As oil prices keep setting new record highs, there are growing concerns that Asia's energy-hungry economies can no longer continue absorbing the impact with crude creeping toward US$60 a barrel. \nThe risk of stagflation -- persistently high inflation and low economic growth -- is seen as low so far but US$60 oil could puncture business and consumer confidence in the region, economists said. \n"I think it will have an impact ... sentiment will be affected," said Nizam Idris, deputy head of research at IDEAglobal.com. \n"As a consumer, you will be careful with your expenditures. It will have a psychological effect which will filter through to decision-making from consumers to producers," he said. \nJulian Jessop, the chief international economist at London consultancy Capital Economics, also agreed crude prices at US$60 a barrel would deal a psychological blow to the region. \n"There is no doubt US$60 would have a significant impact. Psychologically, clearly a price that high is going to be a big problem," he said. \nDespite the warnings, Jessop said Asia was still in a better position to cope with higher oil bills than other regions because its economy is in stronger shape. \n"I think paying a bit more for oil is not going to be the end of the world for Asia, where growth has been strong for some time," Jessop said. \n"Asia can afford to pay more for its oil compared to, say, Europe, where the economic recovery is still very weak," he said. \nAnalysts say crude prices are now within striking distance of US$60 a barrel after New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in December, set a record of US$55.50 in New York trading on Friday and finished at a record settlement of US$55.17. \n"I certainly wouldn't rule out US$60 in the current environment. Virtually anything is possible," said Daniel Hynes, a Melbourne-based energy analyst at ANZ Bank. \nUnusually low US heating-oil stocks ahead of the northern hemisphere winter and insatiable demand from a still booming Chinese economy are among the key reasons behind the sharp spike in crude prices in recent weeks. \nIndustry estimates put Asia's production at just 10 percent of the world's crude supply, but the region consumes 24 percent. \nChina, which once produced all its oil needs, is the region's largest oil importer and has overtaken Japan as the second largest consumer of oil in the world, just behind the US. \nThe country currently relies on imports for one-third of its supplies and in turn accounts for about seven percent of world oil demand, with both figures expected to rise. \nWhile the Chinese economy has so far withstood the onslaught of surging oil prices -- latest figures show gross domestic product grew a solid 9.5 percent in the nine months to September -- authorities have warned of the need to prepare measures to meet the challenge. \nAustralia's Treasurer Peter Costello also sounded warning bells, citing high crude prices among the biggest risks to the economy. \n"Sure we can handle it for three months or six months, but if that were to continue for 12 months or 18 months that could have a very material effect on global growth, it could have a very material effect on Australian growth," Costello said.
EXTRADITION DEAL? A former prosecutor said that the US Department of Justice might ask Taiwan to extradite the men in return for the US doing something in return The US won arrest warrants for three Taiwanese men — a former president of China-based Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co (福建晉華) and two engineers — charged with stealing secrets from Idaho-based Micron Technology Inc. The effort to apprehend the three men — former Fujian Jinhua president Stephen Chen (陳正坤), and Ho Chien-ting (何建廷) and Wang Yong-ming (王永銘), who work for Taiwan-based United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電) — is notable because they were charged in 2018 in the first case filed under the “China initiative” of US President Donald Trump’s administration targeting trade-secret theft, hacking and economic espionage. However, legal experts have said
There was a net reduction last year in the number of Taipei residents and this year is expected to set a 23-year high for population decline in the city, Ministry of the Interior statistics released yesterday showed. From January to last month, 18,861 more people moved out of Taipei than moved into the capital, an increase of 7,000 from the same period last year, the data showed. That is a 7.2 percent decrease in the city’s population since the start of the year, the biggest drop in both percentage and total number among all municipalities and counties nationwide, the data showed. The data
COUNCILS CLASH: The Mainland Affairs Council said a new office in Hong Kong is to assist people with issues related to investment, study and employment in Taiwan The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) yesterday denied an accusation by the Hong Kong-Taiwan Economic and Cultural Co-operation and Promotion Council that its Taiwanese counterpart in the territory was “interfering with Hong Kong’s internal affairs.” The Hong Kong council leveled the accusation after Taipei’s Taiwan-Hong Kong Economic and Cultural Co-operation Council this month announced it would establish a Taiwan-Hong Kong Services and Exchanges Office to facilitate humanitarian aid for Hong Kongers. The new office is scheduled to begin operations on Wednesday. The MAC yesterday asked the Hong Kong council to “not misinterpret” the government’s intentions. The two Taiwan-Hong Kong councils were established in 2010 to
IRRESPONSIBLE ATTITUDES? Some experts say the NHI system does not do enough to educate the public, or pay doctors to talk to patients, about healthy lifestyles While the life expectancy of Taiwanese newborns in 2018 reached 80.69 years, the number of years people spent in poor health hit a record high at 8.41 years, Ministry of Health and Welfare statistics showed on Saturday. Healthy life expectancy is calculated by a person’s life expectancy minus the time they spend in ill health, such as the loss of mobility, disabilities and chronic disease, based on medical records and calculations about the years they live with disabilities. The number of years that Taiwanese spend in poor health is increasing slowly, but steadily, rising by 0.46 years, or five-and-a-half months, between 2012