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Swiss Chocolate is increasing its popularity

The Swiss chocolate industry, which comprises 18 manufacturers, saw its turnover increase by 2.7% last year to CHF 1.72 billion. However, sales in Switzerland and the main export markets of Germany and the United Kingdom, however, fell sharply.

However, this decline was offset by increased sales in other markets, according to the umbrella association Chocosuisse in a press release on Tuesday. The total volume of sales was 183,738 tonnes, almost 4900 tonnes more than the previous year. The share of production sold abroad increased again to 62.8% (61.2% in 2013).

Total domestic sales of Swiss chocolate manufacturers fell by 1.4% compared to the previous year,”said Urs Furrer, director of Chocosuisse. The decrease in volumes is particularly noticeable for semi-fabricated products such as topping chocolates and fillers (-8.7%).

While the sale of solid bars increased slightly overall (-0.8%), the volume of filled bars decreased (-4.2%) and the volume of white chocolate bars (-7.3%). On the other hand, branches, bars and poles showed a positive development (5.8%). Overall, sales in Switzerland increased by 1.8%.

Exports up

Despite a decline in the two main export markets of Germany (14% volume, 7% turnover) and the United Kingdom (9% volume, 3% turnover), foreign sales grew. They amounted to 115,474 tonnes (5.3%), while at the same time raising turnover to CHF 821 million (3.7%).

One of the best chocolatier in Geneva confirm “The trend is definitely Bullish.”

The Asian and American markets have shown a gratifying development,”notes Chocosuisse. Double-digit growth rates were recorded in Canada, the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates, China, Russia and Singapore.

In the European markets, Italy and Belgium in particular showed a positive trend. After the decline of the previous year, France and Austria returned to growth.

Consumption of chocolate (excluding powders) per capita in Switzerland declined from 12 to 11.7 kg last year. The share of imports increased again to 37.2% in 2014. Since 2000, this proportion has almost doubled.

Desired political intervention

The removal of the floor rate reinforces import pressure on the Swiss market and puts a strain on exports, notes Chocosuisse. Moreover, the price of raw materials, conditioned by agricultural policy, significantly weakens competitiveness.

Consequently, the umbrella association considers that it is up to the political world to make the necessary corrections. It advocates the conclusion of additional free trade agreements and the removal of new bureaucratic obstacles in the framework of the Swissness project.

China: Consumerist fever for “Bachelor’s Day”

China: Consumerist fever for “Bachelor’s Day”

At least 15 billion euros worth of transactions in half a day: the Chinese rushed Saturday on the online trading platforms for “Single Day”, a monster sale transaction that once again frightened the counters.

At midnight China time (16:00 GMT on Friday), Internet users rushed to their phones or computers to take advantage of the discounts offered during this event launched in 2009 by Alibaba, the national giant of Internet sales, and imitated since then by all the rival platforms.

Like the American “Black Friday”, 11 November – celebrated as the “day of singles” because of the succession of “1” in the date– is for Alibaba and its competitors the opportunity to massively boost their sales with great reinforcement of promotions… while inflating the business of the booming parcel delivery sector.

By mid-day on Saturday, Alibaba said it had recorded nearly $18 billion in transactions on its platforms since midnight via its Alipay electronic payment system.

This is a staggering figure that already surpasses last year’s record of 17.8 billion for the entire day, which was already a 32% jump over a year. This is equivalent to Mozambique’s annual GDP.

While more than 600 million Chinese own a smartphone, some 91% of the transactions on Alibaba’s main platform, Taobao, were carried out via mobile phone.

The event is considered a key barometer for gauging the evolution of the sector. Electronics, breast milk, rice, clothing, furniture, cosmetics… no segment is forgotten by monster sales.

Alibaba — which does not sell the products offered on these platforms by third parties, individuals or companies — is taking full advantage of the explosion of online commerce in China: during the quarter July-September, its turnover has increased by 61%.

Its performance on the New York Stock Exchange, where it is listed, places it shoulder to shoulder with the American giant Amazon as the world’s largest e-commerce value provider.

