■ ManufacturingYunlin steel factory planned
Taiwan's Formosa Heavy Industries Corp (台塑重工) plans to invest NT130 billion (about US$4 billion) to build a steel factory in central Taiwan, it was reported yesterday. The company, a subsidiary of Taiwan's leading conglomerate the Formosa Plastics Group (台塑集團), has filed an application to the government for the nation's largest ever private steel project, the United Daily News said. Formosa Heavy Industries plans to build a 600-hectare steel production complex in Yunlin County in three years with a targeted annual output of 7.5 million tonnes of steel, it said. Its capacity could be increased to 15 million tonnes yearly depending on market demand. Taiwan's annual production of crude steel is expected to reach 30 million once the new plant is in operation, turning the nation into a steel exporter next to China, Japan and Korea, the paper said. Formosa officials were not immediately available for comment.
S Korea's exports surge
South Korea said yesterday that its exports surged 31.2 percent to US$254.22 billion last year. The provisional tally, compiled by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy, showed imports rising 25.5 percent to US$224.47 billion on a customs clearance basis. The resulting surplus of US$29.75 billion almost doubled from US$14.99 billion in 2003 and was the highest since US$39 billion posted in 1998. "An overall recovery of the global economy and strong demand for semiconductors, cars and mobile phones contributed to South Korea's export gains last year,'' Suh Young-ju, a senior trade official, was quoted as saying by South Korea's Yonhap news agency. Exports of computer chips rose 35.4 percent, while shipments of mobile phones and other telecommunication equipment climbed 41.1 percent. Car and ship exports surged 39.5 percent and 33.1 percent respectively.
Hollinger gets extension
Newspaper publisher Hollinger International Inc said on Friday that the New York Stock Exchange has granted it an extension of up to three months to file its 2003 annual report with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company said in a statement that its shares would remain listed on the NYSE during the extension, subject to review by the exchange at any time. Hollinger said that if it misses the March 31 deadline to file the report, its shares could be delisted. The company has said it expects to file the annual report by mid-January and also to be up to date on its 2004 quarterly reports two months after filing its 2003 annual report.
China caps coal price hikes
China's state economic planners have set an 8 percent ceiling on coal price rises for electric power generation this year as energy demand continues to outpace supply, state press said on Thursday. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced the price restrictions at a national coal purchase meeting on Wednesday in the eastern port of Qinhuangdao where long-term coal contracts are signed, the Economic Daily News reported. "Next year the coal market will remain relatively tight. We expect overall production to remain at about 2.0 billion tonnes as production increases remain restricted and mines are presently working at over-capacity," Ou Xinqian, deputy director of the NDRC, said in comments reported by the newspaper. "If coal prices rise too high next year, then the NDRC will step in."