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Thu, Aug 21, 2003 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take


■ TradeKoreas cut trade barriers

South Korea and North Korea yesterday put into effect agreements they signed three years ago to reduce the risk and cost for Southern firms opening businesses in the communist state. The agreements, signed in December 2000, call for the two sides to protect each others' investments, avoid double taxation, open a direct route for financial transactions and establish a panel to settle trade disputes. Yesterday, both sides notified each other that they had completed procedures to put the agreements into effect, South Korea's Unification Ministry said in a press release. South Korean officials hope the four agreements will boost trade and other economic exchanges across the divided peninsula. Tension on the Korean Peninsula remain high over North Korea's suspected development of nuclear weapons.

■ Macroeconomics

French economy contracts

The French economy contracted in the second quarter but has so far avoided the recession affecting euro-zone neighbors, figures released Tuesday by the Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (INSEE) showed. In France, the economy shrank by a provisional 0.3 percent between April and June, following a first-quarter increase of 0.2 percent. The first-quarter figure was revised lower from an initial reading of 0.3 percent. INSEE said household consumption fell 0.2 percent in the second quarter, after increasing 0.5 percent in the first. "Household spending fell by 0.2 percent and made a negative contribution of around 0.1 percentage point to GDP," INSEE said in a statement.

■ Online games

Nokia bands with Sega

Nokia Oyj, maker of a handheld game machine called N-Gage, has agreed to buy computer operations from Sega Corp that allow multiple users to play games against one another over the Internet. Nokia, the world's biggest maker of mobile-phone handsets, will integrate the online game technology into N-Gage, which will be sold in North America from October, the two companies said in a joint press release distributed through the PR Newswire. The move is part of Finland-based Nokia's efforts to challenge the dominance of Nintendo Co, the Kyoto, Japan-based maker of the Game Boy handheld player. Nokia will acquire technology including servers from Sega.com Inc, a San Francisco-based subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sega, which makes Sonic the Hedgehog games.

■ Labor strikes

Qantas workers walk away

The travel plans of thousands of people were disrupted as a sudden strike by Melbourne Airport baggage handlers caused chaos at airports across Australia yesterday. Qantas said all Melbourne-bound Qantas flights were indefinitely delayed after several hundred Qantas baggage and aircraft handlers walked off the job to protest against the airline's employment of 50 non-union casual workers. Unions warned that the strike, which is over an attempt by Qantas to bring non-union workers into the industry, will spread nationally within days. Qantas spokeswoman Melissa Thompson said Melbourne-bound flights had been stopped from leaving airports around the nation and domestic flights out of Melbourne also were experiencing rolling delays of up to an hour.

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