China’s number two in the sector, JD. com, also enjoyed Saturday’s consumer frenzy: on the first hour after midnight, it saw its sales of fresh food products swell by 350% over a year, and those of breast milk multiplied by five, according to a spokesman.

For Cheng Huaibao, the 28-year-old owner of a bunk-bed factory in Jiangsu (east), the “Single Day” represents a sixth of annual orders in 24 hours. Its village is one of the more than 1,300 “Taobao villages” living from the rise of online orders.

For the occasion, we offer countless discounts, and almost no benefits,”he told AFP,”but it’s hard to escape. “We’re just glad to be part of it.”

Ghana dreams of oil boom after border conflict with Abidjan

Ghana dreams of oil boom after border conflict with Abidjan

Accra – Ghana hopes to earn billions of dollars from oil exploitation to boost its economy at half mast, thanks to a court ruling that ruled in its favour in a maritime dispute with its Ivorian neighbour.

Accra has been producing black gold on a large scale since 2010, after the discovery of offshore deposits, considered to be the most important in West Africa for 10 years. A turning point that has led to renewed growth, propelling the English-speaking country to the rank of an emerging economy, and has aroused the interest of foreign investors.

But oil exploration was halted three years ago when Côte d’ Ivoire accused Ghana of offshore drilling encroaching on its territorial waters.

After unsuccessful negotiations, the case ended before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (TIDM), which finally ruled in September:”Ghana did not violate” Ivorian sovereignty.

According to the operator Tullow Oil, production from its Twenboa, Enyenra and Ntomme (TEN) fields – located on the border between the two countries – is currently about 50,000 barrels a day and will continue until the end of the year.

The goal is to reach 80,000 barrels per day through the commissioning of new wells within two years. The TEN fields are part of the Tano Basin, which is home to reserves estimated at 3 to 4 billion barrels.

Economist Theo Acheampong says that at the current price of $55 a barrel, Tullow’s fields in the Tano Basin could be worth up to $165 billion.

“This is really what was at stake in this decision,” said Mr. Acheampong of London-based IHS Markit.

And in this area of the Gulf of Guinea, known for its rich oil and gas, there is probably more to discover, he says.

Need for cooperation –

Compared to other oil-producing countries in Africa, such as Nigeria and Angola, which produce more than 1.5 million barrels per day, Ghana’s production remains marginal.

According to Mr. Acheampong, the billions expected from the exploitation of new deposits will not necessarily lead to the country’s economic recovery, however.

From 2011 onwards, the Ghanaian economy did indeed have a bright future, with growth rates above 14%, but then slowed down as inflation and public debt soared.

The government obtained a loan of $918 million from the International Monetary Fund in 2015, conditional on greater fiscal discipline, lower inflation and fiscal consolidation.

The recovery is expected to continue this year and in 2018 with growth estimates at 7.1% and 8.0%, according to the African Development Bank.

This will depend on “the commissioning of new hydrocarbon wells and the rapid resolution of technical problems that led to disturbances on the Jubilee petro-gas field (very large deposit also operated by Tullow Oil, ndlr) in 2016,”the financial institution added.

Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo said last month that the court’s ruling had opened up “opportunities for development, progress and prosperity.

Over the past seven years, some $3.5 billion has been used to finance development projects, new roads and hospitals, according to official figures, as required by Ghanaian law, which requires the reinvestment of a portion of black gold revenues in priority sectors.

Côte d’ Ivoire, for its part, has pledged to “respect the decision” of the Tribunal de la mer and to “cooperate fully in its implementation”, in a communiqué signed jointly with Ghana in September.

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara has meanwhile visited Accra in October in what has been interpreted as a sign of reconciliation intended to reassure investors.

According to Benjamin Boakye, executive director of the African Centre for Energy Policy, rather than worsening relations, the court’s ruling paradoxically seems to have strengthened the ties between the two neighbours.

