Film industry brings almost $24 million to Okanagan economy in 2019 - Kelowna Capital News - Canada News Media
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Film industry brings almost $24 million to Okanagan economy in 2019 – Kelowna Capital News

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The good times just keep on rolling for film production in the Okanagan.

More than 30 film productions helped to bring in almost $24 million to the Okanagan economy in 2019, according to the Okanagan Film Commission (OFC).

Major film investments included over $3.8 million from “The Last Victim”, almost $2.2 million from “Alice In Wonderland” and almost $1.9 million from “Chained”.

READ MORE: Okanagan film industry brings in $32 million

“The Okanagan, Boundary, and Similkameen Valleys have a proven track record for providing exceptional value for the producers’ dollar,” said the report.

“We have the talent, energy, and heart to meet most production needs and the tools that will help bring it in on time and on budget.”

To calculate the total investment amount, the commission tracked production, labour, accommodation and supplier costs spent in the Okanagan by filmmakers over the last year.

The report also provided an overview of the commissions 2020 budget, which includes almost $300,000 in operating costs to help attract top film talent to the Okanagan.

For more information, you can look at the OFC’s report online.


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connor.trembley@kelownacapnews.com

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China virus outbreak may wallop economy, financial markets – CTV News

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BANGKOK —
News that a new virus that has afflicted hundreds of people in central China can spread between humans has rattled financial markets and raised concern it might wallop the economy just as it might be regaining momentum.

Health authorities across Asia have been stepping up surveillance and other precautions to prevent a repeat of the disruptions and deaths during the 2003 SARS crisis, which caused $40 billion-$50 billion in losses from reduced travel and spending.

The first cases of what has been identified as a novel coronavirus were linked to a seafood market in Wuhan, suggesting animal-to-human transmission, but it now is also thought to be spread between people. As of Wednesday, some 440 people were confirmed infected and nine had died from the illness, which can cause pneumonia and other severe respiratory symptoms.

A retreat in financial markets on Tuesday was followed by a rebound on Wednesday, as investors snapped up bargains. Share benchmarks were mostly higher, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gaining 1.1% and the Shanghai Composite index advancing 0.4%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 jumped 0.7%.

While the new virus appears much less dangerous than SARS, “the most significant Asia risk could lie ahead as the regional peak travel season takes hold, which could multiply the disease diffusion,” said Stephen Innes, chief Asian strategist for AxiCorp. “So, while the risk is returning to the market, the lights might not turn green until we move through the Lunar New Year travel season to better gauge the coronavirus dispersion.”

The 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in China, along with cases of a deadly form of bird flu, resulted in widespread quarantine measures in many Chinese cities and in Hong Kong. More than 8,000 people fell sick and just under 800 people died, a mortality rate of under 10%.

While the ordinary flu kills hundreds of thousands of people each year, such new diseases raise alarm due to the uncertainties over how deadly they might be and how they might spread. That’s especially true during the annual mass travel of the Lunar New Year festival, which begins this week.

“The cost to the global economy can be quite staggering in negative GDP terms if this outbreak reaches epidemic proportions as until this week, the market was underestimating the potential of the flu spreading,” Innes said in a report.

In China, health officials stepped up screening for fevers. “We ask the public to avoid crowds and minimize the public gatherings to reduce the possibility of cross infection,” Li Bin, deputy director of the National Health Commission, said Wednesday.

Just as with SARS, though, the impact of the disease is likely to fall heaviest on specific industries, such as hotels and airlines, railways, casinos and other leisure businesses and retailers, analysts said. Most declined Tuesday but rebounded on Wednesday as investors locked in profits ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday. The outbreak is a boon, meanwhile, for pharmaceutical companies and makers of protective masks and other medical gear.

“If the pneumonia couldn’t be contained in the short term, we expect China’s retail sales, tourism, hotel & catering, travel activities likely to be hit, especially in the first and second quarters,” said Ning Zhang of UBS. Government efforts to offset the shock would help, but growth will likely rebound less than earlier forecast, Zhang said.

As of Jan. 17, the World Health Organization had not recommended any international restrictions on travel but urged local authorities to work with the travel industry to help prevent the disease from spreading while warning travellers who fall ill to seek medical attention.

The illness is yet another blow for Hong Kong, whose economy is reeling from months of often violent anti-government protests. The wider concern is China, where the economy grew at a 30-year low 6.1% annual pace in 2019. An interim trade pact between Beijing and Washington had raised hopes that some pressure from tensions between the two biggest economies might ease, and the latest data have showed signs of improved demand for exports.

The virus outbreak raises the risk such optimism might be premature.

“According to our analysis of the spread of the SARS virus, which so far appears very similar to 2019-nCoV (the new virus), we expect increased downward pressure on China’s growth, particularly in the services sector,” Ting Lu and other analysts at Nomura in Hong Kong said in a commentary.

The growing number of global travellers has contributed to the spread of various diseases in recent years, including Middle East respiratory syndrome, the Ebola and Zika viruses, the plague, measles and other highly contagious illnesses.

The World Economic Forum estimates that pandemics — cross-border outbreaks like the flu that killed 50 million people a century ago — have the potential to cause an $570 billion in annual economic losses.

