Squeezed by debt crisis, Greeks ditch cars for bikes

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Greece's dire economic plight has forced thousands of businesses to close, thrown one in five out of work and eroded the living standards of millions. But for bicycle-maker Giorgos Vogiatzis, it's not all bad news. The crisis has put cash-strapped Greeks on their bikes - once snubbed as a sign of poverty or just plain risky - and Greek manufacturers are shifting into fast gear. … [Read more...]

French auto sales struggle, production dives

Workers of the PSA Peugeot Citroen carmaker plant of Aulnay-sous-Bois, a Paris suburb. (AFP/Lionel Bonaventure)

Sales of new cars in France rallied slightly in July when French brands did well with new models, but in the first six months of the year output by French carmakers plunged by 20.8 per cent, trade data showed on Thursday. PARIS: Sales of new cars in France rallied slightly in July when French brands did well with new models, but in the first six months of the year output by French carmakers plunged by 20.8 per cent, trade data showed on Thursday. Overall sales rose by 0.9 per cent to 150,248 in July, the CCFA body representing manufacturers said. But July this year contained one more business day than the comparable period last year and if this were stripped out, sales fell by 3.5 per cent. July is an important month for sales since many motorists buy a car before leaving on their summer holidays. A spokesman for the CCFA said that the July figure marked the first upturn since October 2011. The French market, in common with many others, was hard hit by the effects of the … [Read more...]

Fiat first quarter profit soars

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Italian auto giant Fiat said Thursday its net profit in the first quarter soared ten-fold to 379 million euros ($500 million) thanks to its US partner Chrysler, without which it would be in the red. The group had banked 37 million euros in profit in the first quarter last year -- before snapping up a majority stake in the US automaker in a move which has more than offset poor Fiat results in a sluggish European market. Chrysler, which fell under Fiat's operational command in June 2009 when it emerged from a government-supported bankruptcy, reported its own four-fold leap in first quarter profit on Thursday to $473 million (357 million euros). "Chrysler is firing on all cylinders. I have really no bad news to share with you," Sergio Marchionne, chief of both Fiat and Chrysler, said in a conference call. Built on sales gains that surpassed the industry average, Chrysler's results set an "incredible foundation for 2013," Marchionne said, adding "most of our plants now are being … [Read more...]

As profits surge, Europe’s carmakers rev up global ambitions

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Two years after a world economic downturn all but wiped them out, European carmakers have bounced back to the spotlight with Volkswagen aiming to be the industry leader and Fiat carving out a global brand for itself. Unfettered of their obligations to repay state aid and riding out the expiry of government "cash-for-clunkers" schemes that initially plunged their revenue, carmakers this week gave rosy outlooks for the rest of fiscal 2011. Germany's Volkswagen reported a three-fold profit leap in the three months from January through March to 1.71 billion euros (USD2.5 billion), selling two million cars, a new milestone for Europe's biggest automaker. The comparable figure for 2010 was 473 million euros. Finance director Dieter Poetsch said a cash pile worth 19.6 billion euros gave the group impetus to overtake General Motors and Toyota and become the leading global car maker by 2018. With respect to 2011, Chairman Martin Winterkorn, who has boosted VW's fortunes since he took … [Read more...]

US consumer confidence takes recession beating

Shoppers on Fifth Avenue in New York City. US consumer confidence tanked in October amid growing worries about jobs in the recession-wracked economy, boding ill for the key holiday shopping season, the Conference Board said Tuesday. (AFP Photo)

US consumer confidence slumped in October amid worries about jobs in the recession-wracked economy, boding ill for the important holiday shopping season, the Conference Board said Tuesday. The private research firm said its consumer confidence index declined for the second month in a row, to 47.7 in October from a revised 53.4 in September. The September reading initially was reported at 53.1. The decline in the October index was much steeper than expected by Wall Street, with most analysts expecting a 53.5 reading. The downbeat start of the fourth quarter raised a red flag over consumer spending, which drives about two-thirds of activity in the world's largest economy and is particularly crucial for retailers' year-end holiday sales. Lynn Franco, research director of the Conference Board, said that labor market condition played "a major role in this grimmer assessment." "Consumers also remain quite pessimistic about their future earnings, a sentiment that will likely … [Read more...]

