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First Move with Julia Chatterley

Biden & House Republicans Set Framework for Debt Talks; Thousands Evacuated after Flooding, Mudslides in Northern Italy; Reformist Opposition Party Sets Out Agenda for Change; Gym Company Reported Sign-Ups by 3.5M Teens Last Year; Planet Fitness Targets Gen Z with Summer Pass. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired May 17, 2023 - 09:00   ET




MAX FOSTER, CNN HOST: A warm welcome to "First Move", I'm Max Foster today in for Julia Chatterley from London. Now lots to get through this hour

including in the last minute negotiations to raise the U.S. debt ceiling both sides so progress was made in talks held Tuesday. But time is running

short the U.S. could run out of money to pay its bills in just over two weeks' time without an agreement.

We'll have a live report in just a moment for you. Signs of movement in the D.C. negotiations are helping boost the U.S. futures all the major U.S.

stock markets are indices set for a higher open. Europe is trading mixed amid news that Eurozone inflation ticked higher again last month.

Now shares of regional U.S. banks are higher pre market after key player Western alliance said deposits are on the rise again its shares set to rise

some 13 percent in early trading. That's encouraging news for investors worried about the stability of America's Regional Banks.

In earnings news, shares are the retail giant target set to open higher, these latest earnings beating expectations but sales are slowing as

consumers spend less on non-essentials a busy show. As always, let's begin with the latest debt ceiling talk so congressional leaders left today's

meeting with President Biden unable to point to any major progress on a deal to raise the debt ceiling. But they did say they've agreed on a

process for getting there.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Nothing has been resolved in this negotiation. So the only thing that has changed is we finally have a format that has

proven to work years in the past.


FOSTER: Are the clock ticking and some of America's biggest companies are warning of a devastating scenario, and potentially disastrous consequences

if the U.S. defaults on its debt. CNN's Chief Business Correspondent Christine Romans joins me now. Christine, what do you make of the latest

moves? Where do we stand?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Look, there are a lot of bad choices here and time is running out. Remember this debt ceiling was

hit January 19. So the Treasury has been moving money around, we're within days of having 90 cents coming in every day for every dollar that's going


And that means somebody won't get paid social security, federal contractor interest on our debt, when presumes that would be the last thing the

government wouldn't pay. But it's just a very, very dangerous game that's happening here. And that's what these CEOs have said 150 CEOs with some

very, very big companies saying look, high inflation has already created stresses in our financial system, including several recent bank failures.

It'd be much worse if a nation default on our debt obligations. So we know this is dangerous territory. And you will hear and I've been hearing some

political people in Washington saying, well, we don't know how bad it would be, oh, maybe one or two days over the line is OK.

I talked to Mark Zandi earlier this morning from Moody's Analytics who said that is not a black hole you want to jump into. It is a very dangerous

situation. It has to be resolved. One of the ways they're starting to talk about resolving it here. They have this format for negotiations, Max,

that's helpful here.

Again, they don't have much time they have this format for negotiations, they're going to have to find a way to yes. Does that mean some caps on

future spending? Or does that mean toughening some work requirements for welfare programs in United States like food stamps, specifically for people

who are 50 to 56 years old, able bodied adults?

Are you going to put in a 20 hour a month work requirements for those people who continue to get food stamps or Medicaid is something

progressives don't want? It's something that Republicans definitely want? Where can they find yes? Where can they find that? That common ground,

we're just seeing little hints of the contours here, but boy, not enough to really think that you can get this done by the final day.

FOSTER: How Speaker Kevin McCarthy, talking about these work requirements, insisting they are part of the debt ceiling deal, explain exactly what they

are and what impact they'd have?

ROMANS: So these work requirements, there have been work requirements since the 80s. For these incredibly important social programs, something called

Snap, which is food stamps, that's food assistance for people and also Medicaid. These are for very low income Americans who need help with health

insurance, right?

And the idea here is that it is better for your economy and better for your country. If the weakest people in society have some sort of a safety net.

And what the Republicans want to do here is they want to add work requirements for people over the age of 50. Right now, there are work

requirements, I think up to the age of 50.

They want to extend that from 50 to 56 years old for able bodied Americans, I think its 20 hours a week, but there's a meaningful and what a lot of

economists will say it doesn't meaningfully add workers or employment. But it does add hardship to the most vulnerable part of society.


So this is a philosophical argument between the right and the left and it's playing out now over a debt ceiling which is of course paying the bills

that the America has already spent. So here we are, again, it happened in 2011, it happened in 2013. And this is the most serious I've seen it since


The hope is here. They can get to yes, Max. We don't know what that's going to look like yet. But they've got to get to yes.

FOSTER: OK, fingers crossed. Christine Romans, thank you as -- .

ROMANS: You are welcome.

