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Wed, Jul 30, 2003 - Page 12 News List

World business quick take


Thailand to ban liquor ads

Thailand may ban liquor and energy drink commercials on television for most of the day to reduce road accidents, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said. The cabinet today will consider a proposal to block advertisements of alcoholic and energy beverages daily between 5am and 10pm, Thaksin told reporters before a meeting that started in Bangkok at 10am. "We want to cut cases of drunk driving," he said. "Television should not promote drinking." The ban may hurt sales at BEC World Pcl, the nation's biggest publicly traded television operator, and ITV Pcl because makers of beer, whiskey and energy drinks are their largest customers, some analysts said. The government raised the penalty for drunk driving after road accidents claimed the lives of 569 people and injured 37,151 others during the five days of the nation's biggest holiday in April.


Vodafone adds customers

Vodafone Group Plc, the world's biggest mobile phone company, added customers in Australia and New Zealand last quarter by introducing new service such as photo messaging and games. Vodafone, which competes with Telecom Corp in New Zealand, had 1.349 million subscribers in the nation as of June 30, an increase of 4.7 percent in the quarter and 20 percent from a year ago, according to figures on Vodafone's Web site. In Australia, where it competes with Telstra Corp and Singapore Telecom Ltd, Vodafone said it had 2.593 million customers, a 1.1 percent increase on the previous quarter, and a 20 percent gain on the year. Newbury, England-based Vodafone Group said Monday that it added a total 3 million customers in the quarter, increasing total subscribers to 122.7 million.


Japan's jobless rate falls

Japan's jobless rate fell to 5.3 percent last month and household spending had its biggest gain in almost two decades, prompting Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to say he sees "positive signs" for an economic recovery. The jobless rate fell from 5.4 percent in May, the first drop in four months, as the economy added 470,000 jobs. Spending by households headed by a salaried worker rose 4.8 percent last month from May, seasonally adjusted, the most since February 1984, the government's statistics bureau said in Tokyo. Meanwhile, sales at large Japanese retail stores last month declined 2.9 percent year-on-year after falling 3.6 percent in May, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said yesterday.


Japan imposes beef tariffs

Japan will raise tariffs on chilled beef to 50 percent from 38.5 percent beginning Friday, ignoring protests from its trading partners and favoring domestic farmers because meat imports rose fast enough to trigger safeguards. Chilled beef imports from the US, Australia and other countries rose 34 percent in the three months to June 30, the Ministry of Finance said. Under WTO rules, Japan can impose the higher tariffs if imports rise more than 17 percent from the same period a year ago. Tariffs will also increase on pork. Retail prices will rise about 2.5 percent, he added. Food companies in Japan and beef farmers in Australia and other countries argue that the increase in customs charges is unfair because the rise in imports reflects an overall recovery in beef demand after an outbreak of mad cow disease, or BSE, hurt consumption last year.

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