Airlines seek new venture
US carriers United and Continental and Japan’s All Nippon Airways asked for approval for a new joint trans-Pacific venture to compete against other global alliances. The airlines filed an application with the US Department of Transportation for antitrust immunity “to create a more efficient and comprehensive trans-Pacific network, generating substantial service and pricing benefits for consumers.” The airlines said the venture would enable them to compete more effectively with other global alliances. Approval would give them authority to jointly manage trans-Pacific activities including scheduling, pricing and sales. The announcement came a day after the US Justice Department said a tie-up of British Airways and American Airlines for trans-Atlantic flights would lead to “competitive harm” and called for restrictions on the deal.
Share know-how: Chavez
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told foreign automakers on Wednesday to share their technology with local businesses or they will be told to leave the country. Chavez gave the ultimatum to Ford, GM, Toyota and Fiat during a public ceremony in Caracas. There was no immediate response from the companies, which all have assembly plants in Venezuela. If his demand isn’t met, Chavez said, “I invite you to pack up your belongings and leave. I’ll bring in the Russians, the Belarusians, the Chinese.” Last year, auto plants in Venezuela produced 135,042 cars and trucks. But Venezuela’s currency controls have the industry struggling to obtain the cash they need to import enough parts and pay down debts.
Immigrants returning home
Tens of thousands of immigrants who flocked to Ireland to seek work during its Celtic Tiger economic boom appear to have gone home during the recession, official data out on Wednesday showed. A Central Statistic Office (CSO) analysis of personal public service numbers (PPSN) that are needed to get a job or claim welfare showed that of the 967,800 foreigners assigned numbers from 2002 to last year, only 425,600 were working at some time during 2008. The number of PPSNs allocated to foreigners fell sharply last year to 154,834, a 28 percent drop from the 2007 figure of 215,265. The CSO said the largest drop was for the EU accession states, which fell by over half to 65,700. The number of PPSNs issued peaked at 226,807 in 2006. The CSO said the economic downturn contributed to the low first-year employment rate for last year, when only 48 percent of immigrants got jobs.
Unpopular tax watered down
Malaysia has watered down an unpopular property gains tax, saying the 5 percent levy will only be imposed on properties sold within five years of purchase, reports said yesterday. Prime Minister Najib Razak reportedly said the decision was made following appeals from industry groups, and that the government would forgo tax revenue amounting to 200 million ringgit (US$59 million) a year. “We are willing to forgo a substantial amount of revenue so that the sector can expand and grow,” he was quoted as saying by the Edge financial daily. The tax, imposed on financial gains made on the sale of a property, was announced by Najib in the budget for next year in October. It is being reintroduced after being removed in 2007, in a move aimed at broadening Malaysia’s tax base to finance various development projects.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator
PENGHU INSPECTION: Taiwan cannot let its enemies strut around in its airspace, Tsai said, one day after a Chinese spokesman denied a median line exists in the Taiwan Strait Following China’s assertion on Monday that there is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend the nation’s airspace during a visit to an air force base in Penghu, saying that Taiwan cannot allow others to flex their military muscle in its territorial airspace. Tsai praised the “heroic performance” of the pilots of the Indigenous Defense Fighters who have been intercepting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes in recent days. “I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China [ROC], how could we let enemies strut
Swedish Member of Parliament Hampus Hagman is pushing for changing the name of the nation’s trade office in Taipei to signal improved relations with “Asia’s perhaps foremost democracy.” Hagman on Wednesday last week proposed renaming the Swedish Trade and Invest Council to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei,” following similar changes by other nations. The Swedish Trade and Invest Council, part of Business Sweden, is owned by the Swedish government and Swedish industry. Taiwan and Sweden share important values such as respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, Hagman said in the motion, adding that the two nations