FOSTER: The debt ceiling showdown forcing President Biden to cut short his Asia-Pacific trip, the U.S. president is leaving for Japan today to attend

the G7 meeting, but canceling his visits to Australia and Papua New Guinea next week. Marc Stewart, live in Hiroshima, where the G7 summit is being

held? What's the reaction there to Biden not being there for the full trip?

MARC STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max, the thing is one of understanding and of practicality. I mean, these leaders are very well

aware that if there was a debt ceiling default in the U.S., it could really cause dire consequences around the world. That's perhaps one of the phrases

we heard from the Australian Prime Minister.

So there is a general understanding that the President has to address that because what could begin as an American problem could be a worldwide

problem. And as we have seen, so many economies across the globe are just very fragile right now. I should also point out, Max, that even though he

is not going to be traveling to Australia, the President will have contact with members of the so called quad that's Australia, India, Japan, and of

course, the U.S. that make up the quad.

They will have representatives here at the G7 meeting in some effect. So it's not as if these conversations won't happen. But this formal meeting

that was hoped to take place in Australia, obviously is not going to see U.S. participation.

FOSTER: In terms of substance do you expect much from this meeting?

STEWART: Well, let's talk about expectations. The G7 in the past has actually had some success, particularly when we look at the war in Ukraine.

It was responsible for loving sanctions and economic penalties against Russia. The question is will the G7 be able to take things a step further?

The reality is that Europe, many nations in Europe actually exports goods to Russia that could be automobiles, even chocolate. In addition, Japan

actually imports energy from Russia as well. So there is this symbiotic relationship that is still very much intact. The question is will the G7

take things a step further?

And then just about these broader tensions in the world even talk of nuclear weapons at one point by Vladimir Putin, in this Ukraine conflict?

There is good reason to have that this discussion here in Hiroshima. It's something I discussed, I just recently in an exclusive interview with

Japan's Foreign Minister. Take a quick listen.


YOSHIMASA HAYASHI, JAPANESE FOREIGN MINISTER: One of the reason why we hosting G7 in Hiroshima is that we would like to send a message and at the

same time message about Non Proliferation and disarmament. And at the same time, would like to have summit leaders to see what happened in Hiroshima

and share that experience.


STEWART: So Russia, Ukraine is certainly on the agenda. So is China obviously here in the Indo-Pacific region? Also expect some conversation

relating to issues of the environment possibly the phasing out of coal, perhaps a more specific timeline. We'll just have to see on that one, Max.

FOSTER: OK, Marc Stewart, thank you for joining us from Hiroshima. Now in Washington, the CEO of ChatGPT, the ChatGPT maker opens AI urging U.S.

lawmakers to regulate artificial intelligence at a congressional hearing. Sam Altman warned AI could do significant harm to the world. Donie

O'Sullivan has the details.


SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): And now, for some introductory remarks. Too often, we have seen what happens when technology outpaces regulation.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A Senate hearing on AI.

BLUMENTHAL: The proliferation of disinformation and the deepening of societal inequalities,

O'SULLIVAN (voice over): Beginning with a Senator allowing an AI voice to give part of his opening statements.

BLUMENTHAL: If you were listening from home, you might have thought that voice was mine and the words from me, but in fact, that voice was not mine.

The remarks were written by ChatGPT.

O'SULLIVAN (voice over): ChatGPT, the AI bot that became a global sensation and highlighted just how powerful AI technology can be.


O'SULLIVAN (voice over): The CEO of the company behind ChatGPT testifying before Congress for the first time today.

ALTMAN: I think if this technology goes wrong, it can go quite wrong. And we want to be vocal about that. We want to work with the government to

prevent that from happening.


O'SULLIVAN (voice over): Not downplaying the power and the danger of the technology his company is pioneering.

ALTMAN: Artificial intelligence has the potential to improve nearly every aspect of our lives but also that it creates serious risks we have to work

together to manage.

O'SULLIVAN (voice over): Altman joined on Capitol Hill by an IBM AI Executive, and Gary Marcus, a Former NYU Professor and self-described

critic of AI hype.

GARY MARCUS, PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: We acted too slowly with social media many unfortunate decisions got locked in with lasting

consequence. The choices we make now will have lasting effects for decades, maybe even centuries,

O'SULLIVAN (voice over): The wide ranging implications of AI are reflected in the topics discussed, like jobs.

ALTMAN: Like with all technological revolutions, I expect the significant impact on jobs GPT for will, I think entirely automated away some jobs and

it will create new ones that we believe will be much better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Overrun by a shortage of 80,000 illegals yesterday -- .

O'SULLIVAN (voice over): Voter targeting and the use of deep fake video and audio in elections.

ALTMAN: Should we be worried about this for our elections, it's one of my areas of greatest concern.

O'SULLIVAN (voice over): National Security, how AI can be used by America's adversaries.

