EU, US unveil joint plan
The EU and the US unveiled a joint plan on Wednesday for tearing down tariff barriers on manufactured imports in an effort to reinvigorate deadlocked global trade talks and heal the transatlantic rift over Iraq. Describing the new round of talks initiated 18 months ago as "a once-in-a-generation opportunity," America's top trade negotiator, Robert Zoellick, said the EU-US plan would eliminate all tariffs on three-quarters of trade in goods between the world's main economies. "We ended the cold war, now it's time to end tariff walls," said Zoellick. After months of setbacks at the WTO's Geneva headquarters and a blistering transatlantic row over Iraq, ministers were determined to use yesterday's meeting of the Paris-based OECD to present a united front.
Singapore Air gets funds
Singapore Airlines Ltd and the operator of the city state's Changi Airport will receive state assistance to cover third party war risk liability for the next six months, a government statement said. The government's assistance "fills the gap between what commercial insurers are prepared to offer and what airports and airlines had before the worldwide cancellation of such cover in September 2001," the Ministry of Information said. Singapore said the insurance coverage would allow Singapore Airlines and some of its units, as well as the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, which runs Changi Airport, to continue operations because of "inadequate commercial alternatives."
FTC guns for Rambus
Rambus Inc maneuvered to collect "billions of dollars" in royalties by deceiving competitors into adopting its secretly patented computer chip technology as an industry standard, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) claimed. The FTC outlined the evidence it will present as a two-month trial began before an administrative law judge. The agency alleged that Rambus tricked competitors into approving its patented technology as the standard for the memory chip industry, then sued the companies for infringement. Rambus denies any wrongdoing. At stake in the FTC's case is whether the chip designer can continue to collect more than US$100 million in annual royalties on patented features of high-speed chips that power computers.
Venezuelan loans frozen
The US Export-Import Bank has suspended all new credits and loan guarantees for Venezuela, bank spokesman Bo Ollison said Wednesday. "The bank will not be processing any new applications for transactions involving Venezuela," he said. "The reasons for that decision were the detrimental economic conditions that currently exist in Venezuela and the board has determined that a reasonable assurance of repayment, which we have to have in all of our transactions, doesn't currently exist in Venezuela," Ollison said. Transactions that have already been approved will not be affected. The Export-Import Bank is an independent US agency that grants credits or loan guarantees to promote the foreign sale of US services, products and capital goods. Venezuela, which imported more than US$4.4 billion worth of US goods in 2002, had long been one of the bank's 10 top clients.