Volvo may abandon rocket
Volvo AB, the world's No. 2 heavy-truck maker, may close its business for making technology used in space carriers as Sweden cuts spending on such tech-nology, Dagens Industri said, citing chief executive Leif Johansson. Johansson made the comments in a letter to Prime Minister Goeran Persson, the newspaper said. Sweden is reducing its contribution to the rocket operations of the European Space Agency's Ariane project, the newspaper said. "Volvo Aero will be forced to shut down all of its space operations," Johansson wrote in the letter according to the newspaper. The space business in Volvo Aero has annual sales of 200 million kronor (US$24.9 million) and employs 130 people, the paper said. Volvo has spent 1.5 billion kronor to develop the business, whose technology helps the company make engines used in civilian aircraft.
US debates link with Laos
A Bush administration proposal to normalize trade with Laos has split Laotian Americans, who are weigh-ing the benefits against memories of oppression in their native land. Laos is one of only four countries that does not have normal trade relations with the US, so its exports to the US face prohibitively high tariffs. The Laotian issue is being played out in Minnesota and Wisconsin, home to 76,000 Hmong, a minority ethnic group from the highlands of Laos that fought the com-munists alongside the CIA during the Vietnam War. In Washington, opponents of normal trade relations are backed by the Lao Veterans of America and Represent-ative Mark Green who is circulating a letter on Capitol Hill opposing the proposal.
Who guitars on sale
More than 150 guitars belonging to the late John Entwistle of The Who went on display in London on Wednesday before being auctioned next week. The collection of Entwistle's guitars, stage costumes and awards is expected to sell for about UK Pound 500,000 (US$800,000) at Sotheby's Auction House on May 13. The guitars up for sale include Entwistle's favorite, a pink Fender Precision Bass that he affectionately named "Frankenstein" because he patched it together from the remains of five smashed basses. It is expected to sell for between UK Pound 5,000 and UK Pound 7,000 (US$8,000 to US$11,200). The collection also includes two rare electric guitars dating from 1958: a Gibson Explorer valued at between UK Pound 50,000 and UK Pound 70,000 (US$80,000 to US$112,000) and a Gibson Flying V estimated at UK Pound 30,000 to UK Pound 50,000 (US$48,000 to US$80,000).
■ Trade disputes
US intends to comply
The US, responding to new pressure from Europe, said Wednesday it intends to comply with a WTO ruling on a law that gives tax breaks to US exporters. The office of the US Trade Representative said it is working with Congress on the Foreign Sales Corp-oration law, which gives tax breaks to US exporters. The statement came after the EU said it would impose a record US$4 billion in sanctions on US products if Washington failed to act this year. The European Com-mission issued a warning after the WTO approved a list of products on which the EU could impose punitive levies. The US Congress in 2000 passed legislation overhauling the law after the WTO ruled against Washing-ton, but the EU complained to the WTO that the changes were inadequate.