Sun, Nov 21, 2004 - Page 11 News List

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AGENCIES

■ Energy

Vietnam warns China on rig

Vietnam has asked China not to position an oil drilling rig into an area it claims is under Vietnamese sovereignty, state-run media reported yesterday. "That China puts its oil drilling rig into operation in this area is a serious violation against the sovereign rights and national jurisdiction of Vietnam," Vietnam's press spokesman said in a statement. The Chinese KANTAN 3 drilling platform is headed to a position 117km off the coast of Vietnam, and 124km off the coast of China's Hainan island, the ministry of foreign affairs spokesman said. "Vietnam has contacted China and requested her to strictly abide by the agreements reached between the two parties," the press spokesman said.

■ Taxation

Internet levies blocked

Congress on Friday blocked state and local governments from taxing connections that link consumers to the Internet for the next three years. "Enacting this legislation is a big win for the majority of American Internet users,'' House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner said. The bill, passed by voice vote and sent to the president for his signature, blocks taxation of all types of Internet connections, from traditional dial-up services to high-speed broadband lines. States that had started taxing Internet access before the first ban, enacted in 1998, can continue collecting those fees. States that tax speedy DSL lines must start phasing out the levies. The tax moratorium ends in November 2007. The House voted last year to permanently ban taxes on Internet access, but it could not find enough support in the Senate.

■ Automakers

Honda discusses CRV fires

Honda officials met with US federal regulators in Detroit on Friday to discuss an engine problem that has led to about 80 fires in Honda CRV sport utility vehicles. While Honda has previously blamed careless service mechanics, the company told regulators on Friday that faulty gaskets made by a Chinese supplier are a major factor. The gaskets were used by one of several suppliers of oil filters. Filters from that supplier were installed in some of the vehicles, starting in the 2003 model year. Honda officials recently changed the material used in the gaskets. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Honda, however, continue to discuss how to resolve the problem in existing vehicles.

■ G20 Summit

Dollar slump worries EU

European officials are increasingly alarmed by the US dollar's slump against the euro -- but they aren't likely to get help from the US or Asian countries at the G-20 meeting of industrial and developing countries that opened yesterday. The annual meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors, which ends today, followed a week in which worries over the US trade and budget deficits pushed the euro to a new all-time high of US$1.3074. US Treasury Secretary John Snow has met increasingly sharp complaints from Europeans -- worried that their export-led recovery will be hurt -- with a clear message that Washington won't act to prop up the dollar. Instead, Snow suggested, Europe should do more to boost its own economy. German officials have played down hopes of action this weekend, insisting that exchange rates aren't formally on the agenda. Finance Minister Hans Eichel called this week for a "joint position" from the US, Europe and Japan, but avoided the issue in an opening address yesterday.

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