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Customers browse produce during the grand opening of the Lidl Ltd. store in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Benjamin Boshart | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Customers browse produce during the grand opening of the Lidl Ltd. store in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

World food prices declined in November to their lowest level in more than two years, led down by much weaker vegetable oil, dairy and cereal prices, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday.

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 160.8 points last month, down from a revised 162.9 in October, reaching its lowest level since May 2016.

The October figure was previously given as 163.5.

FAO said global cereals output in 2018/19 was seen at 2.595 billion tonnes, down marginally from the previous forecast and 2.4 percent below last year’s record high production.

FAO’s forecast for world wheat production in 2018/19 was 725.1 million tonnes, 2.8 million tonnes lower than the previous forecast.

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Go-Jek is in talks with Philippines, expects to be in the market soon

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A Go-Jek motorcycle taxi driver travels through traffic in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018.

Dimas Ardian | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A Go-Jek motorcycle taxi driver travels through traffic in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018.

Indonesia’s Go-Jek is in talks with Philippine authorities to get its ride-hailing service application reconsidered, after it was rejected this month by regulators, and hopes to be in the market soon, co-founder Kevin Aluwi said on Thursday.

The startup, whose backers include Alphabet’s Google, suffered a setback to its regional expansion plans when its application to start ride-hailing services was rejected by Philippine authorities on the grounds that its domestic unit did not meet local ownership criteria.

“We are in conversation with all government agencies and are optimistic we will be in the market soon,” said Aluwi, who also serves as Go-Jek chief information officer.

Having evolved from a ride-hailing service founded in 2011 to providing a one-stop app through which users can make online payments and order food and services such as massages, Go-Jek is now nursing ambitions for a larger share of the Southeast Asian market, currently dominated by Singapore-based Grab.

Aluwi said Go-Jek had seen transactions worth $12.5 billion “over its whole platform” in 2018, with “consistent and explosive growth”.

The startup announced last week that it had acquired a majority stake in Philippine fintech company Coins.ph, which operates a mobile wallet with five million users.

News website Techcrunch cited two unnamed sources as saying the investment was worth $72 million.

Aluwi, who was speaking at the DealStreetAsia 2019 PE-VC Summit, declined to confirm the size of the investment, but said the firm saw “payments as a key part of the platform evolving”.

Go-Jek has raised billions of dollars from investors such as Tencent Holdings, JD.com and Temasek Holdings in its race for market share.

Sources told Reuters in November that Go-Jek’s valuation was between $9 to $10 billion.

The firm, which has launched its services in Singapore, Vietnam, and Thailand in 2018, is examining whether to expand to Malaysia, Aluwi said.

Ride-hailing services in Southeast Asia are expected to surge to almost $30 billion by 2025 from $7.7 billion in 2018, according to a Google-Temasek report.

Asked about reports that Go-Jek was mulling the purchase of JD.com’s Indonesia business, Aluwi said they “had no near or medium plans to enter the e-commerce space”.

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China to surpass the US in retail sales for the first time: Forecast

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“The new Chinese generation are digital natives, at the same time, always looking for unique experiences,” said Mark Lunt, group managing director of IT consultancy and services company JOS. As revenue from online sales channels continues to grow, he said, “traditional brick and mortar retailers extend consumers’ choice through providing integrated, consistent customer experience across their digital and physical touch points.”

Lunt said part of China’s retail growth is being driven by the likes of artificial intelligence, big data, the so-called Internet of Things and cloud computing. He said such technologies will integrate online with offline retail channels to offer more personalized buying experiences.

In 2019, China will account for nearly 56 percent of all online retail sales globally, with that figure expected to
exceed 63 percent by 2022, according to the eMarketer report. The share of the U.S. market, meanwhile was projected to drop from 17 percent to 15 percent in that same time.

The world’s largest retailer, Alibaba, is expected to see its retail sales in China grow by nearly 20 percent in 2019, according to eMarketer, but its total share of China’s e-commerce sales was forecast to fall to just 53 percent this year, compared to nearly 70 percent in 2016.

Alibaba has opened numerous tech-enabled brick and mortar stores in the recent years, including more than 100 grocery stores under the Hema brand.

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Apple lays off over 200 from Project Titan autonomous vehicle group

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In August 2018, Apple enlisted a Tesla engineering vice president and Apple veteran, Doug Field, to lead the Titan team alongside Bob Mansfield. This week’s dismissals from the group were seen, internally, as anticipated restructuring under the relatively new leadership.

Other employees who were impacted by the restructuring of Project Titan are staying at Apple, but moving to different parts of the company.

Of late, Apple CEO Tim Cook has touted his company’s initiatives in health as the key to its future growth. “I believe, if you zoom out into the future, and you look back, and you ask the question, “What was Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind?” it will be about health,” Cook told CNBC’s Jim Cramer.

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