Sat, Nov 24, 2007 - Page 11 News List

Business Briefs

STAFF WRITER, WITH AGENCIES

WTO block could prompt crisis

Taiwan's decision to block the appointment of a Chinese judge to the WTO's top court threatens an institutional crisis, a key official warned yesterday.

Taiwan on Monday objected to the proposed appointment of Chinese lawyer Zhang Yeujiao (張月姣) to the WTO's seven-member Appellate Body, which issues rulings in key trade disputes, citing the possibility of bias.

"I'm extremely concerned that if the situation persists much longer we will have a crisis in this organization," the chairman of the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) Bruce Gosper told journalists.

Taiwan's objection meant that Monday's meeting of the DSB was indefinitely postponed, leaving pending complaints on US agricultural subsidies and Chinese intellectual property restrictions in limbo.

Speaking after an informal meeting of the DSB, Gosper said that all of the 151 members of the WTO, bar Taiwan, shared his concerns.

Taiwan said in a statement on Monday that it had "deep concerns on the question of impartiality and qualification of one of the recommended candidates."

UMC buys more Epistar shares

United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電), the nation's second-biggest contract chipmaker, yesterday said it bought an additional 3.37 million Epistar Corp (晶電) shares for almost NT$400 million (US$12.37 million).

Epistar is the nation's biggest maker of chips for light-emitting diodes (LEDs). UMC is one of Epistar's major shareholders with two representatives to the board.

After the purchase, UMC owns a 3.42 percent stake in Epistar. UMC bought its initial shares on the open market in March and subscribed to Espistar's new share sales this month at an average price of NT$118.51 a share, according to a statement submitted to the Taiwan Stock Exchange Corp.

Cathay Financial invests

Cathay Financial Holding Co (國泰人壽), Taiwan's largest financial services provider, said its life insurance unit has invested US$60 million to set up a subsidiary in Vietnam.

Cathay Financial, based in Taipei, announced the investment in a statement to the Taiwan Stock Exchange today, without giving any further details.

PxMart merger approved

The Fair Trade Commission yesterday gave the green light for the merger of Pxmart (全聯社), the nation's biggest "hard discount" chain better known as Chuan Lian Center (全聯福利中心), with supermarkets run by the Taipei Agricultural Products Marketing Co (TAPM, 台北農產運銷公司).

The commission said it was not opposed to the merger as the deal posed "no significant impact on the overall market structure," it said in a statement posted on its Web site.

Pxmart, which has more than 300 supermarkets nationwide, had applied with the commission to acquire six TAPM supermarkets and jointly run another seven stores with TAPM.

MOEA, Novartis ink pact

The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG as the two sides agreed on a five-year biomedical collaboration program, the ministry said in a statement.

The Novartis Pharmaceutical Research and Development Part-nership Program aims to enhance Taiwan's biotech industry through cooperation in preliminary clinical trials, drug research and personnel training, the statement said.

Minister of Economic Affairs Steve Chen (陳瑞隆) signed the MOU with Stefan Ziegler, head of Novartis in charge of Asia Pacific region, the ministry said. The MOU was the first of its kind that the ministry had signed with foreign drug makers, it said.

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