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Fri, Mar 26, 2004 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ McDonald's

McKids clothes expanding

US fast food giant Mcdonald's said yesterday it had tied up with apparel company Shanghai Longtrust Trade to sell its new McKids clothing line in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Macau and South Korea. Shanghai Longtrust would be responsible for the design, manufacture, distribution and promotion of clothing, accessories and footwear in those markets, Mcdonald's said in statement. Mcdonald's first introduced the McKids line in 1987 and has expanded it to cover footwear, toys, games, videos, music, books and other products. McKids products are already on sale in Shanghai, and would be available in the US, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Australia, South Korea, Taiwan and western Europe early next year, it said. The company has some 600 fast food outlets in China and plans to nearly double those by 2008 in time for the Olympic Games in Beijing.

■ Currency

IMF supports ringgit peg

The International Monetary Fund sees no need for Malaysia to consider dropping the fixed exchange rate it imposed six years ago during the Asian financial crisis, backing up the stance of new Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. But this Southeast Asian country could benefit from greater exchange rate flexibility in the future, the IMF said in an annual report released Wednesday in Washington. Despite following the dollar in a sizable depreciation over the past 18 months, "the ringgit exchange rate does not appear to be substantially misaligned" and its real effective exchange rate "remains close to its long-term trend," the report said. Speculation mounted after Abdullah took office five months ago that he would loosen the ringgit's peg of 3.8 to the US dollar, a level fixed in 1998 by then-prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.

■ US Economy

Jobs, deficit greatest fears

The jobs drought and a massive budget shortfall present the gravest immediate threats to the US economy, top business economists said in a survey released yesterday. Both unemployment and the deficit topped the list of short-term risks, each picked by 25 percent of a panel of 203 members of the National Association of Business Economists (NABE). Terrorism was selected as the biggest threat by 19 percent of respondents, it said. The US economy churned out a meager 21,000 jobs in February, government data showed, meaning the nation has gone through a record 44 months without a single month of job creation exceeding 250,000. The unemployment rate was stuck at 5.6 percent.

■ Aircraft

Airbus targets China market

European aircraft manufacturer Airbus estimates China will buy up to 1,500 planes over the next 20 years and hopes to grab a 50 percent market share, state press reported yesterday. As the Chinese economy continues its rapid expansion, the largest demand will be for 100- to 200-seat planes such as the company's A320 model, Olivier Andries, an Airbus senior vice-president told the China Daily. "There is no doubt that the Airbus share of Chinese fleets can be expanded from today's 30 percent to 50 percent in future years," Andries said. In January, Airbus estimated it aims to sell more than 800 aircraft to China over the next 20 years, with the rest being supplied by Boeing.

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