In Monday's Asia papers

24 July 2006 02:51  [Source: ICIS news]

Asahi Shimbun, Japan (online edition)

Front page

 

Emigrants to Caribbean finally get an apology, compensation

The Cabinet on Friday approved a formal statement of apology and compensation measures for the misery suffered by hundreds of Japanese who emigrated to the Dominican Republic under a misguided policy in the late 1950s. "The government sincerely reflects on its failure at that time that has caused the emigrants considerable hardships and offers an apology," the statement says.

 

Embattled Mindan chief to step down

The leader of a pro-Seoul group for Korean residents here is to step down following criticism over his attempts to bury the hatchet with the group's pro-Pyongyang rival. Ha Byung Ok, president of the Korean Residents Union in Japan (Mindan), has encountered growing criticism since 17 May, when he signed an agreement with So Man Sul, chairman of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryun), to end a nearly half-century feud

 

Business & Industry

 

Smart homes alert owners by cellphone

Worried about conditions at home, but there's no one there to call? No problem. If there's an emergency, your home will call you. Modern condominiums are not only providing broadband connections but also becoming integrated with the Internet and cellphone systems.

 

Scandals, shifting ties trouble Toyota

Uncertainties are growing over the future of Toyota Motor, which had appeared to be on track to become the world's top automaker. A scandal over vehicle defects in Japan and a sexual harassment suit against the former president of the US subsidiary could undermine consumer trust.

 

China Daily, China (online edition)

Front page

 

First 'seed satellite' set to blast off

The country's first satellite specially designed for seed breeding in space will be launched into orbit in early September, it was announced over the weekend. The satellite will be in orbit for two weeks before returning to Earth, space officials said at a conference in Beijing on Saturday. Shijian-8 is expected to carry at least 2,000 varieties of plant seeds in nine categories, including grains, cash crops and forage plants, as well as seeds of fungi and molecular biomaterials that have been sequenced.

 

Business studies a 'major' problem

If a nation's readiness to plug into the global economy is gauged by how many of its college students are studying international business, China must be the world champion. Next year, there will be more than 100,000 college graduates, or around 2.5% of the nation's total, majoring in business management, international trade and economics. But at a time when many new graduates are having a hard time finding jobs in these fields, some educators are wondering whether it's really necessary to have so many young people studying international business.

 

Business & Industry

 

China to adjust export tax mechanism

By increasing export tariffs and lowering export rebates in 2005, the Chinese government enjoyed some success in curbing exports of high energy-consuming, high-polluting and resource-intensive products: coal exports dropped 12.7%, coke exports dropped 10.7%, billet exports dropped 35.6%, and exports of non-forged aluminum dropped 20% year on year in the first six months of this year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. However, to get round such restrictions, many Chinese businesses found a new strategy: they began processing materials slightly - not completely - for export. Thus the bulk of Chinese exports moved from resource-intensive products to preliminary processed products and semi-finished products.

 

Auditors uncover embezzlement of CNY19.2bn of gov't funds

China's audit organs discovered that CNY19.2bn of government funds for supporting agriculture was embezzled and CNY890m wasted in 2004 and 2005, after auditing 784 key agriculture-related projects. The information was released at a national forum on audit work, held recently in east China's Shandong Province by the National Audit Office (NAO).

 

Taiwan News, Taiwan (online edition)

Front page

 

DPP congress moves on proxy voters

The Democratic Progressive Party approved a wide range of organizational reforms during a national party congress yesterday in what party leaders called "a demonstration of concrete action to respond to the expectations of the people.  "Against the backdrop of falling approval ratings following allegations of corruption in President Chen Shui-bian's administration, the DPP held a two-day session that eventually decided on cracking down on proxy memberships and approved a measure that would abolish party factions.

