Sun, Jul 24, 2005 - Page 11 News List

Business Briefs

AGENCIES

■ Oil industry
Malaysian reserves dwindle

Malaysia might no longer have crude oil exports as a revenue source by the end of this decade because the country's reserves are dwindling, the government said yesterday. "Malaysia is an oil exporter, but if we do not find new oil reserves, then by 2009, we will become a net importer. This means we cannot continue to lean on the oil sector," Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said. He did not elaborate in his speech at the annual congress of Malaysia's ruling party. Officials have said Malaysia has recoverable oil reserves for the next 19 years and of gas for 33 more years, but might be forced to become a net oil importer much sooner than that if domestic demand surges too fast in coming years. Malaysia's state-owned oil company, Petronas, has already begun investing in oil exploration in countries as far afield as Sudan and Egypt and in the Caspian Sea.

■ Moneylaundering

Japan to step up scrutiny

In an effort to stop the flow of money to terrorists, Japan plans to check the identity of people transferring even relatively small amounts of money to other people's foreign or domestic accounts, a report said yesterday. Banks will be required to check a driver's license or passport for transfers possibly as low as ¥100,000 (US$890) under new rules the regulatory Financial Services Agency wants to introduce around December next year, Kyodo News agency said, citing agency officials it didn't identify. Japan currently requires banks to confirm the identify of customers transferring ¥2 million (US$17,900) or more, the report said. One hurdle that must be overcome with the new rules is how to confirm the identity of senders who transfer money using automatic teller machines, it said.

■ Coffee

Low prices harm societies

Low coffee prices have deepened poverty and social problems in producer nations, the head of the International Coffee Organization said on Friday, calling for more stable prices to help the world's poor. Nestor Osorio said delegates from coffee-producing nations will open the second World Coffee Conference on Sept. 23 and will look for ways to stabilize prices. "We have to invest in projects to improve quality, and when quality improves, income improves," Osorio said. He said coffee prices are cyclical, dropping sharply in years when supply is abundant and rising when supply drops. But the decline often drives small producers out of the market before prices rise again. After the conference, the organization plans to create an international coffee council to examine the results of the conference and make formal recommendations to create stabler prices.

■ Airlines

US panel approves merger

A US federal panel on Friday approved a bid by US Airways Group Inc and America West Holdings Corp to merge, clearing a hurdle to the companies' goal of combining to compete against lower-cost rivals. The federal Air Transportation Stabilization Board said the proposed merger "should better both airlines' competitiveness in a challenging industry environment." US Airways Group, based in Arlington, Virginia, is the seventh-largest carrier in the US. America West of Tempe, Arizona, is the eighth-largest. The deal, which has gotten a green light from the Justice Department, must still be cleared by the US Bankruptcy Court in Alexandria, Virginia. The merger with America West is designed to provide the final investment necessary to allow US Airways to emerge from bankruptcy.

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