Greenland plans office in Beijing to boost trade ties with China

Denmark and the United States have been concerned about China’s interest in Greenland. Above, Nuuk port. (Reuters)
Updated 18 July 2018
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Greenland plans office in Beijing to boost trade ties with China

  • China could be potentially involved in the financing and construction of three airport expansions on the huge island
  • Greenland with a population of only 56,000 is rich in mineral resources but the development of its industry has been slow

COPENHAGEN: Greenland plans to open a representative office in Beijing to boost trade ties with China, the Arctic island’s new minister for foreign affairs was quoted as saying by state broadcaster KNR on Wednesday.
Denmark and the United States have been concerned about China’s interest in Greenland, a self-ruling part of the Kingdom of Denmark. Their most notable area of concern is China’s potential involvement in the financing and construction of three airport expansions on the huge island.
“We are planning to have a representative in China in order to continue strengthening trade with the country,” said minister for foreign affairs Vivian Motzfeldt, according to KNR.
The idea is not new, but it has not been discussed publicly at government level since 2014.
She did not set a timeline for when the office may be set up. Greenland already has foreign representations in Copenhagen, Brussels and Washington, and will open a fourth in Reykjavik later this year.
Beijing laid out ambitions in January to form a “Polar Silk Road” by developing shipping lanes opened up by global warming and encouraging enterprises to build infrastructure in the Arctic.
Greenland, with a population of only 56,000, is rich in mineral resources but the development of its industry has been slow, leaving its economy reliant on fishing.
A defense treaty between Denmark and the United States dating back to 1951 gives the US military almost unlimited rights in Greenland, where it has an air base at Thule.


Amazon strengthens ties with French food retailer Casino

Updated 23 April 2019
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Amazon strengthens ties with French food retailer Casino

  • The move could re-ignite speculation of a bigger deal later on
  • The extended partnership comes as Casino is selling assets and cutting debt to try to allay investor concerns

PARIS: E-commerce giant Amazon and French retailer Casino are expanding their partnership, with Amazon installing pick-up lockers in Casino stores and more of the French company’s products to be available on Amazon.
The move, which follows an initial co-operation between Casino’s upmarket Monoprix supermarket chain and Amazon in Paris, could re-ignite speculation of a bigger deal later on.
An Amazon spokeswoman said it had a policy of not commenting on market speculation. Amazon’s purchase of bricks-and-mortar US food retailer Whole Foods Market last year has raised speculation it could seek to buy a European food retailer.
The extended partnership comes as Casino is selling assets and cutting debt to try to allay investor concerns over its finances and those of parent company Rallye.
The deal, unveiled on Tuesday, will see Amazon lockers installed in 1,000 locations across France in nine of Casino’s brands, including Monoprix, Monop, Geant, Hyper Casino, Casino Supermarche, Leaderprice, Viva and Spar by the end of the year. The lockers store Amazon products to be picked up by customers.
More Casino-branded products will also be available on Amazon, while Amazon and Monoprix will extend their partnership on Amazon’s Prime Now grocery delivery service outside Paris and into new cities in the next twelve months.
“This announcement represents a new step in strengthening Casino’s omnichannel strategy to always be a little more in the heart of consumers’ lives,” said Casino’s chief executive Jean-Charles Naouri in a statement.
Monoprix, seen by analysts as similar to Whole Foods, started filling orders for subscribers to Amazon’s Prime loyalty program in parts of Paris last September.
This partnership has been closely watched as Monoprix was the first French retailer to agree in March 2018 to sell products via Amazon, causing a stir in the fiercely competitive domestic market.
France is Amazon’s third largest market in Europe, after Britain and Germany. Amazon is the e-commerce leader in France with a market share of 17.3 percent, but its grocery market share stands at just 2 percent, according to Kantar data.
The US group, which has run its Amazon Prime express delivery service in Paris since 2016, has made no secret of its desire to launch a grocery delivery service in France as part of its ambitions to expand in food retail.
But the French supermarket sector has powerful incumbents such as Carrefour and Leclerc, operating at low margins and with a dense network of stores.
Earlier this week, Casino said it would sell 12 Casino hypermarkets and 20 supermarkets to Apollo Global Management in a deal worth up to €470 million ($529 million).