 

Myanmar, South Korea top ASEAN talk agenda

Southeast Asian officials at a key regional security meeting yesterday worked to put the finishing touches on a common stand on North Korea's nuclear threat and Myanmar's failure to restore democracy. After two days of brainstorming, the officials of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations were close to drafting a joint statement to be issued by their foreign ministers at the conclusion of an annual gathering on Tuesday and Wednesday, said Sihasak Phuangketkeow, the top Thai official at the talks.

 

Business & Industry

 

Taiwan seeks to tackle growing investment in rival China

The Taiwan government may allow a number of companies to invest more in rival China but will not grant an overall relaxation of its investment restrictions, a senior government official said. Taiwan plans to hold a two-day economic forum in Taipei starting on Thursday that will bring together more than 100 government officials, scholars, lawmakers and business leaders to plot a course for future economic development.

 

PRC has no desire for drastic moves, economists argue

One year after the Chinese currency was cut loose from the US dollar, Beijing is making clear in both word and deed that it plans no dramatic additional revaluation, despite calls for action. A decision announced at the start of the weekend to raise banks' reserve requirements acted as a message that China will use monetary levers, not a more expensive currency, to dampen growth, analysts said.

 

Korea Herald, South Korea (online edition)

Front page

 

Kim jong-il has new wife: report

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has reportedly taken his former secretary as a new wife after his purported spouse died of cancer in 2004. The emergence of Kim's new wife is expected to give a new twist to a power struggle between his sons over who would succeed at the helm of the communist country.  "I heard Kim has been living together with a woman named Kim Ok, who served as his secretary, as Ko Yong-hi died two years ago," Yonhap News agency quoted a South Korean government source as saying.

 

US welcomes North Korea talks

The United States welcomed the prospect of six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons program on the sidelines of an ASEAN meeting this week, as momentum appeared to gather for seizing the opportunity. Japan and China agreed on Friday that all six nations party to the talks should meet at the regional forum in Kuala Lumpur, and China indicated it opposed holding talks without Pyongyang, Japan's Kyodo news agency said.

 

Business & Industry

 

Over-the-counter derivatives market under scrutiny

The financial watchdog said yesterday it is looking into the rapidly-growing over-the-counter derivatives market to see if brokerages are selling products to customers without fully informing them of the high risks involved. "The inquiry has its focus on whether the securities firms are properly informing investors of the risks associated with derivative products, and whether they still meet the requirements for over-the-counter derivatives business," explained the Financial Supervisory Service.

 

US FTA will batter banking sector: study

The much-touted benefits of a free trade agreement with the United States will be confined to commercial enterprises, while other sectors of the Korean economy, particularly the banking industry, will take a battering, a think tank warned yesterday. Kim Dong-hwan, research fellow at the Korea Institute of Finance said in a report that the country's feeble banking sector faces the risk of becoming subjugated by industrial capital.

 

Business Standard, India (online edition)

Front page

 

Insurers get full pricing freedom

The Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India (IRDA) has done away with the original plan of keeping a 20% band on premiums in the detariff regime set to kick off in January 2007. This means that insurance companies will be completely free to price their products from next year. However, the rider is that the insurers will not be allowed to change the terms and conditions for existing products within 15 months of detariffing.

 

RBI may chart CRR cut roadmap

The Reserve Bank of India may announce a time-table for a phased cut in banks’ cash reserve ratio (CRR), from the existing 5%, in its quarterly policy review on Tuesday. The cut, however, may not take place immediately. Senior bankers expect the RBI to reiterate its intent of bringing down the CRR to zero in a phased manner, and prescribe a medium-term time-frame for this in the quarterly review.

 

Companies & Industry

 

Top positions at JNPT lie vacant

The Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), which has drawn up a Rs900bn expansion programme, doesn’t have a chairman. The posts of deputy chairman and chief manager (finance) are also vacant. Though the government has appointed BrihanMumbai Mahanagarpalika Corporation (BMC) Municipal Commissioner Johny Joseph as JNPT chairman, he has not yet assumed charge as the city is facing a severe crisis caused by the bomb blasts and the downpour.

