Thursday, April 23, 2009

Free trade deal approves with US & S. Korea

Free trade deal approves with US & S. Korea ..
An opposition lawmaker with the Democratic Party tries to stop a lawmaker of the ruling Grand National Party and committee's chairman, to approve South Korea's free trade deal with the United States ..

South Korean lawmakers approve a free trade deal with the US, signed two years ago, paving the way for the assembly to vote on the pact this month.

The ruling Grand National Party (GNP) members physically fought off opposition lawmakers, trying to stop the proceedings held on Wednesday.

However, the deal which includes more favorable provisions for US automakers and other manufacturers was finally accepted.

Based on this agreement the USD 78 billion annual bilateral trade between the two countries will increase by as much as a quarter.

Earlier reports suggested that South Korea's ruling conservative GNP and a majority of the public would support the agreement.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

World trade drop hits Hong Kong shipping

The whole shipping market starts to unravel
Ships travel to and from the manufacturing and trading hubs of southern China through the Lamma channel, and it is still busy.

But the ships once sitting heavily in the water, loftily loaded with containers, are now visibly higher in the water.

There is less cargo moving around the world, so less need for ships. Hence, dramatically lower rates for hiring large ships, and so a growing crisis in world shipping.

As the China boom deflates, demand for steel, iron ore and other bulk items from around the world diminishes, leaving bulk carrying ships all dressed up with nowhere to go.

"If you sit in one of the glamorous bars on the south side of Hong Kong, especially in the evening, you will see the lights of lots of ships," says Tim Huxley, chief executive of Wah Kwong Shipping, one of Hong Kong's largest ship-owners.

"Those ships are sitting there, waiting," he says.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Trade partners miserable with buy American

Trade partners unhappy with new provision for 'Buy American'
President Obama heard a lot of concern about the "Buy American" provision of his stimulus package during his trip to Canada on Thursday. Our trading partner to the north is not alone. Here's Donald Tong, Hong Kong Commissioner for Economic and Trade Affairs USA: "Our office will respect (the provision)," he said during a visit to San Francisco this week. "But what we are concerned about is this sort of tendency. The last thing we want to see are trade barriers being erected by trading partners. At first they may look good. But they're going to backfire."

The "Buy American" provisions in the 787-billion-U.S. dollar economic stimulus bill that U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law Tuesday, will deal a hard blow to world endeavors in saving the economy.

According to the legislation, the "Buy American" provision prohibits the purchase of foreign iron, steel and manufactured goods for any stimulus-funded infrastructure project.

The provisions, contradicting the principles of fair trade and posing potential hurt to developing economies, run against the general trend of intensified coordination and cooperation across the world community in efforts to tide over the economic crisis.

Most economists believe it is a better choice for world economies to simultaneously adopt expansive fiscal policies, enlarge government spending and save the global market via free trade, which they said would stimulate increasing returns to scale and result in a virtuous cycle for the global economy.

On the contrary, resorting to trade protectionism will only trigger a vicious cycle worldwide, they said.

However, for the ideal scenario of collective increasing returns to scale to be realized, the world's economies should enhance dialogue and cooperation on the basis of complete mutual trust.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Canada is the biggest trading partner of US

U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday assured Canada, his country's biggest trading partner, that he would not pursue protectionist policies, and the two neighbours agreed to cooperate on cleaner energy technology.

Obama, on his first trip abroad as president, sought in talks with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to allay Canadian concerns raised by a "Buy American" clause in a $787 billion (550 billion pounds) U.S. economic recovery plan he signed this week.

"Now is a time where we have to be very careful about any signals of protectionism," Obama told a joint news conference after several hours of talks with Harper on his one-day visit to Ottawa.

"And as obviously one of the largest economies in the world, it's important for us to make sure that we are showing leadership in the belief that trade ultimately is beneficial to all countries," he said.

He stressed the United States would meet its international trade obligations and told Harper he wanted to "grow trade not contract it."

"I'm quite confident that the United States will respect those obligations and continue to be a leader on the need for globalised trade," Harper said afterward.

Harper said he was willing to look at strengthening the environmental and labour provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement, something Obama has said he wants. But the Canadian leader said he did not support renegotiating the agreement, which has boosted trade between the two countries.

The two sides announced they would collaborate on environmentally friendly technologies that would help them develop an electricity grid fuelled by clean, renewable energy and to tap their vast fossil fuel resources with less pollution. The technology is not cost-effective now.

Nelson Wiseman, an associate professor at the University of Toronto, said there was no point for Obama to ask Canada to extend its mission in Afghanistan because Canada still has two and a half years left in their commitment.
"All kinds of things can change by then," Wiseman said. "Harper might not be prime minister in two years."
Canada, which has lost more than 100 soldiers in Afghanistan, is withdrawing its 2,500 combat forces out of the volatile south in 2011.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Want to go on a clothing-optional crocheting cruise? There may be one out there.

Theme cruise ships have bikers, nudity and a whole lot more
If you have a passion, chances are you'll find a cruise tailored to it. Specialty or theme cruises cater to a wide variety of lifestyles, hobbies and interests: Yoga, fitness, cooking, Christian music, mystery, scrapbooking, baseball, golf and solar eclipse cruises abound.

