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Thu, Feb 17, 2005 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Economy

China's budget deficit down

China's 2005 budget deficit will amount to some 2 percent of gross domestic product or 300 billion yuan (US$36 billion), down from a budgeted deficit of 319 billion yuan in both 2003 and last year, state press said yesterday. The budget will be presented for approval by Finance Minister Jin Renqing (金人慶) at the upcoming annual session of the National People's Congress which is scheduled to open in Beijing on March 5, China Business News said. The deficit is expected to remain stable over coming years as the government adjusts its expansionary fiscal policy -- in place since the 1997 Asian financial crisis -- to a more "prudent" stance as the economy grows sharply. The finance ministry will also reduce its annual issuance of special treasury bills, used to finance infrastructure and other stimulatory spending.

■ Automobiles

BMW's Asia sales rise 2.6%

German auto giant BMW announced yesterday that its sales in Asia rose 2.6 percent last year and forecast its growth this year to be 10 percent to 15 per cent. The Munich-based automaker sold 95,482 cars in the region last year under the BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce brands, Chairman Helmut Panke told a press conference in Singapore. However, in China, the second-largest Asian market behind Japan, sales fell more than 10 percent last year to 24,321 units. In explaining the decline, the BMW chief said the market grew more competitive and Chinese consumers were reluctant to buy because of economic conditions. Luxury car sales were also affected by the government's moves to try and cool down China's economy, Panke said. But he said he viewed the events as a "short term" trend that will not affect the company's plans for this year, adding that BMW will keep investing further in China.

■ Automobiles

Hyundai plans India plant

South Korea's top automaker Hyundai Motor said yesterday that it would build its second auto plant in India by mid-2007 to ride on the country's fast-growing demand for automobiles. Construction will start in April this year on a site next to Hyundai Motor India's existing plant at Chennai in the southern province of Tamil Nadu. When completed in June 2007, the annual production capacity of Hyundai Motor India will increase to 400,000 units from the current 250,000. "We have decided to add a second plant to Hyundai Motor India to take advantage of the high growth potential of India," Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Mong-koo said in a company statement on his visit to Chennai. "We need to expand production here to gain the upper hand in competition with our rivals in this market, which grows 12 percent every year," he said.

■ Cellphones

Singapore gets 3G service

Singapore's second biggest telecoms player, MobileOne Asia (M1), said yesterday it will launch its third generation (3G) mobile phone service this week. M1 said it will start selling 3G-capable handsets from today as it prepares to slug it out with rivals Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) and StarHub for a share of the emerging market. 3G mobile technology allows a user to surf the Internet, stream real-time videos, watch movies and send data at ultra-high speeds while on the move. It has yet to gain mass acceptance across the world.

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