Posts Tagged ‘Shanghai’

India Still Lags in Innovation

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

Much has been made in the world’s press about India’s economy buoyed by its IT sector. And a lot of it is justified.  The nation’s IT sector managed to grow some 20 percent in 2008, according to India’s National Association of Software and Services Companies, and IT firms have already extended 100,000 job offers for 2009.

india-outsourceBut all is not rosy for India.  While the country has surged in the basic and mid-level areas of coding and development, it has struggled in the area of R&D and top-end innovation.  India produces about 300,000 computer science graduates a year.  Yet it produces only about 100 computer science PhDs, a small fraction of the 1,500 – 2,000 that get awarded in the United States or China every year according to a recent article from Reuters.

“Students here are not exposed to research from an early age, faculties are not exposed to research and there’s no career path for innovation because there’s a lot of pressure to get a ‘real’ job,” said Vidya Natampally, head of strategy at the Microsoft India Research Centre.  Rival China has already pulled ahead with more than 1,100 R&D centers compared to less than 800 in India, despite lingering concerns about rule of law and intellectual property rights (IPR).  India is also losing out in the patent stakes. In 2006 – 2007, just 7,000 patents were granted in this country of 1.1 billion people, compared to nearly 160,000 in the United States.

India is cheaper than China for R&D.  But salaries in India have been rising by about 15 percent every year and may soon reach parity with China. R&D centre costs in Shanghai are currently just 10-15 percent higher than in India.

But this could be changing:  Microsoft, for example, has just opened a new facility in Bangalore staffed with about 60 full-time researchers, many of them Indians with PhDs from top universities in the United States.  The center “is at the cutting edge of Microsoft’s R&D, covering seven areas of research including mobility and cryptography.  Cisco, IBM, Intel, Nokia are among the other companies going beyond low-end coding to bring R&D to India.

Jacob Cherian is AlterNow’s India Contributor. He is a freelance business writer based in Kerala, India.  He has written about business outsourcing for Offshore Advisor.

High Costs Could Impact Shipping Routes

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Two trends in international trade worth highlighting:

American exports are booming, thanks to the dollar’s current weakness.  This considerable increase in volume has made it virtually impossible for U.S. manufacturers to get space on container ships within a four-week window, especially for products shipping from the ports of Los Angeles or Long Beach to any Pacific Rim destination.  To illustrate the scope of the change, container space from these ports was available on demand just one year ago.  And, according to a recent Reuters article, waiting times for cargo space have jumped from two days to three weeks on the East Coast.

Fast-rising transportation costs that are a direct result of the cost of fuel is another important logistics trend – one that could negatively impact globalization.  According to an August 2 article in the International Herald Tribune by Larry Rohter, shipping a single loaded 40-foot container from Shanghai to the United States has soared to as much as $8,000 per unit, compared with just $3,000 earlier in the decade.  Additionally, there are cost add-ons, primarily in the form of fuel surcharges and government-mandated fees.  To save on fuel costs, container ships have shaved their top speeds by nearly 20 percent, which means it takes longer for products to reach their intended markets.

Shipping to and from Prince Rupert in British Columbia is slightly less costly, because the distance to Asian ports is shorter than from Los Angeles or Long Beach.  Still, space amounts to several thousand dollars per container.

“If prices stay at these levels, that could lead to some significant rearrangement of production, among sectors and countries,” said C. Fred Bergsten, author of The United States and the World Economy and a director of the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.  “You could have a very significant shock to traditional consumption patterns and also some important growth effects.”

A far better alternative could be to ship to and from Asia from the southern border regions, where the going rate is approximately $800 per loaded container.  That price differential could potentially lure companies to move production facilities to Mexico or the Southwestern United States – primarily Texas.  This would give them the opportunity to leverage the more attractive shipping rates through the growing Mexican ports of Lazaro Cardenas and Punto Colonet.

Foreign Investors Like Luxury

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

You know what they say about polls.  Still, a recent one is an interesting temperature reading for the new economy.   Overseas investors in United States real estate prefer retail versus office or industrial space right now, according to a recent issue of Commercial Property News. This is just one conclusion in a survey that examined the influence of the current housing slump on the economy and consumer spending.  Nearly 200 members of the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate (AFIRE) revised their favored property rankings from the previous year.  Retail soared to first from fifth place, while hotels fell from second to fourth place  Office space plunged from first place to last. “While foreign investors are aware of the high occupancy and rental-rate increases in the office market, they fear that the credit crunch will cause tenants to lay people off and contract their space needs,” reported Karin Shewer, a principal for New York City-based Real Estate Capital Partners, which advises European investors about American real estate markets.  Shewer says multifamily’s lack of popularity is the result of a growing uneasiness with the United States condominium market.“Another issue with multifamily is that cap rates are very low right now and returns are limited,” Shewer said.  The strong preference for hotels relates to aging baby boomers.  According to Shewer, “A lot of baby boomers will inherit from parents who were conservative savers, and as they move toward retirement, they will have more time to travel, and they will occupy hotels.”  So why retail at the top?  Dan Fasulo, managing director for Real Capital Analytics, Inc., notes that “Retail is a diverse property type with many sub-niches.  What these investors might be referencing is high-end urban luxury retail.  We have seen a boom like never before in high-fashion apparel, jewelry and other upscale specialty stores that have been expanding globally as the worldwide economic expansion has driven up disposable incomes of affluent people around the world.”  The AFIRE survey also found that foreign investors still prefer American real estate to that in other countries.  To illustrate, AFIRE’s members collectively own $700 billion worth of real estate worldwide; $230 billion of that is invested in the United States.Lastly, AFIRE members were asked to rank their favorite cities for investment.  New York City and Washington, D.C., took first and second place.  London, Paris and Shanghai completed the list.