Japan angers Australians
The Australian Cattle Council will substitute the Japanese flag's rising sun with a piece of beef in an advertising campaign to protest increased Japanese tariffs on Australian beef, an official said yesterday. The Japanese government confirmed to Australian Prime Minister John Howard last week that it would lift its tariff on the import of Australian beef from 38.5 percent to 50 percent on August 1. The Australian Cattle Council says the increase will cost Australian producers around A$80 million (US$53.12 million) in an industry worth A$1.5 billion dollars a year. The adver-tising campaign will feature a white sushi plate with a medallion of Australian beef in the center, in a mock-up of the Japanese flag. The advertisement reads: "Why does Japan put a 50 percent tariff on our beef? Because it's the best in the world."
Firms to generate power
Pakistan will allow private businesses to generate their own electricity without seeking permission from the government, which will help factories reduce production costs, a minister said. The lower production cost "will make our goods competitive in the international market, increasing our exports," Commerce Minister Huma-yun Akhtar told a news conference in Islamabad. Presently, businesses have to obtain government clearance to set up a power generation unit. In a trade policy announced over the weekend, Pakistan set an export target of US$12.1 billion for the fiscal year started July 1, or 9.7 percent higher than US$11.03 billion the previous year. The trade deficit may fall to US$700 million.
Microsoft pushes TV guide
Microsoft Corp, which is trying to unseat Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc in the market for television programming-guide soft-ware, said Comcast Corp and Time Warner Cable Inc will try its software. Com-cast and AOL Time Warner Inc's Time Warner Cable, the No. 1 and 2 US cable-TV companies, both use Gem-star's software to deliver TV programming guides to cable customers, said Ed Graczyk, Microsoft TV marketing director. Micro-soft hopes the trials will lead them to purchase the software, he said. Microsoft last year decided to revamp its ailing TV-software busi-ness by entering the market for programming guides, which is dominated by Gemstar. So far, Microsoft's product has only two US customers, two small Oregon cable companies. Microsoft is determined to stay in the TV-software market, despite several years of failed products, analysts said.
Volkswagen cuts Brazil jobs
Volkswagen plans to cut 4,000 jobs in Brazil due to weak car sales in the first half of the year, The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. The German carmaker will slash nearly 16 percent of 24,800 Brazilian jobs because of overcapacity at its five Brazilian factories following an 8 percent drop in car sales from January to last month. But Volkswagen, which last year held 26 percent of the Brazilian automobile market, with some 382,000 auto sales, said it plans to transfer many of the affected workers to a new firm it is creating in Brazil, called "Autovisao Brasil." Brazil has seen negative economic growth for two successive quarters, according to official figures, technically putting it in a recession.