■ IT Market
Sales to grow 10 percent
Sales of computers, software and related services will grow 10 percent in Asia outside of Japan next year, with India and China leading the expansion, a market researcher said. The market in Asia will rise to US$97 billion from US$88.2 billion this year, according to an estimate from Framingham, Massachusetts-based IDC. The growth rate this year was 9.6 percent, said the researcher. Demand may rise for products including hand-held devices that incorporate communications features, training and education services, application soft-ware and software used for corporate networks, IDC said in an e-mailed state-ment. Sales may rise 15 percent in China, which will account for one third of industry revenue, and 22 percent in India, which will contribute 8.7 percent of Asian sales. Vietnam will post the second-fastest growth, at 16 percent.
■ World Trade
S Korea to open market
South Korea announced yesterday an agreement to allow rice imports of nearly 8 percent of domestic consumption by 2014. Under a 1994 global free trade agreement, South Korea was allowed to limit rice imports to 4 percent of domestic consumption, or about 205,000 tonnes. That deal expires this year, and WTO rules stated that South Korea must open its market with tariffs if it failed to conclude agreements by the end of this year with the US, China, Thailand and six other rice-exporting countries that demand South Korea open its market wider. Yesterday, South Korea said it has reached an agreement with the countries not to open its market with tariffs for another 10 years. In return, it will increase rice imports to up to 7.96 percent of domestic consumption, or about 408,700 tonnes by 2014.
Apex chair held in China
Chinese police have arrested the chairman of California-based electronics maker Apex Digital Inc, the US Embassy confirmed yesterday, following reports that he was being investigated for financial fraud. David Ji (季龍粉), who founded Apex in 1999, was detained in October in Shenzhen, Chinese newspapers had reported earlier. His detention followed an investigation by police in Sichuan Province -- the home base of Chinese television maker Sichuan Changhong Electric Co (四川長虹), which accuses Apex of owing it US$467.5 million, the reports said.
Russia to sell Svyazinvest
Russia will go ahead with the privatization of telecommunications giant OAO Svyazinvest despite the postponement of eagerly awaited auctions of other major companies, the country's information technology minister said on Wednesday. Leonid Reiman said no firm decision had been made on how or when a 75 percent stake in the telecoms holding company would take place. But he said that President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov both "fundamentally agree" about the privatization. Analysts were skeptical the Svyazinvest sale would happen, since the govern-ment has repeatedly postponed auctions and reforms in other major state-owned companies, such as power grid monopoly RAO Unified Energy Systems and natural gas monopoly OAO Gazprom. Reiman said he was optimistic about the telecoms sector because it was more developed than other Russian industries.