Japan to join TPP talks
Japan and the US have agreed on a deal to allow Tokyo to join talks on a US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pact that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is making a keystone of his strategy to open the economy and spur long-sought growth. “Japan and the US agreed,” Abe told reporters yesterday at the start of a meeting with Cabinet ministers involved in trade matters. He said he wanted Tokyo to join talks on the pact as soon as possible. Tokyo needs formal approval by all 11 participating countries to take part in the talks. Japan hopes to join the talks as early as July.
IMF cuts US forecast
The IMF lowered its forecast for US growth as automatic budget cuts slow the expansion, according to a draft of the lender’s World Economic Outlook. US GDP will expand 1.7 percent this year compared with a previously forecast 2 percent advance, according to the draft report obtained by Bloomberg News. The draft, which was presented to the IMF board last week, may be subject to revisions before its scheduled release on Tuesday.
Australian deficit grows
Australia’s national budget fell further into deficit in February due in part to the effects of the high local dollar, taking the total shortfall to A$23.6 billion (US$24.9 billion) for the first eight months of the financial year, Treasury figures showed. The gap in the financial year to Feb. 28 was A$5.7 billion, primarily due to lower tax revenue and higher personal benefit payments, the Treasury said. In its mid-year review in October last year, the government forecast a budget surplus of A$1.08 billion in the 12 months ending June 30.
India still fragile
India’s industrial production rose just 0.6 percent in February from a year earlier, official data showed yesterday, indicating Asia’s third-largest economy remains fragile. However, the increase in output at factories, mines and utilities outpaced analysts’ expectations of a 1 percent decline, according to a Dow Jones Newswires poll, and followed a preliminary 2.4 percent rise in January. Manufacturing, which accounts for three-quarters of India’s Index of Industrial Production, grew 2.2 percent in February from a year earlier.
Siemens to cut 3,000 jobs
German engineering giant Siemens on Thursday said it is planning to cut more than 3,000 jobs in its industrial division as part of a vast plan to save 6 billion euros (US$7.8 billion) as it faces falling profits. It said 500 jobs would be cut at its Munich headquarters and 500 would be lost by reducing mechanics factories in Germany from four to two. The closure of a factory in Pakistan would result in 200 job losses and 200 positions would be moved from Germany to the Czech Republic. In addition, 1,700 sales positions would be lost.
Japanese CEO steps down
Royal Bank of Scotland Group’s Japan brokerage unit CEO Ryusuke Otani is preparing to step down as the firm faces punishment for attempts to rig benchmark interest rates, two people with knowledge of the situation said. Otani was to leave RBS Securities Japan Ltd as early as yesterday, one of the people said. Japan’s Financial Services Agency will announce penalties, including a business improvement order, the people said.