BLUMENTHAL: There are huge implications for National Security. I will tell you as a member of the Armed Services Committee, classified briefings on

this issue have a bound it.

O'SULLIVAN (voice over): Even the music industry where AI has been used to clone famous recording artist's voices, and create whole new songs.

SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): Who owns the right to that AI generated material. I went in this weekend and I said write me a song that sounds

like Garth Brooks. And it gave me a different version of simple man.

O'SULLIVAN (voice over): Senators eager not to repeat mistakes of the past.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): We cannot afford to be as late to responsibly regulating generative AI as we have been to social media, because the

consequences both positive and negative will exceed those of social media by orders of magnitude.


FOSTER: Donie joins me now. I mean, when you watch this hearing you've definitely got a sense that this is a massive issue that's going to have a

profound effect on the world, but almost too big to regulate in a way. I mean, where are they even going to start?

O'SULLIVAN: Exactly, Max! I mean, they barely scratched the surface yesterday, you know, you saw on that piece there. It's going to affect

everything industry, jobs, you know, the recording industry, misinformation, disinformation, elections, national security. So obviously,

they're really going to have to start having hearings on these individual issues.

But you know, whether or not they're going to be able to legislate around this is a whole other matter. You heard their Senator Chris Coons

mentioning, you know, a bit of regret that Congress didn't rein in a Big Tech, social media platforms over the last decade.

And, you know, I was looking yesterday was actually quite remarkable that, you know, right now, ChatGPT, which really kind of put all the focus on AI

over the past six months, and really was, I think, a wakeup call for the world and how powerful this technology could be, you know, the CEO of that

company that's behind that tool, testifying yesterday, you know, within six months of this being released.

It took Mark Zuckerberg 14 years to testify before Congress, 14 years of Facebook was around. He didn't show up to Congress to be called testified

until 2018 after a game analytical scandal. So you can see lawmakers are trying to get ahead of this or whatever it will be fruitful remains to be


FOSTER: OK, Donie, thank you.

O'SULLIVAN: Thanks Max.

FOSTER: I'm sure we'll be watching. Now meanwhile, Elon Musk, an early investor in open AI sharing his views on artificial intelligence in an



ELON MUSK, CEO OF TESLA, SPACEX AND TWITTER: I think it's very much a double edged sword. I think it's, there's a strong probability that it will

make life much better, and that will have an age of abundance. And there's some chance that it goes wrong and destroys humanity. Hopefully that chance

is small, but it's not zero.


FOSTER: Back in March, Musk, co-signed an open letter calling for a six month pause on AI development. Turning now to a developing story out of

Northern Italy though, where torrential rains and mudslides have killed at least 8 people, thousands have been forced to evacuate their homes and

landslides and floods also wreaking havoc in the Balkans from Slovenia to Croatia and Bosnia.

Barbie Nadeau joins us live from Rome. So the -- one's been called off people are dying. This is much worse than many people thought initially

this morning.

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's absolutely right. You know, as you mentioned, 8 people so far confirmed dead many people still missing. You

know, these rescuers are carrying out just heroic rescues rescuing people from upper floors of homes from flooded vehicles. You know, this really did

come as a bit of a surprise.

They had some flooding and torrential rains earlier in the month but this is really, really, really strong and the rain continues to fall down. Some

of the rivers have been compromised, bridges have been washed out. It's a really drastic situation and the rain is still falling, Max.


FOSTER: OK, Barbie, thank you so much for that we'll keep an eye on it. Straight ahead debt ceiling drama, the so called ex state to default is

drawing closer. We'll discuss the impact it could have on the U.S. and global financial markets with Economist Eswar Prasad, after the break.


FOSTER: Welcome back, Russia unleashed missiles and artillery shells on Ukraine late on Tuesday with a focus on the Southeastern region. One U.S.

official says Moscow's recent wave of aerial bombardments may be an attempt to confuse and overwhelm Ukraine's air defenses.

And Ukrainian Air Force spokesman is calling Russian claims that a Kinzhal missile destroyed a U.S. Patriot Defense System based in Kyiv like the one

seen here "impossible". A U.S. official tells CNN the system was likely damaged but not destroyed. Meanwhile, fighting continues around Bakhmut

where Kyiv says it has gained ground. Nic Robertson has more from Eastern Ukraine.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice over): On Bakhmut destroyed streets to Ukrainian soldiers bolster flagging spirits with dark

humor. Oh, that boom, boom, boom. Is that on us? One says, oh no the other jokes were enchanted.

They're not for us. Russia's push for the remaining Ukrainian controlled high rises around them has not relented despite recent successes taking

ground north and south of the meat grinder town. In a field hospital nearby troops can cuss by heavy Russian shelling inside Bakhmut.

ROBERTSON: How was the fighting Bakhmut compared to person and other places?

