The Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation Forum, set up
in 1989 mainly to promote trade among Pacific Rim states, now accounts
for more than half of global economic output and almost half of all
The two-day annual Apec gathering in Santiago was the
first official summit involving the leaders of all 21 member states, who
include Canada, China, Japan, Russia and the US.
"We reaffirmed our determination to advance the
prosperity and sustainable growth of our economies and the complementary
mission of ensuring the security of our people," a statement from
the Apec leaders said.
The WTO talks broke down last year in a dispute over
reducing subsidies offered by rich countries to their farmers. But the
negotiations resumed in July.
The Apec summit was the first big international
gathering that President George Bush has attended since his re-election
and the meeting was held under tight security.
US FARMING EXPORTS SET TO SLIDE
Slumping prices and aggressive competition mean the
US will import as much food in 2005 as it sells overseas, government
The Department of Agriculture report suggests exports
will fall about 10% to about $56bn (£30bn), while imports grow 3.3% to
reach the same level.
The US has been a net exporter of foodstuffs for
almost half a century.
Canada is the only country thought likely to buy more
US goods, with China showing the biggest fall in sales.
Cotton and soybeans are likely to be the biggest
victims of a $1.5bn reduction in Chinese demand, the report's authors
Soybean sales the world over were predicted to fall
almost 15%, as competition from Brazil and other countries hots up,
while Russia — once a lucrative customer — is now a rival in the
And there could be more bad news yet to come for beef
Some 30 countries, including Japan, have banned US
beef after several cases of BSE, or "mad cow disease",
reducing exports by about $300m.
Tests on the most recent cow suspected to have been
infected are due shortly.
The predictions from the Department of Agriculture
could spur heightened calls from US farmers for more government
In 2002, the Bush administration upped farm subsidies
by some $60bn, despite criticism from trading partners and potential
problems with World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations.
S AMERICAN NATIONS SIGN OIL DEAL
Venezuela, the world's fifth largest oil exporter,
has signed an agreement to supply Paraguay with more than 18,000 barrels
of oil per day.
The agreement was signed by Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez and his Paraguayan counterpart Nicanor Duarte.
Mr Chavez said such agreements were important to
create an energy alliance across South America.
Paraguay will pay for 75% of the oil on delivery and
will have 15 years to pay the balance.
After signing the deal, President Duarte said it
would allow Paraguay to invest US $75m in social programmes.
Venezuela says it produces some 3.1m barrels of oil a
day but critics say it produces closer to 2.6m barrels.
Mr Chavez says regional integration is one of the
arms of his "peaceful revolution".
Venezuela already has deals for preferential oil
rates with more than 15 countries in the region.
STEEL SHORTAGE HITS NISSAN PLANTS
Nissan is to stop production at some of its domestic
car plants for five days due to a steel shortage.
Japan's second-biggest car maker will suspend
operations at three of its four domestic plants on 29 and 30 November
and from 6 to 8 December.
It will result in the lost production of about 25,000
vehicles, due to be made up early next year.
Steel prices have been rising due to tight
raw-material supplies and a surge in demand from the Chinese economy.
Nissan said the problem has arisen since the roll-out
in early September of a series of new models, and that the production
backlog would be overcome by running the closed factories during January
It is introducing six new lines in Japan between this
autumn and January, after producing no new models for a year.
JAPAN TRADE SURPLUS KEEPS RISING
Japan's trade surplus rose by 8.8% in October from a
year earlier, to 1.164 trillion yen ($11.32bn; £6.02bn).
The rise was above market expectations, because of
one-off exports of vessels, the Ministry of Finance said.
Close study of the figures showed export activity
slowed down due to a downturn in global demand for IT products.
Export growth has, until recently, been the main
engine behind Japan's economic recovery over the past few years.
The recovery has depended to a large extent on a
healthy appetite for its goods in China and other Asian nations.
In October exports increased 3.2% to 5.29 trillion
yen, while imports rose 2.7% to 4.43 trillion yen.
A Ministry of Finance official warned of the downturn
in global demand for IT products, observing "with regard to the
trend of exports of ITs, we no longer see as a strong growth momentum as
we had observed earlier this year".
GOLD SURGES AS DOLLAR FALLS AGAIN
The dollar has slumped to a new low against the euro,
fuelling concerns about future European economic growth.
Fears that the strong euro could have a serious
effect on European economies in 2005 were sharpened by data showing a
fall in business confidence in Germany.
The euro jumped to a high of $1.3248 on Thursday on
suggestions the US may tolerate a weaker dollar, while gold prices
surged to sixteen-year highs. The dollar also fell to a new four-year
low against the yen of 102.61 yen.
MARKETS SIGNAL BRAZILIAN RECOVERY
The Brazilian stock market has risen to a record high
as investors display growing confidence in the durability of the
country's economic recovery.
The main Bovespa index on the Sao Paolo Stock
Exchange closed at 24,866 points last Thursday, topping the previous
record market close.
The market's buoyancy reflects optimism about the
Brazilian economy, which could grow by as much as 4.5% in 2004. Brazil
is recovering from last year's recession — its worst in a decade.
