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Free-trade zone for Shanghai Mr Li's big idea Jul 16th 2013, 5:34 by V.V.V. | SHANGHAI IF PRESS reports are to be believed, Shanghai's dreams of surpassing Hong Kong to become the region's leading financial centre may have a powerful supporter in Beijing. According to Xinhua, the official government newswire, the ruling State Council has approved plans championed by Li Keqiang, the newish premier, for an ambitious free-trade zone in the mainland's second city. The idea has set the country's press and local wags alight with speculation about how far such an idea could go. Take the conservative view, and the project is a useful albeit limited boost to trade and regional integration. On this view, the new free-trade zone would integrate modern transportation and communications infrastructure with a tax-free framework for domestic and foreign firms. This would help boost China's efforts to become a pan-Asian supply chain hub. Allowing the free movement and warehousing of metals, for example, could also allow Shanghai to develop world-leading commodities exchanges. But if you listen to the plan's more enthusiastic boosters, this idea represents nothing less than a crucible for all of the liberal economic reforms that the new administration hopes will eventually take off across the country. Those dreaming of faster financial liberalisation say that the new zone will allow foreign banks, currently inhibited by red tape from achieving scale or much profitability, to expand rapidly and easily. Domestic banks, currently restricted in their overseas activities, are supposedly going to be allowed to experiment in the new zone with products and services currently banned at home. Technology enthusiasts are claiming that the long-standing ban on video game consoles will be lifted—if consoles are themselves manufactured in the Shanghai free-trade zone. What to make of all this? It is not yet clear what the government really intends to do. However, one problem that officials will confront is that of leakage: since innovations are sure to produce price differences inside and outside the zone, how exactly will they keep enterprising locals from finding ways to arbitrage the difference? The more ambitious the scheme, the more likely it is to fail; the more conservative it is, the less relevant it becomes. That is why the only serious and sustainable way forward for China is to liberalise the entire economy, not just a tiny sliver of it. http://www.economist.com/blogs/analects/2013/07/free-trade-zone-shanghai?fsrc=scn/fb/wl/bl/libigidea
Jeremy Searle — Reviving Montreal's 'coffee shop' economy Unfortunately for all of us, Montreal seems to have descended to the level of a coffee shop economy in which expensive cups of coffee are status symbols for people whose personal finances are often in a tight way. Recently, I wrote about the need to make the public investments to put our downtown into shape by buying up some of the more strategic empty lots and using them either for new park space or for the building of public housing. Today, I want to look at generating economic activity and wealth in the western part of town and on an island-wide level. Reviving the west end economy Commercial: Back in the bad old days of ex-mayor Jean Drapeau, our city was cut in two for the excavation of the Decarie Expressway trench and since then business to the west of the highway has largely languished. While it is not practical to cover over the Decarie Expressway, it would be relatively simple to hide it and to thus knit our city back together again. All that is necessary is to build an extra section of bridge on each side of the Decarie overpasses (especially at Sherbrooke Street) and to then either erect buildings (à-la old London Bridge) or put in park space backed by barriers high enough to make the highway invisible. Once the highway “disappeared” and the city became one again there would be no obstacle to the expansion of commerce and business activity continuing to flow west instead of hitting a wall at Decarie. Meanwhile, the businesses on and around the Decarie service roads heading north and south would also benefit from having the highway hidden. It would be a very simple matter to clamp on an extra lane of roadway (attached to the highway walls with cantilevered supports) that could be used either as bicycle path or as host to additional greenspace. Residential: In order to boost economic activity and bring down the average costs of maintaining the city it is also necessary to attract in more people — both to share the load and to support local business and commerce. The most obvious location to attract thousands of higher end taxpayers, investors and spenders would be the Glen Yard site currently earmarked for the new McGill hospital. Clearly, high value land should be used for activities that directly or indirectly generate the taxes that finance hospitals and other such publicly funded institutions. Given its superb location at the intersection of Westmount and eastern NDG the Glen Yards site, with its easy access to both the Vendome Metro station and the downtown Ville-Marie highway, is a perfect location for residential development. Ten-thousand or so new high end condo dwellers in the west end would both boost the economy and throw a massive injection of extra taxes into the Montreal public economy. The McGill hospital could be better built on the Blue Bonnets site at Jean Talon and Decarie — a site that has access to the same Metro line (Namur) and similar or better highway access. In addition, having the hospital there would force the provincial government to ante up for the much needed Cavendish/Royalmount road link which would also re-route much traffic from the Trans Canada to Decarie, thus lessening congestion at the major intersection. Boosting the island-wide economy: For any society or economy to function well, each generation has to make the effort to leave some substantial legacy for the next unless a wearing down and eventual collapse is to be accepted. Sometimes it is investments in canals or railways or roads or airports or dockyards or cultural and recreational facilities and sometimes it is simply my parents’ generation fighting to save the world. Sometimes it is simply a question of building on the shoulders that they have set us on and sometimes it is a question of rebuilding or repairing that which previous generations have already built for us. Sometimes it is simply a question of finishing the job that our predecessors failed or forgot to complete. Unfortunately, since the epoch of ex-mayor Drapeau and his establishment of the modern Montreal tradition of ignoring infrastructure maintenance in favour of frills, little has been done in terms of maintenance and our city is falling into disrepair. One way to boost the Montreal economy would be to undertake a massive program of road and water main rebuilding. This would have the same positive effect on our economy as any other kind of construction boom and would also help us to grow our tourist economy while making us generally feel better about ourselves. Obviously, our leaders would have to convince the federal and provincial governments to come up with a large chunk of the money necessary to implement such a scheme. However, the single greatest guaranteed boost for the west end and for the Montreal and regional economy would be the completion of the Decarie Expressway (15) with a direct link to the Laurentian Autoroute (15) to the north. The tunnel under Ville St. Laurent to connect the two together would get vehicles north and south without unnecessary delays related to detouring onto the TransCanada while the TransCan itself would be freed from most of its traffic congestion. The tunnel link has already been studied and approved by the Ministry of Transport but no one seems interested in actually getting it dug. The Decarie/Laurentian tunnel would eliminate uncounted lost hours in pointless idling and back-ups, lessen commuter trip times, save business money, get us all around faster and more efficiently and make our supporting road systems function more smoothly — which would in turn give our economy a much-needed shot in the arm. And, since better flowing traffic generates less pollution, making the traffic flow better would also help to achieve environmental objectives. Does anybody have a shovel? Let’s start digging. http://thesuburban.com/content.jsp?sid=34883087211204213941721025245&ctid=1000004&cnid=1015175
https://www.flyporter.com/About/News-Release-Details?id=168&culture=en-CA I know, I know. It is easier for us to just drive there. That is interesting that people from Toronto can fly to Burlington now, plus also Tremblant. I was checking the prices, Montreal to Burlington (via. Toronto) is about $179 for one way. Plus they just started flying to Boston also.