GERMANY HAS FIRST WOMAN
Angela Merkel became Germany's
first woman and youngest post-war chancellor last week, ending months of
political uncertainty and ushering in a fragile new coalition of left
and right that must prove it can revive Europe's biggest economy.
The 51-year-old Angela Merkel,
a pastor's daughter who started her political career after the Berlin
Wall fell in 1989, was confirmed in Germany's top post by a
parliamentary vote in which 397 of the Bundestag's 614 members backed
her - easily enough for the majority she needed in the lower house.
She becomes Germany's eighth
post-war chancellor and the first one to have grown up in the former
"Dear Dr Merkel, you are
now the first-ever elected female head of government in Germany. That is
a strong signal for many women, and certainly for some men too,"
joked parliamentary speaker Norbert Lammert, who swore Ms Merkel into
Her predecessor Gerhard
Schroeder, who initially refused to cede his post when her conservatives
narrowly beat his Social Democrats in a Sept 18 election, was the first
to congratulate Ms Merkel after the result was read out to a hushed
Mr Schroeder later handed over
the Chancellery keys to Ms Merkel in an emotional ceremony in which he
wished her luck and she thanked him for modernizing Germany.
Ms Merkel has vowed to cut
unemployment and repair ties with Washington, strained by Mr Schroeder's
vocal opposition to the Iraq invasion. But she enters office weaker than
she had hoped and with a majority of Germans convinced her unwieldy
alliance, the first 'grand coalition' since the 1960s, will not last a
full four-year term.
S. ARABIA SEES GDP UP 4.6PC BY
Saudi Arabia projects an
average 4.6 per cent annual economic growth over the 2005-2009 period
backed by an expected 1.56 per cent rise each year in the value of oil
exports, the backbone of its economy.
The world's top oil supplier
expects the value of its crude exports to rise to 398.5 billion riyals
($106.3 billion) by 2009, up 8 per cent from 368.8 billion riyals in
2004, details of the 2005-2009 five-year economic plan showed.
Economic growth over the
2000-2004 plan was 3.44 per cent a year.
The projected total value of
oil exports (in 2009) represents 34.9 per cent of Gross Domestic Product
(GDP) against 39.7 per cent in 2004," the economy and planning
ministry said on its Web site.
The figures suggest Saudi
Arabia, which plans to raise oil output capacity by 14 per cent to 12.5
million barrels per day by 200, is using conservative estimates to guard
against any fall in crude oil prices.
Officials at the planning and
economy ministry could not be reached for comment. The ministry
published no projection for the price of oil over the five-year period
covered by the plan.
Despite price fluctuations, oil
receipts rose at an average annual pace of 17.5 per cent over the
The average 4.6 per cent growth
in the economy should hike GDP to 895.2 billion riyals by 2009, up 25
per cent from 715 billion riyals in 2004, the ministry said. The GDP
figures were based on constant 1999 prices.
Plans for the longer term
provide for a GDP of 1.189 trillion riyals in 2014 and 2.542 trillion
riyals in 2024, also at 1999 prices.
The 2005-09 plan is based on
inflation at an annual 0.6 per cent, against annual deflation of 0.6 per
cent over the previous five years.
INDIA HOPES TO EXPORT COTTON TO
Made-in-China apparel sold in
some of the biggest retail chains in the US, in the summer of 2007, may
have their thread running to Gujarat. Cotton farmers from the state are
preparing themselves to enter the dragon land. Both the US and China
haven't had a very good cotton crop this season creating a demand pull
from China. Local traders feel that exports will fetch handsome returns
- nothing less than 100 per cent.
As China prepares itself to
become the leading textile exporter to US and Europe, it is expected to
face a shortage of an estimated 15 million bales of cotton. Gujarat
seems to be ideally placed to partially fulfil this shortage, thanks to
an extremely good monsoon and extensive use of Bt-cotton seeds this
"The cotton price in the
exports market today is lucrative, owing to higher demand from buyers
especially in China. What's more, Gujarat has the most consistent
quality of the crop which is required for exports," a cotton trader
in Saurashtra told ET.