“Given the number of discoveries on both sides of the border, it is possible that at some point in time countries may have to come together (to manage a discovery together,”Boakye told AFP. “So this kind of cooperation is necessary.”

Trump and Putin:”No military solution” in Syria (Kremlin)

Trump and Putin:”No military solution” in Syria (Kremlin)

Moscow – U. S. President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin agree that there is no “military solution” possible to the war in Syria, the Kremlin said citing a joint statement.

“The Presidents agree that the conflict in Syria has no military solution” and have confirmed their “determination to defeat the EI” (Islamic State Group), according to the Kremlin website. According to Moscow the joint statement was approved in the margins of the Asia-Pacific summit in Vietnam.

The two heads of state, during the summit in Danang, exchanged twice a handshake and a few words, but without any real face-to-face contact.

“The Presidents confirmed their commitment to Syria’s sovereignty, independence, unity, territorial integrity and secular nature” and called on all parties to participate in the UN talks in Geneva, says the Kremlin.

The Russian military command recently accused the United States of “pretending only” to fight the EI in Iraq and hindering Russia’s counter-offensive in eastern Syria.

“The President also discussed the need to reduce human suffering in Syria, and called on all UN member states to increase their contribution to meeting humanitarian needs in the coming months,”the Kremlin said.

Russia has been conducting a bombing campaign in Syria since 2015 in support of President Bashar al-Assad in support of Syria, and has turned the conflict in its favour

French medias are happy since they’re growing fastly

Supported on the one hand by the digital kiosks of the telephone operators, and on the other hand by intense news coverage and efforts on exclusive content, several national titles are improving their sales, an improvement in a period that remains difficult for the press.

Sales of the national dailies have risen almost continuously during the first three quarters of the year, according to figures published by the ACPM-OJD, which has just released September’s data.

In September, the national daily press (now in France, La Croix, les Echos, L’ Equipe, Le Figaro, Libération, Le Monde) saw its circulation increase by an average of 1.50% compared to September 2016.

In detail, five newspapers recorded increases in circulation: Le Monde (+6.55% to 284,431 copies), Le Figaro (+3.18% to 304,591 copies), L’ Equipe (+3.15% to 247,877 copies), Libération (+0.89% to 73,354 copies) and Les Echos (+0.06% to 129,431 copies).

On the other hand, La Croix (-3.33% to 89,118 copies) and Today in France (-10.16% to 120,373 copies) saw their circulation decline, as did Le Parisien (-3.13%, 200,379 copies).

We’ve been on a positive trend for several months now,”points out Philippe Rincé, general manager of the ACPM-OJD,”an increase that can be explained by two factors:”a year of strong news” and “the shift from print to digital, with a standard bearer that is Le Monde”.

In September, the evening paper sold an average of 120,916 digital copies every day (subscription or sale of exclusively digital copies). The group is expected to end the year with 160,000 purely digital subscribers, said CEO Louis Dreyfus at Stratégies magazine, without specifying the current number.

– Takeoff –

“Today we have titles, notably Monde, Le Figaro, Les Echos and L’ Equipe which took off on the digital scene. With very attractive rates, they are able to recruit new, purely digital subscribers,”emphasizes Philippe Rincé.

This phenomenon was accentuated by the kiosks of telephone operators,”particularly SFR Presse, which gave new readers the opportunity to access the national daily press,”he continued.

The optional SFR Presse application, offered as an option and included in several SFR packages, gives access to 80 titles, including Le Figaro and Libération. More recently, Bouygues Télécom and Orange launched similar offers.

Sales of “digital versions by third parties”, where the number of newspapers downloaded via these applications are recorded, posted impressive growth for September: +145% for Libération, +100% for L’ Equipe, +50% for Le Figaro.

However, the model is far from unanimous: at the end of October, the founder of Free and shareholder of Le Monde Xavier Niel compared the service to “a VAT scam”, deploring that “making the press free is destroying it”, in the Clique program on Canal+.

Both the print and digital press benefit from a reduced VAT rate, which is passed on to the operators offering this service. An opportunity that the law could take away.

