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China’s birthrate hits lowest level since country was founded in 1949

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Chinese mothers gave birth to 14.65 million children last year, a birth rate of 10.48 babies per 1,000 people, according to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics.China’s demographic issues could pose serious issues for the world’s second-largest economy when the current working-age population reaches retirement. Experts worry if the trend continues, or the population begins shrinking, China may get old before it gets rich.Demographers have long pointed to China’s “one-child policy” as the culprit of the country’s current population problems. For decades, couples in China were limited to only having a single child, unless they were willing to break the law or had the money to work around the system.Experts say the policy had dire effects on age demographics and sex ratio, as many poor, rural families who prized boys due to traditional cultural values went to extreme measures to ensure their child’s sex.

More than 250 million Chinese were over 60 years oldlast year, the statistics released Friday reveal. They make up more than 18% of the population.
The figure is forecast to rise to a third of the population by 2050 — or 480 million people. A study published by a leading state-sponsored Chinese think tank last year found that the country will face an “unstoppable” population decline over the coming decades, with fewer and fewer workers struggling to support an increasingly aging society.
The ruling Communist Party has attempted to combat demographic issues by encouraging families to have more babies, but many middle class families are wary to do so because of financial considerations.
A survey conducted in 2017 found that more than 50% of families have no intention of having a second child, with many saying they believed it was too expensive.
However, it’s unclear how reliable the figures are, as Beijing has been accused of meddling with its statistics for political gain by Western governments and academics like Yi Fuxian, who studies Chinese demographics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Yi said in a statement that the numbers are likely overstated because they are heavily influenced by external factors.
China’s neighbors in Northeast Asia are dealing with similar demographic issues — graying populations that aren’t having enough children to replace them.
The number of babies born in Japan in 2019 fell to 864,000 — the lowest since records began in 1899 — according to a report published the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
South Korea’s fertility rate hit a record low last year of 0.98, or fewer than one baby per woman in the population. To maintain a stable population, countries need a fertility rate of 2 — anything above that indicates population growth.

CNN’s Erin Chan, Yong Xiong and Serenitie Wang contributed to this report.

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Pre-owned business jet shortage drives sellers’ market, demand for new luxury planes

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A shortage of newer-model business jets is driving up prices of second-hand aircraft, a trend that is expected to deliver a windfall for luxury planemakers as new affluent buyers enter the market.

After a turbulent 2020 due to COVID-19, the rush toward private transport is so marked that some buyers are snapping up second-hand planes before fully inspecting the wares as the market shifts toward sellers, lawyers and brokers said.

That is expected to push up demand for new jets from planemakers like General Dynamics Corp‘s Gulfstream, Textron Inc and Bombardier Inc since buyers have fewer pre-owned options, and the price gap between old and new narrows.

“There are virtually no young pre-owned aircraft available – good news for would-be sellers and for (planemakers),” said aviation analyst Rolland Vincent.

He recalled one trucking company’s recent search for a pre-owned Gulfstream jet: “There was one aircraft in the world that fit their requirements.”

Traffic from business jets, which carry roughly a handful to 19 travelers, has rebounded to pre-pandemic levels in the United States, the world’s largest market for private aviation, according to FlightAware data.

“On the pre-owned side, inventory appears to be fairly low, and that’s always a benefit to new aircraft sales,” said Scott Neal, senior vice president worldwide sales, Gulfstream.

“We are seeing strong interest across the board from first-time buyers and high net worth individuals as well as corporate customers with a desire to grow their fleets.”

Textron in April raised its full-year profit forecast, propelled by a rebound in business jet demand.

The trend could encourage some planemakers to increase production rates, although any ramp-up would hinge on supply chain capabilities, Vincent said.

Planemakers do not disclose total number of orders.

Preowned aircraft for sale in May accounted for 6.6% of the worldwide fleet, the lowest level recorded in 25 years by JETNET data, Vincent said. He said 864 pre-owned business jets sold during the first four months of 2021, up 36% from the same period last year.

“There are multiple offers on planes,” said Florida-based aviation attorney Stewart Lapayowker, founder of Lapayowker Jet Counsel PA.

Amanda Applegate, a partner at Aerlex Law Group, said she handled more deals for new jets than usual in May, as buyers fail to secure popular pre-owned planes like the G650, raising prices.

Applegate said it’s a case of pent-up demand as some wealthy travelers previously avoided private jets due to concerns like “flight shaming” over the environment. Corporate planes burn more fuel per passenger than commercial.

But since COVID-19, buyers have been shifting to private aviation to avoid airport crowds and coronavirus variants.

Applegate said some deals are so competitive she’s seen buyers give up pre-purchase inspections to win them.

Don Dwyer, managing partner at Guardian Jet, which does aircraft brokerage, appraisals, and consulting, recalled one case where a client didn’t undertake a pre-purchase inspection, which can take more than a month to complete.

It was a particular case since the plane was highly coveted, in good shape based on a visual inspection, and the seller was reputable, Dwyer said.

“I don’t recommend it, but in certain situations it can work.”

 

(Reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by Denny Thomas and Steve Orlofsky)

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Ford starts shipping Bronco SUVs from Michigan assembly plant

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Ford Motor Co said on Tuesday it had started producing and shipping the new Bronco sport utility vehicles (SUVs) from its Michigan assembly plant, following a delay in the launch of the SUVs due to COVID-19-related issues with the automaker’s suppliers.

Customers have booked more than 125,000 sixth-generation Bronco SUVs since the beginning of the year, the company said. The SUVs are targeted at the Jeep Wrangler market segment.

Ford said it had made more than 190,000 reservations for the Bronco in the United States and Canada.

The company built the first generation of Broncos from 1966 to 1977, and withdrew the line in 1996 amid falling demand.

Ford said it had invested $750 million into and added about 2,700 jobs at the Michigan assembly plant to build the new Broncos.

 

(Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)

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Lufthansa sets 2024 goal, eyes capital increase

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Germany’s flagship carrier Deutsche Lufthansa said it aims to boost its return on capital employed (ROCE) and laid out plans for a capital increase as it prepares for a business recovery amid an easing coronavirus pandemic.

The largest German airline aims to have an adjusted EBIT margin of at least 8% and an adjusted ROCE of at least 10% in 2024, it said late on Monday.

Adjusted ROCE was –16.7% in 2020 and 6.6% in 2019.

The group added it had mandated banks to prepare a possible capital increase, though size and timing have not yet been determined and the German state, which has bailed out the airline during the pandemic, has not yet given its approval.

 

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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