They Flocked to China for Boom Times. Now They’re Thinking Twice
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They Flocked to China for Boom Times. Now They’re Thinking Twice.

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They Flocked to China for Boom Times
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A.H. Beard, a 123-year-old luxury mattress manufacturer based in Australia, started eyeing China around 2010. At the time, the family-owned company faced looming competition from low-cost, foreign-made mattresses in its home market. China, with its 1.4 billion consumers and a growing middle class with a taste for premium brands, seemed like a good place to expand.

The choice paid off.

A.H. Beard opened its first store there in 2013. Before the coronavirus pandemic, sales in the country were growing more than 30 percent a year. There are now 50 A.H. Beard stores across China, with plans to open 50 more. But like most foreign companies operating in China nowadays, A.H. Beard has started to think more carefully about its strategy.

Beijing’s strict Covid-19 policy has exacted a heavy toll on business. The company’s exports into China are no longer on the rise.

This month, Chinese officials announced that the economy grew at its slowest pace since the early days of the pandemic. Unemployment is high, the housing market is in crisis and nervous consumers — living under the constant threat of lockdowns and mass testing — are not spending.

Now, the once resilient Chinese economy is looking shaky, and the companies that flocked to the country to partake in boom times are being confronted by a sobering reality: flat growth in what was once seen as a reliable economic opportunity.

“I certainly don’t see China returning to the rates of growth that we had seen previously,” said Tony Pearson, chief executive of A.H. Beard.

“I certainly don’t see China returning to the rates of growth that we had seen previously,” said Tony Pearson, chief executive of A.H. Beard.

So far, most companies are staying the course, but there is a steady whiff of caution that did not exist just a few years ago.

Geopolitical tensions and a U.S.-China trade war have unleashed punishing tariffs for some industries. Covid-19 has snarled the flow of goods, lifting the prices of almost everything and delaying shipments by months. China’s pandemic response of quarantines and lockdowns has kept customers at home and out of stores.

A.H. Beard opened its flagship store with a local partner in Shanghai almost 10 years ago. And like any high-end brand, it rolled out products with prices that defy belief. China became the best-selling market for its top-of-the-line $75,000 mattress.

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Since then, the cost of shipping a container has jumped sixfold. The cost of mattress materials and components, such as latex and natural fibers, have increased significantly. Other worrying signs have emerged, including a housing slump. (New homes often mean new mattresses.)

Mr. Pearson said he is hoping that the Chinese Communist Party congress later this year will clarify “the trajectory for China” and imbue consumers with more confidence. “The economy still has growth potential,” he said. “But there’s always a degree of risk.”

After the 2008 financial crisis when the rest of the world retrenched, China emerged as an outlier and international businesses rushed in.

European luxury brands erected gleaming stores in China’s biggest cities, while U.S. food and consumer goods companies jostled for supermarket shelf space. German car manufacturers opened dealerships, and South Korean and Japanese chip firms courted Chinese electronics makers. A booming construction market fueled demand for iron ore from Australia and Brazil.

Chinese consumers rewarded those investments by opening their wallets. But the pandemic has rattled the confidence of many shoppers who now see rainy days ahead.

Fang Wei, 34, said she has scaled back her spending since she left a job in 2020. In the past, she spent most of her salary on brands like Michael Kors, Coach and Valentino during frequent shopping trips.

Even though she is employed again, working in advertising in Beijing, she now allocates a quarter of her salary on food, transportation and other living costs. She hands the rest to her mother, who puts the money in the bank.

“Because I’m worried about being laid off, I transfer everything to my mother every month,” Ms. Fang said. “It’s very depressing to go from enjoying life to subsistence.”

A more frugal Chinese consumer is a worry for foreign businesses, many of which offer products that are not the low-cost option but a premium alternatives. A Jun-Min, chief executive of Ginseng by Pharm, a South Korean producer of ginseng products, said he, too, has noticed Chinese “wallets have gotten thinner.”

