■ Labor issues
Outsourcing creates jobs
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has debunked fears of job losses in industrialized nations due to outsourcing of services to developing nations. It says in a new study that farming out business, computer and information services to developing economies actually expands employ-ment and enhances efficiency. The IMF study finds that "jobs are not being exported, on net, from industrial countries to developing countries as a result of outsourcing. In fact, the evidence suggests that job losses in one industry often are offset by jobs created in other growing industries." Furthermore, for many industrialized coun-tries, including the US, the rest of the world outsources more business and computer services to them than the other way around, said the study released in IMF's latest quarterly magazine, Finance and Development.
Produce less oil: Kuwait
OPEC should cut its 1.5 million to 2 million barrels a day of overproduction if global oil prices continue to slide at the rate seen over the past two days, Kuwait's energy minister said on Saturday. Last week prices fell almost US$7 a barrel, or 15 percent, due to steady growth in US inventories of crude oil and new gains in inventories of heating oil. In the US, January crude futures closed down Friday at US$42.54 a barrel, the lowest close since Aug. 31. "We are worried about the slide in prices and we take them very seriously," said Sheik Ahmed Fahd Al Ahmed Al Sabah, Kuwait's energy minister, to reporters on the sidelines of an energy symposium. Al Sabah said OPEC member states were collectively overproducing by 1.5 million to 2 million barrels a day, which has helped to keep the market oversupplied.
Steel-projects decision later
Thailand will delay until after February's elections a decision on whether to approve two steel-making projects valued at more than 700 billion baht (US$18 billion), Industry Minister Pongsak Raktapongpaisal said. Sahaviriya Steel Group plans to invest as much as 700 billion baht in the next 15 years to build smelting plants and a deep-sea port. Its rival G Steel Pcl, which plans to sell shares for the first time this month, is also seeking approval to build a smelting plant. "We don't want to rush into a decision that may lead to a bad-debt problem later," Pongsak said in Bangkok on Saturday. "We have to consider if Thailand will have cost competitiveness by building steel smelters."
Foreign money in China
General Electric Co, Wal-Mart Stores Inc and other multinationals invested US$550 billion setting up 497,556 enterprises in China in the 20 years through September, a senior commerce ministry official said. Foreign companies are increasingly investing in business services such as investment financing and accounting, He Manqing, a deputy director of the ministry's Multinational Research Center, said at a conference in Beijing yesterday. While manufac-turing still dominates foreign investment, "multi-nationals are rapidly getting into services" following China's WTO entry in December 2001 and the lifting of government restrictions, He said. Foreign companies invested US$13.1 billion in services last year, a 3.66 percent increase from 2002, He said. That compares with foreign investment in factories last year of US$36.9 billion, a 0.37 percent rise over 2002.