29 January 2007 01:36 [Source: ICIS news]
Asahi Shimbun, Japan (online edition) ?xml:namespace>
Kyuma’s repeated criticism of Iraq war sparks concerns
Government officials are increasingly concerned that repeated criticism against the US-led Iraq war by Defence Minister Fumio Kyuma could hurt Japan’s relations with its close ally.
As US President George W. Bush is increasingly facing criticism at home and abroad over his Iraq policy, Japan “should extend support as an ally, especially at a juncture like this,” said a senior official of the Cabinet Secretariat.
Tsunoda quits Upper House post amid funds scandal
Deemed a liability to the main opposition party’s stand against political corruption, former Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) heavyweight Giichi Tsunoda stepped down Friday as vice president of the Upper House.
While no longer a formal Minshuto member, Tsunoda, 69, has faced rising criticism from within his former party’s ranks following revelations earlier this month that his campaign headquarters for the 2001 Upper House election failed to report about yen (Y)25m ($205,515) in political donations.
Business & Industry
Sanyo reports 7 fires, 1 injury
Sanyo Electric said Friday seven fires broke out after some of its washer-dryers overheated due to a design error and one person got burned by a repaired product in 2005.
The company said it will recall all the 164,000 units sold between 2002 and 2004 that could be affected by the defect.
Toyota closes in on GM in 2006 sales
Toyota Motor Corp. said Friday its group global sales in 2006 came to about 8.81m units, only 280,000 units fewer than General Motors Corp.’s 9.09m units.
Toyota’s sales, which include those of subsidiaries Daihatsu Motor and Hino Motors, were up 8.5% from a year earlier. GM’s sales were down 0.9%. Both figures are on a preliminary basis.
Migrant workers ‘have 20m’ kids back home
More than 20m children live with their grandparents or other relatives because their parents have migrated to other provinces in search of work, with many among them being forced to live alone.
According to a recent China National Children and Teenagers’ Working Committee report, in agricultural provinces like East China’s Anhui Province, as much as 22% of the children’s parents have migrated and the number is increasing.
China, Japan vow to tighten ties
China and Japan vowed to build “strategic, mutually beneficial” ties on Saturday at the conclusion of the seventh round of strategic talks between the two countries’ top diplomats in Hangzhou, capital of east China’s Zhejiang Province.
Vice-Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo and Japanese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Yachi Shotaro led the two delegations at the meetings, which began in Beijing last Thursday. The two delegations consisted of about 20 Chinese and Japanese officials.
Business & Industry
Industrialization on track: report
China may complete the transformation from an agricultural economy into an industrial one by 2015, but the country still has a long way to go toward protecting its environment, according to a report by China’s top scientific institutions.
China’s Modernization Report 2007 found that the level of ecological protection in the country had failed to progress when compared with other nations over the last three years due to its rapid industrialization.
China-EU trade hits $272.3bn in 2006
The trade volume between China and the European Union (EU) rose 25.3% to hit $272.3bn last year, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) has announced.
China-EU trade accounted for 15.5% of China’s total foreign trade volume last year, and EU remained the top trade partner of China, according to MOC statistics issued on its website.
Chen says media criticism enables reform
President Chen Shui-bian yesterday said that advice and criticism have been the driving force enabling Taiwan’s democratisation and reforms to continue during the period of democratic transition.
Chen said that over the past six years, he has pushed for an open, fair, free and neutral media environment in Taiwan, while building an impartial supervisory mechanism to govern it.
Wang calls on PRC to speed up democratisation
Taiwan Foundation for Democracy Chairman Wang Jin-pyng called yesterday for the Beijing leadership to put democracy into practice as soon as possible while dedicating itself to economic development.
Wang, who also serves as speaker of the Legislative Yuan, made the appeal while addressing a TFD award presentation ceremony.
Business & Industry
Maersk to optimise network services in North America
The continuing review of Maersk Line’s transportation network has led to further changes designed to efficiently move greater volumes on fewer shipping services.
The Transpacific 2 service (TP2) will be phased out at the end of February 2007. The TP2 currently runs a weekly service which calls the ports of Yantian, Shanghai, Busan, Tacoma, Vancouver, Dutch Harbour, and Yokohama. The TP2 has a weekly capacity of 2,500TEU.
Yang Ming, partners improve East Mediterranean service
Yang Ming, Coscon and “K” Line announced today the inauguration of the new East Mediterranean Service from the middle of March 2007, which is named East Mediterranean Express (EMX).
Targeting the Israel/Greece market and enlarging the market coverage through the hub ports, EMX will provide the direct service from Fareast base ports to these two key markets in East Mediterranean. EMX will be operated by seven 3000-TEU type vessels, among which Coscon will provide four vessels, YML will provide two vessels and “K” Line will provide one vessel.
Former justice minister quits Uri
Former Justice Minister Chun Jung-bae deserted the Uri Party yesterday despite renewed efforts by President Roh Moo-hyun and his supporters to prevent the governing party from breaking up.
Chun became the fourth lawmaker in a week to leave the party hamstrung by rock-bottom popularity ahead of December’s presidential election.
Talks to focus on disarming NK
South Korea and the United States plan to ask North Korea to shut down its main nuclear facilities once the six-way talks on Pyongyang’s atomic weapons program are resumed, a report said yesterday.
The new round of talks is widely expected to restart early next month, with some Japanese media reporting a fixed date of 8 February.
