Monday, September 01, 2008

Alcohol firms 'breaking law with billboard ads'

Alcohol firms 'breaking law with billboard ads'

By Pongphon Sarnsamak
The Nation
Published on August 26, 2008

Alcohol companies have violated new consumption laws over the past six months by advertising their products on billboards. And this could cause them to be fined Bt 11.5 million, Kamron Choodej, the coordinator of a network that seeks to limit consumption, said yesterday.

Kamron said his network had conducted a survey to monitor alcohol products on billboards after the Alcohol Consumption Control Bill came in to effect in February.

The survey from July 7 to 13 found 23 alcohol products were advertised on billboards beside five main roads in Bangkok, such as Lat Phrao, RamIndra, Pattanakarn and Sukhumvit.

Kamron said all alcohol manufacturers who broke the law could be fined Bt 11.5 million for these offences.

Some companies advertised their products via table covers and light boxes, he noted.

But there had been no action by police to charge offenders despite the law having been in place for six months.

A winning team

A winning team

By The Nation
Published on August 29, 2008

Students come home with 1 gold medal, 1 bronze and 3 honourable mentions.

A group of Thai students return with a gold medal, a bronze medal and three honourable mentions in the second International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA) in Indonesia.

The five competed against counterparts from 24 countries in Bandang City from August 1928.

Samaporn Thinyanont of Srinakharinwirot University's Pathumwan Demonstration School won a gold medal with the highest score in observation and data analysis, while Chayanant Ruamcharoen of Mahidol Wittayanusorn School collected a bronze medal.

The three who received honourable mention are Thanavuth Thanathibodi of Suankularb Wittayalai School, Thaveewat Somboonpanyakul of Mahidol Wittayanusorn School and Pornpassorn Kanchanakanok of Mahidol Wittayanusorn School.

The IOAA, initiated by HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana, was launched in Chiang Mai last year when local students won three gold and two silver medals.

Assoc Prof Yenjai Somwichian, a panel member of the Promotion of Academic Olympiads and Development of Science Education Foundation under Princess Galyani's patronage, says this competition had tougher questions.

Thailand did better because fancied countries like Poland, Iran and China each won only one gold medal while India and Indonesia each pocketed two gold medals, he added.

The third competition will be held in Iran next year.

KPMG survey: India lags behind China in corporate investment

KPMG survey: India lags behind China in corporate investment

By The Statesman
Asia News Network
Published on June 21, 2008

India is likely to witness the largest growth in its share of overall foreign investment over the next five years and should become the world leader for investment in manufacturing.

But it is China that will corner the biggest chunk of corporate investment by 2013 to 14, moving ahead of even the United States, global think-tank KPMG said in its latest survey.

"As investments go global, the smart money is increasingly finding its way from the traditional investment destinations of the US and Europe to the BRIC countries [Brazil, Russia, India and China]," KPMG India chief executive Russel Parera said. "The more recently recognised India opportunity is reflected in the fact that a significant amount of investment into India in the next five years is expected from first-time investors."

However, though the growth of Indian investment scenario is overwhelming, it is way behind China, already acknowledged as a major new economic power that is expected to receive funds from 24 per cent of corporate investors globally, the KPMG survey titled "Global Corporate Capital Flows 2008-09 to 2013-14" showed.

China is expected to overtake the US as the world's leading recipient of corporate investment and should become the most influential country in information technology, telecom, industrial products and mining.

"India is expected to lead the world in terms of investment in the manufacturing sector with 25 per cent of corporates expecting to invest five years from now and is projected do particularly well in industrial products, where it will displace the US to take second place behind China," the survey showed.

The global survey was

carried out by KPMG International and corporate-investment strategists from more than 300 of the largest multinational companies in 15 major economies. They were asked where they plan to invest in the next 12 months and in five years time.

"It is significant to note that while 10 per cent of the companies surveyed expect to invest in India currently, that number will go up to 18 per cent in five years - the biggest gain amongst all other BRIC countries," KPMG India tax and regulatory services head Sudhir Kapadia said.

