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Mon, Sep 25, 2006 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Automobiles

Coup affects trade tiff

Malaysia will wait for a new government to take power in Thailand before pressing for fresh negotiations on a vehicle import tariff dispute, the Sunday Star newspaper reported. The previous Thai government had been determined not to cut the tariff to 5 percent from 20 percent on vehicles produced in Malaysia, the newspaper quoted Trade Minister Rafidah Aziz as saying. "That was before ... now it is different all together [because of the coup]. So, I am waiting," Rafidah was quoted as saying by Bernama news agency. Last week he had threatened to punish Thailand for its refusal to slash the tariff on Malaysian cars.

■ Automobiles

Tax offer still open to Ford

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm said that a proposal for the state to give Ford Motor Co tax breaks if it invests in Michigan remains on the table despite the firm's recent cost-cutting efforts. The incentives, which amount to US$151 million over 20 years, would come if Ford decides to invest US$1 billion in the state for research and development and to retool manufacturing plants to make them flexible enough to quickly change the models they produce. Granholm and Ford announced the possible incentives last month, but the Dearborn-based automaker has indicated that it never made specific commitments to the state.

■ Retail

Carrefour pulls sushi

French supermarket chain Carrefour has suspended sales of sushi in China following a bacteria outbreak in two of its stores, the Beijing Morning Post reported yesterday. Sales were stopped from Saturday after food safety inspectors in Zhejiang Province found bacteria levels were 23 times the accepted standard in one type of sushi in a store in Hangzhou. High levels of bacteria were also detected in sushi in the Carrefour outlet in Guangzhou, the paper reported. Carrefour said it was examining raw materials, questioning suppliers and checking the cooking process and equipment.

■ Finance

Lone Star, Kookmin in talks

Lone Star Funds said yesterday that it was still in talks with Kookmin Bank over the sale of a controlling stake in Korea Exchange Bank, after a deadline for the transaction expired on Sept. 16. The deal, originally agreed on in March, has been delayed by an investigation by South Korean prosecutors into Dallas-based Lone Star's takeover of the nation's fifth-biggest lender in 2003. Korean prosecutors are investigating whether Korea Exchange Bank's financial strength was deliberately understated to allow Lone Star to acquire the lender three years ago. A South Korean government audit cleared the US buyout fund of wrongdoing.

■ Trade

China likes Portuguese

China aims to double trade with Portuguese-speaking nations by 2009, said a top government official. Trade between China and countries including Portugal, Brazil and Angola is expected to reach as much as US$50 billion this year, State Council Secretary-General Hua Jianmin (華建敏) said at a ministerial conference for Portuguese-speaking countries in Macau yesterday. "We should aim to increase this by two-fold between 2007 and 2009," he said. Trade between China and all Portuguese-peaking countries reached 19.5 billion euros (US$25 billion) last year.

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