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Thu, Jul 15, 2010 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take



Thailand raises key rates

Thailand’s central bank yesterday raised its key interest rate by 25 basis points to 1.5 percent, the first such hike in almost two years, as the economy recovers from the effect of deadly unrest. “The economy should continue to grow,” the Bank of Thailand said in a statement explaining its decision, which follows the end in May of two months of mass protests in Bangkok that hit the vital tourist sector. “The impact of the domestic political situation on the Thai economy in the second quarter proved to be limited. The tourism industry has shown signs of a quick recovery while consumption and production were little affected,” the bank said.


Electric scooter unveiled

Japan’s Yamaha Motor yesterday unveiled a zero-­emission electric motor scooter for city use that it said could travel five times farther than a gasoline model for the same cost. The EC-03 can travel 43km on a single six-hour charge from a household power outlet, which costs about ¥18 (US$0.20) in Japan, far less than the cost of powering a conventional 50cc scooter, it said. Yamaha will launch the e-moped on Sept. 1 in Tokyo, and a month later across Japan, at an expected retail price of ¥252,000 (US$2,800). It will start exports to Taiwan and Europe next year.

■South Korea

Mobiles to use Web for calls

South Korea’s top mobile phone carrier SK Telecom said yesterday it would allow subscribers to make Internet calls over its cellular network. Subscribers will be allowed to make phone calls using services from companies like Skype while they are connected to SK Telecom’s 3G network, the company said in a statement. Programs like Skype allow users to make cheap calls through the Internet without paying charges based on voice minutes. Mobile carriers have limited such services for fear of losing profits. Currently the use of mobile Internet phone calls is limited to Wi-Fi networks. SK Telecom also promised to create 15,000 Wi-Fi zones in South Korea by the end of this year, up 50 percent from its initial plan, to boost wireless data usage.


Nokia, Motorola negotiate

Nokia Siemens Networks is in negotiations to purchase Motorola Inc’s telecommunications equipment business, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the situation. The deal, which may come in the next few weeks, may be worth US$1.1 billion to US$1.3 billion, the newspaper said. The business, which mostly makes older equipment, would give Nokia Siemens access to Motorola’s customers in the US such as Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp, according to the report.


Rio planning expansion

Mining giant Rio Tinto yesterday announced US$200 million in funding toward a major expansion of its Western Australia iron ore operations, less than two weeks after a tax row was settled. Rio said the money would be used for dredging works at its Cape Lambert port facility, an essential part of plans to boost overall capacity in the Pilbara region by 50 percent to 330 million tonnes a year. In the second quarter, Rio Tinto said iron ore production fell 2 percent to 43.6 million metric tonnes from 44.6 million tonnes a year earlier. That compares with an estimate of 44.8 million tonnes by UBS AG analysts.

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