China will not sacrifice food for fuel : experts

China will not sacrifice food for fuel : experts

By China Daily
Asia News Network
Published on June 7, 2008

Country tackles concerns as grain shortages plague the world's population

China has no plan to sacrifice food for fuel, the country's energy experts said yesterday amid a controversy over biofuels.

"Food security comes first in China, more important than fuel," China's national energy strategies co-drafter Song Yanqin said while speaking at Asia Clean Energy Forum 2008 in Manila.

Biofuel has become a new buzz word all across the world. Produced from agricultural crops such as maize, palm oil, sugar cane and jatropha, biofuels are used to run factories, power stations and vehicles. Countries that have the right conditions are setting aside millions of hectares for new plantations as international demand for biofuel rises.

However, there is another side to the coin. The development of biofuels is considered as one of the main reasons for the global shortage of food grains - driving up food prices in many countries. For instance, in the Philippines' southern region of Mindanao, rice prices have gone up to 50 pesos (Bt37.50) per kilogram.

Song said, "Biofuel is sensitive", especially in China, where 1.3 billion people live on only 120 million hectares of arable land.

"Actually, in the global context, biofuels are still a controversial topic and all for serious study," China's National Energy Leading Group adviser Zhou Dadi said.

China to regulate hot money

China to regulate 'hot money'

By China Daily
Asia News Network
Published on July 5, 2008

The Chinese government is ready with new rules to tighten control over speculative-capital inflow from abroad, or "hot money".

The move follows economists' warning that billions of dollars in illegal capital have entered the country in the garb of normal trade.

The new system will make it mandatory for companies to provide evidence to the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) for verification from July 14.

Exporters will be required to park their export receipts in temporary verification accounts until they are cleared as genuine trade revenue, according to a statement issued by the SAFE, the Commerce Ministry and the General Administration of Customs (GAC) on Wednesday night.

The new rules are aimed at stopping overseas traders from inflating their invoices to bring in more foreign money.

Inflating invoices is believed to be a common way of pushing overseas speculative capital into China.

Traders will have to report advance payments for exports and deferred payments for imports, too, because either of these channels can be used to bring in "hot money".

The new rules make it clear that the annual deferred payments for exports should not exceed 10 per cent of a trader's total payments for exports in the previous year.

The SAFE will work with the Commerce Ministry and the GAC to implement the new rules through a nationwide computerised network. Banks' computers will be linked to those of the customs department to crosscheck data. The departments used to monitor trade-related foreign capital flows separately, an arrangement that has not proved effective.

The collaboration will make the regulation more effective, an analyst said.

At a glance

- The move follows a warning that billions of dollars in illegal capital have entered China.

- Traders will have to report advance payments for exports and deferred payments for imports, too.

China an economic umbrella for Southeast Asia?

China an economic umbrella for Southeast Asia?

By Prasong Uthaisangchai
Senior Executive Vice President and Director of International Banking Group, Bangkok Bank
Published on July 21, 2008

As more bad economic news pours out of the former economic powerhouses of America, Britain, Japan and Europe, there are increasing concerns that the world economy may fall into a recession.

The only thing which may stave it off, some commentators say, is the strong economic growth in China and other countries such as India, Russia and Brazil. But other observers believe that China will not be able to avoid being caught up in the worldwide economic storm.

Certainly, China is hurting. High oil prices and commodity prices have pushed up the inflation rate and caused many businesses to close down. The cost of imports into China has risen, while the economic slump has reduced demand from China's major markets. In the first half of this year, China's trade surplus totalled US$99

billion (Bt3.3 trillion), dropping $13.21 billion, or 11.8 per cent, compared to the same period last year.

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang describes the Chinese economy as being at a critical stage however he is nonetheless positive. "China's economic fundamentals are sound and growth will still continue to be rapid," he said. To deal with the current challenge, he said, the government must take aggressive measures to support the economy. In particular, the government should work to improve the market system and seek to make price increases "acceptable" for both industry and the public.

The government must also develop China's foreign trade, improve the mix of imports and exports, and encourage Chinese enterprises to expand into the international market. Li has urged enterprises to raise their international competitiveness by speeding up transformation in line with the changing domestic and global economic situation.

GDP in China, despite slowing, still remains above 10 per cent according to the second half figures which were released last week.

