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Sun, Jun 15, 2008 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ ENERGY

Australia to use resources

Australia will push oil companies to quickly develop the nation’s known energy-resource deposits after an explosion cut natural gas supplies in Western Australia by 30 percent, Australian Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said. “In the minds of some companies we can basically leave our oil and gas capacity sitting there despite the fact it’s commercially available for development now,” Ferguson said in Perth yesterday after a meeting with Western Australia Premier Alan Carpenter, held to discuss the impact of the June 3 Apache Corp pipeline fire. “Whoever has energy security has a guaranteed economic future.” While the Apache plant provides only one-third of the state’s gas supplies, the June 3 explosion will cost “hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars,” Carpenter said.

■AGRICULTURE

Food scarce in Argentina

Argentina once again faced food shortages on Friday due to highway blockages by protesting workers. Grain transporters — angry at a lack of work because of a three-month standoff between the government and thousands of farmers — have set up roadblocks that have prevented others from getting their products to market. Soy, wheat and corn farmers have suspended exports three times since March 11, leaving grain exporters without cargo. Supermarket associations said milk products, fruit, vegetables and beef are in short supply, especially in the interior, since the blockades began last week.

■ECONOMY

Venezuela to ‘heat up again’

Venezuela’s economy will grow faster in the rest of the year following a first-quarter slowdown as new tax cuts and subsidies take effect, the country’s planning minister said on Friday. The oil-exporting country’s economy “will heat up again,” after growth slowed to a four-year low of 4.8 percent in the first quarter over the year-ago period, Planning Minister Haiman El Troudi said. Venezuela’s government is aiming for 6 percent growth this year, down from last year’s 8.4 percent expansion. El Troudi predicted gains would average 5 to 6 percent a year for the next decade.

■FOOD PRICES

Ecuador introduces tax cuts

Ecuador’s president is unveiling a US$256 million package of subsidies and tax cuts to ease soaring food costs. Consumer prices rose at an annual rate of 9.3 percent last month as food prices climbed and the US dollar fell. Ecuador uses the US dollar as its currency, linking the country’s economic fate to the weakening greenback. President Rafael Correa announced plans on Friday to repeal a 12 percent tax on fertilizer, seeds and other farm tools, and to provide additional subsidies on those products to lower the cost of food production.

■AGRICULTURE

US floods may boost prices

Floods that have inundated the US Midwest could reduce world corn supplies and drive food prices higher at a time when some countries have witnessed rioting over rising food costs. The US government will report later this month on how many acres of corn were lost to flooding. But farmers and agriculture experts say the toll appears grim, with thousands of hectares probably destroyed in the region that grows most of the world’s corn. The most recent floods have sent corn prices soaring past US$7 a bushel for the first time, up from about US$4 a year ago. Prices shot to a record for a seventh straight day on Friday, climbing as high as US$7.37 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade.

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