ROBERTSON (voice over): -- a 47 year old former warehouse manager tells us Bakhmut is his hardest battle yet. Its hell he says.

ROBERTSON: How is the morale at the frontline?

ROBERTSON (voice over): He pauses, sighs and whispers it's hard. Tanks too are getting chewed up in the Bakhmut meat grinder. This Soviet era T-72

blasted by shelling their repairs made in hedgerows because workshops are getting targeted. The shrapnel holes don't matter, this tank commander

tells us what's important is the engine and the reactive armor.


ROBERTSON: Locations of repair hideaways like this one are a closely guarded secret once the counter offensive begins they will be even more

vital to keep the military and its machines moving.

ROBERTSON (voice over): In a combat bunker buried outside Bakhmut, troops have no idea when or where the big offensive will come.

ROBERTSON: The monitoring the battlefield from here we can't show you the screens that are looking down from drones as soon as a Russian soldier puts

his head up and moves. You see --

ROBERTSON (voice over): Morale here high because they've recently made games across fields surrounding the town. Early success in the coming

counter offensive will be critical. The lessons of Bakhmut momentum and motivation are all. Nic Robertson CNN, Eastern Ukraine.


FOSTER: Let's come back to one of our top stories the rest of June the first we'll see the U.S. government run out of cash essentially to pay the

bills in the absence of an agreement on raising debt ceiling comments were more positive after Tuesday's debt talks between President Biden and

congressional leaders.

But everyone acknowledging there's still a long way to go. The President heads for the G7 summit in Japan later today, but he's now shortened his

trip to make time for more talks in Washington. Scraps in Sydney and Papua New Guinea next week, we're scratched from the itinerary.

With time running out Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is again warning that the default would negatively impact America's credit rating. She plans to

meet with bank CEOs on Thursday including JP Morgan's Jamie Dimon and Citi groups Jane Fraser.

Joining me now is Dr. Prasad, Senior Professor of International Trade Policy at Cornell University. He's also a Senior Fellow at the Brookings

Institution. Thank you so much for joining us. Is it a positive or a negative sign that by this coming short his trip to deal with us?


prevail in Washington, D.C. And it's certainly good that the two sides are talking. But it seems like there is a great distance between them in terms

of what they want to get out of this debt ceiling fight.

And certainly we shouldn't even be having this fight given that it's creating a lot of instability in financial markets at a time when the U.S.

economy seems poised to head into a recession. So it's not a good time for this to be happening.

FOSTER: A very, very tight deadline if an agreement is to be reached, because obviously Congress only work certain days, and they've got a huge

amount of detail to get through. Are you concerned that even if they did agree something soon, it wouldn't get done, by the time the deadline comes?

PRASAD: There is a real risk that the process could end up becoming a problem in itself, because as you say, there is very little time left to

resolve this. Now, we don't know the exact date on which the Treasury is going to start running out of money to meet its obligations.

But it's clear that the effects are already beginning to become apparent in financial markets with the yield on U.S. government bonds beginning to

rise. And that's going to start having ripple effects on the economy, even if this does get resolved in time. And if it doesn't, there is going to be

a big price to pay.

FOSTER: What sort of dates are we looking at in terms of market volatility? When do they start to get really nervous and potentially start falling


PRASAD: I think every day that passes, the stock markets are going to get a little more nervous and more importantly, the bond markets are going to get

nervous. And this is very important because the U.S. Treasury securities market is really the underpinning of the U.S. financial system.

It benchmarks a great number of securities in the U.S., and indeed in the rest of the world. So if there are tremors in the U.S. Treasury securities

market that is going to very quickly ripple into other financial markets in the U.S. and indeed around the world.

FOSTER: Yes, very worrying potential scenario, isn't it? But are you confident there are areas of overlap where they could potentially find some


PRASAD: It seems like both sides do want to bring this to a reasonable conclusion, because the reality is that if they don't come to an agreement,

this is going to have a cataclysmic effect on the U.S. economy. And certainly right now, the political issue seems to be who's going to get the

blame if this happens.

But I don't think either side really wants to see this happen to the U.S. economy because this is, again, a very fragile time for the U.S. economy.

It's going to hurt consumers and businesses, a great deal of the two sides don't come to an agreement. So I very much hope that they can pull it


FOSTER: Yes, absolutely, Eswar Prasad, Senior Professor of International Trade Policy at Cornell University, thank you for joining us with your

insight. Now, Thailand's reformist move forward party is setting out its plans for change and says the priority is to demilitarize the country.

The party won the most seats and the largest share of the vote in the weekend's elections. It's a crushing blow to Thailand's Military backed

establishment. A party leader spoke to Zain Asher on "Quest Means Business".



