■ Trade Policy
Trade zone mooted
State-run economic thinktanks of South Korea and China agreed yesterday to conduct a feasibility study on establishing a free trade zone between the two Asian economies. The Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP) and the Development Research Center, run by China's state council, signed a memorandum of understanding in Beijing to launch the study until next year, to push for a free trade pact, KIEP said in a statement. Trade between China and South Korea, Asia's second and third largest economies, stood at US$79.4 billion last year, according to Seoul's foreign ministry data. China is South Korea's biggest trade partner. Seoul has also pushed for separate free trade deals with Asia's biggest economy Japan and Singapore.
■ Trade Policy
India, MERCOSUR cut tariffs
India and South America's MERCOSUR trading bloc signed a deal Saturday slashing tariffs on more than 900 products to boost trade between the two sides, the government said. Under the agreement, which comes into effect immediately, India will give tariff preference to 450 products and MERCOSUR nations will give tariff concessions on 452 items, an Indian government statement said. The concessions will range from 10 percent to 100 percent, the statement said. Mercosur comprises Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Bolivia and Chile are associate members. Trade between India and MERCOSUR reached US$1.5 billion last year. India mainly exported drugs, pharmaceuticals, fine chemicals, transport equipment, cotton, readymade garments, dyes and coal tar to MERCOSUR, while it mainly imported edible oils, ferrous ores, metal scrap and non-electrical machinery from the trading bloc.
Fuji may sell new shares
Fuji Television Network Inc, Japan's biggest broadcaster, may sell new shares to designated investors to fend off a possible takeover attempt by Internet portal Livedoor Co, the Mainichi newspaper reported, without saying where it got the information. Fuji TV, which is competing with Livedoor for the control of Nippon Broadcasting System Inc, may sell about ?100 billion (US$955 million) worth of new shares, the report said. Nippon Broadcasting is the biggest shareholder in Fuji TV, with a 22.5 percent stake. Livedoor is likely to buy more Fuji shares if the Tokyo High Court upholds a lower court's injection against Nippon Broadcasting's planned sale of stock options to Fuji TV, the newspaper said.
■ Korean Economy
Small firms to get loans
Korea Development Bank, the nation's largest state-owned lender to companies, said it will offer 5 trillion won (US$5 billion) in loans this year to smaller companies. The Seoul-based lender plans to boost new lending to smaller companies by 20 percent from last year, which will bring up outstanding loans to these customers to 15.5 trillion won at the end of this year, Korea Development said today in an e-mailed statement. State banks are extending loans to smaller companies to help them weather the impact of the sluggish domestic consumption and the won's rapid appreciation at a time when Kookmin Bank and other commercial lenders have capped or tightened loans to them to cap default risks.