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Mr. An said sales for the company’s main product, a 2-ounce bottle of a ginseng drink that sells for $18, peaked before the pandemic. The company shipped 600,000 bottles into China and Hong Kong in 2019.

There are 12,000 Adidas stores in China, up from 9,000 in 2015, but the company said it expects China revenue to “decline significantly” this year.

Sales plunged in 2020 because it was hard to get products into the country during Covid lockdowns. Business has mostly bounced back, although it is still down 10 to 20 percent from the peak.

While Mr. An said he is concerned about the economic slowdown, he remains optimistic that the market for health products in China, and a familiarity with ginseng — an aromatic root said to have health benefits — will continue to benefit sales. To hedge his bets, though, he is also seeking regulatory approval to sell in Europe.

That is a far cry from the unbridled optimism of the past.

In 2016, when China was its fastest growing and most profitable market, Kasper Rorsted, the chief executive at Adidas, declared that the country was “the star of the company.” Adidas invested aggressively to expand its foothold. It went from 9,000 stores in China in 2015 to its current 12,000, though only 500 are operated by Adidas. Then the music stopped.

After initially projecting that sales in China would accelerate this year, Adidas ratcheted down expectations in May as Covid lockdowns continued to spread. The company said it now expects China revenue to “decline significantly” and that a sudden rebound is unlikely.

For now, Adidas remains undeterred. Mr. Rorsted said on a call with analysts that the company is not planning to slash costs or pull back from the country. Instead, it will “do whatever we can to double down and accelerate the growth.”

Many foreign companies had bet on the rise of a Chinese middle class as a dependable source of that growth. Bain & Company, a consulting firm, said it expects China to be the world’s largest luxury market by 2025, fueled in part by what Federica Levato, a senior partner, said is still “a big wave” of a rising middle class.

Kamps Hardwoods, a Michigan-based manufacturer of lumber used in homes and furniture, said China provided an opportunity to expand — at first.
Credit…Sarah Rice for The New York Times

But those kinds of predictions look less enticing for some foreign companies that once relied heavily on the Chinese market.

Kamps Hardwoods, a Michigan-based manufacturer of kiln-treated lumber used for homes and furniture, seized on the opportunity to expand in China — at first. At a Chinese trade show in 2015, Rob Kukowski, the company’s general manager, said a Chinese buyer stunned him with a huge offer to buy enough stock to fill 99 shipping containers. The $2 million order of lumber accounted for four months’ worth of business for Kamps.

Chinese buyers were so desperate for lumber back then that they would visit the company’s booth and refuse to leave until Mr. Kukowski accepted a million-dollar deal on the spot. By 2016, China accounted for 80 percent of the company’s sales.

Kamps soon realized that it was hard to make a profit from the large Chinese orders because many buyers were not interested in quality and only wanted the cheapest possible price. The company started to focus its effort on finding customers in the United States and other overseas markets who were willing to pay more for a better product.

It was fortuitous timing. When China raised tariffs on U.S. lumber in 2018 as part of a trade war, Kamps was better positioned to weather the downturn. Today, China accounts for only 10 percent of Kamps’s sales, but it still has a large indirect impact on the company. Mr. Kukowski said China is such a big buyer of U.S. lumber that a downward price war ensues throughout the industry when it stops spending.

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Hitachi-led group wins $6.7bn driverless subway train contract in Canada

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Hitachi-led group wins $6.7bn driverless subway train contract in Canada
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A group led by Hitachi has won a contract worth 9 billion Canadian dollars ($6.7 billion) to supply and operate driverless subway trains for a new rail line in Canada.

The Japanese industrial group’s Connect 6ix consortium will deliver the trains for the planned Ontario Line in Toronto, Hitachi said Friday. The fleet will consist of 31 trains of four cars each.

The new rapid transit line, which will span 15.6 kilometers, will begin construction next year, with service expected to begin in 2030. The driverless trains will have top speeds of 80 kph.

