Consumers tighten belts
Consumers across the Asia-Pacific region are cutting back expenses, spending less on luxury items and even reducing taxi rides amid concerns over the uncertain economy and terrorist attacks, an ACNielsen survey showed on Tuesday. The online poll surveyed some 9,000 Internet users across 13 countries. The majority of respondents said recovery in the global economy is at least another 12 to 18 months away. Generally, more respondents placed terrorism as their biggest concern in the next six months compared to a similar survey last July, with Australians and New Zealanders being the most concerned. The findings of the latest Asia-Pacific Consumer Confidence Poll conducted last month show 53 percent of Singapore respondents have put off investing in property, stocks and shares or going on holidays, up from 50 per cent from July.
■ Camera chips
Sanyo to boost output
Sanyo Electric Co, the world's No. 1 maker of cellphone batteries, said it plans to spend Japanese Yen 45 billion (US$379 million) over the next three years to increase its production of semiconductors used in digital cameras. The Osaka-based company will use the money to increase its production capacity of chips known as charge-coupled devices. Of the outlay, the company will use Japanese Yen 10 billion for CCD output next fiscal year. CCDs are image-capturing devices used in digital cameras and cellphones with built-in cameras, which are gaining popularity in the Japanese market. In the three months ended Sept. 30, more than 40 percent of cellphones sold in Japan were equipped with built-in cameras, according to market researcher Gartner Dataquest. Under the plan, Sanyo will increase its capacity to make CCDs fivefold by the spring of 2004, Sanyo Electric President Yukinori Kuwano said.
Aussies let guests work
Visitors to Australia aged between 18 and 30 are now allowed to finance their holiday there by working, Australian tourism officials say. The policy allows young travellers to have an extended holiday in Australia by supplementing their funds by casual employment. Australia has reciprocal working-holiday arrangements with 14 countries: Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, Japan, Ireland, South Korea, Malta, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Hong Kong, Finland and Cyprus. Applicants for working holiday visas must apply from outside Australia. The visa is valid for 12 months.
■ Film piracy
Spain breaks up ring
Spanish police have broken up Europe's biggest music and movie pirating network, arresting 40 people and seizing thousands of illegal copies of compact discs and DVDs in Madrid, officials said on Monday. "We have seized 240,000 CDs and DVDs ready to go onto the black market," Interior Minister Angel Acebes told reporters, estimating the material was worth nearly 2 billion euros (US$2.13 billion). Police raided 13 premises in Madrid, smashing the ring which they said had tentacles across Europe. Of the 40 arrested, most were of Chinese and Senegalese nationality. The pirate copies included releases as recent as the latest Harry Potter film and the second part of the Lord of the Rings saga, The Two Towers.