S Korea records surplus
South Korea recorded a current account surplus last month, the Bank of Korea said yesterday, ending six straight monthly deficits on the back of rising exports and financial inflows. South Korea’s current account surplus came in at US$1.82 billion, the central bank said. The country recorded a deficit of US$378 million in May. The current account — South Korea’s broadest measure of trade — includes goods, services and investment flows. Though imports narrowly outpaced exports, the export and financial gains offset a widening of the services deficit and helped push the current account into surplus, the central bank figures showed.
Toyota lowers sales target
Toyota Motor Corp, in a close race with General Motors for the title of the world’s top automaker, lowered yesterday its global sales target for this year as US demand slumps. The Japanese auto giant said it forecast global sales of 9.5 million vehicles this year, down from a previous estimate of 9.85 million. The revision came as slowing US economic growth and high fuel costs at the pump have hit demand for large vehicles in the US.
Horie makes bail
Former dot.com star Takafumi Horie, who is appealing his conviction on securities laws violations to the Japanese Supreme Court, made bail on a ¥600 million (US$5.6 million) bond yesterday, a court official said. On Friday, the Tokyo High Court, an appeals court, upheld a guilty verdict and two-and-a-half-year prison term for Horie, a relatively harsh ruling for white collar crime in Japan. Horie had been handed the imprisonment in March last year by a lower court, which found him guilty of masterminding a network of decoy investment funds to manipulate earnings at his Net services startup Livedoor Co.
Manila subsidizes rice
The Philippines could spend as much as US$570 million this year to keep subsidizing low-cost rice for the poor, the agriculture minister said yesterday. The government spent 10 billion pesos in the first half of the year so that people could buy rice at about US$0.41 per kilo, or about half the market price, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said. “At the rate we’re going, we would go up to 25 billion pesos [US$569 million] minimum, just for rice,” he told reporters. The Philippines produces only about 93 percent of the rice requirements of its 90 million people, a third of whom live on a dollar a day or less. Yap said the rice farming sector was under pressure because of the high costs of oil-based fertilizer, which he said accounted for 30 percent of farmers’ production costs.
Hanoi limits golf courses
Vietnam intends to restrict the growth of new golf courses encroaching on rice farms to ensure national food security and protect thousands of poor farmers, state media reported yesterday. More than 140 golf courses, either operating or in the planning stages, would take up almost 50,000 hectares of land, the Vietnam News daily quoted a Ministry of Planning and Investment report as saying. New golf courses had been licensed at a rate of more than one per week since early 2006, when foreign investor interest surged in the “emerging tiger” economy, which saw growth of 8.5 percent last year.