Lamy slams protectionism
WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy yesterday called for collective discipline to stem the spread of protectionism during the global slump, citing “Buy American” provisions in the US stimulus package. “If you hit imports, your exports will be hit,” Lamy told a forum in Seoul. “Protectionist pressure is there even though we know isolationism or protectionism does not work for simple reasons,” he said. “Without collective disciplines which the US has to subscribe to in the government procurement agreement in WTO, the ‘Buy American’ act would probably have been much more worse for US partners,” Lamy said.
US ignoring Swiss law: UBS
Banking giant UBS has accused the US government of ignoring Swiss sovereignty and forcing its employees to break the law, as lawyers seek to fend off a US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) fraud probe into the firm. The comments come after the US government filled lawsuit on Thursday to force the firm to disclose the identities of as many as 52,000 US customers who allegedly evaded taxes. “The IRS petition does not acknowledge these restrictions and instead simply ignores the existence of Swiss law and sovereignty,” the firm’s lawyers said in a response to the filing. The US request is part of a long-running battle over banking secrecy in which UBS admitted to tax fraud and provisionally agreed to pay US$780 million in settlement charges. It is estimated that the accounts contain around US$14.8 billion.
SFCG files for bankruptcy
A Japanese corporate money-lender said yesterday it had filed for bankruptcy with liabilities of more than US$3.6 billion, blaming growing bad debt and a slump in new loans. SFCG Co, which filed for protection from creditors with the Tokyo District Court, said it had liabilities of ¥338.04 billion (US$3.63 billion) as of October. The collapse of the company, which reportedly owes ¥71 billion to Citigroup, is Japan’s largest corporate bankruptcy this year, private credit research company Teikoku Databank said. “The company suffered extremely severe financial conditions due to a growth of bad loans and a slump in new loans,” SFCG said in a statement.
Vodafone planning layoffs
Vodafone Group PLC, the world’s largest mobile-phone company, plans to cut hundreds of jobs in the UK to reduce costs and protect earnings amid the economic slowdown, two people with direct knowledge of the plan said. The company plans to make the announcement today, said the two, who declined to be identified because the plans are confidential. The jobs will be eliminated at Vodafone’s UK operations, the people said, declining to give a precise number.
DHL planning China move
DHL Worldwide Express, the courier unit of Deutsche Post AG, may move some of its China departments as the global recession saps demand for freight movements. “The company is still discussing the plan,” Wendy Li, a DHL China spokeswoman, said by telephone yesterday, declining to elaborate. DHL may transfer some employees and departments to Chengdu, Sichuan Province, by November, the Securities Times said yesterday, citing unidentified people close to the matter.