Alain Weill, who has just been appointed CEO of SFR, defended a model that will explode “and could” change the distribution model of the press “in front of the Paris Audiovisual Club. He also assured Stratégies that SFR will have made it possible to pay 50 million euros to press publishers in early 2018.

“It is an important element but it is also a very young one, we will have to look at whether the use is taking place. If it takes hold, we can have a major growth driver ahead of us,”emphasizes Philippe Rincé.

However, digital technology is more difficult to monetize than paper.

Le Monde, which has decided not to participate in digital kiosks, ensures that Lemonde. fr is the group’s most profitable activity, according to Louis Dreyfus, which highlights the “investments made in editorial writing” and “exclusive content”.

The survey by the Paradise Papers has thus enabled Le Monde website to almost triple its digital subscribers this week compared to a normal week.

Macron in Arabia to reduce tension with Iran

French President Emmanuel Macron made a surprise visit to Saudi Arabia on Thursday evening, where he met with the young Crown Prince Mohammed ben Salmane, amidst tensions between Ryad and Iran.

Since last weekend, Iran and Saudi Arabia have been setting the tone again. At the heart of the new tensions is the fate of Lebanon and Yemen, both in the midst of a deadly conflict in which the two heavyweights of the Middle East support opposing sides. This country on the Arabian Peninsula is the scene of the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, according to the UN.

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday accused Iran of “direct aggression” after a missile fired at Ryad International Airport by Houthi Shiite rebels in Yemen.

According to the Saudi news agency SPA,”the French President condemned this missile attack on Ryad by the Houthis, and underlined France’s solidarity with the Kingdom”. SPA added that Prince Salmane and Emmanuel Macron had “also discussed recent developments in the Middle East and their efforts for security and stability in the region, including through coordination in the fight against terrorism”.

No comment had yet been made on this visit from the Elysée side.

After a 24-hour visit to the United Arab Emirates, Macron announced earlier this evening in Dubai that he would travel for “two hours” to Ryad to meet the young prince, considered the strong man of Saudi Arabia.

The decision “was made early this morning,”Macron said. “It is important to talk with everyone,”he stressed, adding that France had a role “in building peace”.

“I have heard very harsh positions” expressed by Saudi Arabia “against Iran that are not in line with what I think,”Macron said.

He added,”I think it is essential to work with Saudi Arabia on regional stability, given the close bilateral relations we have.

-‘ Convincing’ –

Mr Macron also wants to preserve the agreement on Iran’s nuclear deal of 2015, by which Tehran pledged not to acquire the atomic weapon in exchange for lifting economic sanctions. This agreement has already been undermined by the questioning of it by US President Donald Trump, close to King Salmane of Saudi Arabia and his son, Prince Mohammed.

This agreement “must be preserved” but “complemented by two pillars, a negotiation on Iran’s ballistic activity, with sanctions if necessary, and a strategic discussion framing Iran’s hegemony throughout the region,”Macron said.

He said he still intended to visit Lebanon in 2018.

“I would also like to reiterate the importance of Lebanon’s stability and integrity,”Macron said, noting that “informal contacts” had been established with Mr. Hariri. He assured that the latter had not asked to come to France, while rumours were circulating in this direction.

“Very fruitful” –

Mr. Macron also described his visit to the Emirates, his first visit to the Middle East since his election, as “very fruitful”. He notably inaugurated the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the first “universal museum” in the Arab world, presented as a bridge between different cultures, civilizations and religions.

Mr Macron described the Emirates as France’s “essential partner”, particularly in the field of defence, welcoming their decision to acquire two corvettes built by the Naval Group.

Although far from 6,000 km away, France maintains a “very high level operational cooperation” with the Emirates State, which has been participating since 2014 in the international coalition against the IA and is also pursuing a policy of “zero tolerance” on its territory towards Islamists.

Mr. Macron visited the more than 700 French soldiers stationed in the Emirates, some of whom are involved in operations in Iraq and Syria.