The 2014-16 Ebola virus epidemic caused losses amounting to over $2.2 billion, according to the World Bank. That includes a 40% decrease in the number of working Liberians at the height of the crisis, lower exports and harvests, and costs for combating the disease.

Apart from the human tragedy, such crises gobble up resources needed for other government spending, exacting a harsh toll on the poorest economies. In Africa, the loss of health care workers to Ebola resulted in thousands more deaths of mothers and babies, hindered work on other diseases such as preventing and treating malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, reduced vaccination rates and fewer surgeries, the World Bank said in a report.

Many survivors, meanwhile, suffer from lingering effects of the illnesses and the powerful drugs used to save their lives, becoming more vulnerable to hunger and other risks.

At the same time, increasingly sophisticated tools for collecting data and analyzing are aiding efforts to prepare for and cope with severe disease outbreaks.

In 2016, the World Bank set up a $500 million rapid response insurance fund, working with the WHO and insurance companies, to combat pandemics in developing countries. The fund uses “cat bonds,” or catastrophe bonds, whose principal will be lost if the funds are needed to help deal with an outbreak. Private insurers have followed with products of their own meant to hedge against risks from such disasters.

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South Korea's economy grew at decade-low pace in 2019 – Aljazeera.com

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Sagging exports and global trade tensions pulled South Korea’s annual growth rate last year to its lowest level since 2009, but a surge in government spending may have given the economy a boost in the last three months of 2019.

The slowdown comes as President Moon Jae-in’s administration increases fiscal spending and as the Bank of Korea (BOK) considers further stimulus to shield the economy from a global slowdown.

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The gross domestic product (GDP) increased by a seasonally adjusted 1.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared with the previous three months, the BOK said on Wednesday.

It was the fastest expansion since the third quarter of 2017 and outperformed the median estimate of 0.8 percent in a survey by Reuters news agency.

“Government spending definitely was a boost as exports was a drag,” said Park Chong-hoon, an economist at Standard Chartered Bank in Seoul. “The prospect for exports is better this year with the US-China signing of the trade deal, and as China continues with its expansionary fiscal policies.”

Robust government spending on public infrastructure combined with better private consumption improved growth in the fourth quarter, but that did little to help exports, which made no contribution to the 1.2 percent expansion.

In the fourth quarter, private consumption increased 0.7 percent from three months earlier while construction investment jumped 6.3 percent.

Exports declined 0.1 percent in volume terms, reflecting the extended slump in shipments, which declined for a 13th consecutive month through December in year-on-year terms.

For the whole of 2019, the economy grew by 2 percent, the slowest pace in 10 years and matching the central bank’s projection.

“Of the 2 percent, the net government contribution to growth came to 1.5 percentage points, the biggest portion since 2009 but that didn’t change the fact that it was a hard year for Korea in terms of exports,” a central bank official said.

In a press briefing held after the GDP data release, another BOK official said the outbreak of a virus from central China has emerged as a fresh risk that could hurt consumer spending.

“With the case of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), people didn’t go out much and travelled less, so spreading of the new virus may shrink consumption in that regard,” Park Yang-su, a director general at the BOK, said in response to a question about the virus.

South Korea in 2015 drew up a supplementary budget to help the economy cope with the effects of the outbreak of the MERS.

The virus in China, originating in the central city of Wuhan at the end of last year, has spread to Beijing, Shanghai and elsewhere, with cases also confirmed in the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

Nine deaths and 440 cases had been reported as at Wednesday morning in Asia.

SOURCE:
Reuters news agency

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Quebec can develop its economy and fight climate change, Legault says – Montreal Gazette

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Thunberg or Trump? Premier skates around question about whom he sides with as he heads off to economic summit in Davos.

QUEBEC — Don’t ask Premier François Legault to choose which climate change vision he believes in — the one backed by Greta Thunberg’s or that of U.S. President Donald Trump?

He’d rather not take sides.

Moments before taking a flight Tuesday to Davos, Switzerland — where Thunberg and Trump are already sparring over climate change at the World Economic Summit — Legault said he sees Quebec as somewhere in the middle of the kerfuffle.

“I am in the balanced clan,” Legault told reporters when asked whom he prefers. “I think we need to be able to create wealth in Quebec because we have some catching up to do, but we must make more effort to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

“I think we have to find a balance.”

The Coalition Avenir Québec was criticized during the 2018 election campaign for barely mentioning the environment and climate change. On Tuesday, Legault said industrialized countries like the United States and Asia must do more to save the planet.

Legault made the remarks just hours before heading to Davos. Quebec premiers have attended the summit for the last 30 years in an attempt to stimulate foreign investment in the province.

Legault’s economic pledge during the election campaign was to double private investment in Quebec. In a statement released after his departure Tuesday, Legault said he wants to make Quebec “the best place in the world to invest.”

The theme of the conference is Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World.

Thunberg and Trump are already there, both making waves in their own manner.


Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg leaves the stage during a session at the 50th World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

DENIS BALIBOUSE /

REUTERS

In her remarks to the world’s business elite, Thunberg accused those gathered of being all talk, no action on climate change.

Her remarks contrasted with those of Trump. He used his speech to tout the benefits of soaring American oil and gas production and make a thinly veiled attack on those who warn about looming environmental catastrophe.

Legault will be at the summit until Jan. 24.

pauthier@postmedia.com

twitter.com/philipauthier

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