Vietnamese should be prouder of goods produced domestically

Your Say (11-09-2009) Vietnamese should be prouder of goods produced domestically Last week, Viet Nam News asked readers how to promote made-in-Viet Nam products. Here are some of the opinions we received: Pham Thanh Truyen, Vietnamese, HCM City Vietnamese enterprises need to do more. Unlike other countries in Asia, Vietnamese people prefer foreign products. Ten or 15 years ago, few doubted that foreign products were superior to local ones. Unfortunately, that mindset hasn't changed. It is undeniable that nowadays Vietnamese products have vastly improved in terms of quality and packaging. The difficulty is getting that message across? It's useless to just say "Hey! My products are not as bad as you think". It's also ineffective for enterprises to act on their own. There needs to be central government help. The recent campaign to encourage Vietnamese to consume domestically made products launched by the Politburo is a good example. … [Read more...]

Canada moves to protect blood supply from Zika virus

MONTREAL — Canadian blood agencies announced ON Wednesday a temporary restriction on blood donations aimed at keeping the Zika virus out of the nation's blood supply. Anyone who has travelled outside of Canada, the continental United States or Europe will be ineligible to give blood for three weeks upon their return from abroad "to mitigate the risk of the Zika virus entering the Canadian blood supply", Canadian Blood Services said in a statement. Hema-Quebec, which is responsible for blood services in the French-speaking province of Quebec, put a similar measure in place. The 21-day waiting period also applies to cord blood and stem cell donors who have travelled to affected areas. "The risk of a Canadian donor transmitting the Zika virus to a blood recipient is very low," Canadian Blood Services said, although one case has been reported in Brazil. A case of transmission through sexual intercourse was also reported on Tuesday in the US state of Texas. "The mosquito that … [Read more...]

S.America holds crisis meeting as Zika ‘nightmare’ spreads

MONTEVIDEO — South American health ministers held an emergency meeting on Wednesday on slowing the spread of the Zika virus, dubbed a "nightmare" by hard-hit Brazil, where it is blamed for brain damage in babies. With health authorities warning the disease could infect up to four million people in the Americas, ministers from 14 countries held talks in Uruguay to plot their response to the growing crisis, with fears the virus could spread worldwide. The meeting focused on ways to control the mosquito population spreading the virus, though reports of a US patient catching the disease by having sex fueled fears that it will not be easy to contain. Brazil said it was sending more than 500,000 personnel out to clean up mosquito breeding grounds and advise people about the disease. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said her government was directing "all resources" available toward the crisis, and vowed to do "absolutely everything" for the families of babies born with … [Read more...]

Trans-Pacific Partnership just officially signed

The signing of TPP Agreement is a milestone promising that TPP will come into effect on time

The Hanoitimes - Economic ministers and and chief negotiators from 12 member nations signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement with the presence of the Prime Minister of New Zealand. The signing ceremony took place in Auckland, New Zealand on the morning of February 4. Minister of Industry and Trade of Vietnam Vu Huy Hoang lead Vietnamese negotiator participated at the signing ceremony. Along with Viet Nam, the agreement’s initial signatories comprise Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, and the United States. At the signing ceremony, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said his country was proud to be the host and an active member throughout the negotiation process. The TPP will help liberalise trade across the region and bring benefits to all members, he said. US President Barack Obama also welcomed the signing of the pact. Member states now have two years to complete domestic work for TPP ratification. The pact will … [Read more...]

Pacific Rim nations sign giant trade deal amid protests

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key (C) and Ministerial Representatives from 12 countries pose for a photo after signing the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement in Auckland. Minister of Industry and Trade, Vu Huy Hoang (first, right) represents Viet Nam to the signing ceremony. — AFP/VNA Photo

AUCKLAND — The US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of the biggest trade deals in history, was signed in New Zealand on Thursday as protestors demonstrated over fears for jobs and sovereignty. The ambitious deal, promising the elimination of nearly all tariffs among the 12 member nations, aims to break down trade and investment barriers between countries accounting for about 40 percent of the global economy. While New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and US Trade Representative Mike Froman lauded the pact at the ceremonial signing in Auckland, thousands of protestors blocked roads outside. "Today is a significant day, not only for New Zealand but for the other 11 countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership," Key said. US President Barack Obama hailed the signing, saying the TPP would give the United States an advantage over other leading economies, namely China. "TPP allows America -- and not countries like China -- to write the rules of the road in the 21st century, which is … [Read more...]

