■ Trade Koreas cut trade barriers \n \nSouth 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. \n \n■ Macroeconomics \nFrench economy contracts \n \nThe 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. \n \n■ Online games \nNokia bands with Sega \n \nNokia 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. \n \n■ Labor strikes \nQantas workers walk away \n \nThe 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.
KEEP AWAY: People should wear a mask in places where they cannot follow social distancing rules, the CECC said, adding that it would publish detailed guidelines today The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced 16 new cases of COVID-19, including two domestic cases, as it urged people to practice social distancing in public spaces by keeping a distance of at least 1m when outdoors and 1.5m indoors. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that seven of the new cases tested positive upon their arrival at the airport, four were under home quarantine, one was under home isolation and two were under self-health management, while the two domestic cases sought treatment on their own. The domestic cases are a man in his
Taiwan will negotiate with the WHO about its participation without Beijing’s help and intervention as more countries, including Australia and Japan, are partnering with Taiwan to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a telephonic roundtable with reporters on Monday also supported Taiwan’s role in the WHO, saying the US Department of State would do its best to assist Taiwan’s “appropriate role” in the world’s highest health policy setting body, Voice of America reported. In a Japan Business Press report published on Sunday, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Kong Xuanyou (孔鉉佑) said
Malaysian authorities have advised women to wear makeup, not to nag their husbands and speak with a cartoon character’s soothing voice during the virus lockdown, sparking a flood of mockery online. Like many countries, Malaysia has ordered all citizens to stay at home to stem the spread of COVID-19, which, as of yesterday, had killed at least 39,070 people globally. In a series of online posters with the hashtag #WomenPreventCOVID19, the Malaysian Ministry of Women and Family Development issued advice on how to avoid domestic conflicts during the partial lockdown, which began on March 18. One of the campaign posters depicted
Japan’s ruling party yesterday proposed the nation’s biggest-ever stimulus package of ￥60 trillion (US$554 billion) as the COVID-19 pandemic locks the economy in a recession. The sum includes ￥20 trillion in fiscal measures with private initiatives and other elements likely making up the rest, the proposal by the Liberal Democratic Party showed. More than ￥10 trillion, or the equivalent of a 5 percentage point cut in the sales tax rate, would be handed out to the public in a combination of cash, subsidies and coupons, the plan showed. The proposal puts an initial figure on a stimulus package that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo