■ Home appliances
Samsung, Guo Mei sign deal
South Korea's Samsung Electronics has signed a deal to supply home-appliance goods to leading Chinese electronics chain Guo Mei, a news report said yesterday. Samsung would provide products ranging from mobile handsets to refrigerators worth 455 billion won (US$448 million) to the Shanghai-based chain for one year under the deal, Yonhap news agency said. It was the largest single contract by a South Korean firm to supply a Chinese home-appliances chain, Yonhap said citing industry sources.
HP goes to China
Hewlett-Packard Co has won China's approval to make and sell mobile-phone handsets in the world's largest wireless market by users, state-run China Daily reported, citing a company official. The company is seeking partnerships with mobile operators, the newspaper said, citing Isaiah Cheung, director of mobile-business division at HP's China operations. HP plans to sell a "smart" phone model that has a built-in global positioning system and allows users to receive e-mails, the report said, without identifying the model.
Honda to enter solar market
Honda Motor Co plans to invest ¥10 billion (US$8.64 million) to enter the Japanese market for residential solar batteries, the Nihon Keizai newspaper reported, without saying where it got the information. Honda is ready to build a factory in the Japanese prefecture of Kumamoto to start mass production of solar batteries in 2007, Nikkei said. The batteries will likely sell for about ¥1.5 million each, the newspaper said. Tokyo-based Honda expects the market for solar batteries to triple in size in the next five years, Nikkei said, and grow even more in the next five-year period.
Regional FTA discussed
Officials from seven South and Southeast Asian nations met yesterday in the Bangladeshi capital to discuss the formation of a regional free-trade agreement, the foreign ministry said. Yesterday, foreign secretaries of India, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Bangladesh were to iron out the final details of the pact for the trade group, known as the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, or BIMSTEC. The agreement on diversified and multilateral trade in goods, services and investment is expected to come into effect at the beginning of next July.
Japan's sales tax set to rise
An increase in Japan's sales tax is inevitable because the government's share of contributions to the basic state pension is set to rise, said Hakuo Yanagisawa, head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's tax commission. The government needs to make drastic changes to the tax system by the year starting April 1, 2007, because its already generous contribution to the national pension will jump to half from one-third two years after that, Yanagisawa said yesterday on Fuji TV's Hodo 2001 program. His comments may indicate that the government plans to raise the consumption tax in the year from April 2007.