A vote on removing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez from office could well roil the oil-hungry US economy which is heavily dependent on the south American country's crude exports, analysts warned Friday. \nChavez agreed to respect Thursday's verdict by Venezuela's National Electoral Council that there were sufficient validated signatures on petitions for a referendum that could remove him from office. \nThe constitutionally mandated recall was the agreed-upon alternative to growing violence, strikes and a short-lived coup two years ago aimed at ousting Chavez. A general strike in late 2002 and early last year paralyzed Venezuela's oil sector. \n"If there is another disruption to Venezuelan oil exports, the US administration would this time use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve [SPR]," said Julian Lee, an analyst at the Centre for Global Energy Studies in London. \n"They would have to do that in order to make sure that there wasn't a physical shortage of oil in the United States," he said referring to the SPR, an emergency US oil stockpile. \nVenezuela exports 1.34 million barrels of oil a day to the US, some 13 percent of total US crude imports, according to a March estimate by Petroleum Supply Monthly. \nWashington successfully lobbied the OPEC this week to raise its output as many Americans, topping up their gas-guzzling vehicles, felt the pinch of rocketing fuel costs ahead of the fast-approaching US presidential election. \nLee said past political instability in Venezuela has had a dramatic effect on oil prices, citing the oil workers' strike in 2002 and early last year that he said added US$6 to the price of a barrel. \n"This would have serious consequences" if repeated, he stressed. Confirmation of the recall vote and subsequent events could be "very unsettling," said Fadel Gheit, a New York-based oil analyst with the Oppenheimer Fund. \nIf the recall vote results are contested by either side, "you are going to see demonstrations and probably another strike which could bring oil exports down and that could push prices higher," Gheit explained. \nHe recalled prior threats from Chavez to reduce oil exports in retaliation for what he contends is Washington's interference in Venezuelan politics. \n"As long as George Bush is president of the US and Hugo Chavez is the president of Venezuela, I assume the relationship between the two countries is not going to be any better," said Gheit. \nMarshall Stevens, an oil trader for Refco in New York, said concern exists, but noted there had been no material impact on the Venezuelan oil industry yet. \n"For the moment it doesn't look like it's going to have a material impact on oil production as was the case with the general strike early last year," he said.
Contract chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) is expected to remain the third-largest IC supplier this year, unchanged from last year, IC Insights said yesterday. IC designer MediaTek Inc (聯發科) is expected to become the 11th-largest, up from 16th last year, the semiconductor market research firm said. TSMC is expected to post US$45.42 billion in sales, up 31 percent from last year, IC Insights said in a report released on its Web site. TSMC’s sales growth is largely due to a surge in orders from Apple Inc and HiSilicon Technologies Co (海思半導體) — two of its major clients — which
SETTING AN EXAMPLE: The commission suspended the bank’s two top executives as ‘a warning to all banks,’ while the fine is the biggest to be given to a bank in a single case The Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) yesterday fined E.Sun Commercial Bank (玉山銀行) NT$20 million (US$693,698) over a theft scandal and punished the bank’s two top executives. A customer relationship manager surnamed Pan (潘) at the bank’s branch in Kaohsiung’s Fengshan District (鳳山) stole NT$140 million from 41 clients over the past seven years, the commission said. Pan secretly transferred the stolen money to accounts belonging to her and her family members by using clients’ debit cards, passwords or documents that were stamped using the clients’ personal stamps between July 2013 and June this year, the commission said. The commission suspended Ben Chen (陳炳良), the
HARD ASK: At a meeting held by the MOEA to talk about the RCEP trade deal, trade associations said that they expect the government to push for more free-trade deals Business representatives yesterday urged the government to slow the appreciation of the New Taiwan dollar, saying that some Taiwanese industries have been undercut by rivals due to unfavorable foreign exchange rates. The government should also assist local industries to expand their domestic market, and push for more bilateral trade deals so that Taiwanese companies can enjoy zero or preferential tariffs on exports, following the nation’s exclusion from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which was signed by 15 Asia-Pacific nations on Nov. 15, they said at a meeting with the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA). Some participants said that the NT dollar’s
BREATH OF LIFE: The firm said the under-utilized plant should start mass production in the first quarter, timed to coincide with Intel Corp’s release of its Ice Lake server chip Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) plans to assemble key components for Google servers at its plant in Wisconsin, people familiar with the matter said, finally breathing life into a factory that US President Donald Trump hailed as crucial to bringing manufacturing back to the US. The company has decided to locate production for this new contract at the existing complex rather than make the components at home or in China, the people said, asking not to be identified. The under-utilized plant should start mass production in the first quarter, timed with the release of Intel Corp’s Ice Lake server chips,