INTERNATIONAL

 

Nov 08 - 14, 2004

 

1.INTERNATIONAL

2. PAKISTAN

3. GULF

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BUSH OUTLINES PLANS FOR NEW TERM

US President George W Bush has been setting out the agenda for his second term, vowing to reach out to allies while continuing the war on terror.
He told reporters it was a conflict in which every "civilised nation" and every American had a stake.
He also spoke of the need for Middle East peace and said his administration would "achieve our objectives" in Iraq.
The president was heading to his Camp David to consider changes to his administration.

 

 

 

 

The rare news conference came after Mr Bush held his first cabinet meeting for three months, and probably the last such meeting until his new term starts in January.

There has been much speculation about Mr Bush's forthcoming reshuffle, but the president said he had not yet made any decisions.

"There will be some changes. I don't know what they will be," he said.

He acknowledged disagreements over the invasion of Iraq and said he would reach out to other countries and organisations such as the European Union and Nato.

"Every civilised country also has a stake in the outcome of this war," he said.

"Whatever our past disagreements, we share a common enemy.

And we have common duties to protect our peoples."

In an allusion to US allies, such as France and Germany, who opposed the invasion of Iraq, Mr Bush said he had made some "hard decisions" to protect Americans.

"I understand that certain capitals in certain countries, those decisions were not popular," he said. But he did not signal any changes in foreign policy.

EU 'FAILING' ON ECONOMIC PROMISES

European Union leaders are failing to deliver on economic reform promises made at the beginning of the decade, according to a high level report.

The EU's aim to become the world's most competitive economy by 2010 amounts to a series of "missed objectives", former Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok has said.

National leaders meeting in Lisbon in 2000 set the EU the goal of outpacing the US economy within 10 years.

The EU appointed Mr Kok to examine how the Lisbon objectives were progressing.

His document, which will be presented to EU leaders at a two-day summit in Brussels, says the EU needs to focus more closely on growth and employment.

It also recommends, among other things, that an annual list should be published showing which countries are failing to do enough to rejuvenate their economies.

"We have to focus very much on growth and employment and make that the top priority of the EU in the years to come," Mr Kok told.

The EU economy had "lost ground" to the US and Asia in recent years, he said.

"There are differences from country to country, but on the whole, even if every target could be met by 2010, it would be highly improbable to expect that we would be the strongest economy in the world," he said.

Mr Kok praised Nordic governments for the way they were running their economies, but he said other EU member states "had not delivered enough".

US CAR SALES BOOST FOR JAPANESE

Japanese carmakers including Toyota, Nissan and Honda increased their market share in the US last month, latest sales figures have shown.

Sales at Chrysler, the US arm of DaimlerChrylser, also rose, but General Motors (GM) and Ford both lost ground.

GM has now said it will reduce its fourth-quarter US production targets, by 10,000 to 1.27 million vehicles.

"Toyota and Nissan, they continue to hum," said Jim Sourges of consultants Capgemini.

There was more good news for the Japanese car industry as Suzuki Motor Corporation, the largest minicar maker in Japan, reported a 14.5% rise in first-half net profits to 28.7bn yen.

Suzuki's figures were helped by strong sales in overseas markets such as India and Indonesia.

GERMANY UNVEILS DEBT CUT MEASURES

The German government has unveiled a series of measures aimed at bringing the country's public deficit back below the eurozone's 3% of GDP limit in 2005.

Berlin's planned actions, which include freezing civil servants' pay, come despite a projected 8bn euro ($10.2bn; 5.6bn) hole in its finances next year.

The German finance ministry blames this estimated shortfall on a drop in taxes, but says its cost-cutting will work. Another proposed way to reduce the deficit is scrapping a public holiday. The government wants to move the annual October 3 unification day holiday to a Sunday.

TEXTILES BOOST BANGLADESH EXPORTS

Bangladesh's exports surged by more than a quarter in July and August, boosted by garment sales, according to the state-run Export Promotion Bureau.

It said exports for the two months were up 26.72% to $1.66bn (900m), compared to $1.31bn for the same period in 2003.

July and August's export figures were also 8.5% higher than the government's target of $1.53bn.

The rise in exports, driven by sales to the European Union, came despite the worst floods in 15 years.

 

 

WEAK DATA BUFFETS FRENCH ECONOMY

A batch of downbeat government data has cast doubt over the French economy's future prospects.

Official figures showed that unemployment was unchanged at 9.9% last month, while consumer confidence fell unexpectedly in October.

At the same time, finance minister Nicolas Sarkozy warned that high oil prices posed a threat to French growth.

INDIA RAISES PETROL PUMP PRICES

The Indian government has increased the retail prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas to bring them more in line with upward global trends.

With 99% of India's filling stations in the hands of state-run oil firms, petrol pump prices will be made the same as that of imports.

The price of diesel will go up by a lesser extent, but no figure was given.

It is the first time that the Indian government has increased prices since August, despite global surges.

BLAIR URGES EU TO ACCEPT BUSH

Tony Blair is urging European leaders to wake up from their "state of denial" over President Bush's re-election.

"America has spoken. The rest of the world should listen," the prime minister says in an interview with The Times newspaper, published last Friday.

Mr Blair also admitted he had gone to bed at 2230GMT, well before the polls closed, thinking Mr Kerry may have won.

He woke up at 0530GMT to discover Mr Bush had won but declined to say if he was pleased with the eventual result.

TYCOON 'STALKS' MAN UNITED AGAIN

US sports tycoon Malcolm Glazer is preparing to sweeten his bid approach for Manchester United, reports say.

The Premiership club ended talks with Mr Glazer over a possible takeover last month on the grounds that his bid relied too much on borrowed money.

