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    IN BRIEF (Page 24)

    Tencent Holdings Ltd announced on April 26 plans to more than double the number of its offshore data centers this year, its latest push to grow its cloud business and serve both international companies as well as Chinese groups wanting to expand overseas. With the new Silicon Valley data center inaugurated on April 25, the internet giant said another four are in the pipeline in Frankfurt, Mumbai, Seoul and Moscow, all of which are located in regional business or technological hubs. The company said that the new investments will bring the count of such offshore centers to eight, adding to existing facilities in Hong Kong, Singapore and Toronto.

    Baidu partners up for public good

    Chinese tech giant Baidu and the United Nations Development Program have expanded their cooperation on technological innovations to tackle social issues, Baidu President Zhang Yaqin and UNDP Resident Representative in China Nicholas Rosellini announced. On April 25, they called on the public to join their Global Responsibility Innovation Program to open resources like technology to bring innovative solutions for sustainable development. The two parties launched the joint program in December to encourage innovative proposals from the public to answer increasing development challenges.

    Kenya's car imports expected to fall

    Kenya's secondhand motor vehicle imports are likely to decline in 2017 to hit 60,000 cars, down from 75,000 in 2016, the industry association says. Kenya Auto Bazaar Association Vice-Chairman Mark Oburu says in Nairobi that the reduction was due to worries about the 2017 general elections, as well as a weakening of the Kenyan shilling against international currencies. "We expect secondhand imports to decline as consumers adopt a wait-and-see approach to the upcoming general elections, slated for August 8," Oburu said. However, in the past decade, Kenya's secondhand imports have witnessed a steady increase due to stable economic growth that has created demand for personal vehicles. Oburu said that secondhand vehicles account for 70 percent of all vehicles sold in the country.

    'City of peonies' exports to Australia

    Luoyang, China's "city of peonies", will export 1 million cut flowers to Australia, as part of flower trade cooperation. Shenzhou Peony Co, a major flower growing enterprise in Luoyang, Henan province, has signed a deal with several Australian distributors to sell 1 million peonies and Chinese herbaceous peonies to Australian customers in 2017. "In order to pass Australian quarantine inspection, we have translated Australian standards and import regulations on cut flowers, and offered training to flower farmers since last year," says Guo Xueliang, head of the city's entry-exit inspection and quarantine bureau. "It is estimated that each cut flower will cost three A$3 ($2.26; 2.07 euros; £1.75), more than five times the price in China," says a senior manager of the company.

    London ranks first for offshore deals

    More than one-third of all offshore Chinese renminbi foreign exchange transactions are carried out in the United Kingdom, according to the SWIFT renminbi tracker. SWIFT, the financial transactions firm, released the data identifying London as the world's leading hub for offshore renminbi in a report on April 25. London is the world's largest single FX-trading center. "This data demonstrates that London is a top choice for international banking activity, says Javier Perez-Tasso, chief executive of Americas and UK for SWIFT. "Despite a decline in global FX trading volumes and broader market uncertainties, London's role as a global financial center and international payments hub remains on a strong footing," he says. The SWIFT report says there has also been a steady increase in renminbi FX transactions over the last five years, with the number of FX trades in renminbi reaching more than 13 million in 2016.

    Beijing sees robust patent growth

    The number of patent applications in Beijing hit nearly 190,000 in 2016, up by 21 percent year-on-year, according to local authorities. Among the applications, more than 100,000 were for invention patents, which increased around 17 percent year-on-year, says Pan Xinsheng, spokesperson of the Beijing Intellectual Property Bureau, on April 26. Last year, more than 40,000 invention patents were authorized, up 15 percent year-on-year, among a total of over 100,500 recognized patents. The Beijing Intellectual Property Court handled over 10,600 intellectual property rights cases in 2016. Specialized IPR courts were established in 2014 in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai, leading to a significant improvement in IPR regulation.

    Uganda eyes more Chinese investment

    Uganda seeks to attract more Chinese investment with "the most favorable policies," said Ugandan Ambassador to China Charles Madibo Wagidoso on April 21. "Foreign investors will enjoy tax exemption, quick investment examination process, and liberty to transfer capital in and out of Uganda," Wagidoso said while attending an investment promotion conference in Fuzhou, capital of east China's Fujian province. The projects highlighted at the event including a crude oil pipeline, iron ore processing, airport development and gold and gemstone mining. China ranks first in terms of foreign direct investment in Uganda, totaling $4 billion, according to the Chinese embassy in Uganda. Wagidoso said Uganda is an open and highly liberal market, a good investment destination for both state-owned enterprises and private businesses from China.

    CME sees increasing mainland presence

    One of the top leaders of the world's biggest derivatives marketplace - the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Chicago Board of Trade - said that much greater participation from the Chinese mainland has been seen in the past two years in the global commodities and derivatives markets. Christopher Fix, managing director and head of Asia Pacific of the Chicago-based market, says: "CME Group has been growing by double digits in the Asia-Pacific region over the last two years, and our major markets are the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore and Australia." Fix said in an interview with China Daily that he reckons that Asia is becoming a much more important venue for global derivatives trading, and the Asian time zone is becoming increasingly important in the global macro hedge, with trading volumes in Asia taking 10 to 30 percent of their global book in terms of diversified products.

    Silicon Valley Bank to open Shenzhen branch

    SPD Silicon Valley Bank plans to open a branch in Shenzhen in the summer of 2018, another big step in its robust expansion in China. The Shanghai-headquartered bank opened its Beijing branch in February and signed a memorandum with the Shenzhen government on April 20 on the establishment of a branch in the city, a technology and innovation hub. SSVB will invest 100 million yuan ($14.52 million) as the startup capital for its Shenzhen branch and support its "solid growth" with additional capital, according to Dave Jones, the bank's president. "Our target customers are venture capital-backed innovation companies," Jones said during the 2017 China (Guangdong)-US Investment Cooperation Conference in Guangzhou, the provincial capital, on April 20.

    ( China Daily Africa Weekly 04/28/2017 page24)

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