South Korea's third largest credit company, KEB Credit Service, suspended most of its short-term cash loans for a second day yesterday, fueling concerns over the country's shaky credit card industry. \nKEB Credit Service, which is to be merged into its parent company, Korea Exchange Bank (KEB) on Feb. 28, stopped most of its cash advances, saying its cash reserves were running dry. \nThe suspension came after the KEB Credit Service's union launched a partial strike on Dec. 15, demanding the withdrawal of the merger plan, which it said will lead to massive lay-offs. \nKorea Exchange Bank, the country's sixth-largest lender which was taken over by US investment fund Lone Star in October, said it was unable to come to the rescue of the credit card unit, citing regulations on financial ties with units. \nAnalysts said the suspension of the cash loan service indirectly puts pressure on the labor union over its strike action. \n"It is hard to believe that KEB Credit Service suspended cash advances because of liquidity problems," said Kim Uk-Rae, an analyst with Sejong Securities Co said. \nKim and other analysts also said KEB could have easily secured official clearance to extend help to the credit card unit beyond the 10-percent limit as it is to take over KEB Credit Service. \nKEB Credit Service provides an estimated 35 billion won (US$29 million) of cash advances every day. \n"By cutting down on cash loans, KEB Credit Service is shifting the onus to other credit card firms," Kim said. \nSouth Korea has 3.6 million credit card users who have defaulted on their card loans. With total assets at 5.8 trillion won (US$4.9 billion), KEB Credit Service has 7.5 million clients. Its net loss for the first nine months to September stood at 411 billion won (US$345 million). \nThe ratio of overdue payments at the card company rose from 8.1 percent in September to 8.8 percent in October, according to KEB Credit.
Taiwan has donated US$700,000 to two APEC sub-funds to highlight the importance of health and technology amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. Taiwan has been a member of APEC since joining the 21-member organization under the name “Chinese Taipei” in 1991. Malaysia, the host for all APEC meetings this year, has informed member states that the second senior officials’ meeting, scheduled for June 15 to 28, is to be postponed due to the pandemic, Department of International Organizations Director-General Bob Chen (陳龍錦) told a regular news briefing in Taipei. However, a virtual extraordinary senior officials’ meeting for discussing
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