Mr Glazer is now thought to have revised terms of his offer to buy the shares of John Magnier and JP McManus.

The Irish duo hold a 28.9% stake, while Mr Glazer, owner of American Football team Tampa Bay Buccaneers, holds 28.1%.

EADS BOOSTED BY AIRBUS ORDERS

European aerospace firm EADS has reported strong profits for the first nine months of 2004, boosted by sales in its Airbus plane-making subsidiary.

The company said net profits were a better-than-expected at 597m euros ($766m; 415m), up from 242m euros last year.

UK INTEREST RATES REMAIN AT 4.75%

UK interest rates have been kept on hold at 4.75% following the latest meeting of the Bank of England.

The Bank's rate-setting committee has put up rates five times in the past year, but rates have been on hold since September amid signs of a slowdown.

Economic growth has slowed with manufacturing output falling, and there are few signs of rising inflation.

ASIAN TELECOM FIRMS COME TOGETHER

Seven Asian telecommunications firms are coming together to invest between $30m and $40m (16.3m and 22m) in new mobile phone services and technology.

The Bridge Mobile Alliance will run for three years and aims to develop a common mobile phone service platform.

With a potential subscriber base of 300 million users, member companies include Singtel from Singapore, Cellular from Taiwan, and India's Bharti.

They are joined by firms from Malaysia, Australia and Indonesia. The Phillippines' Globe Telecom is also represented.

 

 

BUSINESS START-UPS GROWING IN UK

Small businesses are popping up more and more in the UK as official figures show the highest number of VAT registrations since records began.

Last year saw the largest percentage increase in VAT-registered companies since 1997, leaving the highest number of registrations since 1994.

An 8.1% rise in the number of firms becoming VAT registered outweighed the 6.4% increase in de-registrations. There are now around 1.8 million registered companies in operation.

BLAIR TO DISCUSS EU ASYLUM PLANS

Tony Blair is to meet with European Union leaders to discuss a five year asylum and immigration plan.

The prime minister will attend a summit in Brussels to consider proposals aimed at streamlining the issue.

He recently said the UK would only participate in EU-wide action where it was in Britain's interests.

SFO TO INVESTIGATE BAE CONTRACTS

The Serious Fraud Office is looking into allegations of false accounting in connection with contracts between the Saudi Arabian government and BAE.

The investigation concerns travel contracts between three firms BAE, Robert Lee International and Travellers World relating to the Saudi contracts

The SFO initially made two arrests recently after raiding eight locations in London and the south of England.

WORLD LEADERS CONGRATULATE BUSH

World leaders have congratulated US President George W Bush on the clear-cut election victory that will give him a second term in office.

But many including key allies have warned that the US faces major challenges in the Middle East.

Mr Bush won about 51% of the vote and at least 274 electoral college votes to beat John Kerry. Mr Kerry admitted defeat when it became clear that he would not win the key state of Ohio. Mr Bush praised his opponent and said he was "proud to lead such an amazing country".

TIME WARNER SETS ASIDE LEGAL FUND

Media giant Time Warner has set aside $500m (280m) to cover costs arising from an ongoing official inquiry into the accounts of its AOL internet unit.

Time Warner added that third-quarter profits fell 8% on the year to $499m.

Revenues came in at $9.96bn, up 5% on the year, and ahead of the $9.84bn forecast by analysts.

YUKOS SHAREHOLDERS TO DECIDE FATE

Yukos will ask shareholders in December to vote on whether or not the embattled Russian oil and gas giant should file for bankruptcy.

Chief executive Steven Theede said that the firm will hold a meeting on 20 December where investors will be asked to decide the future of the firm.

Yukos has been hit with tax bills of as much as $17bn (9.2bn; 13bn euros) and has been fighting to keep key assets.

FIRSTGROUP PROFITS STAY ON TRACK

A strong performance from FirstGroup's UK rail services have helped to boost profits at the transport firm.

Income from FirstGroup's five UK rail passenger franchises rose 11% in the six months to 30 September, pushing pre-tax profits up 9% to 62.1m ($114m)

UK 'ADDICTED' TO PAYING ON CREDIT

Britons are "officially addicted" to plastic, owning more than half of all the credit cards in Europe, a report has said.

In 2003, there were more credit cards than people, with 67 million credit cards in use in the UK, according to a report by Datamonitor. The firm said the number of cards in use is expected to rise significantly.

DEAL TO SAVE NHS 7% ON DRUGS BILL

The NHS will save 7% on branded prescription drugs over the next five years after a deal was struck between the government and drugs industry.

The UK-wide deal on medicines that are still under patent is worth 1.8bn in England alone.

In return, the pharmaceutical industry has been given a 5% increase in its allowance for research and development.

ASBESTOS CLAIMS 'COULD HIT 20BN'

The cost of asbestos claims in the UK could reach 20bn in the next 30 years, research by an actuarial body has said.

The Actuarial Profession warned only half the cost will be met by insurers, with the government having to foot the rest of the bill.

The research, the first of its kind in the UK, was based on new data collected by the group from major UK insurers.

CONSUMER SPENDING LIFTS US GROWTH

US economic growth accelerated in the third quarter, helped by strong consumer spending, official figures have shown.

The economy expanded at an annual rate of 3.7% in the July to September period, the Commerce Department said.

The figure marked an increase on the 3.3% growth recorded in the second quarter, but fell short of the 4.2% rate pencilled in by forecasters.

NEW MORTGAGES HIT FOUR-YEAR LOW

September saw the lowest number of new mortgage approvals in the UK since August 2000, official figures show.

Mortgage approvals fell by 10,000 during the month to 89,000, according to the Bank of England.