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Hitachi will operate and maintain the trains and the rail system for 30 years under a contract with the public authority Infrastructure Ontario and Metrolinx, a public transport agency serving Greater Toronto.

The fully automated line will use wireless signal technology to control the speed and distance between trains. The trains are expected to run as frequently as every 90 seconds and will have the capacity to move up to 30,000 passengers per hour in each direction.

Hitachi’s rail business generated 628.3 billion yen ($4.48 billion) in revenue in the fiscal year that ended in March, with North and South America accounting for roughly 10% of the sales.

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As part of its expansion in North America, the Japanese company is building a $70 million subway car plant in the U.S. state of Maryland that is set to open in 2024.

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6 Tips for Estate Planning and What You Need to Know

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6 Tips for Estate Planning and What You Need to Know
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Everyone has an estate, and so do you. Your estate is made up of everything you own, including your house, car, investments, life insurance, and furniture. It also includes your checking and savings accounts and personal belongings. But the thing is you cannot take your estate with you when you pass away.

 

When that occurs, you’ll need to decide how you want to distribute them to the people that matter to you the most. You must give instructions outlining who is to receive what from you and when they are to receive it.

 

But most people don’t realize how important estate planning is until it’s too late. According to a study by Cambridge Trust, less than 46% of Americans have a will. Then they’re scrambling to take care of issues that may last for years, if not forever.

 

There are plenty of things you can do to ensure that your estate is in excellent hands. And estate planning isn’t hard if you work with the right people, like estate planning lawyers. Find out what you need to know about estate planning and hiring the right professionals. This article will highlight some tips to help you get started with estate planning.

What is Estate Planning and Why Should You Have One?

Estate planning is making sure your family will have what they need after you die.

 

You might think you don’t need an estate plan, but you should write one, anyway. If you don’t, things could get messy. Your family may fight over your stuff, or they might give some of your stuff to people that you don’t want it to go to. An estate plan is like a map that tells people where to send all your stuff after you die.

 

If you don’t have any assets, you might say you don’t need one.

 

It’s critical to realize that inheritances include more than just money. Most likely, you hold objects that mean a lot to you even if they don’t have a “market value.” A family heirloom, for instance, has no monetary value, but it can have a lot of emotional value.

 

Without an estate plan, the government decides for you. When you die, the government takes your money and gives it to schools and hospitals. Your estate plan allows you to decide who gets what and excludes people you don’t like.

Who Needs an Estate Plan?

You don’t have to be old and rich to make a will. In fact, you should make one no matter what your age or how much money you have.

 

But estate planning should be a priority for unmarried couples and blended families. Without a will, assets go to blood relatives, so unmarried partners can’t inherit. Family members from past marriages and current spouses may or may not want to split assets.

Tips for Starting Your Estate Planning

It’s never a good idea to leave your affairs without a plan. No matter how unlikely it seems, it’s important to have a legal document that specifies who handles your finances after you’re gone.

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Now that you have a clear idea of estate planning, you can begin with the following tips in mind:

  1. Seek Help from Estate Planning Lawyers

Source: Pexels

 

Many DIY estate planning websites, software, and trust kits say you can save money. But they are unlikely to produce a good plan that meets all your goals. Also, canned programs and forms do not provide the legal support necessary.

 

Putting it together is tricky without estate planning lawyers. Because only they know the rules on property rights, taxes, wills, probate, and trusts specific to your area.

 

If you live in California, there are a lot of estate planning lawyers in Fresno to get in touch with. You can talk to them about what you have, why you need a plan, and who should be in it.

 

Estate planning lawyers draft legally enforceable documents, so you don’t have to worry about it. It’s good to have someone help manage your assets, liabilities, and title arrangements.

 

An estate planning lawyer is important so that you can meet other goals. You may end up having to endure years of estate litigation if you do your own estate planning.

  1. Get Help from Family Law Lawyers for Guardianship of Your Dependents

How will you raise your kids if both parents die in an accident? Make sure you think about how your kids will get anything before you leave them. Unless you have a smart sibling, it’s best to put the money in a trust.

