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.
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.
NINE NEW CASES: The CECC said two locally transmitted cases of COVID-19, and seven imported ones – five women and two men – brought the nation’s total to 348 People who refuse to wear a mask on public transportation after being asked to do so would face a NT$3,000 to NT$15,000 fine, effective immediately, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday after announcing nine additional COVID-19 cases. In a move to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications on Tuesday announced that people must wear masks on trains and intercity buses, while Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, on Tuesday said that people should wear them when they cannot maintain a social distance of 1.5m indoors. Chen yesterday
TRILLION PROPOSED: The premier said the goal was to keep ‘businesses solvent, the unemployment rate down, transportation and logistics going, and cash flowing’ The Executive Yuan yesterday announced an expanded economic stimulus package totaling NT$1.05 trillion (US$34.64 billion), including NT$81.6 billion in subsidies for employers to prevent a spike in unemployment. The increased budget comprises a special budget of NT$210 billion, up from the NT$60 billion already passed by the Legislative Yuan; NT$140 billion — up from NT$40 billion — to be appropriated from the general budget; and NT$700 billion in loans to industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics Minister Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) told a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei. The NT$150 billion increase in the
The US National Security Council yesterday thanked Taiwan for its support amid the COVID-19 pandemic following President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) announcement that Taiwan would donate 10 million masks to hard-hit countries. The donation includes 2 million masks to the US on top of the weekly 100,000 announced previously; 7 million to Europe; and 1 million to diplomatic allies, on top of 1 million Taiwan procured for allies from their neighboring countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday. After European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed appreciation for the donations, the US body yesterday wrote its thanks on Twitter. “We
TARGETED TEXTS: The center’s head said that visitor numbers at scenic spots were greater than expected and people did not do a very good job of social distancing The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday sent two warning text messages to urge people to practice social distancing, especially by avoiding crowded scenic areas. The two messages were sent at 11:55am on the third day of the four-day Tomb Sweeping Day weekend, reminding people about social distancing and hand hygiene to help prevent COVID-19 infection. “When visiting crowded scenic spots during the Tomb Sweeping Day weekend, please keep a social distance of at least 1.5m indoors and 1m outdoors, wear a mask and wash your hands frequently. Please wear a mask and seek immediate medical attention if you are feeling ill