Business & Industry
Trade deficit with Japan hit record high in 2006
The country’s trade deficit with Japan hit a record high last year, while a surplus with its largest export market, China, dropped for the first time in five years.
Korea’s shortfall in trade with Japan widened to a record $25.3bn in 2006, a 3.9% increase from a year ago, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy, and the Korea Customs Service said yesterday.
Korean Air overbidding for S-Oil stake
Korean Air Lines ’s takeover bid for treasury shares of S-Oil Corp. may weigh on bottom lines of the air carrier and have limited positive effects, analysts warned.
They are particularly concerned that the stock purchase would not help cut fuel costs as much as expected.
India Inc posts record performance in Q3
Corporate India has posted a record-breaking performance for the quarter ended December 2006, with 808 companies showing a 67% increase in net profit and 35% increase in net sales.
A year ago, the same sample of companies had recorded 19% rise in both sales and profits. This means the corporate sector has more than doubled its growth rate in the quarter ended December 2006.
$275m for Eenadu group by Blackstone
In the single-largest investment in the Indian print media, the global private equity investor Blackstone Group today announced that it was investing $275m (approximately Rs12.4bn) in the Hyderabad-based Ushodaya Enterprises, owners of Eenadu and ETV.
This makes Blackstone the first outsider to acquire a stake in the flagship company of southern businessman Ramoji Rao, who also owns Asia’s largest studio, the 1,600-acre Ramoji Film City, apart from diversified interests in hotels, foods and financial services.
Business & Industry
PM to announce Automotive Mission Plan today
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will release the 10-year Automotive Mission Plan on Monday with the aim of making India a global hub of vehicle manufacturing, designing and component making, and achieving a turnover of $145bn by the year 2016.
The document will also suggest a series of incentives including tax holidays on new investments, a single-window clearance for automobile foreign direct investment, special automobile zones in lines with incentives given to special economic zone projects and setting up of automobile hubs in Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata and incentives to encourage fleet modernisation.
Hyundai chief to meet PM
Hyundai Motor India Limited (HMIL) head H S Lheem will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tomorrow to discuss issues concerning HMIL, which is the single largest Korean investor in India.
Lheem is expected to apprise the prime minister on his concern over frequent changes in automobile policy and also seek special concessions on export of cars from India.
Penny stocks are where the crazy money is
Buying blue chips will yield decent returns over the long term but they are unlikely to catapult investors many more notches up the wealth ladder. The insane money lies in the penny stocks.
A BT study shows that between 1990 and now, consistently buying the 10% cheapest stocks trading on the Singapore Exchange would have given investors a return of 1,641%. That’s an 18.3% compounded return a year over the last 17 years or so.
SGX cautions developers about price projections
With the property market sizzling at the top end and with talk of record prices with every new launch, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) is keen to remind listed developers of their obligation to observe disclosure standards when they make projections on the selling prices of their projects.
The exchange will take action if disclosure rules are breached, it said
Business & Industry
Investors see opportunity in Asean: Balakrishnan
Investors are increasingly aware of Asean as a political and economic entity, but their message to the grouping is that it needs to execute on policies if it is to achieve the greater integration that it wants.
This was one of the themes to emerge from the just-concluded World Economic Forum summit at Davos, according to Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports and Second Minister for Communication and the Arts, Vivian Balakrishnan, who attended the meeting.
Tapping potential of creative industries
We must not neglect the right brain - this is the crux of the message that Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (Mica) permanent secretary Tan Chin Nam is keen to spread when he talks about the potential of the creative industries.
‘We are in a new economy where both the right and left hemispheres or in other words the whole of the brain must be put to work and it is important to distinguish ourselves to stay ahead of the game,’ Dr Tan said.
Insurgency forcing investors out of the South
Separatist violence in the South is forcing investors to shift their money and businesses out of Songkhla. In addition, a severe shortage of labour is further hampering the province’s economy.
The Federation of Thai Industries in the South said yesterday that Songkhla has historically been a financial and business centre of the South. But with militant attacks by southern separatists extending further into the province, including a number of deadly bomb blasts in its tourist and financial district of Hat Yai over the past two years, business prospects are not looking good.
Baht high ‘and headed higher’
The Thai baht has become the world’s best performing currency this year, and has increased to about 33 per US dollar on international markets.
The currency will rise to baht (Bt)32.50 per dollar in three months and increase to 32 per dollar by year-end, said a weekend analysis. At 4:30 this morning Thailand time, the currency was trading at 33.425 on the New York market.
Business & Industry
New policies to ensure confidence
Economic growth and industrial competitiveness will gain a boost over the next several years thanks to five policy initiatives that stand at the centre of the government’s economic programme, according to Finance Minister M.R. Pridiyathorn Devakula.
New investments in mass-transit systems in Bangkok, the approval of a free-trade agreement with Japan and calls for new independent power producer (IPP) bids this year will result in hundreds of billions of baht in new investment and trade over the medium term.
BoT to slowly adjust tough capital controls
The Bank of Thailand will maintain its 30% reserve rule on capital inflows, but will gradually make adjustments to give flexibility to the private sector, according to governor Tarisa Watanagase.
The rule, imposed on 18 December to help ease appreciating pressure on the baht, requires a 30% interest-free deposit for foreign exchange inflows, with a 10% penalty for transactions shorter than one year.
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