US, Japan hopeful over TPP
US Trade Representative Michael Froman and Japanese Minister for National Strategy and Economic Policy Akira Amari yesterday said they still hoped to bridge significant differences over opening markets under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact. The two were meeting in Tokyo after talks earlier in the week appeared to stall. A meeting planned between Froman and Japanese Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry Toshimitsu Motegi was canceled, according to the ministry for unspecified reasons. “There is still a big gap. We need to mutually, I said mutually, consider how to overcome that,” said Amari, who is in charge of Japan’s TPP negotiations.
US profit abroad doubles
Foreign profits held overseas by US corporations to avoid taxes at home nearly doubled from 2008 to last year to top US$2.1 trillion, research firm Audit Analytics said in a report issued last week, citing federal financial filings for companies listed in the Russell 1000 index of US corporations. Conglomerate General Electric Co had the biggest pile of earnings stored abroad, at US$110 billion, the firm said. Next were software maker Microsoft Corp, with US$76.4 billion; drugmakers Pfizer Inc, with US$69 billion, and Merck & Co Inc, with US$57.1 billion; and high-tech group Apple Inc, with US$54.4 billion, it said.
Wal-Mart to add India stores
US retail giant Wal-Mart Stores plans to add 50 new wholesale stores in India, as it seeks growth in a key market where it has been unable to launch retail stores. Wal-Mart said it would open the new “cash and carry” stores over the next four to five years, adding to its 20 existing stores. It also plans to extend its e-commerce platform to members of the existing stores, which operate under the name Best Price Modern Wholesale.
Facebook hits 100m in India
Facebook has hit more than 100 million users in India, making it only the second country after the US to achieve the milestone, the social network company has said. The mobile phone market was driving growth in India along with better Internet coverage across the country of 1.2 billion people, said Kevin D’Souza, Facebook India’s head of growth and mobile partnerships. India is expected later this year to overtake the US as the country with the most Facebook users, with the figure forecast to pass 150 million, analysts have said.
S Korea jobless rate falls
South Korea’s unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent last month thanks to new jobs created in agriculture and social services, state data showed yesterday. The seasonally adjusted figure compares with 3.9 percent posted a month earlier, Statistics Korea said. The total number of people in work stood at 25.2 million compared with 24.8 million in February. The youth jobless rate (aged 25 to 29) stood higher at 8.8 percent, but lower than February’s 9.8 percent.
Germany surplus shrinks
Germany’s trade surplus shrank 9 percent in February from the January level, allowing for seasonal blips, the federal statistics office Destatis said yesterday. The surplus dip for Europe’s biggest economy — to 15.7 billion euros (US$21.6 billion) from 17.3 billion the month before — was the result of higher imports of 77.6 billion euros against slightly lower exports of 93.3 billion euros.