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Fri, Aug 27, 2004 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Asian Trade

Japan boosts Asia exports

Japanese exports to Asia hit a record high in July boosted by strong regional demand for equipment to make semiconductors and liquid crystal displays (LCDs), the Japanese finance ministry said yesterday. The trade surplus with Asia surged 62.9 percent to ?751.2 billion (US$6.8 billion), marking the 13th consecutive monthly rise, the ministry said. Asia-bound exports increased 21.2 percent to ?2.63 trillion, the highest since 1947, when the finance ministry started taking comparable data, a ministry official said. Imports from Asia rose 9.9 percent to ?1.88 trillion, he said. Japan's China-bound exports in July were worth ?716.8 billion, up 22 percent from the same month last year, while imports from China reached ?842.4 billion, up 12.5 percent year-on-year. However, some economists warned of a possible negative impact from Beijing's tightening policies to cool its overheating economy.

■ Poverty

Inequality growing in Asia

High economic growth helped Asia reduce poverty greatly in the past decade, but the increasingly unfair distribution of income could hamper future improvement, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) warned yesterday. The number of people living on less than US$1 a day in 20 developing nations across Asia fell by 233 million to 688 million between 1990 and 2002, representing 21.5 percent of the population, the ADB said. If the poverty threshold is set higher at US$2 a day, however, 1.91 billion people or 60 percent of developing Asia's population were poor in 2002. That figure compared with 2.02 billion or 75 percent of the population in 1990. "One worrisome element that we are witnessing in developing Asia is that ... this inequality is increasing over time," ADB chief economist Ifzal Ali said in Tokyo.

■ Automobiles

Mitsubishi mulls alliance

Japan's Mitsubishi Motors Corp is reviewing its alliance with Daimler-Chrysler, including cooperation in manufacturing mid-sized sedans, the company said yesterday. DaimlerChrysler decided in April not to invest more cash in Mitsubishi Motors to support the Japanese automaker's restructuring plan. The German-American company's stake in Mitsubishi has since shrunk to about 20 percent from 37 percent. Mitsubishi has issued new shares to the Mitsubishi group of companies and other investors to raise cash. Mitsubishi Motors said yesterday it would continue to cooperate with Daimler-Chrysler, but that "Regarding mid-sized sedans, we are considering a number of options regarding our alliance with DaimlerChrysler."

■ Energy

OPEC backs US$30 oil price

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries wants oil prices to fall faster to an ideal price of around US$30 a barrel, and will discuss whether to increase production at a meeting next month, the group's president said yesterday. ``Oil prices have retreated, but we want them to fall to around [US]$30 per barrel,'' Indonesia's Purnomo Yusgiantoro told reporters. US light sweet crude futures traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange have fallen nearly US$6 from a record high of almost US$50 a barrel last week. OPEC's current production ceiling, excluding Iraq, is around 26 million barrels a day.

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