TAIPEI - Free trade talks between Taiwan and Singapore are going smoothly, Economics Minister Shih Yen-shiang said, adding that both sides "have reached a common consensus on most of the chapters and articles." Bilateral talks on the Agreement between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership, better known as the ASTEP, have been proceeding smoothly, Shih told reporters, but declined to give further details.
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BEIJING - Profits of China’s State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) have continued to drop in 2012 amid global economic headwinds, new data shows. For the first half of 2012 they fell 13.2% on-year to RMB1.2 trillion, according to the Ministry of Finance. On a monthly basis, SOEs' combined profits in July dropped 11.6% from June, the Ministry said. For the January-July period, the tobacco, power and car industries saw big gains, while the chemicals, nonferrous metals, transportation, petrochemical and construction materials industries experienced steep declines.
BEIJING – China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has lowered its coal output targets for the country's top three producing regions. It wants to ease an oversupply built up by the economic slowdown, which has weakened prices. The NDRC has set the national total coal output for 2012 at 3.65 billion tons, an increase of 3.7% from a year earlier, but an 8.7% drop on last year's growth rate at the same stage.
LONDON – in its latest Global Outlook Report, The Economist Intelligence Unit has cut its 2012 growth forecast for India for a second month, to 6.1% from 6.5%. “India's monsoon rains, which are critical to agricultural output, are nearly 20% below long-term levels and consumer spending is suffering. High inflation and steep deficits leave little room for stimulus. We have also reduced our 2013 forecast,” the EIU says. “China's economy continues to weaken, with the industrial sector growing by just over 9% in July - the worst showing in three years,” it says.
BEIJING – China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) says it has entered a third round of talks with North Korea on working plans to develop two economic zones on the North Korean side of the border. MOFCOM said the two sides will follow the principle of "government-guided, enterprise-based, market-oriented, mutually beneficial" co-operation in developing the economic zones. One is in Rason, near the tripartite border with Russia, and the other on the Hwangumpyong and Wihwa Islands in the Yalu River, adjacent to Dandong, Liaoning and the North Korean border town of Sinuiju.
SHANGHAI - About 200 local companies will participate in a pilot carbon-trading programme in Shanghai when it starts next year, as part of efforts to clean up the environment with a market-based approach rather than prescriptive command and control regulation. Shanghai is one of seven provinces and municipalities chosen by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in November to set up carbon trade markets in a trial programme from 2013 to 2015.
PARIS – A new ICC-Ifo World Economic Survey reveals declining optimism over global economic recovery as fear continues to spread about the unsolved debt crisis in Europe. The Survey, which received responses from 1,079 experts in 123 countries, saw the world economic climate indicator fell to 85.1 in Q3 2012 after two successive increases. The results are significantly below the long-term average of 96.7 (1996-2011) for the Survey, conducted by the Munich-based Ifo Institute for Economic Research and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).
HONG KONG – China’s inward FDI contracted by -8.7% y/y in July, following June’s decline of -6.9% y/y. Slowing FDI inflows may be a sign of lagging investor confidence in the economy’s growth outlook, as well as a reflection of the weak global environment which has been causing firms to scale back their expansion plans, according to BBVA Bank.
HONG KONG - Better-than-expected unemployment outturns reported by two of the region’s more open economies – Korea and Hong Kong – underscore the region’s relative resilience. Despite slowing economic growth, Korea’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 3.1% in July (consensus: 3.3%) from 3.2% in June, on strong growth in self-employed workers. BBVA Bank says the out-turn was a welcome sign for Korea, where the labour market has tightened (unemployment has fallen from 3.7% in February) even as the participation rate has increased (to 62.2% in July, from 60.0% in February).
CANBERRA - The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is monitoring a recall of some 23,000 Great Wall and Chery motor vehicles with engine and exhaust gaskets containing asbestos. The Chery J1 model and newly-imported stock of both brands are unaffected by the recall. The ACCC says the asbestos is bound into gaskets in the engine and exhaust system and does not present any risk to consumers during use of the vehicle. However, consumers should not perform do-it-yourself maintenance that might disturb the gaskets.
BEIJING - Coal prices are likely to rebound later this year as inventories decline and demand recovers along with the economy, according to leading Chinese producers, Shenhua Energy and Yanzhou Coal. Shenhua, China’s largest coal producer, said domestic coal inventory, which soared in May and June, has decreased to a "reasonable" level from a peak caused by economic issues leading to weak demand.
TAIPEI – Signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on currency settlement between
TAIPEI - Taiwan’s central bank (CBC) today signed an agreement with the People's Bank of China to establish RMB clearing in Taiwan, allowing both China and Taiwan to set up a clearing bank. The announcement paves the way for direct CNY/TWD trading, but technical details are still to be worked through.
SEOUL - Major private money lenders in South Korea were ordered Thursday to suspend their operations for six months for reaping illegal profits through "unfair" interest rates, officials said.
Seoul's Gangnam Ward office informed four private lenders, including market leaders A&P Financial and Sanwa Money, to halt their business operations between March 5 and September 4, according to industry officials.
The move comes after the local financial regulator vowed to overhaul the private money market amid growing public outcry over its notoriously high interest rates.
WASHINGTON - The United States plans to expand the presence of its Marines in Asia in tandem with a diplomatic pivot towards the region, US Secretary of Defence, Leon Panetta, said.
Speaking at the Senate Armed Services Committee, Panetta said US military power in the Asia-Pacific area would not be weakened by envisioned steep budget cuts. "That's obviously a primary concern for us, because we do believe it is important to maintain a strong presence in the Pacific," he said.
SEOUL KT Corp., South Korea's top fixed-line operator, has limited high-speed network access Internet-enabled TVs produced by Samsung Electronics Co. (KSE:005930), potentially hurting the tech firm's push to increase sales of smart sets.