China blocks repatriation
The most common headache when doing business in China is trying to repatriate the profits, US manufact-urers said in an industry survey released Thursday. Difficulties in bringing profits back home were cited as a problem by 46 percent of 26 respondents to the question in a survey by the industry group Manufact-urers Alliance. Financial controls were cited as problematic by 35 percent of the respondents, transport and infrastructure by 31 percent, and the legal system by 27 percent. Problems with copyright or patent protection were mentioned by only eight percent of the manufacturers. "This is somewhat surprising given the attention paid to this issue in news stories," the survey said. None of the 26 manufacturers responding to the question said it had closed or was planning to close any equity operations in China.
■ Office space
Tokyo losing tenants
The rate of empty office space in central Tokyo hit a record high last month after a flood of new office blocks hit the market, a brokerage firm specializing in real estate said yesterday. The office vacancy rate in five central wards across the capital -- Chiyoda, Chuo, Minato, Shinjuku and Shibuya -- stood at 8.57 percent at the end last month up 0.07 percentage points from the previous month, Miki Shoji said. It was the highest level since the firm started researching the office vacancy rate -- a key figure to gauge demand for buildings -- in 1989. The number of empty offices grew in other urban areas in June as the nation's economic slump battered local businesses, the firm said. In the Osaka business district, western Japan, the rate rose 0.13 percentage point to a record high of 11.01 percent, the firm said.
Phones to be 'aid-friendly'
Cell phone makers must soon offer handsets that work with hearing aids, providing the growing number of people with hearing problems the benefits of wireless communication, regulators have decided. Many digital wireless phones can emit electromagnetic energy that interferes with hearing aids and implants, turning amplified sounds into static and squeals. The FCC voted 5-0 on Thursday to require that by February 2008 half of the digital cell phones offered must emit lower energy levels that do not cause interference. "This action will result in members of the hearing disabled community having dramatically increased access to digital wireless phones -- access that will improve their lives and promote their safety," commissioner Kathleen Abernathy said.
■ IPR protection
Malaysia cuts CD prices
Malaysia has announced it will cut prices of computer software and CDs to combat piracy, despite criticism for the move from the US, reports said yesterday. Domestic trade and consumer affairs minister Muhyiddin Yassin said that the price-control mechanism -- the first of its kind in the world -- was the "Malaysian way" of wiping out piracy. "This mechanism in a way is very unique in Malaysia. So, what we are trying to do is to extend that mechanism to a sector which we feel is problem-atic," Muhyiddin was quoted as saying by the official Bernama news agency. The US had earlier warned that Malaysia's proposal to control prices of software products would not solve the problem of piracy and could backfire.