing facilities, which lowered carbon emissions. Microsoft expect the Circular Centers to increase the reuse of their servers and components by up to 90 percent by 2025. 

 

Eliminating single-use plastics in packaging

Approximately 300 million metric tons of plastic are produced every year, 50 percent of which is used one time. And, half of this plastic waste comes from packaging. The scale of this problem and its impact on our oceans, waterways and land requires bold action, which is why we are eliminating single-use plastics from our packaging by 2025. This includes plastic film, primary product packaging and our IT asset packaging in our datacenters.

 

Improving Waste Data 

Today, there is no consistent, high-quality data about the amount of waste, the type and quality, where it is generated and where it goes. In addition, data differs considerably depending on the waste category. For example, data about hazardous waste and electronics is well accounted for and tracked due to regulations and robust management systems for both. However, data about construction and demolition waste does not have consistent measurements or reporting. Waste data needs a standardised methodology, better transparency and higher quality. Without more accurate data, it’s nearly impossible to understand the impact of operational decisions, what goals to set, and how to assess progress, as well as an industry standard for waste footprint methodology. 

Since it’s difficult to solve a problem that many don’t fully understand, Microsoft are investing to digitise waste data across the company to identify opportunities to improve waste data collection. This digital solutions for their operations will include technology to track and report on dashboard waste, Power BI platforms for e-waste chain-of-custody and improving Microsoft Power Apps which helps them capture real-time waste data. As they gain clarity and confidence in their broader waste footprint, Microsoft will include more precise waste data in their public reporting. 

 

Climate Innovation Fund Investment: Closed Loop Partners 

Microsoft are investing $30 million in Closed Loop Partners’ funds to help accelerate the infrastructure, innovation and business models for supply chain digitisation, e-waste collection, food waste reduction, and recycling industry products to build a more circular economy at scale. Closed Loop Partners is a pioneering investor in circular economy innovation with a track record of working with corporate partners to pilot new solutions. In addition to benefiting from the technologies that are being developed, Microsoft plan to use learnings from their partnership to inform Microsoft’s circular economy initiatives in their devices and cloud value chains, specifically packaging, e-waste and waste diversion from landfills. 

 

Empowering Customers 

Microsoft will share their learning from their own zero waste journey with their customers, who are already using Microsoft technology to better understand, measure and reduce their own waste footprint. In 2019, Microsoft along with H&M, Target, PVH Corp. and others partnered with Eon to explore the need and to formulate a suggestion of global standard powered by Azure called Circular ID. This platform tracks a garment in an effort to create a more sustainable fashion economy by reusing clothing through rental, resale or recycle, rather than being destroyed. 

Dutch nonprofit Madaster Foundation is also using digital identities to eliminate waste. Madaster’s platform tags materials with an identity, so they can be recycled, resold and reused, driving more sustainable construction decisions. Vancouver-based Spud.ca and its eGrocery software platform platformFoodX, an online organic food delivery company, built a logistics platform on Microsoft Azure and Dynamics 365 that uses AI to lower food waste. In one year, SPUD diverted 265,971 kilograms of waste from the landfill, preventing 444 tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere, and saved 3,564,275 liters of water. 

Of course, recycling and reusing materials to divert them from landfills is key to reducing waste. Colchester Borough Council in the U.K. provide services to 192,500 residents, from licensing to recycling. The council is moving function-specific systems to Dynamics 365, unifying its data across intelligent business applications. The recycling tracking system provides reporting via Microsoft Power BI, showing data like heatmaps of problem spots for collections or where residents need more encouragement to recycle. 

Resource management firm Veolia is embracing technology to transform its business with circularity in mind. It is using Microsoft technology across its business, from dispatch and garbage collection, and with the use of sensors to collect data including vehicle location, bin weight and location, photo capture of bin contents and more. The data is used for a wide range of scenarios including flagging improper bin contents to prevent problems with downstream recycling and processing. 

 

Enlisting Their Employees 

Microsoft’s employees play an important role in the company’s waste footprint. As with their carbon and ecosystems announcement, Microsoft are inviting their employees to participate in their waste reduction efforts. To show employees the impact of their actions and how much waste they generate, they are developing an internal Power BI waste data dashboard. This will be available starting with employees based at the Puget Sound campus and expand to campuses around the world. The dashboard will display the average waste generated per employee and can be used to test effectiveness of waste reduction campaigns, implementation of waste prevention initiatives and more. 

In addition, they will launch their first waste reduction challenge, a month-long, online challenge connecting individual action to collective impact later this year. Their employees will have the opportunity to learn how they can participate in Microsoft’s corporate waste program and commit to taking impactful action in their daily lives. The challenge will focus on actions employees can take at home during the global health crisis. These challenges will incorporate themes of waste prevention, material reuse, circular economy and waste equity. They will also create more opportunities for employees to become actively involved, both in company-wide activities, like the annual weeklong hackathon that will include a call for proposals on waste reduction. 

 

Microsoft’s Collective Challenge 

No one person or organisation can solve the global waste problem. It will take all of us doing our part, including using better data to understand the problem and make smart waste policy decisions. 

Zero waste is an ambitious goal, but Microsoft have stated that minimising their own waste footprint is essential to preserving the natural resources and reducing waste-associated carbon emissions to ensure that economies and societies around the world thrive for generations to come. 

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Cancun Airport Transportation Wins 2020 Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Award for Transportation in Cancun

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Cancun Airport Transportation today announced it has been recognized as a 2020 Travelers’ Choice award-winner for Transportation in Cancun. Based on a full year of Tripadvisor reviews, prior to any changes caused by the pandemic, award winners are known for consistently receiving great traveler feedback, placing them in the top 10% of hospitality businesses around the globe.

“It has been a year of constant tests, changes, and adaptation. This award is proof of the effort put on our work on a daily basis, and how you, our clients, have supported us even during hard times. Once again, we want to thank all our customers for their preference, and take the opportunity to tell them we are getting better every day for you to come back soon and live the best transportation experience in the Mexican Caribbean,” said Cristian Flores, Marketing Manager at Cancun Airport Transportation.

“Winners of the 2020 Travelers’ Choice Awards should be proud of this distinguished recognition,” said Kanika Soni, Chief Commercial Officer at Tripadvisor. “Although it’s been a challenging year for travel and hospitality, we want to celebrate our partners’ achievements. Award winners are beloved for their exceptional service and quality. Not only are these winners well deserving, they are also a great source of inspiration for travelers as the world begins to venture out again.”

To learn about Cancun Airport Transportation services, visit https://www.cancunairporttransportations.com

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