PITA LIMJAROENRAT, LEADER OF THAI MOVE FORWARD PARTY: I think it's pretty clear that people have demanded change here in Thailand you know with the

historical voting turned out in Thai, politically, history is very clear that it's a sentiment of the era has changed. And we have developed

consensus for a new day here in Bangkok, Thailand.

ZAIN ASHER, CNN HOST: So even though you won the most seats, and you won the largest share of the popular vote, it is obviously one thing to

actually win the election. It's another thing entirely too actually become Prime Minister, especially because the military has so much say, in this

process. Just walk us through some of the challenges that face you and your party going forward?

LIMJAROENRAT: Well, I think it's pretty clear that the coalition is taking shape. As we speak, right now I have my negotiation team I have my

transition team to make sure that the transition of power is smooth. However, the process is three steps from now, the election committee has to

endorse the candidacy then we have to elect a house speaker.

And then the third step would to have joint voting between the lower house and the upper house. That's where it's politics of elected by 25 million

people against appointed of Senators from military cool back in the last decade. So that will be the kind of struggles that people are looking at.

However, I have my scenario analysis of various scenarios that could come out, and we have prepared a strategic response to prepare for each of the

scenarios that might take up.


FOSTER: Now, coming up with teenage obesity a serious health problem one gym is offering a solution. I'll speak to the CEO of Planet Fitness, about

the company's summer program.



FOSTER: Welcome back to "First Move". U.S. stock up and running this Wednesday as you can see a fire open across the board. Stocks bouncing back

from Tuesday's losses amid some signs of progress in the bipartisan debt ceiling negotiations. The White House Press Secretary saying on CNN this

morning that President Biden will monitor the ongoing talks during his shortened trip to overseas territories.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: America does not default on its debt. That's why the President is cutting his trip short. That's why

he's going to return continue these conversations that he's had with congressional leaders as he's directed his staff to continue their daily

conversation. He's optimistic, he's optimistic that we'll get to a reasonable bipartisan budget deal that can get to his deck that he can



FOSTER: While the U.S. could default on its debt as soon as early June if there's no deal to raise that debt ceiling. Around a fifth of 12 to 19 year

olds in the United States are obese according to the nation's public health agency, the CDC, it also warns adolescent mental health remains in crisis.

Both issues are on the radar at the gym chain climate fitness, which markets itself as a judgment free zone. It's allowing High School teens to

work out for free in its clubs in the U.S. and Canada over the summer. Of course, the move could build lasting brand loyalty amongst Gen Z as well.

That's one of the biggest growth markets at Planet Fitness. It has over 2400 gyms in North America, as well as an international presence in

countries including Mexico, and Australia. Chris Rondeau is the CEO of Planet Fitness. Thank you so much for joining us. What, what gave you this


CHRIS RONDEAU, CEO, PLANET FITNESS: Oh, thank you Max for having me on. You know, what would happen though in 2019 -- first year we did it. And, you

know, seemed like the right thing to do, you know, and hopefully, right real brand loyalty and brand awareness. But, you know, teens, as you've

mentioned, they are going through a lot of mental health and mental stress issues.

And, and it was definitely something that made a lot of sense. So we did it. And we had a million teams in 2019. And then because of COVID, we

couldn't do it again, for a couple of years. We launched it last year.

And it took off to three and a half million teams in one summer, so really excited to bring it back this year. And that just shows right there, the

increase in number of teams that got involved with, with the program, how important this really is.

FOSTER: A lot of young people obviously struggling financially as well, we're living in the cost of living crisis. So you know, it's one of those

things they can't normally don't really jump to. But then once they see the benefits, do you see them staying and then willing to pay the membership's

long term?

RONDEAU: Yes, so since last year, we've had 10 percent of the teams actually convert to paying members. So it is paying off long term, but it's

really that's like the byproduct of it, the real important thing is get them off the couch, build a brand loyalty, and it'll pay off in the long

run, which is what we're looking for.

FOSTER: Take us through the mental health as well, because lots of studies out talking about the mental health of young people, how they're struggling

in today's world, how much difference is going to the gym making on that front?

RONDEAU: Yes, we believe that too, as well. And we see a lot of studies that say that, you know, it's not really so much about the waistline

anymore, like it used to be years ago. It's really about you known, feeling better about you and having more energy. You're sleeping better and be able

to stress.

And we're seeing the members working out more, our cancellation rate for seven straight quarters has improved, which is even better, even in today's

economic climate and pressure people are getting on the wall with inflation, that members are staying longer, which is great.

And we have two memberships to -- entry level membership amongst 10 bucks. And our 2049 membership gives you a lot of other perks and is actually the

2049; it continues to sell just like it did in the past.

FOSTER: You will see lost a lot of memberships because of locked down and the pandemic didn't you? If you managed to make all of that back now where

would you sit with that curve?

