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    China Daily Print Edition

    The Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim Bank) has agreed to provide 80.76 billion yen (US$678.7 million) in Japanese government loans to six provinces and autonomous regions.

    The bank signed lending agreements with the education department of Northeast China's Jilin Province and finance departments of East China's Anhui Province, Central China's Henan Province and Hunan Province, Southwest China's Yunnan Province and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

    Firm approved to issue open-ended funds

    Beijing-based China Asset Management Co was recently given the green light by the China Securities Regulatory Commission to issue its third open-ended fund to investors in the market.

    The new open-ended fund, which is scheduled to be issued today, will be available to both corporate investors, such as insurance and finance companies, and individuals.

    Fund managers could invest the pool of funds gathered in stocks, bonds and deposits to maximize returns for investors.

    Investors can in turn access the fund at over 18,000 agent branches of the Bank of China, China Construction Bank, the Bank of Communications and five other securities houses.

    Moves to promote brand name

    South Korea's Samsung Electronics said on Sunday that it would aim to establish its image as a leading digital product provider among young Chinese users and develop the potential market with more promotional activities.

    As one of its major activities, the 2003 Samsung Digital Video Contest held by the South Korean company and Beijing Television concluded on Sunday in the Chinese capital, which lasted for two months and attracted more than 300 participants.

    Capital sees rising foreign trade

    During the first half of this year, Beijing's foreign trade volume hit US$32.443 billion, 37.2 per cent higher than the same period last year.

    Meanwhile, the export volume amounted to US$7.81 billion, up 40.9 per cent over the first six months in 2002.

    Export volumes for foreign-funded enterprises reached US$2.24 billion, with the growth rate hitting 42.7 per cent.

    Digital zone attracts investment

    Haidian Digital Zone, affiliated with Beijing's Zhongguancun Science Park, signed contracts with seven high-tech enterprises last week in the capital city.

    Those enterprises, including Oracle Research and Development Centre (Beijing), Beixin Real Estate, Tianhong Technology and Zhongying Youchuang Information, will invest a total of US$157 million in Haidian Digital Zone.

    Meanwhile, a series of preferential policies to support the development of small and medium-sized high-tech companies have also been issued.


    Green food festival to be held

    The Second Heilongjiang Green Food Festival is to be held early next month at Suihua, a city neighbouring the provincial capital of Harbin.

    The three-day-long gathering, starting from August 8, is to provide an open platform for trading of agricultural products.

    Firms from Russia, Japan, South Korea and other interested East Asian economies are also scheduled to attend the festival.

    A high-profile forum will also be held at the festival to address the smooth development of pollutant-free food in China.


    Special expo opens in coastal city

    China's largest special steel and chemical engineering expo opened yesterday in Dalian, in Northeast China's Liaoning Province.

    Focusing on special steel and chemical engineering, the four-day China Dalian Import Export Commodities Fair coincided with the Fifth Asian European Economic Ministers' Meeting scheduled from today to Thursday in the city.

    "Machine manufacturing, petrochemistry and information technology have become the main factors in the city's industrial sector," said Dalian Mayor Xia Deren at the opening ceremony.

    Xia said the fair provided a good opportunity for the enterprises to compete in the world market.


    Novartis reports business growth

    The Swiss-based healthcare company Novartis AG has kept an annual business growth rate of over 20 per cent over the past three years in China, and the company will increase its workforce by 40 per cent in the country by the end of next year to match that growth, said Daniel Vasella, company chairman and chief executive, yesterday in Shanghai.

    Vasella also met Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng on Saturday to give his personal suggestions and support to the city's efforts to recover its commercial activities now that the SARS epidemic has been brought under control.


    Planned tariffs to affect Australia

    Japan's plan to increase tariffs on beef imports would cost Australia tens of millions of dollars each year, a cattle industry group said yesterday.

    During talks in Tokyo last week, Prime Minister John Howard failed to convince his Japanese counterpart, Junichiro Koizumi, to abandon a proposal to increase tariffs on beef imports to 50 per cent from 38.5 per cent from August 1.

    Cattle Council of Australia President Keith Adams said the tariffs would cost Australian beef producers at least A$80 million (US$52 million) each year.

    Japan is set to raise its beef tariffs under an arrangement permitted by the World Trade Organization to protect its farmers from a surge in imports.


    Dell to market new PC server

    Dell Inc will make a push into the corporate systems integration business in Japan with a low-price PC server slated for release next month, a Japanese newspaper reported yesterday.

    The server, equipped with Intel Corp's new Itanium 2 64-bit microprocessor, will be marketed as part of a system offering a cheap alternative to mainframe computers that rely on proprietary technology, the Nihon Keizai newspaper reported.

    Dell's entry will sell for about 950,000 yen (US$8,000), undercutting rival products that use microprocessors developed by IBM Corp and Fujitsu Ltd, and could ignite fierce price competition in the sector, the report said.

    The 64-bit server will be offered with the free Linux operating system and can be coupled with smaller servers to offer the performance of a mainframe-based system at less than half the price, it said.


    Pilots laid off to cut costs

    Singapore Airlines said yesterday it was laying off pilots and cabin crew to cut costs after the SARS outbreak.

    In a brief statement, the airline said it was sacking five pilots and terminating the contracts of another 21 pilots, six of whom are based overseas. Additionally, the airline is making 156 cabin crew redundant.

    The Airline Pilots Association in Singapore had earlier engaged the city-state's carrier in a wage dispute, before pilots took a pay cut of between 11 per cent and 16.5 per cent to help the airline reduce its wage bills.


    Indonesia to propose OPEC keeps quota

    Indonesian Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Purnomo Yusgiantoro said yesterday Indonesia will propose to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) it maintains its current quota at the world's oil cartel meeting on July 31.

    "OPEC should keep its quota considering that the current oil price is high enough," Purnomo was quoted by Detikcom online news service as saying.

    OPEC produces 25.4 million barrels crude oil per day now.

    The world's oil price today reaches US$32 per barrel while OPEC's oil is US$28 per barrel.

    Punomo said the high oil price is due to the uncertainty over when Iraq's oil will reach the world market. "If there is a certainty on when Iraq's oil enters the market, it is possible that oil prices will decline," he said.


    Four officials face corruption charge

    The Philippines filed graft charges yesterday against four tax and customs officials to stamp out corruption in the government's revenue agencies.

    The Department of Finance filed criminal complaints against three officials of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and a customs official after a lifestyle check showed they were living way beyond their means.

    "It is the government's responsibility to ensure that every peso collected goes to the government and not to the pockets of some corrupt officials," said Finance Assistant Secretary Emmanuel Bonoan.

    Bonoan said it took seven months for the finance department to gather evidence of corruption against the four, whose assets which included dollar accounts and luxury vehicles far exceeded their salaries.


    IPO to be listed

    China Southern Airlines will list its heavily subscribed 2.7 billion yuan (US$326.2 million) domestic initial public offering on July 25, the country's largest carrier by fleet size said.

    The 1-billion share offer was 95 times subscribed on its July 10 launch, lead underwriter Galaxy Securities has said. That means just over 1 per cent of bidders were able to buy into the offer after a lottery held on July 11.

    The Guangzhou-based carrier predicted in a prospectus that profit for 2003 could dive more than 60 per cent to 202.6 million yuan.


    Earnings dive

    Shanghai Airlines Co Ltd, China's sixth largest carrier by traffic volume, said it was likely to post a loss in the first half of 2003 due to SARS.

    The carrier had earlier warned it might see earnings slide more than 50 per cent in the first half.

    Even before the peak of the outbreak, which depressed air travel after people chose to stay home and carriers grounded fleets, Shanghai Air had posted a loss for the first quarter of this year.


    PC shipments rise

    Asian PC shipments for China's biggest computer maker Legend Group Ltd grew 17 per cent in the second quarter as consumers stayed in touch from home using PCs during the nation's SARS outbreak, according to data released yesterday.

    Legend, which sells the vast majority of its computers in China, shipped 832,900 PCs in Asia during the quarter, compared with 712,000 a year earlier, according to data tracking firm IDC.

    The numbers reported by IDC are usually lower than those reported by Legend because IDC does not include PCs without the full complement of traditional components, such as hard drives, analysts said.


    Business expansion

    DBS Group Holdings Ltd, Southeast Asia's largest bank, said yesterday it wants to double its Hong Kong corporate finance staff in the next two years to get more business from medium-sized companies.

    DBS wants to add 50 bankers to seek out merger advisory, initial public offering (IPO) and debt underwriting business from its customers, which are typically middle-tier companies, DBS Hong Kong Ltd Chairman Frank Wong said at a media briefing.

    Debt paid off early

    Phone company PCCW Ltd's main operating unit has agreed to prepay HK$5 billion (US$641 million) in bank debt - its third such early repayment pledge this month, bankers HSBC said.

    The prepayment of the syndicated loan due in 2009 follows a share placement by Hong Kong-based PCCW last week that raised US$403 million. The payment notice was confirmed by PCCW, whose debt and lack of dividend payouts have irked investors.

    PCCW Spokeswoman Joan Wagner said the prepayment would be made with proceeds from the share placement, and cash already in hand.

    (China Daily 07/22/2003 page6)

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