Suzuki plans Myanmar plant
Japanese automaker Suzuki Motor Corp plans to invest tens of millions of dollars to build a second plant in Myanmar, the Nikkei business daily reported yesterday. The company has secured a plot of about 20 hectares at the Thilawa special economic zone southeast of Yangon for the new plant, the report said. Construction is expected to start later this year, with the facility slated to come online in 2017, it added. Suzuki is expected to invest several billion yen and hire about 300 employees and aims to produce about 10,000 cars a year and increase Suzuki’s output in Myanmar by more than five times, it said.
Plaintiffs drop Google suit
Plaintiffs in an antitrust lawsuit against Google Inc on Friday withdrew their suit accusing the company of harming smartphone buyers by forcing handset makers using the Android operating platform to make Google’s own applications the default option. The class action lawsuit, filed by two smartphone customers in May last year, was dismissed on Feb. 20 by US District Judge Beth Labson Freeman in San Jose, California. Google also faces antitrust issues in Europe. The European Parliament in November last year urged antitrust authorities to break up Google and called on the European Commission to consider proposals to unbundle search engines from other commercial services.
Mauritania miners end strike
Miners in Mauritania’s northern iron ore hub of Zouerate went back to work on Friday after downing tools for nine weeks in a dispute over wages, their union and management said. The workers had been on strike since Jan. 28 to demand that the National Industrial and Mining Company honor agreed pay rises and bonuses. The union said management had agreed to lump payments of three months’ salary for the workers. The company said it had reinstated 400 workers sacked during the strike.
IMF approves Ghana loan
The IMF approved a three-year, US$918 million extended credit facility for Ghana to help it repay debt and stabilize the nation’s economy. The IMF Executive Board has allowed immediate disbursement of US$114.8 million, the fund said in a statement on Friday. The money would help increase foreign reserves to support the currency and curb the budget gap before a US$1 billion Eurobond sale scheduled for June. Ghana is the world’s second-largest producer of cocoa and Africa’s second-largest gold miner.
Economy forecast to pick up
The economy is set to pick up slightly in the first half of the year but unemployment is expected to stay at record highs, according to forecasts. In estimates released on Thursday, the INSEE national statistics office said the economy would grow by 0.4 percent in the first quarter of the year and by 0.3 percent in the second quarter. While there is a good chance the economy is set to grow faster over the whole year than the 1 percent Paris estimates, the jobless rate was forecast to hit a 20-year record high of 10.2 percent in mainland France, INSEE predicted.
NOTABLE SHIFT: By 2030, 50% of all laptops would be assembled in Southeast Asia, while Taiwan would still mostly focus on research and development, a report said Global laptop and desktop computer supply chains are expected to shift significantly away from China in the next 10 years, a Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute (MIC, 產業情報研究所) report said. By 2030, only 40 percent of global laptop production would remain in China, said the report, which was released on Thursday. “The reshuffling of the global supply chain will be one of the most important trends in the next 10 years,” the institute said in the report. “In the long run, key component makers will follow laptop assemblers in moving out of China.” The Taipei-based institute predicted most key component makers
Merck Group Taiwan yesterday said that it plans to invest substantially on expanding its fab in Kaohsiung’s Lujhu District (路竹) to better serve its local customers, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電). The company said it plans to expand its production space by 50 percent in the next five years and its workforce by about 40 percent, Merck Group Taiwan managing director Dick Hsieh (謝志宏) told a media briefing in Taipei. Hsieh declined to disclose investment details, but said that the latest investment would exceed the total amount Merck has invested in Taiwan over the past few years. Those investments would be
INVEST IN TAIWAN: A metal components casting firm and the world’s largest maker of aluminum bicycle rims also obtained approvals to join the program Solar Applied Materials Technology Co (SOLAR, 光洋應用材料), a part of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co’s (TSMC, 台積電) “green supply chain,” has pledged to invest NT$1 billion (US$34.1 million) to build a new plant at the Tainan Technology Industrial Park (台南科技工業區), the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday. SOLAR has been collaborating with TSMC to extract precious metals from waste and reuse them as “sputtering target” material in high-end semiconductor manufacturing, a TSMC press release issued in May said. Established in 1978, SOLAR also offers key materials and integrated services to customers in the optoelectronics, information and communications technology, petrochemicals and consumer electronics industries,
‘SWARM TECH’: Joint venture FARobot is to develop autonomous mobile robots that would first be deployed in Hon Hai’s factories to optimize production efficiency Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) and Adlink Technology Inc (凌華科技) have formed a robotic venture that aims to use “swarm technology” to create robots that can communicate with one another on the factory floor to optimize production efficiency. Hon Hai is Apple Inc’s leading iPhone assembler and the world’s largest contract electronics maker, while Adlink supplies industrial computers and Internet of Things solutions. Through a subsidiary, Hyield Venture Capital Co (鴻揚創投), Hon Hai holds a 51 percent stake in autonomous mobile robot (AMR) developer FARobot (法博智能移動), while Adlink owns the remaining 49 percent. Together, the two companies put up NT$200