RONDEAU: Yes, we actually at the end of 2020 we've bottomed out at about 13 and a half million members and we added that we're now back to 18.1

million, so far exceeded our pre-pandemic levels. And in the first quarter we added 1.1 million net members and that was the biggest net member growth

since 2020 first quarter.

FOSTER: Are you struggling with people worried about the future as well you know the state of the economy people putting off you know, bigger very high

costs purchase for now until they know what's going to happen. Are you finding that's the same as well gym memberships people might be holding off

a bit until they know how much money they're going to have coming in.

RONDEAU: Yes, that's a great question. I think we actually some ways benefit from this economic climate in ways where you know people aren't

going to say not work out. But you know they're going to pay the 50 or $100 month membership for towels, for the shower, or for pools that they're not

going to use or rock walls, right.

So with us at 10 bucks a month, we have nuts and bolts, great cotton cardio and strength equipment. Same stuff you'll find it $100 a month club quite

honestly in 2400 location. So it's always convenient most stores have 24 hours a day, so I don't think he will not work out, but we'll choose planet

if they're really watching their wallets.


FOSTER: Yes, its expensive kit, isn't it? And you got a lot of staff as well. Wage price inflation, how's that hitting your costs?

RONDEAU: Yes, it's a little bit luckily with our model Max, we don't have all the group X classes and, and, and different daycares and juice bars and

things like that, tons of fitness equipment, great locker rooms. So our staffing model per store is only about 12 to 15 totals. So although a

little bit of inflation with wages, it doesn't really affect our business model that drastically.

FOSTER: OK, I really appreciate your time. Chris Rondeau, CEO of Planet Fitness, thank you for joining us here on the show.

RONDEAU: Thank you.

FOSTER: Fitness, fanatics love to talk endlessly about the importance of food preparation, of course. And a chef in Nigeria is hoping to set a world

record after she cooked non-stop for four days beating the current record of more than 87 hours. She created dozens of Nigerian dishes and her

cooking marathon captivated the country. CNN's Stephanie Busari has more.


STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN SENIOR AFRICA EDITOR (voice over): Nigerian Chef Hilda Effiong Bassey has become a national sensation after cooking non-stop

for 100 hours, possibly setting a new world record. The chef started cooking on Thursday and created more than 55 recipes at over 100 meals

designed to showcase the best of Nigerian cuisine.

Hilda remained in high spirits despite the lack of sleep, and her fans went to great lengths to support her.

ENIOLUWA ADEOLUWA, SUPPORTER: We're outside by you Bassey. When a Nigerian is doing something we all call out, we show so far.

BUSARI (voice over): One man even traveled hundreds of kilometers through the night to get to the venue in Lagos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I drove 12 hours just to be you know.

BUSARI (voice over): The chef's cookathon trended nationwide and celebrities and politicians, including the governor of Lagos, visited her.

Musicians also created a party in a concert atmosphere.

BUSARI (on camera): The crowd is going absolutely crazy. Hilda Bassey has just passed 96 hours in her four day cooking marathon. She passed world

record hours ago, but she decided to keep on going to go the extra mile.

HILDA BASSEY, NIGERIAN CHEF: I was very tired, but at the same time I feel very blessed, I'm -- excited as well. The first day was the most difficult,

and I was -- six hours a day. But I feel like -- and some way somehow I got -- .

BUSARI (voice over): The record to beat was set in 2019 by Indian Chef Latatondon who posted a message of support to Hilda during her attempt. The

Guinness World Record committee still has to confirm that all their criteria have been met. But for Nigerians, there's a new record breaker in

town, and her name is Hilda Bassey. Stephanie Busari, CNN, Lagos.


FOSTER: Now scary turns, a children's baseball game in Florida. It's dust devil. It was formed on the home place as you can see it engulfed the seven

year old catcher before a teenage umpire quickly pulled him to safety. Although the small whirlwind only lasted a few seconds, he said it felt

like 10 minutes. Here's how he described the experience.


BAUER ZOYA, RESCUED FROM DUST DEVIL: I can't breathe out much. So I heard my breath. And I feel like I couldn't touch the ground. So I kind of lifted

up. I didn't know what to do. So I was thinking about something that was happening not like that. So, I don't get freaked about.


FOSTER: Memory. Turning now to an inside look at one of Africa's highest profile. Drugmakers, Aspen Pharmacare, the 170 year old company has a huge

footprint across the continent. It found itself challenges never before during the COVID pandemic. Eleni Giokos spoke to CEO Stephen Saad in

today's "Connecting Africa".

STEPHEN SAAD, CEO, ASPEN PHARMACARE: I think the pandemic really, really spot the world. And certainly we were really proud to be able to deliver a

vaccine to the continent in the quantities that we did. But the reality of COVID was that, you know, Africa didn't get vaccinated, and we've done a

few pandemics, whether it was aids or multi drug resistant TB.

