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Thu, Jan 04, 2007 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ South Korea
Exports to stay strong

South Korea yesterday forecast a 10.4 percent rise in exports this year over last year despite an expected global economic slowdown and the won's rise against the dollar. The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said exports are expected to rise to US$360 billion from US$326 billion last year. It would be the fifth consecutive year for exports to grow at a double-digit rate. Imports may grow 10.9 percent to US$343 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of US$17 billion compared with a surplus of US$16.7 billion in 2006, the ministry said.

■ Singapore

Economy grows 7.7 percent

Singapore's economy accelerated in the last quarter to bring full-year growth to 7.7 percent, the government said yesterday. On a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, Singapore's economy grew 7.6 percent in the fourth quarter, faster than the 5.6 percent rate in the third quarter, according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry's advance estimate. Compared to the same quarter a year ago, the economy expanded 5.9 percent, the government said. In his annual New Year's message on Sunday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍) affirmed the government's target for this year of 4 percent to 6 percent growth.

■ Food

Starbucks reduces trans fat

Starbucks Corp is cutting trans fats from the doughnuts, muffins and other treats in half of its US stores this week and plans to eventually drop the artery-clogging fats from company-operated coffeehouses across the country, a company spokesman said on Tuesday. The world's largest specialty coffee retailer has been working to eliminate trans fats from its food menu for about two years, spokesman Brandon Borrman said. Trans fats, listed on food labels as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, are believed to be harmful because they wreak havoc with cholesterol levels.

■ China

Bank plan approved

The nation has approved a plan to turn its huge postal savings system into a bank, which is set to become the nation's fifth-largest lender, state media said yesterday. The approval for the China Postal Savings Bank to start operations was given by the Banking Regulatory Commission, the China Daily said. The bank will be wholly owned by the China Post Group, a US$10 billion company formed out of the State Post Bureau, formally both the supervisor and a major player in postal services, the China Daily said, citing the commission. The deposit balance of post savings recorded 1.3 trillion yuan (US$166 billion) by the end of 2005, accounting for nearly 10 percent of China's household savings.

■ Trade

China raises luxury tariffs

China has started from the beginning of this year to raise tariffs on individual travelers' purchase of luxury goods from overseas, a move aimed to narrow the price difference between imported and domestic goods, according to state media reports last week. The increase in consumption tax for some luxury goods purchased abroad or shipped back to China was approved by the Ministry of Finance, the China Daily reported. The new tariff will be raised from 10 percent to 30 percent for golf equipment and luxury watchers, as well as from 20 percent to 50 percent for cosmetics, the paper said.

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