 

Manpower dearth may trip Pantaloon: Report

Pantaloon Retail India Ltd (PRIL) has set lofty growth targets for itself, but execution of these targets may be jeopardised by a shortage of manpower, a research report issued by Deutsche Bank AG says. The July 2006 report says that PRIL’s planned expansion to 30 million square feet of retail space by 2010 target would need around 200,000 employees while its current workforce strength is around 13,000.

 

Business Times, Singapore (print edition)

Front page

 

Private banker sign-on carrots hit million S$

The tussle for experienced private bankers has intensified to what observers call 'ridiculous' proportions, with some banks reportedly willing to pay signing-on fees of a million dollars or more. Banks are prepared to offer such 'golden-hello' packages in the hope that a good relationship manager, or RM, would help bring in enough new business to pay for himself, or herself.

 

CPIB probe of bunker supplier spawns scandal fears

Singapore's S$7 billion-a-year bunkering industry has again found itself under scrutiny as the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) conducts a probe into local supplier Consort Bunkers. Responding to BT queries on the probe, the Maritime & Port Authority (MPA) of Singapore said that it is 'working hand in hand with the CPIB on the investigation, which is ongoing'. The MPA did not elaborate.

 

Singapore Companies

 

A-Sonic bids for rest of Airocean shares

Mainboard-listed aircraft equipment and avionics specialist A-Sonic Aerospace has launched a takeover bid for fellow mainboard-listed logistics firm Airocean Group in an all-share deal worth some S$42.56m. Under the Scheme of Arrangement announced over the weekend, A-Sonic has proposed swapping one A-Sonic share for every 2.63 Airocean shares for a takeover of all 403 million outstanding shares not held by A-Sonic, or a 70.3% stake, in the logistics firm.

 

Comparing S'pore firms' earnings risks

Singapore companies fared better in terms of overall earnings risk, compared with stocks from Taiwan, South Korea and China, based on a study by Merrill Lynch. However, the republic still lost out to the 'safe haven' countries of Malaysia, Thailand and Pakistan. In a report last week, Merrill Lynch examined some 647 regional companies and ranked each stock based on factors such as sensitivity to slower US growth, price of oil, as well as earnings revisions and stock performance over the last six months. Total potential scores ranged from minus six to six.

 

Bangkok Post, Thailand (online edition)

Front page

 

Divided Arabs press for Mideast truce

Top Saudi envoys urged US President George W Bush on Sunday to press Israel for a cease-fire in its military offensive in Lebanon. Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal and the head of the Saudi National Security Council, Prince Bandar, were received by Bush at the White House after he cut short a weekend at his Texas ranch and returned to Washington.

Decree gives balance of power to PM

The balance of power in politics has swung in favour of the ruling Thai Rak Thai party of caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra after the 15 Oct general election date was set, say political analysts. Before the poll date was set, key members of Thai Rak Thai had been anxious to find a way out of the political stalemate. This was reflected in the embattled prime minister's proposed reconciliation efforts.

 

Business & Industry

 

Vote decree drives investor optimism

Although royal endorsement for an election on 15 Oct has come as a relief to businessmen hoping to see an end to political deadlock, some worry that the poll may not actually meet the schedule. The stock index rose sharply in the afternoon session yesterday after the cabinet announced that His Majesty the King had signed a royal decree regarding the election, which is to be published in the Royal Gazette today.

 

Trade deficit pushed down by solid exports

Helped by healthy exports, Thailand's trade deficit dropped to $2.03bn over the first six months of this year, about one-quarter the size of the deficit in the same period last year.The value of exports rose 16.6% in the first six months to $60.56bn, according to Karun Kittisataporn, the permanent secretary for the Commerce Ministry. Agricultural, agro-industrial and industrial products recorded gains, including rubber, tapioca, food, electronics, automobiles and parts, electrical appliances, textiles, gems and jewellery, and plastic products.





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