TPP trade deal signed, but years of negotiations still to come

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WELLINGTON, Feb 4 (Reuters) - The Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of the world's biggest multinational trade deals, was signed by 12 member nations on Thursday in New Zealand, but the massive trade pact will still require years of tough negotiations before it becomes a reality. The TPP, a deal which will cover 40 percent of the world economy, has already taken five years of negotiations to reach Thursday's signing stage. The signing is "an important step" but the agreement "is still just a piece of paper, or rather over 16,000 pieces of paper until it actually comes into force," said New Zealand Prime Minister John Key at the ceremony in Auckland. The TPP will now undergo a two-year ratification period in which at least six countries - that account for 85 percent of the combined gross domestic production of the 12 TPP nations - must approve the final text for the deal to be implemented. The 12 nations include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New … [Read more...]

Economic Diplomacy in Step with International Integration

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In the past year, Vietnamese diplomacy has made important contributions to the consolidation of traditional friendship with partners, especially strategic partners, deepening sustainable economic relations, both bilateral and multilateral. Vietnam Business Forum interviewed Deputy Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son. Nguyen Mai reports.What are the outstanding achievements of Vietnamese diplomacy in 2015, especially in economic diplomacy? 2015 was a very successful year for Vietnamese diplomacy in all fields. Vietnamese foreign relations are expanding in scope and scale. In bilateral relations, Vietnam has in the main completed stable relations with important and promised partners. With the recent upgrading of strategic partnership with Malaysia and the Philippines, Vietnam has in total 15 strategic partners and 10 comprehensive partners, and all of them are leading economic and strategic partners in the region and the world. In particular, General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong has visited … [Read more...]

Firms must meet EU requirements

HA NOI (VNS) — Vietnamese firms have been urged to prepare for the impending Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (VPA/FLEGT). The agreement is expected to generate significant opportunities for the expansion of wooden product exports to European markets. The VPA/FLEGT is expected to conclude negotiations and be signed at the end of this year. According to Nguyen Ngoc Thang, manager of the World Wildlife Fund Viet Nam's project for supporting VPA negotiations, was quoted by Cong Thuong newspaper as saying that the VPA/FLEGT would help eliminate legal risks for wooden export firms selling to European markets while promoting the domestic wood industry of more than 3,500 firms and 300,000 labourers. The signing of the VPA with the European Union – a very strict market with high requirements for timber and wood products – will also enhance the trust of Viet Nam's other major partners that have similar requirements for wood … [Read more...]

Solutions needed to take advantage of TPP

Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement will be signed today in New Zealand. Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang talked to Vietnam News Agency reporters Khanh Linh and Kim Anh about how the pact's conclusion matters for Viet Nam and domestic enterprises, before he travels to New Zealand for the signing ceremony. How significant is the signing of the TPP in New Zealand on February 4? After ministers met at a session in Atlanta, the United States on October 5, 2015, we agreed to review the contents of the agreement and officially sign it within 90 days. Countries have completed reviewing procedures with public promulgation during this period. All parties are aware that concluding the agreement on schedule is extremely important because if any of 12 member countries face problems, it will affect other nations and may lead to a failure to conclude the agreement. This important milestone promises proper enforcement of the pact. n Has Viet Nam reached any bilateral … [Read more...]

Syrian army and allies breaks rebel siege of Shi’ite towns: army

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Residents inspect damage after airstrikes by pro-Syrian government forces in Anadan city, about 10 kilometers away from the towns of Nubul and Zahraa, Northern Aleppo countryside, Syria February 3, 2016. The Syrian army and its allies have broken a three-year rebel siege of two Shi’ite towns in northwest Syria, government and rebel groups said on Wednesday, cutting off a main insurgent route to nearby Turkey. The two towns of Nubul and Zahraa, with an estimated 60,000 population, are connected to the border by areas under the control of Kurdish militias that provided them some access. Al Manar, television channel of Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, joined Syria's army and state media in reporting the breakthrough, which it said came after the army moved in from towns secured in a recent offensive in northern Aleppo province. A Levant Front rebel said the siege was broken "after three days of legendary resistance by the revolutionaries facing the Russian military … [Read more...]

Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal signed, but years of negotiations still to come

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U.S. President Barack Obama (5th L) holds a meeting with Trans-Pacific Partnership leaders alongside the APEC Summit in Manila, Philippines, November 18, 2015. Also pictured at the head table are the Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah (2nd L), Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (4th L), U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman (3rd R) and Vietnam President Truong Tan Sang (2nd R). REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst The Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of the world's biggest multinational trade deals, was signed by 12 member nations on Thursday in New Zealand, but the massive trade pact will still require years of tough negotiations before it becomes a reality. The TPP, a deal which will cover 40 percent of the world economy, has already taken five years of negotiations to reach Thursday's signing stage. The signing is "an important step" but the agreement "is still just a piece of paper, or rather over 16,000 pieces of paper until it actually comes into force," said New Zealand Prime … [Read more...]

Zika alarm rises after U.S. sex link, more Brazil birth defects

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A health worker carries out fumigation as part of preventive measures against the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases at the seafront in Panama City February 2, 2016. The World Health Organization voiced concern on Wednesday over the reported sexual transmission of the Zika virus in Texas amid worries that such infections could make efforts to combat the virus linked to severe birth defects in Brazil even tougher. The virus, spreading quickly across the Americas, is usually transmitted by mosquitoes. But health officials in Dallas County reported on Tuesday that the first known case contracted in the United States was a person infected after having sex with somebody who had returned from Venezuela. The WHO declared a global health emergency on Monday, citing a "strongly suspected" causal relationship between Zika infection in pregnancy and microcephaly, a condition marked by abnormally small head size that can cause permanent brain damage in newborns. Health ministers from … [Read more...]

U.N. halts Syria talks as government closes in on Aleppo

A United Nations envoy halted his attempts to conduct Syrian peace talks on Wednesday after the army, backed by Russian air strikes, advanced against rebel forces north of Aleppo, choking opposition supply lines from Turkey to the city. Another senior U.N. official said the Russian escalation was the main reason for the suspension of the peace talks, which have made little progress since beginning earlier this week. Staffan de Mistura announced a three-week pause in the Geneva talks, the first attempt to negotiate an end to Syria's war in two years, saying they needed immediate help from the rival sides' international backers, principally the United States and Russia. "I have indicated from the first day that I won't talk for the sake of talking," the envoy, who has described the negotiations as Syria's last hope, told reporters. A senior U.N. official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that De Mistura halted the talks after Russia's military escalation undermined the … [Read more...]

U.S. says open to patrols with Philippines in waters disputed with China

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MANILA, Feb 3 - The United States is open to the possibility of joint naval patrols with the Philippines in the East Vietnam Sea, a U.S. diplomat said on Wednesday, stressing it would continue to exercise "freedom of navigation" in the disputed waters. China claims most of the East Vietnam Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of world trade is shipped every year. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims. A U.S. Navy destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of an island claimed by China in the East Vietnam Sea on Saturday to counter efforts to limit freedom of navigation, the Pentagon said, prompting an angry reaction from Beijing. Manila has asked the U.S. to patrol the area together after China began test flights from Da Chu Thap (Fiery Cross Reef), one of three artificial islands where Beijing has built airfields. "We do discuss that principle (joint patrols) with the Philippines and so I am not discarding that possibility," U.S. Ambassador … [Read more...]

North Korea tells U.N. agencies it plans satellite launch

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North Korea told U.N. agencies on Tuesday it plans to launch a satellite as early as next week, a move that could advance the country's long-range missile technology after its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un organizes and guides a combined joint drill of the units under KPA Combined Units 572 and 630 in this undated file photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 23, 2014. News of the planned launch between Feb. 8 and Feb. 25 drew fresh U.S. calls for tougher U.N. sanctions already under discussion in response to North Korea's nuclear test. State Department spokesman John Kirby said the United Nations needed to "send the North Koreans a swift, firm message." Pyongyang has said it has a sovereign right to pursue a space program by launching rockets, although the United States and other governments worry that such launches are missile tests in disguise. "We have received information from DPRK regarding … [Read more...]