No `magic wand:' Lamy
France's Pascal Lamy, who formally took over as WTO chief yesterday, warned he had no "magic wand" to conjure up a global trade deal by an end-year deadline. But the former EU Trade Commissioner, who replaces Thailand's Supachai Panitchpakdi as WTO director-general, promised to get down to work immediately, contacting the various heads of the negotiating bodies and trade ambassadors from the WTO's 148 member states. The Geneva-based WTO faces a massive task to agree a draft deal on lowering barriers to trade across the global economy -- its Doha Round -- at a meeting of trade ministers set for Hong Kong in mid-December. Trade negotiations failed in their attempt to reach a number of interim deals in July, which could have eased the way to Hong Kong, with divisions over world farm trade particularly deep.
■ Flat Panels
Fuji Photo to cut staff
Fuji Photo Film Co, the world's biggest maker of film used to make flat-panel displays, said it will reduce its workforce at two plants that make the material outside of Tokyo as it cuts costs and increases efficiency. The Tokyo-based company will reduce employees at its plants in Ashigara and Odawara to 2,200 by March from 2,600, Ken Sugiyama, a Fuji Photo spokesman, said. About 300 workers will move to a subsidiary. The company declined to say how much it expects to reduce costs with the move. Fuji Photo has said it will invest in production of film for flat-panel, or liquid crystal display, panels as profit from other operations declines.
China Resources upbeat
China Resources Power Holdings Co (華潤電力控股) said yesterday it expects to benefit from strong domestic demand for electricity in the second half of the year. The company, which supplies power to the wealthy Chinese provinces of Guangdong, Zhejiang and Jiangsu, expects added capacity from its new plants will help meet the demand, Chairman Song Lin (宋林) said in a statement. "A number of our power plants are planned to commence commercial operation in the second half of 2005," Song said, without giving a figure for the increase in capacity. "Demand for electricity will continue to be strong," he said. Song said coal prices have stabilized since the second quarter as supply of the raw material increased. In the first half, China Resources Power reported a 21.8 percent rise in unit fuel cost. China Resources Power said its first-half attributable operational capacity rose 1.74 times from a year earlier to 4,663 megawatts.
Samsung, TV station in deal
Samsung of South Korea said yesterday in Berlin it had linked with Discovery, the US television company best known for its nature documentaries, to jointly promote high-definition television (HDTV). Describing itself as the world's largest manufacturer of plasma displays, with 411,000 produced in the first quarter of this year, Samsung said it would show Discovery programs on 30,000 TVs and other entertainment devices in showrooms round the world. Don Baer of Discovery told reporters at the IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin that Discovery was the most-chosen channel when Americans invited over neighbors to boast about their new HDTV sets. Discovery began HDTV broadcasts in 2002. HDTV is just catching on in Europe, with Germany's first broadcasts set to start next month.