And if you can't locate a theme cruise organized around your pastime, you can find someone who will put one together for you.

The theme could be anything from poker to Pilates to personal finance. As long as it's legal and other people share your interest, a travel agent can book a block of staterooms aboard a scheduled cruise and work with the cruise line to plan an itinerary suited to your group.

Except for special activities, such as workshops and lectures available only to theme-cruise participants, your group will be a part of a regular cruise, sailing and blending in with other passengers.

On a motorcycle cruise, you can explore exotic destinations without the hassle of shipping your bike or renting someone else's. Even if yours isn't a Harley, you can wheel your Suzuki, Ducati, Yamaha or whatever your ride (just no trikes!) aboard any of the cruises offered by Entertainment and Travel Alternatives (ETA), now in its seventh year of motorcycle cruises.

Starting in April, you can drive your bike right to the pier at Port Liberty in Bayonne, N.J., and sail away to the Caribbean with ETA on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas. There are varying itineraries that give the group priority disembarkation, private cocktail parties, and escorted and insured motorcycle excursions at various ports.

Sometimes special-interest groups will charter a ship, as is the case with an upcoming music cruise offered by Cayamo. The program, called "A Journey through Song," stars the Indigo Girls, Lyle Lovett, Patty Griffin, John Hiatt, Shawn Colvin, Brandi Carlile and a lineup of other artists who provide entertainment on this seven-day Eastern Caribbean itinerary aboard Norwegian Dawn.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Confidence at Japanese companies fell to its lowest level in more than two years

Japanese Business Confidence Drops
Confidence at Japanese companies fell to its lowest level in more than two years, a closely-watched Bank of Japan survey showed Friday, amid rising anxiety about a possible slowdown in the U.S. economy and recent market turmoil.

The quarterly "tankan" survey's sentiment index for large manufacturers fell from 23 in September to 19, below the 21 mark predicted by analysts and the lowest score since September 2005. A similar index for large non-manufacturers in the survey, which polls more than 10,000 companies nationwide, fell to 16 from 20.

The indices measure the percentage of companies reporting positive business conditions minus those who are negative. A decline in the numbers means a growing portion of companies are pessimistic.

Analysts said the results, along with recent sluggish growth figures, suggest the central bank will hold off from raising interest rates as it gauges the U.S. economy , a key export market , and fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis that has rattled global markets.

"The possibility of a rate hike in the near future, which was slim to begin with, have declined further given the results of this report," Lehman Brothers economist Hiroshi Shiraishi said in a note published Friday. Japan's benchmark interest rate was raised to 0.5 percent in February.

Japanese Economy Minister Hiroko Ota said the tankan's results did not change her view that Japan's economy is on an upward trend, but said the government would keep an eye on risks, including high oil prices and possible weaker demand from American consumers.

"I don't think the basic trend has changed," Ota told a press conference.

In some positive news, the quarterly survey showed that major companies plan to boost capital investment by 10.5 percent in fiscal 2007, higher than the 8.7 percent increase in September's estimate.

Still, recent economic indicators have been mixed, and the yen's recent rise against the dollar could erode exporters' profits. Last week, the government said the economy grew at an annual pace of just 1.5 percent, worse than a preliminary estimate of 2.6 percent, due to a a downward revision in capital expenditure figures.

The tankan's results spurred traders to sell the yen, driving the dollar to 112.46 yen in early afternoon trade from 112.21 yen overnight in New York. The stock market's reaction was muted, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 index dipping just 0.14 percent to close at 15,514.51, although it has dropped 3.3 percent over the last three days.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Samsung India, which claims to be number two in India, is planning to get into Blackberry’s shoesSamsung India, which claims to be number two in Ind.

Samsung ready to take on Blackberry.

Samsung India, which claims to be number two in India, is planning to get into Blackberry’s shoes. The company is expected to officially announce the launch of two handsets, one a touchscreen and another slider phone, in the business phone segment.

Samsung is also aiming to double its share in the Indian mobile phone market to 15 per cent in 2008, with expectations of selling around 10 million handsets. Samsung presently commands a market share of about 7 per cent.

According to Yuvraj Mehta, Samsung spokesperson in India, “We wanted to reach out to the imaging and business phone market in India and going for niche segments like enterprise users was the way ahead.”

With a 14.5 per cent share of the global mobile market during the July-Sept quarter, Samsung has already toppled Motorola to grab the second spot, right behind Nokia, which made more than a third of the 289 million phones sold worldwide in the period, says research firm Gartner.

According an analyst, “The company had difficulty in broadening the customer base in India since it was focused on high-end handsets alone. But with the inclusion of smartphones for the enterprise users, it stands to diversify its customer base by expanding the products including a premium 5 megapixel camera phone.”

According to Mehta, Samsung business phones would be priced below Rs 20,000 and have Windows operating system.

The Indian market, growing at around 40 per cent annually with an average 5 million new mobile connections every month, is a rich market for Samsung to sink its teeth in. Nokia presently dominates 70 per cent of the market since it entered in mid 1990s, making it difficult for competitors to get into the sector.

Asus Technology too had unveiled its plans to enter the Indian market last month by announcing two of its premium business phones.

Benson Lin, general manager, Asus (Asia-Pacific), indicated that in 2008 the company would announce several premium Asus PDA (personal digital assistants) phones.