Alfred Romann

Bahati director Alfred Romann is based in Hong Kong from where he writes about business and economics, development, pharma, the links between Asia and Latin America and occasional and shifting obsessions like Bitcoin, the Pacific, income disparities and the travails of his native Argentina. He has lived in Asia, North and South America and Africa and has travelled extensively in every continent in the world. He writes in English or Spanish and speaks Mandarin.

A China-US trade war is not likely to be

The “man on the street” will be the biggest loser All the talk that has erupted in the past couple of weeks about possible trade wars between the United States and China has been interesting in the way that a soap opera is interesting: lots of drama with little link to reality. Sure, it is easy

Poverty, growth and baseless anger

The economics of misplaced anger Fast growing Asian countries have “eliminated” poverty at an astonishing speed, bringing people out of extreme poverty into mere gut-reaching poverty. At first blush, the numbers are suggesting of a hopeful future. In 1990, about a third of the people in the world lived on less than US$1.90 a day.

Dealing with drugs: Colombia’s dilemma

Why the switch from coca to cacao is hard to do There are few issues with just two sides or a clear right and wrong. This is a recurrent theme for us and one that Sergio Held makes quite clear in a recent story for Ozy that considers the difficulty that Colombia is facing in cutting

A dengue vaccine… finally

Mexico becomes first country to approve new vaccine, 20 others to follow It has been a long time coming, but the first dengue vaccine should hit the market next year in Mexico and, with any luck, in about 20 markets over the next couple of years. The Philippines could be next.

R&D spend driving China pharma co’s

Companies are narrowing the gap China is not a powerhouse of innovation, yet, but it is certainly trying to pay its way into that particular status. This willingness to spend in R&D – to pay to talent, buy innovative companies and seek out new technologies – is particularly visible in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology space. And it is working.

Indonesia’s FDI troubles

Largest ASEAN economy claims economic prowess but foreign investors remain unconvinced When Indonesia’s Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) rejected some 6,541 foreign investment permits last month, it underscored a problem Indonesia has been facing for a couple of years. Investors are looking at the country. They are scouting deals. They are searching for opportunities. They are not always investing, though. Last

Asian cities need sustainability

Environment, productivity and work hours are all big issues Asia is home to some of the largest urban centres in the world. Jakarta, in Indonesia, is home to some 25 million people. Manila is huge. Tokyo and Seoul are both large. Smaller Hong Kong and Singapore are large by any standard. High urbanisation rates are making these cities even larger,

Cheap oil helps Indonesia

Lower subsidies cut government costs and could help build infrastructure Cheap oil has helped Indonesia eliminate punishing subsidies and while the move is likely to bump inflation up, it will also free up a about US$21 billion that the government can now spend on infrastructure or social programs. All this is good news for the economy, which

Venezuela’s farcical medical device crisis

BOGOTA, Colombia. The government of Venezuela, which owes medical device companies around the world more than US$245 million, is now calling for the arrest of domestic device distributors. In an impressive display of do-it-yourselfness President Nicolás Maduro himself led a daring raid into a warehouse full of medical devices, seized them all and swore: “as my name is Nicolás