Thu, Dec 13, 2007 - Page 11 News List

Business Briefs

AGENCIES, WITH STAFF WRITER

Unemployment stays low

South Korea's jobless rate stayed near a five-year low last month, a sign that consumer spending may increase.

Unemployment was 3.2 percent, compared with 3.1 percent in October, the lowest since December 2002, the National Statistical Office said yesterday.

Consumer spending, which represents about half of the country's US$887 billion economy, is likely to continue a steady expansion on the back of an improving market, the central bank said on Dec. 5.

Employment growth this year has been driven by finance companies, transport and services.

"Consumption is likely to hold up" amid labor-market strength, Go You-sun, an economist at Daewoo Securities Co in Seoul, said before the report was published. "Still, there are risks to economic growth and consumption may cool next year," he said, citing rising oil prices and the US' economic slowdown.

Airwave ban lifted

Reliance Communications Ltd, India's second-largest mobile-phone operator, may be awarded airwaves to extend its second network nationwide after an industry court ended a one-month ban.

A group representing Bharti Airtel Ltd, India's largest wireless operator, and Vodafone Group Plc's local unit had sought to bar Reliance from getting airwaves to operate networks on two competing platforms.

Carriers with dual-technology licenses may now be given spectrum to enter new regions, Goolam Vahanvati, the solicitor general of India, said yesterday.

Bharti and Vodafone Essar Ltd yesterday failed to end a dispute over additional space for their networks as they seek to accommodate more users.

India's telecom ministry last month was barred from allocating more airwaves until the dispute is resolved.

Japan account surplus up

Japan's current account surplus rose 45.7 percent in October from a year earlier, buoyed by growing exports of automobiles and communications equipment, the government said yesterday.

The trade surplus was at ?2.229 trillion (US$20.08 billion) in October before seasonal adjustment, the Finance Ministry said. The surplus grew 40.4 percent in September.

The result, which marked 10 straight months of growth, exceeded the estimate by economists surveyed by Dow Jones and Nikkei, who predicted a 35.3 percent rise.

Growing exports of automobiles, auto parts and communications equipment contributed to the trade surplus, the ministry said.

EPZs doing well

Taiwan's eight export processing zones (EPZs) attracted a total of NT$44.4 billion (US$1.37 billion) in investment in the first 11 months of this year, a Ministry of Economic Affairs official said yesterday.

Tseng Sheng-bao (′¿°ÑÄ_), director-general of the ministry's Export Processing Zone Administration, said the figure was higher than the administration's original target of NT$35.2 billion for the whole year.

Taiwan established its first exporting processing zone in 1966 in Kaohsiung. Tseng said that over the years, the focus of the EPZs has transformed from traditional industry to high-tech production.

Because of their successful development, the EPZs have become a model that is followed by many developing countries, he said.

Tseng said 330 enterprises had established operations in Taiwan's export processing zones, with one-quarter of them having increased paid-in capital in their operations within the zones this year.

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