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China and Europe post double digit increases in R&D spending

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Annual worldwide corporate R&D spending increased by 11% in 2018, totaling US$782bn in annual investment, based on an annual analysis of the 1000 largest global public companies by R&D spend conducted by PwC’s Strategy&.

The 14th edition of PwC’s Strategy& Global Innovation 1000 Study shows how innovation investment is related to long-term growth strategies and confidence, with R&D spending increasing across all regions and nearly all industries.

Globally, all regions saw an increase in R&D spend, most notably China (+34%) and Europe (14%) where spending grew by double digit rates, while North America (+7.8%)  and Japan (+9.3%) saw only single digits increases in R&D. Overall R&D intensity – the measure of R&D spending relative to sales – remains at an all-time high of 4.5%.

Barry Jaruzelski, Principal, PwC US, Strategy&, comments:“The standard of innovation excellence has been rising as businesses have become more competitive in the 21st century. Despite the record high levels of investment, the study’s findings are a further confirmation that innovation excellence isn’t something that can be bought by simply spending more on R&D. Rather, it’s the result of painstaking attention to strategy, culture, senior executive involvement, deep customer insights, and disciplined execution across the innovation cycle.”

In a five-year study of company performance and innovation investment relative to industry peers as part of this year’s report, 88 companies world-wide, across all regions and industries, were assessed as ‘high-leverage innovators’.

These companies outperformed their industry groups on seven key measures of financial success for a sustained five-year period, while at the same time spending less than the median of their industry peers on R&D as a percentage of sales. The basket of seven metrics of financial success include revenue growth, market capitalization growth, operating margin, gross margin, operating profit growth, gross profit growth, and total shareholder return (TSR).

While high-leverage innovators had similar operating and gross margins as other Global Innovation 1000 companies for the five years ending in 2017, the companies demonstrated sales growth which was 2.6 times greater than other companies on the Global Innovation 1000 list and with growth in market capitalization that was 2.9 times higher. High-leverage innovator firms achieved performance at least twice as high as other firms on all other metrics examined. They achieved this sustained superior performance while spending less that the median of their industry peer group on R&D as a percentage of sales for the entire five-year period.

Common characteristics of this set of high-growth companies include:

Alignment: 77% of fastest growing firms say their innovation strategies are highly aligned with their business strategies, compared with 54% of respondents that report the same growth, and 32% of respondents that report slower growth.

Culture: 71% of respondents that report their companies’ revenues are growing faster than competitors say their corporate cultures are highly aligned with their innovation strategy, compared with 53% of companies that report the same growth, and 33% of companies that report slower growth.

Leadership: 78% of companies reporting higher than peer revenue growth say their executive team is highly or closely aligned with R&D investment and innovation strategy, compared with 62% for same-growth companies, and 53% for slower-growth companies.

Regionally, the list reflects the continued dramatic rise of China-based companies — from 3% in the first High-leverage Innovators assessment in 2007 to 17% in 2017. Europe too increased significantly from 18% in 2007 to 30% in 2017.  The number of high-leverage innovators fell 45% for North American companies and 8% for Japanese companies.

By industry, the number of high-leverage innovators rose from 2007 to 2017 in telecommunications, consumer, healthcare, industrials, autos, and aerospace and defence, while the numbers fell in chemicals and energy, computing and electronics, and software and internet.

Of over 1,000 companies examined across three distinct five-year periods ending in 2007, 2012 and 2017; only two companies attained the status of high-leverage innovator across the entire 15-year period:  Apple and Stanley Black & Decker.

Barry Jaruzelski, Principal, PwC US, Strategy& comments:“The success of these high-leverage innovators reaffirms a consistent finding of our study over time: there is no long-term correlation between the amount of money a company spends on its innovation efforts and its overall financial performance. Instead, what matters is how companies use that money and other resources, as well as the quality of their talent, processes, and decision making, to create products and services that connect with their customers unarticulated needs.”

Global Innovation 1000

The Strategy& Global Innovation 1000 study analyses spending at the world’s 1000 largest publicly-listed corporate R&D spenders and is now in its 14th year. Other key findings include:

  • Amazon maintained the top spot as the largest spender on R&D in the Global Innovation 1000 study, for the second year in a row. Sanofi and Siemens rejoined the Top 20 spenders globally.
  • Apple regains the top rank as the world’s most innovative company from Alphabet, while Netflix joins the top 10 most innovative companies list for the first time, according to a global survey of R&D leaders and managers.
  • The consumer industry overtook the software & internet industry for the first time in five years, experiencing fastest year-on-year growth in R&D spending (26% vs 20.6%)
  • Healthcare industry in on track to become the biggest R&D spending sector by 2020.
  • Computing & electronics, healthcare and automotive industries together represent 60% of global corporate R&D spending in 2018.
  • China and Europe saw increases in the number of companies in the Top 1000, while North America (-5%), Japan (-6%) saw decreases.

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Reforms in Latvia must result in stronger enforcement to tackle foreign bribery

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Latvia has continued to improve its framework against bribery of foreign public officials and subsequent money laundering but the reforms need to translate into further effective enforcement, according to a new report by the OECD Working Group on Bribery.

