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DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

A cultural reset

Written by Li-Ann Chin, associate 
Edited by David Gaffney, partner
7 September 2020

Good morning,

In 2017, I had the pleasure of visiting Krabi, a province on southern Thailand’s west coast. The location for the film version of Alex Garland’s novel The Beach, it is the stuff that bucket-lists are made of. 

And yet, what I remember most vividly is the food, but not in the way you might be thinking. To my bemusement, most – if not all – restaurants had menus filled with blown-up generic images of pizza and pasta. Local dishes were always listed on the last page, almost as an afterthought.

As curious as it seemed to me at the time, it is emblematic of how popular destinations in certain parts of Southeast Asia have adapted to the swarms of international tourists that descend every year.

Much like Krabi, Bali, an Indonesian island known for its iconic rice paddies and nightlife, is wildly popular amongst honeymooners and backpackers alike. Just a fortnight ago, however, it was confirmed by the local governor that Bali will only be reopened to international visitors in 2021Accounting for 60% of the island’s Gross Regional Product, this is unfortunate news for the many locals who have had their livelihoods staked on tourism for generations.

Interestingly, Bali’s move to shutout visitors has inadvertently sparked a cultural shift. Left with few alternative employment opportunities, people are moving back to their home villages to take up farm work. For at least 2000 years, rice cultivation has been the lifeblood of Bali, permeating every aspect of Balinese culture. The now heavily Instagrammed rice fields are watered using the ancient Subak irrigation system, a mechanism that is simultaneously spiritual and communal; deeply ingrained in the local social structure. Unable to depend on foreign dollars, Bali is returning to its roots.

Considering that it ranks as the second most tourism dependent region globally, it seems likely we will continue to see similar trends emerge in other Southeast Asian counterparts. Indeed, sightings of wildlife returning to Thai beaches have prompted authorities to declare plans of closing national parks for four months annually, allowing nature a yearly opportunity to rehabilitate itself.

Who knows, perhaps the next time I visit Krabi, I’ll walk into a traditional restaurant to find a picture of Pad Kee Mao on the menu, proudly displayed front and centre. 

News

Scotland has recorded its highest daily COVID-19 tally since May, as 208 new cases have been reported in the past 24 hours. Despite the rise in cases, there have been no reported deaths of people who tested positive for the virus in the past 28 days. 

Train operators in the UK are to restore most services from today, but Britain’s railways will operate an autumn timetable of services that will be 10% below the pre-pandemic level, with services including Gatwick Express and northern routes to be suspended. Evening and weekend trains are expected to be hit the hardest as operators focus resources on commuter and school services.

Almost three and a half year after the Manchester Arena bombing, an independent public inquiry led by former High Court judge Sir John Saunders is due to start today. It aims to investigate what the authorities knew about Salman and Hashem Abedi and if mistakes made in the monitoring of their activities. Many survivors of the bombing have previously highlighted the problems they had getting help into the arena in the aftermath of the explosion. 

Business and economy

Home secretary Priti Patel and Robert Jenrick, housing secretary, have condemned a blockade of printing plants by Extinction Rebellion activists prevented 1.5 million newspapers from leaving the sites on Saturday. Boris Johnson branded the barricades “completely unacceptable” and ordered new laws to be drawn up to protect freedom of the press. (£)

According to data released on Friday by the Bureau of Labour Statistics, US employers added 1.4 million jobs in August, sending the unemployment rate down to 8.4% as the labour market rebounds, albeit at a weaker pace than in July. (£) 

Sections of the internal market bill – due to be published this Wednesday – are expected to override key parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, risking the collapse of trade negotiations with Brussels. According to people familiar with the matter, areas that might be affected include state aid protocols and Northern Ireland customs. Downing Street described the move as a “standby plan” in case trade talks fail. 

Columns of note

With speeches that stray beyond his brief and into prime ministerial passages about his personal values and the national character, Rishi Sunak’s charisma shines for Andy Beckett in The Guardian. The pandemic has made a star out of the chancellor, Beckett writes, which creates a problem not only for the opposition, but for his colleague the prime minister.

In BloombergTae Kim argues that TikTok and WeChat have exposed Silicon Valley’s lack of innovation. Despite spending roughly $700 million a year in research and development, Twitter’s main offering has stayed virtually the same over the past decade. In contrast, TikTok has brought significant innovations to short-form videos and WeChat has successfully expanded from messaging to e-commerce. 