“We won in Raqa”,”this city from which the attacks” which killed 130 people in Paris on 13 November 2015 “had been planned, organized and directed,”Macron told the troops.

“And the next few weeks and months will allow us, I believe profoundly, to win militarily in the Iraqi-Syrian zone,”Macron added.

“But it will not end this fight. Stabilization over time, the fight against all residual terrorist groups will be essential complements to the inclusive, pluralist political solution that we want to see emerge in the region,”the president said.

On Thursday, Ms. Macron visited the huge Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, wearing a scarf on her hair.

Paradise Papers: Bernard Arnault is fighting back

Bernard Arnault, the first French asset manager and owner of LVMH, said on Wednesday that the assets cited by Le Monde as part of the “Paradise Papers” were “constituted in a perfectly legal manner”, in a statement sent to the AFP.

The French daily – which is part of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) which has been unveiling investigations since Sunday based on the leakage of millions of financial documents – claims that Bernard Arnault has “called on at least eight different consulting firms to locate its assets in six different tax havens”.

“All the assets mentioned in this article have been constituted in a perfectly legal manner and are of course known to the tax authorities,”Mr. Arnault said in his statement.

The billionaire denounces “a journalistic operation of this medium to create a sensation by using[his] patrimony”, and denounces the fact that some of his investments were “presented as hidden and undeclared goods, taxally reprehensible, or on the brink of legality”.

In his article, Le Monde cites in particular a property north of London of 4,300 m2, the owner of which used to appear in the British cadastre as “a simple company registered in Jersey”: but “the investigations of Le Monde in the +Paradise Papers+ reveal” that”Bernard Arnault”, writes the daily.

This property “has been declared to the French tax authorities as English from the outset and has been subject, since its acquisition, to the payment of the ISF”, says Bernard Arnault.

It also assures that the “mode of holding” of the property did not “give it any tax advantage, as did the other assets mentioned”.

Catalonia: Constitutional Court overturns declaration of independence

Madrid – The Spanish Constitutional Court on Wednesday annulled the unilateral declaration of independence of Catalonia adopted on 27 October by the regional parliament, announced a spokesperson.

“The declaration of independence of 27 October was declared void and unconstitutional,”she said at the end of the sitting at which the Court’s magistrates handed down the ruling.

The Court has systematically annulled the resolutions and votes of the Catalan Parliament aimed at leading the region towards unilateral secession.

In particular, it banned the holding of a referendum on self-determination in this region where 16% of the Spanish live, considering that it is up to all the Spanish people to express their views on issues relating to national sovereignty.

But the independentists, unaware of his arrests, went ahead with the elections on 1 October.

Then, estimating that they had won with 90% of the votes and a turnout of 43%, they voted on 27 October for the creation in Catalonia of an “independent state in the form of a republic”, an unprecedented breakthrough in Spain.

The resolution was adopted by 70 votes in favour, 10 against and two abstentions, in the absence of a majority of the opposition members who had left the Chamber.

The separatist parties – from the far left to the centre-right – held a majority (72 out of 135) in parliament.

A few hours later, Mariano Rajoy’s Conservative government obtained permission from the Senate to trigger Article 155 of the Constitution – never before applied – which allowed it to de facto suspend the autonomy of the region. He then dissolved the Catalan parliament and called regional elections for 21 December.

Startup Navya is looking for growth

Paris – After deploying driverless shuttles all over the world, the Lyon-based start-up Navya wants to revolutionise urban transport via autonomous taxis with 100% electric propulsion, full of artificial intelligence.

On Tuesday evening, in the Cité du cinéma (north of Paris), more than a hundred people gathered to attend the presentation of a new kind of taxi.

Called +Autonom Cab+, this hyper-connected and futuristic taxi can accommodate up to six people. On board, they can make an interactive tour of the city, order movie or museum tickets or compose the playlist of their choice. All this without having to speak to a driver, because the vehicle is completely autonomous.

“We are the first to market a robot-taxi type vehicle without steering wheel and pedals, nobody does that in the world,”said Christophe Sapet, Navya’s president.