Next year's forecast is for moderate growth but it will remain above 9 per cent. This growth is helping to underpin the economies of Southeast Asia which is indeed positive news for Thailand. Morgan Stanley recently raised its 2008 growth forecast for Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia to 5.6 per cent from an earlier estimate of 5.5 per cent.

It is clear that China is providing an umbrella for Southeast Asia during the current economic storm - and according to a recently released study by eminent American economist Albert Keidel, this will continue to be the case in the future. He forecast that the rise of China would continue and that it would overtake the United States as the world's largest economy by 2035.

Currently, China's GDP is about $3 trillion, compared to $14 trillion for the US. Despite the comparatively small size of the Chinese economy, its growth rate is so fast that it will rapidly catch up. Keidel said the growing economic clout of China will help China become a much more important power in other areas, including military and diplomatic affairs. "Leadership of international institutions will gravitate towards China - for example the World Bank, IMF and United Nations," he said.

So, despite the current difficult economic situation, there are still grounds for optimism. Indeed, Thailand could do well to study the economic plans outlined by Li, as it could also help to lift the economic prosperity of our country.

Beijing cites public opinion for emission-permit delays

Beijing cites public opinion for emission-permit delays

By China Daily
Asia News Network
Published on July 5, 2008

The issue of pollution-emission permits will be delayed, as more time is needed to gauge public opinion, an official with the Environmental Protection Ministry said yesterday.

"There is no timetable for issuance of the permits," the official said. He denied media reports the permits would be issued at the end of the year.

Twenty-first Century Business Herald yesterday quoted a source from the Environmental Protection Ministry, as saying "the permits will be officially released at the end of this year, or next year, by the State Council".

However, the ministry official said: "We definitely need more time to make public the legislative procedures."

Emission permits are being introduced to control the amount of pollutants discharged. Currently, only the concentration of a pollutant is monitored.

"Polluters should make preparations for treatment facilities," said Xia Guang, director of the ministry's policy research centre.

Baosteel to pay bhp 97% more

Baosteel to pay bhp 97% more

By China Daily
Asia News Network
Published on July 7, 2008

Miner forces steel firm to increase prices, matching Rio Tinto deal, as demand soars

BHP Billiton, the world's thirdbiggest iron-ore exporter, won a price increase of as much as 97 per cent from Baosteel Group, matching the agreement reached by Rio Tinto Group.

Baosteel will pay the higher prices in the 12 months that began from April, BHP said. The company was seeking to settle agreements with the rest of its customers in China and other countries.

Iron-ore prices have gained almost fourfold since 2001 to a record because of surging demand, raising costs for steelmakers and boosting profits of producers. They may gain another 20 per cent next year as demand outpaces supply and new projects are delayed, Merrill Lynch said last month.

"There is no surprise that BHP would accept the same prices Rio has settled, as BHP is the smallest among the three major exporters to China," International Capital Corporation analyst Luo Wei said. "Iron-ore prices may hold or only rise slightly next year as steel production slows."

BHP has made a US$157-million (Bt5.25 billion) hostile takeover offer for Rio, the world's second-largest exporter of iron ore, to gain control of half of the Asian market for the raw material.

BHP's agreement on Friday and Rio's June 23 accord with Baosteel exceeds the 65 per cent gain steelmakers gave Brazil's Cia Vale do Rio Doce, the world's largest supplier of iron ore, in February.

Rio and BHP want Asian mills to pay more for their Australian ore because it is cheaper to transport the material to their countries than from Brazil. Rio's accord includes a so-called freight premium that is worth $7.50 a tonne, BHP said last month.

Rio's accord did not cover the $40- to $50-a-tonne difference between the cost of shipping ore from Brazil and Australia to China, BHP said.

BHP chief executive Marius Kloppers said the company wants to sign iron ore contracts linked to spot prices or a pricing index.

However, an official said Chinese steelmakers, the world's largest consumers of iron ore, will reject any moves to link contract prices to spot prices.

Higher prices for iron ore and coking coal have spurred Baosteel, South Korea's Posco and other rivals to raise prices for products sold to auto-makers and builders to pass on costs.