The international price of good
quality cotton is averaging at about Rs50 a kg against the domestic
rates of about Rs20 a kg or even less.
FRAUD CHARGE FOR IRAQI
A US businessman has been
charged with bribing officials involved in the reconstruction of
post-war Iraq, the New York Times has reported.
The paper said Philip Bloom had
been accused of paying $600,000 (£349,000) to staff in the Coalition
Provisional Authority which ran Iraq until 2004.
Citing legal documents, the
paper said Mr Bloom is alleged to have secured up to $3.5m in fraudulent
Anti-corruption groups have
warned that fraud has become widespread in Iraq.
Soon after the invasion of
Iraq, the US and other partners had pledged $20bn to rebuild the
country, but many questions have been raised about how the money has
US INDUSTRY FACES SKILLS GAP
US manufacturers are facing a
growing shortage of skilled workers that will hurt their ability to
compete in the global economy, a study showed. The report by the
National Association of Manufacturers, the Manufacturing Institute and
Deloitte Consulting LLP found 81pc of companies surveyed reported
difficulties finding workers with adequate skills.
The gap affected all sectors,
but was notable in the fields of science and engineering.
EU BUDGET DEAL
British Foreign Secretary Jack
Straw restated London's commitment to trying to strike an EU budget deal
next month, but stressed it would be difficult and require concessions
on all sides. Straw, whose country currently holds the European Union's
presidency, confirmed that London will make new proposals at a
ministerial "conclave" on December 7 to try to break the
deadlock over the bloc's 2007-2013 budget plans.
EU ROW LOOMS OVER MERKEL UK
German Chancellor Angela Merkel
is visiting the UK for talks with Prime Minister Tony Blair that are
expected to focus on the EU budget dispute.
Mrs Merkel was sworn in as
Germany's first woman chancellor last week.
On a brief visit to Paris and
Brussels, she stressed the need for a more constructive approach to
solving Europe's common problems.
Her London trip is set to focus
on a row over the EU budget that has pitted the UK against France and
The UK, which currently holds
the rotating EU presidency, is eager to reach a deal over the budget by
the end of the year.
BANK OF ITALY INVESTIGATED BY
The European Commission is to
begin legal action against the Italian central bank, the Bank of Italy,
over its handling of recent bank mergers.
The move was announced by the
Internal Market Commissioner, Charlie McCreevy, who said action was
likely to start next month.
It comes after Dutch bank ABN
Amro said the Bank of Italy tried to block its bid for Italian lender
The Bank of Italy was said to
have wanted an all Italian merger instead.
The bank's governor, Antonio
Fazio, has been accused of abusing his position over the matter and has
faced calls in Italy to resign.
SAUDI WTO MEMBERSHIP APPROVED
The World Trade Organization (WTO)
has approved Saudi Arabia's application for membership after 12 years of
The world's largest oil
exporter will become the 149th member of the WTO in 30 days' time.
The country will need to adopt
the entire body of WTO legislation, a process that involves
liberalisation of currently restricted sectors.
Saudi Arabia must open its long
protected economy to the outside world, including fellow WTO member
WEAK SALES HIT NINTENDO PROFITS
Japanese gaming firm Nintendo,
creator of iconic characters Donkey Kong and Mario Brothers, has seen
profits drop amid weak sales of its latest console.
Net profit dropped 21% to
36.6bn yen (£179m; $308m) in the six months to 30 September from 46.5bn
yen a year ago. Sales dropped 6.2% to 176.4bn yen as demand for the
firm's GameCube waned.
RADIO GROUP'S PROFITS
The owner of the Capital and
Classic FM radio stations, GCap Media, is to revamp its stations and
advertising policy after seeing its profits fall.
Underlying half-year profits
dropped to £12.4m ($21.3m) from £17.3m a year ago, with revenue down
11% to £11.6m.