We have to be strong regionally, instead of saying, look; we've lost the COVID vaccine volumes and so we closing up. We've actually put even more

capacity in and that is really to be able to provide cover for the continent in total.

We committed to one person, one vaccine in Africa, and we're working very hard towards that process and so a lot of machinery coming in a big

capacity ramp up.


ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If I had to ask you to define and describe what the pharmaceutical sector right now looks like in Africa, a continent

that is disproportionately affected by disease compared to other regions in the world. What would your answer be?

SAAD: I think the answer is this simple, you know, when COVID came, and Africa needed vaccines, what we found out was that over 90 -- percent of

the vaccines were supplied out of India. At the end of the day, you can't ask politicians or other countries to supply someone else before them.

I don't think anybody wants Africans to suffer, but the reality and we saw it, whether it was Europeans or India, the borders closed, and they looked

after the own population first. So the bottom line is Africa really didn't have an industry, if it hadn't been for aspirin, they would have been no

vaccines made in Africa for the continent.

GIOKOS: The African Union has a target to achieve at least a 30 percent uptake of all vaccines from African manufacturers. It's taken you a few

decades to get to where you are. How quickly can we get manufacturing hubs, operational with good manufacturing practices, you know, meeting regulatory

environments in other parts of Africa?

SAAD: We can easily get to 30 percent; aspirant could do that alone across Africa quite easily. We want to build capacity for one person and one

vaccine across Africa. And that's what we're doing. So I think we can do it.

You also don't want this vested in one country or one company, specifically, you can go and deliver this across Africa, and you can be an

exporter. But I think if you want to do something you can get yourself in the forefront of trying to assist humanity when needed.

GIOKOS: If I say to you, what is the next most exciting market for you right now in Africa for you to produce products and to manufacture? Where

would that be?

SAAD: We have a big presence in East Africa. So that's an area that you know, you try and build on your strengths. But it was really important to

be strong in West Africa where there are a lot of people.

At the end of the day, we're a consumer business. Having access into West Africa is important. And servicing those people who under serviced is a

real opportunity. To do that, we've really got to build up the GDPs across our continent, but you need healthy people for that.

FOSTER: That's it for this show. "Marketplace Asia" though, is next.




MARC STEWART, HOST, MARKETPLACE ASIA (voice over): This was the scene that helped catapult Suntory whisky onto the global stage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For relaxing times, make it Suntory time.

STEWART (voice over): The Hollywood film Lost in Translation introduced much of the world's Japanese whisky in the early 2000s. Now two decades on,

Suntory and the wider Japanese whisky market is booming. On this episode of Marketplace Asia, we sit down with the CEO of Suntory, and see their secret

to success after 100 years of whisky production.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to always exceed expectation of customers.

STEWART (voice over): And another Japanese business in the Suntory club, you might not expect Mazda. We meet the Japanese automotive giant Incoming


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The customer sees master as a small player, but they love our way of life.

STEWART (voice over): This month we're in Hiroshima, the site of this year's g7 summit.

STEWART (on camera): I'm Marc Stewart and this is Marketplace Asia.

STEWART (voice over): A string of origami cranes, one of many small but powerful symbols of reflection and hope here at the Hiroshima Peace

Memorial Park. During World War Two, the American military dropped an atomic bomb here destroying much of the city. And this park once the city's

commercial heart was the epicenter.

STEWART (on camera): This is the Atomic Bomb Dome. It was one of the only structures left standing in this area after the explosion in 1945. And it's

come to serve as a reminder to the world about the atrocities of war.

STEWART (voice over): A poignant backdrop for world leaders to reflect upon when they converge here in mid-May as part of the 2023 g7 summit, on the

agenda, the war in Ukraine and nuclear disarmament.

When the delegates arrived here, they'll find a modern city rich in history and culture. One that prides itself for resilience, tolerance, diversity

and inclusion, a tranquil and green city even on a rainy day, and one renowned for its culinary delights. With more than 1 million residents,

Hiroshima city is also a thriving industrial hub.

SHIGETO NAGAI, HEAD OF JAPAN ECONOMICS, OXFORD ECONOMICS: Hiroshima is known as a manufacturing cities ranging from heavy industries such as

automobiles, steel and shipbuilding to advanced industries. Manufacturing industry generates around 20 percent of employment in Hiroshima Prefecture.

So that is the most important driver of this economy.

STEWART (voice over): One of the biggest drivers of manufacturing in the region is automotive giant Mazda. The company has called Hiroshima city

home for more than a century. We recently caught up with Mazda's incoming president and CEO Masahiro Moro.

MASAHIRO MORO, DIRECTOR AND SENIOR MANAGING EXECUTIVE OFFICER, MAZDA: The customer sees Master as a small player, but they love our way of life. It

is about a feeling, not horsepower or acceleration.

