SYDNEY - A weaker recovery in Asia, a persistently high Australian dollar, and a slower-than-expected rebalancing from mining to non-mining led growth are weighing on Australia's growth prospects, according to HSBC, which has revised downwards its growth forecasts for 2013 from 2.9% to 2.5% and for 2014 from 3.1% to 2.8%. “The recent AUD depreciation should help support growth, but another RBA cut may also be needed,” says Paul Bloxham, HSBC Chief Economist for Australia and New Zealand. www.hsbc.com.au (ATI).
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TAIPEI – Taiwan’s President, Ma Ying-jeou, has called for three-way talks with China and Japan on fishing and development of natural resources in the East China Sea, and the shelving of their sovereignty disputes over the Diaoyutai Islands. In an interview with Japan's Kyodo News, Ma said he hopes the East China Sea can become "a sea of peace and co-operation." Disputes in the area cannot be resolved unless Taiwan, China and Japan are all part of the process, said Ma.
TAIPEI - Taiwan hopes to sign an investment agreement with Japan to enhance bilateral trade ties. In an interview with Kyodo News, Taiwan’s President, Ma Ying-jeou, pitched a trade deal with Japan, saying that investment from both sides would increase. Some Japanese companies also have intentions to move their overseas businesses to Taiwan, Ma said.
BEIJING – Australia’s Compumedics Limited (ASX: CMP) has completed a $500,000 funding round into the Company with Beijing Bestmed, its long-term distributor in China. Beijing Bestmed becomes one of Compumedics’ top 10 shareholders with a 2.9% holding. The investment is split between equity and short-term debt. David Burton, Chairman and CEO of Compumedics, says Compumedics and Bestmed have built a significant footprint in China that will further develop as the sleep diagnostics and neurology markets there continues to develop.
SYDNEY – Australia’s Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM), has signed an agreement with Tsinghua University's People's Bank Graduate School providing for the exchange of postgraduate management students - the first agreement of its type signed between an Australian university and the prestigious Chinese graduate school. Prof. Alex Frino, the new Dean of MGSM, said the agreement would allow Australian and Chinese students unprecedented access to tomorrow's business and government leaders.
TAIPEI - The Government of Taiwan has called a national referendum on the fate of Taiwan's fourth nuclear power plant to help the public “think about the future. ”Describing energy as a matter of national security, President Ma Ying-jeou said a referendum would help people realise the situation Taiwan would face if they voted to terminate the fourth nuclear power plant, which has been under construction since 1999. Some 98% of the energy Taiwan uses is imported.
CANBERRA — Australia’s Federal Government has been urged to make negotiation and completion of comprehensive free trade agreements with Japan and South Korea a priority. A Parliamentary Standing Committee on Trade said in its report published today that Australian exports face considerable barriers, especially in the agricultural sector, in these two export markets — Australia's second and fourth largest. Together, they account for about 24.6 per cent of Australia’s goods and services exports.
TOKYO - Industrial production in Japan rose for a fifth consecutive month in April, by 1.7% month-on-month, beating expectations (consensus of 0.6%; prior 0.9%) on improving exports.
TAIPEI - Taiwan has downgraded the level of travel warning issued for several Chinese provinces and municipalities, except Beijing, from today, due to an easing of the spread of bird flu.The Mainland Affairs Council said the travel warning level for Shanghai and provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Henan, Shandong, Jaingxi, Fujian and Hunan will be adjusted from yellow to gray, which suggests visitors to these areas should remain cautious during their trip, given the recent outbreak of H7N9 bird flu virus.
HONG KONG - After adjusting for seasonal factors, the HSBC Purchasing Managers’ Index – a composite indicator designed to provide a single-figure snapshot of operating conditions in the manufacturing economy – posted at 49.2 in May, down from 50.4 in April. This signalled the first deterioration in operating conditions in seven months. HSBC says that despite operating conditions worsening, manufacturing output rose for the seventh month in a row during May, albeit marginally.
BEIJING – China’s official Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) has beat market expectations and improved in May, inconsistent with other indicators and anecdotal reports on China’s manufacturing sector. Historically, the month of May reports a lower PMI by 2.7points on average, even after seasonal adjustment. Considering this, the increase in May over April this year could be even stronger than it appears, according to a research report by ANZ Bank. But while the data may ease some concerns of rapid deterioration of the Chinese economy, the impact may be short-lived, ANZ says.
BANGKOK - The Bank of Thailand has delivered a 25basis points rate cut), joining other regional central banks that have eased over the past month to support growth (India) and reduce currency appreciation pressures (Australia and South Korea). The Thai baht weakened again on the news (along with other regional currencies), continuing a reversal of its previous strength that had been induced by strong capital inflows (the baht is now up by 1.3% against the USD on the year, compared to 6.3% at is multi-year peak in mid-April).
CAPE TOWN – Air cargo figures released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) – always a reliable indicator of economic activity - show modest growth of 1.4% for April compared to April 2012. IATA says the small increase helps offset a 2.6% decline recorded in March, but it continues an 18-month trend of basically no growth in the cargo markets. “We saw a brief rally in cargo markets at the end of 2012, but that has clearly stalled, said Tony Tyler, IATA Director General and CEO.
LAUSANNE -The United States has regained top spot in world competitive ness rankings for 2013, thanks to a rebounding financial sector, an abundance of technological innovation and successful companies, In rankings just published for 60 economies by IMD, a global business school based in Switzerland, says Abenomics seems to be working for Japan, which moves from 27th to 24th spot. China moves up from 23rd to 21st, but Hong Kong drops from top of the pile to third. Prof.
WASHINGTON – The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has signed an MoU with Procter & Gamble (P&G) to help protect the lives of women and children in Burma. USAID and P&G will seek to develop a multi-year, multi-programme Global Development Alliance that will invest at least US$2 million over the first two years to provide access to 200 million litres of clean drinking water, promote better hygiene behaviour, and build capability linked to improvements in delivery of Maternal and Child Health (MCH) services.
HONG KONG - China is finally about to amend its law for the protection of consumers, almost 20 years after it was first promulgated in October 1993. On April 28 this year, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee published a draft amended law for comments by May 31, and this law is expected to be promulgated later this year, after two more rounds of Standing Committee discussion. In a Client Alert issued today, lawyers Baker & McKenzie say the draft of the law strengthens protection of consumers’ rights and imposes more obligations on businesses.