Bill Zhang

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Finland/World: On future of remote payment systems

Helsinki, 25 August, 2005 — According to the Petri Carpen, Deputy MD of the Finnish credit card service company Luottokunta, remote payment cards will become common, because the speeding up of the payment process brings added value to all parties involved.

Visa, MasterCard and Amex have promised to support remote payments. Visa has announced that it will start the distribution of remote payment terminals to its customers in 2005.

Nokia is involved in a public transport experiment in Germany, where the payment is done with a chip that is inside a mobile phone. In the Netherlands a payment card that is incorporated into a Nokia phone is used at football stadiums.

According to Luottokunta's MD Heikki Kapanen, remote payment terminals will become common in Finland after the transition to EMV chip terminals has taken place in 2006. Remote payment systems are easy to incorporate with EMV terminals, which only cost a few dozen euros.

EU, China begin talks on textile row

China and the European Union began talks on textile products blocked at Customs of EU countries Thursday afternoon, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The EU is under fierce pressure from fashion importers to review quotas agreed with China in June after six out of 10 textile categories covered by the import restrictions were filled, according to AFP.

Millions of clothing items shipped to Europe in excess of their quotas have been blocked by customs officials -- to the anger of European retailers anxious to fill their shelves ahead of the winter season.

This includes some 48 million sweaters, 17 million pairs of trousers and nearly 500,000 blouses, according to the latest figures cited by the French trade ministry.

In addition to this, 1.6 million T-shirts, 3.4 million bras and 1,470 tonnes of flax yarn are also being kept back because they exceed the quotas.

"We now need a pragmatic solution that deals with the immediate overshoot and with goodwill on all sides, we can do this," EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson said in a statement issued in Brussels.

His comments were made following a meeting of EU members -- which was not attended by Mandelson -- where there was "a clear and general agreement on the urgency of the situation regarding blocked textile imports from China," the statement said.

The expression of unity comes amid an emerging division between mainly textile producing member states such as France, Italy and Portugal, who originally lobbied for the quotas, and others, such as the Nordic countries, that have growing reservations about the entire deal.

Facing growing pressure from retailers, Brussels has said that it is willing to be more flexible about quotas but Mandelson stressed the June "agreement stands."

"It addresses, with the Chinese, a temporary, short-term need to respond to the extreme public fears and political pressures that built up over the Chinese textiles exports engulfing European markets and displacing goods from other developing countries," he added.

China also appeared eager to see the EU expand the June quotas, to at least allow shipped goods to enter Europe, a move that would bail out EU retailers who have already paid for the imports and save them costly storage and reshipment expenses.

"Cancelling the quotas is what we hope for most and is also the hope of England, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, but it will make other countries unhappy, so it's not a possible solution," Mei Xinyu, a leading analyst at the Ministry of Commerce told AFP.

One "measure is to use part of next year's quota this year, but it is not enough to solve the problem, so a much better idea is to lift the quota by a very large scale."

EU and Ministry of Commerce officials appeared eager to play the talks down to the media, refusing to immediately name delegation heads or the agenda of what is expected to be working-level talks.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The First Results From the Finnish Mobile TV Pilot Positive

Mobile TV broadcasts continued in August at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Helsinki, where the guests of the companies behind the Finnish Mobile TV project were able to use mobile TV for the first time at an international sporting event.

YLE (The Finnish Broadcasting Company) provided mobile TV users with a multi-channel package, including a domestic broadcast of the Championships. In addition, mobile TV (Nokia 7710 smart phone equipped with a special accessory) users received the compilation broadcast for international distribution and five special Championships broadcasts of individual events.

DVB-H technology - developed also in FENIX technology programme - allows television channels to be distributed effectively to users of mobile devices. All television channels and special event channels can be accessed by viewers as live broadcasts cost-effectively irrespective of the number of recipients.

Monday, August 22, 2005

China lifts deposit rates for US, HK dollars

China will lift the upper limits of the deposit rates for US dollars and Hong Kong dollars in commercial banks within Chinese territory.

The People's Bank of China (PBoC), the nation's central bank, declared Monday that the upper limits for one-year deposits of both US dollars and Hong Kong dollars will increase 0.375 percentage points to 2.000 percent and 1.875 percent, respectively.

Tian Yaling, an expert on foreign exchange, said the PBoC's interest hike is related to the interest hike by the United State's Federal Reserve.

"The interest change reflects China's efforts to act in line with the international community," said Tian, noting that the interest hike may temper the anticipation of Renminbi appreciation.
This is the third time this year that the central bank increases deposit rates for the two currencies. The first was on July 22 when the country initiated the reform of Renminbi exchange rates. PBoC statistics shows that deposits of foreign currency decreased by 4.8 billion US dollars in July.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Taiwan: KMT congress adopts policy to promote peace

The 17th National Congress of the Kuomintang (KMT), or the Nationalist Party of China, concluded Saturday afternoon in Taipei after adopting a policy platform to promote peace across the Taiwan Straits.

According to media reports in Taiwan, the "common aspiration and prospects for cross-Straits peace and development" jointly issued by the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the KMT are listed as the first item of the policy platform, which indicates the KMT will go all-out to promote cross-Straits peace and stability.

The platform also pledges to oppose "Taiwan independence" and advocates returning to the "1992 Consensus" to restart cross-Straits talks, phasing in a "cross-Straits common market", realizing the "three direct links", completely removing barriers to mainland tourists and pushing forward cross-Straits agricultural exchanges.

The congress also installed former party Chairman Lien Chan as the party's honorary chairman and elected the new term of the Central Committee and Central Standing Committee.