STEWART (on camera): You've been with Mazda for more than 40 years. How do you see the roadmap of the future from Mazda?

MORO: You have to adapt those changes, but you still keep your DNA and core values. How we can evolve is, are we going to use a lot of new

technologies. So we research brain science, body structure to really understand how people feel when they drive.

STEWART (voice over): The next big investment for Mazda is in the electric vehicle space. Mazda is aiming for one quarter of its global lineup to be

fully electric by 2030.

MORO: Electric Vehicle is critical technologies to achieve carbon neutrality. We see the great opportunity to provide a profound evaluation

of -- driving if we use electrical platform.


STEWART (on camera): What is the obstacle? Is it infrastructure for charging?

MORO: Infrastructure is not the obstacle for us. This is the obstacle to be popular for the people. The big issue right now is how you can improve

energy efficiency in total management of electric vehicle.

STEWART (on camera): I want to talk a little bit about Hiroshima. This is a city that has had difficult times. It is also seen renewal and a sense of

hope for the future. How do you view Mazda in the broader history of Hiroshima?

MORO: Mazda has learned a lot from Hiroshima during these 100 years. We are always together with the Hiroshima people. In particular after World War

Two, we resumed the production just four months after the atomic bomb fell in Hiroshima.

And people came to our campus to start reconstruction of the city. And we share that strong value of never giving up. We have that spirit to get at

least Hiroshima people.

STEWART (voice over): A spirit they say will continue to shape the company's values for decades to come.




STEWART (on camera): Welcome back to Marketplace Asia. Across Japan, you'll find bars like this one here in Hiroshima that specializes in Japanese

whisky. Renowned for its quality and craftsmanship, Japanese whisky has seen a surge in popularity across the globe in recent years.

I visited Japan's oldest whisky distillery near Kyoto to see where the country's love affair with the spirit first began 100 years ago. It's a

drink that takes decades to perfect malted barley, mashed, fermented, distill and stored for years, all for the perfect drop of what some call

liquid gold.

Whiskies appeal spans continents and cultures. Here at the Yamazaki distillery in Japan, drinks giant Suntory has spent a century perfecting

its products. This is the country's oldest malt whisky distillery. It's from here in these casks, where Suntory's renowned whisky comes to life.

STEWART (on camera): Take a deep breath, and you smell the whisky.

TAKESHI NIINAMI, CEO & PRESIDENT, SUNTORY HOLDINGS LIMITED: That's right. That's right. So while we are walking here, we are drinking.

STEWART (voice over): The Yamazaki distillery near Kyoto was established in 1923 by Suntory Founder Shinjiro Torii. Nowadays Suntory is one of the

largest distilled drinks manufacturers in the world.

NIINAMI: We need to always exceed expectation of customers in terms of quality, quality, quality, quality.

STEWART (on camera): Why do you think the world has such affinity and affection toward Japanese whisky?

NIINAMI: The world is looking for something which comes out of nature. Look at this Yamazaki area we have the great quality water surrounded by

beautiful nature. We have the talented people. So because of those factors nobody can copy easily.


STEWART (voice over): It's these factors that have helped Suntory put Japanese whisky on the map globally, say experts. In recent years global

demand for Japanese whisky has boomed.


Japanese whisky is that they are just the master perfectionist at blending and batching. We started to see rapid growth in Japanese whisky and the

love for it here in the west around 2014 when The Yamazaki Sherry Cask finished whisky, one best whisky in the world.

STEWART (voice over): In 2022, whisky exports reached more than 400 million U.S. dollars, more than 20 times the amount from a decade earlier, driven

mostly by demand from Mainland China, the U.S. and Hong Kong.

Experts say the whisky boom is also being driven by a shortage of Japan's premium whisky stock. 20 years ago, Japanese whisky wasn't nearly as

popular, leading Japan's distillers to age only a limited amount of their product.

JONNY FOWLE, GLOBAL HEAD OF WHISKY & SPIRITS, SOTHEBY'S: It's a supply and demand issue ultimately. During 2008 when the industry was really on its

knees, Japanese whisky producers were putting out their best product and they limited their age supply. So now in 2023, we just see that there's a

limited amount of old stock.

STEWART (voice over): That's affected brands across the country, including Suntory.

NIINAMI: The world asks us to supply a much more. Look at these premises, limited the space for us to produce, so we can't expand so much.

STEWART (voice over): As Suntory's Yamazaki distillery celebrates its 100th anniversary; a 77 million U.S. dollar upgrade is now underway. As for the

next 100 years, consistency of taste is key, they say.

NIINAMI: 100 years, then another 100 years, let's see what kind of a liquid will be produced, created by this beautiful nature.

STEWART (voice over): A business model that requires patience, even if it lasts decades.


STEWART: And that's all for today's show. For more on the stories and others, head to our website Asia. I'm Marc Stewart.

I'll see you next time.