Cartoon source: Polyp.org.uk

Markets

The week ahead 

Brexit negotiations are set to resume this Tuesday and scheduled to wrap up by the end of October; assuming that a deal is to be in place before the post-Brexit transition period expires in December 2020. 

The European Central Bank meeting will be taking place on Thursday, with analysts anticipating that it will signal intentions to lower inflation forecasts after the region slid into deflation last month. Industrial production numbers for Germany, France and Italy as well as employment data for the eurozone will be published prior to this meeting. The UK, however, will release its industrial production figures on Friday, following the release of retail sales data on Monday.

It is anticipated that Primark owner AB Foods will reveal today that trading at the fast-fashion outlet has picked up in the final quarter. The group’s grocery business is expected to have performed well.

Sportswear chain JD Sports is expected to post lower first-half profits on Tuesday, after footfall dropped during the pandemic. Investors will be keen to learn if online demand grew during lockdown and if the reopening of stores has boosted sales.

Morrisons, Britain’s fourth-largest supermarket group, is expected to report a fall in first-half profits on Thursday, owing to additional pandemic costs. Ashmore, on the other hand, will be posting full-year results on Friday and is likely to garner interest from investors who are keen to see if emerging markets have fared better in battling COVID-19 than developed economies. 

In the US, companies reporting this week include Lululemon Athletica, GameStop, Korger and American Eagle Outfitters. 

What’s happening today?

Interims
Belvoir
Blackbird
Diaceutics
Sigmaroc 

AGMs
International Airlines 
Totally 

Finals
Srt Marine Sys.
Tungsten Corp 

UK economic announcements
(08:30) Halifax House Price Index 

Source: Financial Times

did you know

Modern undersea fibre optic cables are covered in Vaseline for protection. Source: @Qikipedia 

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Main Chamber 
Oral questions 
Education 
Legislation 
Fire Safety Bill: remaining stages 
Motion 
Reappointment of the Chair of the Local Government Boundary Commission for England 
Reappointment of an Electoral Commissioner 
Adjournment 
Effect of housing developments on local communities in West Sussex – Andrew Griffith 

General Committees 
Oral evidence 
First Delegated Legislation Committee – The draft Electricity and Gas etc. (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020, The draft Electricity and Gas (Internal Markets and Network Codes) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 
Second Delegated Legislation Committee – The Pension Protection Fund (Moratorium and Arrangements and Reconstructions for Companies in Financial Difficulty) Regulations 2020 (S.I., 2020, No. 693) 
Third Delegated Legislation Committee – The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No.3) Regulations 2020 (S.I., 2020, No. 750) 

Select Committees 
Oral evidence 
Public Accounts Committee – Tackling the tax gap 
Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee – Progress on devolution in England 

Joint Committees 
Oral evidence 
Human Rights – Black people, racism and human rights 

House of Lords 

Main Chamber 
Oral questions 
Ensuring small and medium-sized enterprises are awarded public procurement contacts – Lord Choudrey 
New or modified highway layouts on adjacent sites of ecological, cultural or scientific significance – Baroness Benjamin 
Review into the Post Office Horizon scandal – Lord Arbuthnot of Edrom 
Finalising a digital evidence policy for access to complainants’ and witnesses’ mobile phones, particularly in relation to cases of alleged rape and sexual assault – Lord Hayward 
Motion 
Hereditary Peers’ by-elections – Standing Order 10(6) (Hereditary peers: by-elections) be suspended until Thursday 31 December 2020 – Lord McFall of Alcluith 
Legislation 
Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – Committee stage (day 1) – Baroness Williams of Trafford 

Grand Committees 
Orders and regulations 
NHS Counter Fraud Authority (Establishment, Constitution, and Staff and Other Transfer Provisions) (Amendment) Order 2020; – Lord Bethell 
Debate 
Report from the Constitution Committee ‘Parliamentary Scrutiny of Treaties’; report from the EU Committee ‘Scrutiny of international agreements: lessons learned’; report from the EU Committee ‘Treaty scrutiny: working practices’ – Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon 

Select committees 
Oral evidence 
High Speed Rail (West Midlands – Crewe) Bill Select Committee (Lords) 

Joint Committees 
Oral evidence 
National Security Strategy – Biosecurity and national security 

Scottish Parliament 

No business scheduled

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