S Korean PRC exports soar
South Korea became the second-largest exporter to China last year following Japan as shipments of parts and raw materials jumped to feed the booming Chinese economy, officials said yesterday. According to the Korea International Trade Association (KITA), South Korea's exports to China jumped 23.5 percent to US$76.8 billion last year, surpassing Taiwan's US$74.6 billion and the EU's US$73.6 billion. South Korea was the fourth-largest exporting country to China in 2004 behind Taiwan and the EU. South Korea's imports from China also rose 26.3 percent to US$35.1 billion last year, bringing bilateral trade to a record US$111.9 billion. Japan maintained its position as the largest exporter to China, with shipments reaching US$100.5 billion.
Siemens sets up call center
German industrial group Siemens Inc yesterday launched its first customer call center in the Philippines that will cater primarily to English-speaking global customers. Tertius Vermeulen, president and chief executive of Siemens Inc, a wholly owned unit of Siemens AG, said the company invested 250 million pesos (US$4.8 million) in the 450-seat call center, which is expected to employ 700 people by the year's end. Outsourcing is the fastest growing industry in the Philippines, with officials and industry players forecasting sales to grow fivefold to US$12.41 billion by 2010 from US$2.49 billion last year.
Mediation bid fails
Talks between Toyota Motor Corp's Indian subsidiary and striking workers have failed, both sides said yesterday. Nearly 1,550 of the 2,350 workers at the Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt Ltd factory near Bangalore went on strike Jan. 6 to protest the dismissal of three workers. Labor leaders say the workers were fired for being active in the union, and on Monday they repeated calls for the employees to be reinstated. The management says the three were dismissed for disciplinary reasons. A government-appointed mediator met separately with management representatives and labor leaders on Monday to discuss ways to end the deadlock. But both sides stuck to their positions and the mediation collapsed.
Fed chief eyes lecture tours
Alan Greenspan will join the jet-set speakers' circuit when he steps down as chairman of the US Federal Reserve at the end of this month, the Financial Times reported on Monday. Greenspan will be represented by the Virginia-based Washington Speakers Bureau, the paper said, citing "sources in the US event management industry." The bureau handles bookings for figures such as former US secretary of state Colin Powell. Greenspan could command up to US$150,000 for an appearance, according to one unnamed expert cited in the article. Greenspan is due to step down on Jan. 31.
Disney denies Beijing plans
The Walt Disney Co denied a news report yesterday that said Beijing hopes to build a Disney theme park by 2010. The South China Morning Post reported yesterday that the Beijing city government unveiled a plan to create the second Disney theme park in China in its development road map. However, a Disney spokeswoman said the company is still talking to Shanghai authorities about building a theme park there, but no agreement has been reached.