 

If you can’t resolve issues on your own, you need to seek the help of family law lawyers. The family law field covers everything from adoptions to probate. Custody, divorce, and probate overlap with the juvenile court for things like guardianships. So, family law lawyers can manage cases at any stage of the process.

 

To give you an idea, here are some lawyers you can get in touch with:

 

  • Divorce Lawyers
  • Child Custody Lawyers / Paternity Lawyers
  • Domestic Violence Victims Lawyers

 

But, before naming a guardian, make sure you consult with them ahead of time to get their consent. Also, keep in mind that they do not have to be the ones in charge of your child’s inheritance. A trustee can take care of your child’s inheritance until they’re old enough to do it themselves. Finally, make sure it is someone you can trust your children’s future once you’ve passed from an accident.

  1. Consider Disability and Death in Your Documents

Source: Pexels

Estate plans outline what you’d like to do with your assets and dependents. In case of incapacity or death, you need to prepare a few things. Without an estate plan, a judge in probate court can make such decisions for you. Protect your assets from probate by preparing estate planning documents.

 

Your assets and family status determine what you need in an estate plan. If you’re a business owner, you must have succession plans. Likewise, parents of special-needs kids should have special-needs trust. There are options for all income levels, no matter how you want your assets divided.

  1. Minimize Assets Lost to Taxes

Taxes play a big part in estate planning. The goal is to leave as much as possible to your heirs. This may be an issue if a large part of your estate is not in cash. This could imply selling assets such as a home or stocks you wish to leave to an heir.

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That’s why understanding these taxes is so important.

 

  • Estate Tax
  • Inheritance Tax
  • Gift Tax

 

Get professional help if you have a large estate with many assets. Estate planning lawyers will help you draft a will that’s sure to distribute your assets the way you want.

 

In this scenario, finance lawyers can also help. Even ahead of time, you can help your beneficiaries avoid or limit inheritance taxes. They can work with tax professionals to find a way to reduce your estate tax bill.

  1. Merge Documents in a Secure Portal

When planning your estate, make sure your valuables are secure and accessible. This can include storing sensitive documents on secure file-sharing platforms. In case of incapacity or death, you can store your passwords in your internet accounts. Estate planning lawyers can help you organize and account for the relevant documents.

  1. Update As Needed with the Help of Modification Lawyers

Source: Pexels

 

You should change your estate plan every time your life changes. Re-evaluate it every three to five years. One reason is that you might have big events happening during that time. Getting married, having kids, and getting older are all good reasons to update it.

 

If you want to change a trust, a lawyer can look at it and change it so it will do just that. Of course, you can make modifications on your own. But, if you are hesitant about doing so, it is best to seek the help of modification lawyers.

To Wrap it Up

The best way to understand the process is to know what questions to ask and whom to ask them. This is why seeking estate planning lawyers is beneficial. You can ask them all the questions, get straight answers in layman’s terms, and make the best choice.

 

All in all, you probably have much more to gain from estate planning than you have to lose. What’s more, if you get a professionally drafted document, you can also draft your own letter with it. If you’re sick, this is a good way to let your family, friends, and loved ones know how you feel about them.

 

An estate plan isn’t just for the wealthy. It’s a planning process that needs to happen. There are ways to get legal help in this area; the internet can be a great place to start finding information. All you have to do is get started on making an estate plan before something happens that prompts you to do so.

 

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GATE 2023 Mechanical Engineering Exam Pattern, Marking Scheme, Important Topics, Types of Questions and More

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GATE 2023 Mechanical Engineering Exam Pattern, Marking Scheme, Important Topics, Types of Questions and More
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The official website will publish the GATE 2023 Mechanical Engineering (ME) Exam Pattern. This year, no new alterations have been made to the ME paper pattern. The question paper for the GATE Exam Pattern for Mechanical Engineering (ME) is organised into three sections: General Aptitude, Engineering Mathematics, and Core Discipline. The General Aptitude portion accounts for 15% of the total weightage, whereas Engineering Mathematics and Core Discipline account for 13% and 72%, respectively.

