Investment Continues to Pour into China. (Update: The Latest Trends and Controversies)
CHINESE GOVERNMENT officials say if investment rates continue at the same clip as in the first two months of this year, actual investment for 2002 could top US$50 billion compared with 2001's US$46.9 billion. Investors are attracted by the economic reforms taking place since China entered the WTO in December last year. The National Bureau of Statistics reports that 3963 foreign investment contracts were signed in February, 23.7 per cent more than last February. Along with the investment will come more intense competition from abroad. Foreign investment will continue to be a key component of China's economic growth, the official said.
* HONG KONG
Tourists visiting Hong Kong rose 15 per cent in February from a year earlier, led by a surge in visitors from mainland China, the Hong Kong Tourism Board said in a statement. The number of mainland Chinese visitors surged 70 per cent to 471,528, followed by Malaysian tourists, whose numbers rose by a third to 21,179, the agency said. Hong Kong's tourism was boosted in February by the three-day lunar New Year holiday. Mainland Chinese are the leading tourists in Hong Kong this year, growing 43 per cent in the first two months from the year-earlier period, it said. Tourism is a major income earner for the city.
Nippon Mining and Metals Co, Japan's largest copper refiner, will this year merge its copper business with that of smaller rival Mitsui Mining and Smelting Co to become the world's second-biggest producer of the metal, according to a Nikkei English News report. The two Japanese companies are seeking to expand sales in other parts of Asia, as demand for copper is expected to rise for use in production of printed circuit boards and other electronics components, the report said. Pan Pacific Copper Co, a joint sales venture between Nippon Mining and Mitsui Mining, will be reorganised to oversee the merged business. The new company will have an annual copper-smelting capacity of about 1.1 million tonnes.
The Philippine banking sector has been suffering a steady rise of nonperforming loans (NPLs) since 1998, despite a general downtrend among its South-East Asian neighbours, Business World reported. NPLs in the Philippines and Malaysia expanded as of January, while those of their neighbours like Indonesia, South Korea and Thailand posted lower bad debt levels. But while Malaysia's NPL ratio dipped in past months only to inch up anew, the Philippine banking system posted a consistent rise in bad debts.
Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says the country should further lower its direct tax rate to increase competitiveness and attract investment, as well as encouraging entrepreneurship among Singaporeans. …