UK HOUSEBUILDERS ANNOUNCE
The UK's largest housebuilder,
Persimmon, has agreed a £643m ($1.1bn) takeover bid for rival firm
The 560 pence-a-share cash
offer has been recommended by Westbury's board of directors, although it
must be approved by the shareholders of both companies.
Persimmon said there was a
"compelling logic" to the deal, which would boost its land
assets and increase its presence in certain areas of the UK. Persimmon
currently builds more than 12,000 houses a year.
EU 'HAS ROOM TO MOVE ON
Europe's trade chief has said
he has room to manoeuvre on how many goods he will protect from tariff
cuts at World Trade Organisation talks next month.
But Peter Mandelson did add
that he had no plans to give in to demands for more cuts in farming
"There are plenty of
aspects and areas of our offer where we can elaborate, elucidate and
specify," he told a European Parliament trade committee. He added
that there was room to move on "sensitive products" like beef.
CHRISTMAS RETAIL SPENDING TO
Festive cheer may be far from
retailers' minds next month after a survey predicts the first drop in UK
Christmas spending in a decade.
The amount the UK spends on
Christmas presents will fall by £400m this year, the study by
accountants Deloitte says.
It estimates that the average
amount spent per head on gifts will fall 2.8% to £310, cutting the
total UK spend to £14.7bn from £15.1bn last year.
The survey also says most
people hope not to have to use their credit cards.
Deloitte said three out of four
shoppers aim to use cash or debit cards alone, and suggested that this
meant people were becoming more concerned about personal debt.
BIG GROWTH IN MOBILE PHONE
Handset sales hit 205 million,
said research firm Gartner, which forecast total sales of 810 million
Nokia continues to lead the
market with a 32% share, but Motorola saw a big boost in sales as it
sold 12 million of its Razr phones.
Sales grew more slowly than the
26% seen in the same period of 2004 - but surged over 40% in Eastern
Europe, Africa and Latin America.
SCOTTISH ECONOMY 'OUTPACING' UK
The Scottish economy is set to
grow faster than the UK average this year, thanks largely to more
resilient consumer spending, a report has said.
Scotland's gross domestic
product (GDP) will rise by 1.7% in 2005, compared with 1.6% in the UK as
a whole, the Scottish Item Club research group said.
However, the report said
Scotland's economy will grow at a slower rate than the UK average next
year. Scotland's 2006 growth figure is expected to be 1.9% and the UK's
FED HINTS AT END TO US RATE
The US Federal Reserve could
soon consider an end to its current cycle of "measured"
interest rate rises, minutes of its latest meeting have suggested.
The central bank raised rates
for the 12th time in a row at the start of the month from 3.75% to 4%.
Policy setters voted
unanimously for a rise in November amid fears that high fuel prices were
a risk to inflation.
But, the minutes showed some
members had voiced fears that "risks of going too far" could
For a number of months the
Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) has said it would continue to raise
rates at a "measured pace", which analysts have taken to mean
monthly rises of 25 basis points.
S KOREA APPROVES RICE IMPORT
Parliament in South Korea has
ratified a plan to liberalise the domestic rice market, despite strong
opposition from the country's farmers.
The measure was approved in a
139-61 vote, with 23 abstentions.
Under last year's deal with
nine rice exporting nations, Seoul will gradually increase its rice
import quotas from 4% to 8% of total consumption by 2014.
VENEZUELA GIVES US CHEAP OIL
Officials from Venezuela and
Massachusetts have signed a deal to provide cheap heating oil to
low-income homes in the US state.
The fuel will be sold at about
40% below market prices to thousands of homes over the winter months.
Local congressman William
Delahunt described the deal as "an expression of humanitarianism at
its very best".
Venezuela's President Hugo
Chavez is one of the Bush administration's biggest adversaries in Latin
He first announced his plan to
provide cheap heating oil directly to lower-income Americans while
visiting Cuba in August.