According to the Working Group, which is composed of 44 countries, Latvia’s enforcement results are still not commensurate with the country’s exposure to foreign bribery and subsequent money laundering. Since Latvia joined the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions in 2014, no foreign bribery case has been prosecuted and three foreign bribery investigations are ongoing. Proceeds of foreign bribery have been laundered through some Latvian banks and other corporate entities in at least two multijurisdictional bribery cases. However, while waiting for the outcome of recent prosecutions in court, the money laundering conviction rate remains low. The Working Group also regrets that the Minister of Justice’s repeated and open criticism of the Prosecutor General risks creating political interference into the operation of the Public Prosecutor Office.

The Working Group has just completed its Phase 3 evaluation of Latvia’s implementation of the Convention and related instruments. In order to improve Latvia’s implementation of the Convention, the Working Group has recommended that Latvia take certain measures, including that it should:

Provide sufficient resources and expertise to its authorities to effectively investigate and prosecute foreign bribery and subsequent money laundering cases;

Step up its enforcement actions against companies, especially against Latvian financial institutions and other corporate entities involved in foreign bribery schemes, where relevant;

Reinforce coordination between Latvia’s anti-corruption law enforcement body (KNAB), the State Police and the prosecutors and implement a strategic approach towards foreign bribery and subsequent money laundering investigations;

Strengthen detection of Latvian individuals and companies involved in foreign bribery;

Ensure the efficient operation of the banking supervisory body (the FCMC), to contribute to the prevention and detection of foreign bribery and subsequent money laundering.

The Report highlights positive aspects of Latvia’s efforts to fight foreign bribery. Latvia took steps to strengthen KNAB’s functional independence. Latvia also adopted comprehensive legislation on whistleblower protection and increased sanctions against individuals for foreign bribery, money laundering and false accounting offences. A lower evidentiary threshold to prove money laundering has been introduced and the number of cases prosecuted has increased. Reforms have been implemented to enhance the Financial Intelligence Unit’s operational capacity. Latvia’s efforts to upgrade its legislative and regulatory framework to prevent money laundering in the financial sector are welcome together with Latvia’s financial sector supervisor’ efforts to renew its approach to supervision of financial institutions. Whether these developments will substantially contribute to more detection and enforcement of the foreign bribery offence remains to be tested in case law and practice.

Latvia’s Phase 3 Report was adopted by the OECD Working Group on Bribery on 10 October 2019. The Report lists the recommendations the Working Group made to Latvia on pages 82-88, and includes an overview of recent enforcement activity and specific legal, policy, and institutional features of Latvia’s framework for fighting foreign bribery. In accordance with the standard procedure, Latvia will submit a written report to the Working Group within two years (October 2021) on its implementation of all recommendations and its enforcement efforts. This report will also be made publicly available.

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Growth in South Asia Slows Down, Rebound Uncertain

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In line with a global downward trend, growth in South Asia is projected to slow to 5.9 percent in 2019, down 1.1 percentage points from April 2019 estimates , casting uncertainty about a rebound in the short term, says the World Bank in its twice-a-year regional economic update.

The latest edition of the South Asia Economic Focus, Making (De)centralization Work, finds that strong domestic demand, which propped high growth in the past, has weakened, driving a slowdown across the region. Imports have declined severely across South Asia, contracting between 15 and 20 percent in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In India, domestic demand has slipped, with private consumption growing 3.1 percent in the last quarter from 7.3 percent a year ago, while manufacturing growth plummeted to below 1 percent in the second quarter of 2019 compared to over 10 percent a year ago.

“Declining industrial production and imports, as well as tensions in the financial markets reveal a sharp economic slowdown in South Asia,” said Hartwig Schafer, World Bank Vice President for the South Asia Region. “As global and domestic uncertainties cloud the region’s economic outlook, South Asian countries should pursue stimulating economic policies to boost private consumption and beef up investments.”

The report notes that South Asia’s current economic slowdown echoes the decelerating growth and trade slumps of 2008 and 2012. With that context in mind, the report remains cautiously optimistic that a slight rebound in investment and private consumption could jumpstart South Asia’s growth up to 6.3 percent in 2020, slightly above East Asia and the Pacific, and 6.7 percent in 2021.

In a focus section, the report highlights how, as their economies become more sophisticated, South Asian countries have made decentralization a priority to improve the delivery of public services. With multiple initiatives underway across the region to shift more political and fiscal responsibilities to local governments, the report warns, however, that decentralization efforts in South Asia have so far yielded mixed results.

For decentralization to work, central authorities should wield incentives and exercise quality control to encourage innovation and accountability at the local level. Rather than a mere reshuffling of power, the report calls for more complementary roles across tiers of government, in which national authorities remain proactive in empowering local governments for better service delivery.

