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Thu, Jun 03, 2004 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Oil

Threat to Asia highlighted

Soaring oil prices pose a bigger threat to Asia than a slowdown in China, potentially upsetting the current economy recovery, a Citigroup report said yesterday. There is little sign that China's fast growth will come to a screeching halt, but an oil price shock which persists could prove worrying for many of the region's economies, the report warned. The Asia Economic Outlook said: "No country in Asia would see a surge in growth from higher oil prices, with the possible exception of Vietnam," the report said. Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia would see growth drop by about 0.6-0.8 percentage points by the fourth quarter and through the first half of next year, "sizeable but manageable effects," Citigroup said.

■ Crime

Criminals using SMS

A growing number of Chinese criminals send text messages or e-mails with the sole purpose of hoodwinking people into parting with their money, the Xinhua news agency reported yesterday. "Defrauders ... send false messages to a mass of cell-phone users, telling them they have won prizes in a lottery or they are offered very cheap smuggled goods," said Zhang Xinfeng, assistant minister of public security. "If they contact the defrauders, the latter usually ask them to remit money to appointed bank accounts for paying taxes, postage or insurance charges," he said. Many people believe this and spend all their money on goods they never see, while some officials have even embezzled public funds in order to come up with the money, he said.

■ Aircraft

Airline chooses Boeing

Air New Zealand will buy six new passenger jets from Boeing at a cost of NZ$1.35 billion (US$850 million) and plans to lease four more, the carrier said yesterday. The eight new Boeing 777-200s and two new 7E7s will enable the national carrier to develop new routes, increase the frequency of existing routes, and increase its passenger and freight capacity, it said in a statement. Air New Zealand is buying the 7E7s and four of the 777-200s from Boeing, while the remaining jets will be leased from International Lease Finance Corporation, the statement said. It also plans to buy a further 42 Boeing aircraft in the future, the statement said. Boeing will begin delivery of the 777-200s in September next year and the order will be completed by late 2006, it said.

■ Trade

Central Asia in US deal

The US and five Central Asian countries signed an agreement Tuesday that provides a forum to address trade issues and enhance trade and investment. The Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) was signed by US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick and representatives from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Zoellick said the agreement would "increase and diversify trade and investment opportunities." The US, he said, looked forward to working closely through the TIFA to further strengthen its economic relationships with the five countries and the region as a whole. The TIFA will have a regular forum to address trade issues that hamper intra-regional trade and economic development and can act as impediments to investment, Zoellick said.

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