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Fri, Nov 21, 2008 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ FINANCE

IMF approves Iceland loan

The IMF’s executive board approved on Wednesday a US$2.1 billion loan for Iceland to help the country rebound from a dire financial crisis. The two-year loan, accompanied by quarterly reviews, is designed “to support the country’s program to restore confidence and stabilize the economy,” the IMF said. It was the first time a country in Western Europe had secured a loan from the IMF since Britain in 1976. “Iceland is in the midst of a banking crisis of extraordinary proportions. The three main banks, accounting for about 85 percent of the banking system, collapsed within a time span of less than one week,” IMF acting chairman John Lipsky said. The IMF move makes US$827 million immediately available, with the remainder of the loan to be paid out in eight installments of US$155 million.

■ AVIATION

Air travel dips in September

Business and first-class air travel dropped sharply in September because of the global financial crisis, the International Air Transport Association said (IATA) said on Wednesday. The airline industry body said that “premium traffic” on cross-border flights fell 8 percent in September from the same month last year, with Asia most affected. Economy air travel also decreased 4 percent in September, the month in which credit woes triggered severe market losses and raised worries about an economic decline that could hit both business and leisure travel. IATA said the ongoing financial turmoil has likely continued to pinch premium travel, the most lucrative sector for airlines. “Business confidence has fallen sharply in October, and with recession deepening further, significant falls in premium travel should be expected,” it said in the Premium Traffic Monitor report, which excludes domestic air traffic.

■ AUTOMOBILES

Isuzu, Mazda to cut jobs

Isuzu Motors said yesterday it would cut 1,400 jobs and slash domestic production by 10 percent, the latest in a slew of layoffs by Japanese automakers to cope with the financial crisis. The company will reduce its Japanese production for the year to March to 249,000 vehicles, down 28,000 from the original target. Mazda Motor Corp will also cut 500 temporary workers in Japan, Spokesman Toyota Tanaka said. Toyota Motor Corp said on Wednesday it would stop production at all of its US and Canadian plants for an additional two days next month because of sluggish sales. Nissan Motor has decided to cut production and axe 3,500 jobs worldwide.

■ ECONOMY

AfDB chief decries crisis

The global economic downturn could not have hit Africa “at a worse time” as the continent struggles with food shortages and humanitarian crises, African Development Bank (AfDB) president Donald Kaberuka said on Wednesday. The head of the AfDB made his comments at the opening of the sixth annual African Development Forum in Addis Ababa. “Over the past 24 months, Africa has been hit by crisis after crisis. Over the last 12 months, the world has been affected by a financial crunch,” Kaberuka said in a speech to delegates. The former Rwandan finance minister said it would take time “to restore confidence and stability” in the global financial system, adding that “the crisis couldn’t have come at a worse time for the continent which is still battling with food shortages and humanitarian issues.” Several African government officials fear their economies could suffer a knock-on effect from the financial crisis, notably in the shape of reduced aid.

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