New FTA begins today
A free trade agreement (FTA) between Singapore and Australia starts tomorrow following a ceremony highlighted by an exchange of notes between the two countries, officials said yesterday. Senior government officials including Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer will attend a two-day meeting starting today. The pact is one of a number of FTAs Singapore has negotiated or is pursuing. Singapore has successfully completed deals with New Zealand, Japan and the European Trade Association.
Chunghwa sells shares in US
Taiwan has sold in the US a 1.5 percent stake in Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), the island's dominant phone company, following a share sale in the US on July 18. Taiwan's Ministry of Transportation and Communications, which owns the stake, sold 14.5 million Chunghwa Telecom shares in the form of American depositary receipts (ADR) for US$14.24 per share, Chunghwa Telecom said in an e-mailed statement. Ten of the common shares are bundled as one ADR. The shares, which were sold to meet additional demand after the sale last week of shares on the New York Stock Exchange, sold for a 5 percent discount to today's closing price of NT$51.5 for the local shares. Last week's share sale to domestic and overseas investors raised US$1.65 billion for the island's government, which aims to transfer more than half of the shares to private ownership by the end of this year.
Cops bust counterfeiter
Officers from the Chungshan police station in downtown Taipei arrested a man Saturday for selling and distributing counterfeit brand name products. Acting on tips that vendors near a night market on Linsen North Road were selling imitation brand name products on the street, police broke into a private house in the neighborhood late Friday and seized more than 200 counterfeit Rolex watches, as well as over 200 fake Gucci, Fendi and Louis Vuitton leather bags and wallets. They arrested the owner of the house, a 40-year-old man identified as Chen, on charges of violating the Trademark Law. Police estimate that the value of the products, if they were genuine, would amount to nearly NT$10 million (US$290,000). Chen told the police that he had bought the counterfeit brand name goods from a friend surnamed Chou earlier this year . Police will also summon Chou to further investigate the case.
Chen ends suspension
President Chen Shui-bian said yesterday that the government will soon end the suspension on the hiring of Chinese fishermen imposed during the SARS outbreak as a measure to avoid the further spread of the disease. President Chen made the remarks when he met with officials and members of farmers' and fishermen's associations in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan. The president said that with the containment of SARS, the suspension on the hiring of mainland fishermen will be lifted soon, adding that the Mainland Affairs Council is presently ironing out the details. The president said that his suggestion last week to raise the monthly welfare stipend for elderly farmers by NT$1,000 (US$28.985) to NT$4,000 (US$115.942) will cost the government about NT$8.4 billion (US$243.478 million) per year based on the fact that there are about 700,000 elderly farmers around Taiwan.