Afghanistan, Iraq talks start
The 148 member states of the WTO yesterday agreed to membership negotiations with Afghanistan and Iraq. Iraq, which has had observer status in the organization since February, delivered a membership application on Sept. 30. Negotiations for WTO entry usually last several years. Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammed al-Jibouri said Monday in Geneva that his country wanted to assist economic reforms with the candidacy and adjust to international trade regula-tions. Afghanistan has had WTO observer status since April last year. Several countries, including some in the EU, have criticized the refusal of the US to consider membership negotiations for Iran, whose application was brought before the WTO by Egypt in 2001.
Sony, Samsung to share
Sony and Samsung announced a licensing agreement yesterday to share several patents, but they won't include key technologies such as Sony's PlayStation architecture and Samsung's home networking. The Japanese electronic and entertainment giant Sony Corp. and the South Korean electronics maker Samsung Electronics Co will share a wide range of patents, including digital technol-ogies to speed up research and product development, a joint statement said. However, patented designs and services that give each brand name distinctive features were excluded, it said. Besides PlayStation -- Sony's core technology that drives its hit video game console -- and Samsung's home networking technologies, the deal excludes TFT liquid crystal displays and organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, displays.
■ China's Economy
Foreign investment rises
China attracted US$57.6 billion in foreign investment in the first 11 months of this year, an increase of 22.1 percent year-on-year, official data showed yesterday. Contracted foreign investment, a measure of future business, rose 34.4 percent to US$135 billion dollars compared with the same period a year earlier, the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement. In the first 10 months of this year, China drew US$53.8 billion dollars in foreign direct investment, up 23.5 percent, from a year earlier. The ministry did not publish data for last month alone, but based on previously released figures, actual foreign direct investment rose 5.6 percent year-on-year to US$3.8 billion last month.
S African wine tainted
Thousands of bottles of award-winning South African wine sold and consumed in the UK in the course of last year were deliberately adulterated with an illegal flavoring additive, an investigation has revealed. South Africa's second biggest wine producer, KWV, announced last week that two of its seven-strong winemaking team had added harmless but banned flavorings to three of their wines. The two men admitted responsibility after declining to take a lie-detector test. Ian Nieuwoudt and Gideon Theron have now been dismissed and face possible criminal charges. One of the two affected brands is sold in the UK for about ?5.49 (US$10.55). KWV's British importer, said on Monday that none of the contaminated wine had reached the UK. The firm is about to destroy more than 60,000 liters of 2004 vintage Laborie Sauvignon Blanc and Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, worth about 1 million rand (US$175,000).