“Decentralization in South Asia has yet to deliver on its promises and, if not properly managed, can degenerate into fragmentation,” said Hans Timmer, World Bank Chief Economist for the South Asia Region. “To make decentralization work for their citizens, we encourage South Asian central governments to allocate their resources judiciously, create incentives to help local communities compete in integrated markets, and provide equal opportunities to their people.”

In Afghanistan, with improved farming conditions and assuming political stability after the elections, growth is expected to recover and reach 3 percent in 2020 and 3.5 percent in 2021. However, the outlook is highly vulnerable and may be affected by deteriorating confidence due to uncertainty around international security assistance, election-related violence, and peace negotiations with the Taliban.  

In Bangladesh, GDP is projected to moderate to 7.2 percent this fiscal year and 7.3 percent the following one. The outlook is clouded by rising financial sector vulnerability, but the economy is likely to maintain growth above 7 percent, supported by a robust macroeconomic framework, political stability, and strong public investments.

In Bhutan, GDP growth is expected to jump to 7.4 percent this fiscal year with the commissioning of Mangdechhu, a new hydropower plant, and the completion of the maintenance of Tala, another one. Growth in fiscal year 2021 is forecast just below 6 percent on the base of strong tourism growth and increased revenue from the existing power plants.

In India, after the broad-based deceleration in the first quarters of this fiscal year, growth is projected to fall to 6.0 this fiscal year. Growth is then expected to gradually recover to 6.9 percent in fiscal year 2020/21 and to 7.2 percent in the following year. 

In Maldives, growth is expected to reach 5.2 percent in 2019, due to a slowdown in construction following the completion of the international airport and a connecting bridge. However, with support from new infrastructure investment and the expansion of tourism, growth is expected to pick up again to an average of 5.6 percent over the forecast horizon.

In Nepal, GDP growth is projected to average 6.5 percent over this and next fiscal year, backed by strong services and construction activity due to rising tourist arrivals and higher public spending.

In Pakistan, growth is projected to deteriorate further to 2.4 percent this fiscal year, as monetary policy remains tight, and the planned fiscal consolidation will compress domestic demand. The program signed with the IMF is expected to help growth recover from fiscal year 2021-22 onwards.

In Sri Lanka, growth is expected to soften to 2.7 percent in 2019. However, supported by recovering investment and exports, as the security challenges and political uncertainty of last year dissipate, it is projected to reach 3.3 percent in 2020 and 3.7 percent in 2021.

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Oil Market Report: Back to business as usual

MD Staff

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Oil markets in September withstood a textbook case of a large-scale supply disruption as the attacks on Saudi Arabia temporarily affected about 5.7 mb/d of crude production capacity. On Monday 16 September, the first trading day following the attacks, after an initial spike to $71/bbl Brent prices fell back as it became clear that the damage, although serious, would not cause long-lasting disruption to markets. Saudi Aramco’s achievement in restoring operations and maintaining customer confidence was very impressive. This is reflected in the fact that as we publish this Report, the price of Brent is close to $58/bbl, actually $2/bbl below the pre-attack level.

Intuitively, the precision attacks on Saudi Arabia and the possibility of a repeat should keep the market on edge. There should be talk of a geopolitical premium on top of oil prices. For now, though, there is little sign of this with security fears having been overtaken by weaker demand growth and the prospect of a wave of new oil production coming on stream – Norway’s big Johan Sverdrup project started up this month and will reach 440 kb/d by mid-2020.

In this Report, for both 2019 and 2020 we have cut our headline oil demand growth number by 0.1 mb/d. However, the reduction for 2019 mainly reflects a technical adjustment due to new data showing higher US demand in 2018 which has depressed this year’s growth number. This year is seeing two very different halves. In 1H19, global growth was only 0.4 mb/d but in 2H19 it could be as high as 1.6 mb/d with recent data lending support to the outlook: non-OECD demand growth in July and August was 1 mb/d and 1.5 mb/d, respectively, with Chinese demand growing solidly by more than 0.5 mb/d y-o-y. The OECD countries remain in a relatively weak state, although as we move through 2H19 y-o-y growth returns helped by a comparison versus a low base in the latter part of 2018. Demand is supported by prices (Brent) that are more than 30% below year-ago levels. For 2020, a weaker GDP growth forecast has seen our oil demand outlook cut back to a still solid 1.2 mb/d.

The renewed focus on demand and supply fundamentals does not mean that the attacks on Saudi Arabia can be shrugged off as being of little consequence. Further incidents of this nature in the strategically important Gulf region could happen and cause even greater disruption. A key lesson from recent weeks is that the world has a big insurance policy in the form of stockholdings. The market is the first responder to a supply crisis and OECD commercial stocks in August increased for the fifth consecutive month and are now close to the record 3+ billion barrels level we saw during most of 2016. IEA members hold an additional 1.6 billion barrels of strategic stocks, and the prompt response by the Agency to consider an emergency stocks release helped to calm markets. Commercial and strategic inventories go a long way to offsetting the lack of spare crude production capacity outside of Saudi Arabia, limited mainly to 1 mb/d in Iraq, UAE, Kuwait and Russia. We might have quickly returned to business as usual, but security of supply remains very relevant.

IEA

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