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UK inflation hits almost three-decade high as living costs soar




The cost of living in Britain is forecast to increase even higher in April owing to a tax hike and further planned increases to domestic energy bills, analysts say.

The annual rate of inflation in Britain has risen to a near 30-year high in December, stoking fears about a cost-of-living squeeze as wages fail to keep pace.

Inflation accelerated to 5.4 percent in the 12 months through December, up from November’s 5.1 percent, the Office for National Statistics said on Wednesday.

Last month’s annual figure is the highest since March 1992, when inflation stood at 7.1 percent.

“Food prices again grew strongly while increases in furniture and clothing also pushed up annual inflation,” said ONS chief economist Grant Fitzner.

The Bank of England (BoE), whose chief task is to keep inflation close to 2.0 percent, is now expected to raise rates again at its next meeting in February amid easing concerns over economic fallout from the Omicron coronavirus variant.

On Wednesday, the pound hit a near two-year peak versus the euro on increased expectations of another rate rise, while the European Central Bank has yet to follow the BoE in tightening monetary conditions.

READ MORE: Explained: Europe caught in highest inflation in nearly 30 years

Surging costs

Economies worldwide are battling decades-high inflation that is forcing central banks to lift interest rates, including the BoE which last month raised its key borrowing cost — to 0.25 percent from a record-low level of 0.1 percent — for the first time in more than three years .

The cost of living in Britain is forecast to soar even higher in April owing to a tax hike and further planned increases to domestic energy bills, according to analysts.

National insurance, paid by workers and employers, is being increased to help fund social care for the elderly. Analysts expect more painful tax increases to foot the vast bill for Covid.

In addition, electricity and gas prices are set to rocket higher when the UK government shortly lifts a cap on energy bills amid record-breaking wholesale costs.

“With consumer prices rising at their fastest rate for three decades and wage growth slowing, Britons are being squeezed ever harder by the cost of living,” said Jay Mawji, head of trading provider IX Prime.

Consumers and businesses are struggling with surging costs, ongoing pandemic turmoil and supply chain problems.

At the same time, real wages in November fell on the year for the first time since mid-2020, official data showed on Tuesday.

“More pain lies ahead in the form of tax rises in April and a likely 50-percent jump in energy bills,” said IX Prime’s Mawji.

READ MORE: US consumer prices hit four-decade high in December

Source: TRTWorld and agencies

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Economic Watch: China’s mushrooming high-tech industries create demand for talents





Significant shifts are underway in the employment situation of the Chinese workforce, fueled by the country’s rapid development of innovative and high-tech industries.

Latest data from a research unit under Liepin, a job-hunting website, shows that industries including intelligent manufacturing, integrated circuits, artificial intelligence and biomedicine are short on talent.

To be more specific, the Talent Shortage Index (TSI) of the semiconductor industry is 1.91, a new high in the past two years, and the index of biomedicine has reached as high as 4.4.

The TSI reflects the supply and demand of talents. An index above one indicates short supply, while a reading below one means excessive supply.

“Changes in the country’s industrial structure have led to shifts in the employment structure, which is shown by the TSI,” said Xing Zhenkai, deputy head of the research unit under Liepin.

On the one hand, with the transformation and upgrading of traditional industries, the demand for digital talents has become more urgent.

From April 2021 to March 2022, demand for digital talents in finance, auto machinery manufacturing, and pharmaceutical and medical industries increased by 44.04 percent, 39.03 percent and 32.96 percent, respectively, according to Xing.

On the other hand, the rapidly-expanding emerging industries such as AI and metaverse create huge demand for highly skilled employees.

For example, the number of job openings in metaverse surged 37.07 percent year on year last year, following a 13.59-percent increase in 2019 and a 14.6-percent rise in 2020.

Founded in 2017, Beijing Huanqing Environment Technology Co., Ltd. focuses on energy conversion of rural waste, resource recovery from agricultural waste and the manufacturing of high

“We need talents in agriculture, machinery, intelligent manufacturing, and project management, among others,” said Chen Xin, manager of the environment technology firm.

“The company will provide about 200 jobs for college graduates this year, and some positions remain unfilled so far,” Chen said.

As China moves up the industrial value chain, business needs and job requirements change accordingly, and employees, therefore, have to strengthen their skills to stay competitive in a fast-changing world, analysts said.

China aims to create over 11 million new urban jobs and keep a surveyed urban unemployment rate of no more than 5.5 percent in 2022.

“We should step up efforts to broaden employment channels and provide a high-quality workforce to drive the country’s high-quality economic development,” said Yao Kai, director of a research center under the Fudan University.

Source: Xinhua 

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Chinese customers more satisfied with express delivery services: survey





Customers were more satisfied with China’s express delivery services in the first quarter of this year, an official survey showed.

During the period, the customer satisfaction index for express delivery came in at 80 points, up 1.2 points from a year earlier, according to an online survey conducted by the State Post Bureau

In terms of region-wise figures, Shaanxi, Ningxia, Beijing, Liaoning, Sichuan and Shandong stood above 80 points, which indicates good service.

Some 69.4 percent of express deliveries were completed within 72 hours, a national standard for cross-region services. Hit by COVID-19 resurgences in the period, the figure shrank 2.83 percentage points year on year, the bureau’s data showed.

The survey covered nine major express delivery services providers and 31 provincial-level regions nationwide.


Source: Xinhua 

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Hyundai to build $5.5B electric vehicle plant in US





Hyundai will soon begin construction of an electric vehicle and battery plant in the state of Georgia, aiming to be the third-largest provider of electric vehicles in the US by 2026.

South Korean automaker Hyundai will build a $5.5 billion electric vehicle and battery plant in the southern US state of Georgia, its governor has announced, as President Joe Biden pursues his trip to Seoul.

Brian Kemp made the announcement on Friday alongside Hyundai Motor Company president Jay Chang at the future factory site near Savannah, hailing the more than 8,000 jobs the venture is expected to create.

“We are proud to welcome Hyundai Motor Group to Georgia as we forge an innovative future together,” Kemp said, according to a statement released by his office.

He called the plant “the largest economic development project in our state’s history.”

Hyundai suppliers are expected to invest an additional $1 billion in the factory, which will have an annual capacity of 300,000 units, according to the statement.

The automaker said it plans to begin construction in January 2023 and to complete the plant in the first half of 2025. It did not yet give any details on which of its electric models will be produced at the Georgia location.

READ MORE: Can electric cars dominate developing countries?

Stiff competition

Hyundai has projected that 27 percent of its global fleet will be electric within seven years.

By building battery production into the new factory, Hyundai “aims to establish a stable supply chain for EV battery and other EV components in the US market,” the statement said.

Biden arrived on Friday in South Korea, on a trip aimed at cementing economic ties with Seoul. He is due to meet with Chang on Sunday, according to the White House.

The Hyundai plant will be the second electric vehicle factory in Georgia: electric truck maker Rivian announced in December that it will invest $5 billion to build its second US assembly plant there.

Hyundai aims to be the third-largest provider of electric vehicles in the United States by 2026, but it faces stiff competition.

The sector is currently dominated by Tesla, but traditional automakers General Motors and Ford plan to invest tens of billions of dollars to increase their electric offerings in the coming years, and many start-ups are also trying to break into the industry.

READ MORE: Volkswagen to stop producing cars with combustion engines in EU by 2035

Source: TRT World

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