Robot taxis, which are in the interest of several manufacturers, including the French Renault, are one of the revolutions promised to the individual transport sector. According to a study by Roland Berger, such machines could even account for 40% of the world automotive sector’s profits in 2030.

Navya’s trademark, created in 2014: a concentrate of technologies to improve public transport in urban and peripheral areas.

Between 25 and 45 km/h –

“Autonom Cab” wants to take its eldest example on its “Autonom Shuttle”, formerly “Arma”, a small shuttle of 15 seats lined with cameras, radars, lidars and other sensors.

During the experimentation phase, the minibus managed to find its way. It is already operational in Lyon, in the Confluence district, and in La Défense near Paris recently. The journey continues outside France, as he also embarks on board Switzerland, the United States, Australia and Hong Kong.

Although it does not require any special infrastructure, it is nevertheless obliged to travel on pre-established routes, which is mandatory by regulation.

In total, more than 50 vehicles have been deployed and nearly 200,000 passengers transported to cities or private places (businesses, amusement parks, hotels, airports, etc.) for a unit price of around 230,000 euros.

“The vehicle doesn’t drive very fast” (between 25 and 45 km/h), concedes Mr. Sapet,”but people are satisfied”. The ecological dimension of these machines and the guarantee of their safety are important arguments,”he assures.

Serial entrepreneur “- Serial entrepreneur” –

The issue of relieving congestion in urban centres is also crucial, while according to UN forecasts, 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050, according to Navya’s president, who believes that”we can no longer continue like this”.

“Christophe Sapet has always been immersed in the automobile, coming from a family of dealers for more than 70 years.

“The knowledge of the vehicle and technology has given me a vision of what tomorrow’s transportation could be. Navya is an emanation of that reflection,”he says.

On the financing side, the start-up benefited from a €30 million capital raising after two years of existence, with the entry into its capital of the French Keolis (subsidiary of SNCF) and Valeo, as well as the qatari Group8.

With a turnover expected to exceed 10 million euros in 2017, the company hopes to accelerate the pace of growth, and is aiming to exceed 100 million euros by 2019.

The next step is to replicate the success of its shuttle with Autonom Cab, which will be presented at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next January, while the first deliveries are expected in the 3rd quarter of 2018. The robot-taxi should be tested in the streets of Paris next year.

Taiwan nails its Mirage to the ground after the disappearance of an airplane

Taipei – The Taiwanese Air Force announced Wednesday that it has nailed its Mirage to the ground, as it is looking for a pilot missing during training at the controls of the French fighter plane.

Captain Ho Tzu-yu’s Mirage-2000 had disappeared from radar on Tuesday at 18:43 (10:43 GMT) off the north-east of the island, 34 minutes after take-off, the army said.

The authorities mobilized 17 military aircraft and 10 navy ships to track him down. But the research is not yet fruitful.

“We hope that Ho will be rescued soon,”said General Chang Che-ping, deputy commander of the Air Force, adding that all Taiwanese Mirage were kept on the ground.

General Chang described Mr. Ho as an”excellent pilot”, adding that there were no signs of problems or irregularities after taking off from a base near the town of Hsinchu in the northwestern part of the country.

The high-ranking officer also swept away the idea that the pilot could deliberately fly at low altitude to escape the radars and deflect to the People’s Republic.

“He wasn’t alone. They were flying in formation. It is impossible that he could not have defected by flying at low altitude” undetected, said General Chang.

Taiwan had purchased in 1992 from the French aircraft manufacturer Dassault 60 Mirage 2000-5, the last of which was delivered in 2001.

Four Mirage accidents occurred in Taiwan between 1999 and 2013, killing three pilots.

In 2012, the Taiwanese Air Force temporarily grounded its entire Mirage fleet after a similar aircraft crashed in France, causing the death of its Taiwanese pilot.

The 1992 contract had provoked the rage of Beijing, which still regards the island as a part of its territory destined to return to its borders, even though Taiwan has been following its own destiny since 1949.

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