Alibaba Begins New Retail Era with Hangzhou Mall, Pharma Fueling Cannabis Production – China Market Watch
New Retail’s epicenter: Hangzhou’s “More Mall”
Alibaba is reportedly building a five-story shopping complex in Hangzhou. The development marks the fruition of “New Retail“, a term coined by Alibaba founder Jack Ma to describe “the integration of online, offline, logistics, and data across a single value chain.” According to media reports, the five-story shopping complex will host several Alibaba brands, such as the Taobao retail brand and the Hema grocery brand, with innovative features, such as unmanned stores and virtual fitting rooms.
Can e-commerce giants like Alibaba do brick and mortar retail better than traditional retail players? Retail industry observers will closely watch for early signs of the success or failure of More Mall, which will be located near to Alibaba’s headquarters. Some observers believe the combination of e-commerce, physical space, and high-tech logistics will become the future of retail, but other analysts note that New Retail may only mark e-commerce’s peak: e-commerce sales have begun to slow.
Cannabis production in Heilongjiang, Yunnan backing new pharma push
Farmers in Heilongjiang and Yunnan provinces have turned their regions into major centers for cannabis cultivation, according to a recent article in the South China Morning Post. While hemp production can trace its roots in China back more than 3,000 years, regulators in northern Heilongjiang and southern Yunnan only recently legalized cannabis cultivation in 2016, allowing struggling farmers to sell the cash crop to textile factories, pharmaceutical companies, as well as food & beverage companies.
Those who are aware of China’s criminal laws concerning the use of marijuana may be surprised to know that China is home to roughly half of the world’s legal cannabis farmland, according to the article, and at least 300 cannabis-related patents, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization. A large number of cannabis-related patents are concentrated in the pharmaceutical industry, which uses the crop for both Western and Chinese medicine products.
Scientific research, combined with suitable regional regulations, and strong infrastructure for agricultural products, create industry conditions that contrast favorably with other countries that have legalized commercial cannabis cultivation. Industry observers project Chinese firms to expand the availability of related Chinese traditional medicines in the domestic market, before westernizing their products for markets in North America and elsewhere.
Planned ban on plastic waste imports to spur polyethylene demand
Government plans to ban plastic waste imports could have a major impact on the recycling and polyethylene industries. China is the largest waste importer in the world, accounting for over half of the world’s plastics waste. While the import of plastic wasted has led to a robust recycling industry, it has also complicated pollution problems, and conflicted with the government’s efforts to resolve its pollution problem and support some green industries.
Should China ban plastic waste imports, foreign plastic waste exporters will find themselves in a bind, while domestic plastic recyclers will need to improve their local collection efforts drastically to compensate for the absence of foreign plastic waste.
Polyethylene manufacturers, however, will surely benefit. Media reports state exporters from South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, and the Middle East are poised to meet demand in China, which is driven by the construction and medical device industries, amongst others. China already accounts for a majority of the world’s polyethylene demand, but the planned ban will undoubtedly increase its share.
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