 

The most crucial step before starting your preparation for GATE (ME) is going through the exam pattern, syllabus, marking scheme and other important details regarding the exam.

 

On that note, let’s learn about the GATE ME exam pattern, marking scheme, important topics and types of questions asked in the exam in detail.

 

Exam Features Details
Examination Mode Computer Based Test (CBT)
Language English
Duration 3 Hours (180 Minutes)
Total Marks 100
Total Number of questions 65
Type of Questions Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ);

Multiple Select Questions (MSQ);

Numerical Answer Type (NAT) Questions

Number of Sections 3 (General Aptitude, Engineering Mathematics and Core Discipline)
Number of Questions in Each Section General Aptitude- 10 questions,

Engineering Mathematics & Core Discipline- 55 questions

 

GATE 2023 Mechanical Engineering (ME) Marking Scheme

The GATE 2023 Mechanical Engineering (ME) exam pattern is a 100-mark paper with 1 and 2 mark questions.

 

NATs and MSQs have no negative markings. However, for each wrong MCQ in the paper, marks will be deducted.

 

  • 1/3 mark will be deducted for each incorrect 1 mark MCQ,
  • 2/3 mark will be deducted for each incorrect 2 mark MCQ.

GATE 2023 Mechanical Engineering (ME)- Important Topics

Mechanical Engineering (ME) GATE Syllabus 2023 includes topics from General Aptitude, Engineering Mathematics, and Core Discipline. Each part also has subjects with important topics and sub-topics, which are listed below.

 

Subjects Important Topics
Thermodynamics Laws of Thermodynamics, Pure Substance Properties and Thermodynamics Relation
Production Engineering Metal Cutting, Machine tools, Computer integrated Manufacturing,

Metrology & Inspection, Casting, Welding, Forming

Engineering Mathematics Linear Algebra, Complex Number, Differential Equation, Limit & Continuity, Laplace, Probability and so on.
Theory of Machines Simple Mechanics & their inversion, Balancing, Gyroscope, Vibration
General Aptitude Numerical Reasoning & Verbal Reasoning
Industrial Engineering Inventory, Sequencing, Queuing Theory, PERT & CPM
Machine Design Fatigue Loading, springs, Brakes, Welded Joints
Fluid Mechanics Flow-Through Jets, Fluid Machinery, Fluid Properties, Pressure & Manometry
Engineering Mechanics Lagrange Equation
Strength of Materials Stresses & strains, Beam Deflection and Bending
Heat-Transfer Unsteady State of Conduction, Fins, Conduction, Radiation

 

TYPES OF QUESTIONS

The GATE 2023 Mechanical Engineering exam’s first two sections are made up of multiple choice and numerical answer questions. The multiple-choice questions have four options, only one of which is correct. Candidates must submit a numerical value as the answer in numerical type questions sections. The following are the various types of questions that applicants are expected to answer:

 

  • Recall – These questions are typically based on well-known facts, concepts, proven facts, equations, or rules from the mechanical engineering profession. Candidates are asked to solve the questions either by recalling answers from memory or by performing a one-line calculation.
  • Comprehension – These questions assess the candidate’s knowledge and comprehension of mechanical engineering topics. In this section, candidates are expected to draw simple inferences based on fundamental concepts.
  • Application – This section contains problems in which candidates must apply their knowledge either logically or computationally.
  • Analysis and Synthesis – This section contains questions in a linked structure, which implies that the first question of the pair must be answered before the second or subsequent question. Candidates should also expect some common data questions, in which two questions share the same data but are unrelated to one another.
  • Common Data Questions – This section’s questions are made up of several questions that are all related to a common data problem or passage. Based on the given data, many questions, say two or three, can be constructed. Each question in this section is worth two points, is self-contained, and can be solved independently.
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