Sun, Oct 19, 2008 - Page 11 News List

Business Quick Take

STAFF WRITER, WITH AGENCIES

■ TRADE

HKTDC to open local branch

The Ministry of Economic Affairs approved an application by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC, 香港貿易發展局) to set up a branch in Taiwan, a government statement said on Friday. HKTDC officially applied to set up its branch in Taiwan on Aug. 8, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA, 外貿協會), the HKTDC’s Taiwanese counterpart, said in the statement. Custom statistics show that bilateral trade between Taiwan and Hong Kong reached US$39.8 billion last year, accounting for 8.54 percent of Taiwan’s trade.

■ CONSTRUCTION

Israel agrees to pay wages

Ending a tense standoff, an Israeli company said on Friday it had agreed to pay wages to Chinese laborers who were working on a luxury resort project that was suddenly halted by the global financial crisis. Ashtrom Group Ltd said it would pay the 60 workers who had prevented employees of the Israeli company from leaving the work site on the tiny island of West Caicos, said Ygal Yancovitz, a Miami-based regional manager of the Israeli company. Yancovitz denied the Chinese laborers had taken Ashtrom’s employees hostage, as some had described.

■ FOOD

Fonterra could drop Sanlu

Fonterra Cooperative Group Ltd could sell its stake in a Chinese dairy venture at the center of the milk scandal that killed four babies and sickened 53,000 children. Fonterra, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, said talks were under way on a third-party acquisition of Sanlu Group Co (三鹿). The Auckland, New Zealand-based group owns 43 percent of Sanlu. “Discussions are continuing around a number of facets of Sanlu’s future,” Fonterra chief executive officer Andrew Ferrier said in a statement. “These include the possibility of Sanlu being acquired by a third party.” Feihe Dairy, a subsidiary of American Dairy Inc, was invited by the Chinese government yesterday to a meeting to discuss the future of Sanlu, Xinhua news agency said.

■ MOTORCYCLES

Production cuts announced

Japanese motorcycle makers are cutting production as demand in the US and Europe shrinks because of the global economic crisis, a report said yesterday. Top motorcycle maker Honda Motor Co intends to slash production by 10 percent for the year to March from 12 months earlier to 400,000 bikes, the Nikkei Shimbun said. Second-ranked Yamaha Motor Co has lowered its production forecasts by 20 percent for 250cc or larger bikes at its main factory in Iwata in central Japan to 350,000 to 360,000 units. Suzuki Motor Corp will reduce domestic output of motorcycles and buggy carts for the year to March by 7 percent from a year earlier to 509,000 units, the daily reported.

■ ENERGY

Bolivia to buy Ashmore shares

The Bolivian government announced late on Friday an agreement to buy all shares owned by the British company Ashmore Energy International in the local gas pipeline company Transredes. The deal followed President Evo Morales’ decision in June to nationalize the pipeline, which had led Ashmore to file for international arbitration in a Swedish court. A local media report said Ashmore wanted US$500 million in compensation for its share in the pipeline. The total value of the deal, under which Ashmore’s 25 percent stake in Transredes would be transferred to Bolivia’s national oil and gas company YPFB, has not been disclosed.

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