JAPANESE PRICES CONTINUE TO FALL
Prices of Japanese goods continued to fall in
October, an indication that deflation has not been curbed.
But, including the cost of vegetables, soaring
because of storms that damaged crops, prices rose from a year earlier
for the first time in over five years.
Figures showed the core nationwide consumer price
index (CPI), which excludes fresh food, fell 0.1% in October from the
same month in 2003.
Deflation has hit the world's second-largest economy
for six years.
In September, core prices nationally were unchanged
from a year earlier after falling 0.2% in August and July, and 0.1% in
CBI SLASHES UK GROWTH FORECASTS
Order books for UK manufacturers have fallen this
month to their lowest level since the start of 2004 as higher base rates
and oil prices bite.
The CBI's latest industrial trends survey found that
16% of firms reported order books above normal, but 32% said they were
In response, the business lobby group has lowered its
forecasts for economic growth by 0.3% to 2.5% for 2005.
And it warned government borrowing was also likely to
The CBI believes Chancellor Gordon Brown will need an
extra £6bn for the public coffers than previously thought, with a
budget deficit now likely to be £37.1bn in the current financial year.
Gordon Brown was in danger of getting his sums wrong,
the CBI said, and was "cutting it very fine" on his golden
rule of balancing the budget.
CHINA RAISES STAKES IN ZIMBABWE
Zimbabwe's national airline is to start flying to the
Chinese capital Beijing twice a week.
The plan, announced by Chinese media, comes as China
is upping its influence in Zimbabwe's battered economy.
The latest stage of a long-standing relationship has
seen floods of cheap goods imported from China, and big construction
deals go to Chinese firms.
China is also ramping up its presence elsewhere in
Africa, from construction in Botswana to oil in Sudan.
Air Zimbabwe is thought to have only two working
long-haul aircraft, although it expects another two from China thanks to
a deal signed earlier this year.
The Beijing flights will help service China's
extensive investments in Zimbabwe, estimated by Zimbabwe's government to
be worth US$600m but by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change to
be much higher.
BRAZIL CLAIMS BACKING ON URANIUM
Brazil has announced it will begin enriching uranium
officially, saying it has received the approval of the United Nations'
International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors paid a
"successful" visit to the Resende enrichment plant in October,
a minister told reporters.
Science and Technology Minister Eduardo Campos said
production of enriched uranium would start within months.
PETROL SALES BOOST TESCO TURNOVER
Tesco says it is continuing to enjoy fast sales
growth after a strong third quarter performance across all parts of its
The UK's largest supermarket group said overall sales
were up 12.2% during the 14 weeks to 20 November, compared to the same
period last year.
Tesco said UK sales alone were up 12.3%, compared to
the second quarter rise of 11.8%, aided by petrol sales. It said it had
kept petrol prices as low as possible despite oil hikes.
RISING MATERIAL COSTS HIT HEINZ
Second quarter profits at ketchup maker Heinz have
been hit by higher material and transport costs.
The US food giant said its frozen and microwavable
potato products help boost sales in North America by 8.4%.
But Heinz said packaging, raw material and fuel
prices will increase by more than $100m (£53.5m) this year.
Its net profits in the three months to 27 September
rose 4% to $199m, from $191.5m a year earlier. Sales were $2.2bn
compared to $2.09bn.
SIEMENS SEALS CHINESE POWER DEAL
German industrial giant Siemens has sealed a deal to
supply power generating technology in China.
Siemens is to enter a joint venture with Shanghai
Electric which will see it invest 55m euros ($71m; £38m) in supplying
parts for new gas turbines.
China's booming economy has placed severe demands on
the country's energy supply, and Beijing is keen to end its dependence
on foreign technology. The firms will build turbines worth 210m euros
for Chinese power plants.
AIR FRANCE KLM PROFITS
Merged airline group Air France KLM has bucked gloom
and doom in the airline industry by reporting upbeat results.
Profits for the three months to September 30 were
201m euros ($264m; £140m), compared with year-ago like-for-like profits
of 143m euros.
CHINA RULES OUT 'HARD LANDING'
China's economy is in for a "soft landing"
amid plans for a "gradual" shift in exchange rates, President
Hu Jintao has told Asian leaders.
Economic growth of more than 9% a year and a currency
locked to the declining dollar have worried other countries.
There are fears that China may overheat — or that
credit controls intended to take the economy off the boil could slam on
the brakes too sharply. But Mr Hu said that would not happen, and
promised "stable and fast growth".
EU PONDERS SUGAR INDUSTRY REFORMS
EU agriculture ministers are meeting in Brussels to
discuss how to carry out urgently needed reforms of Europe's
multi-million dollar sugar industry.
The World Trade Organisation last month ruled that
the industry is unfairly subsidised by governments, undermining
producers in developing countries.
The EU is now proposing to cut prices by about a
third. It also wants to reduce the amount of sugar produced, so that the
excess is not dumped on other countries.
Two international aid groups, Oxfam and the World
Wide Fund for Nature, have produced reports to coincide with the meeting
that allege sugar subsidies cost ordinary Europeans billions of dollars
in higher taxes and food prices.