China fines baby formula companies
China has fined six producers of baby formula a record 670 million yuan for price-fixing, the official Xinhua news agency says. The six companies involved were Mead Johnson and Abbot from the U.S., Biostime, which is listed in Hong Kong, Dumex, a subsidiary of France's Danone, Friesland from the Netherlands and New Zealand giant Fonterra. Mead Johnson said it had been handed a penalty of 204 million yuan. Biostime said it had been given a 163 million yuan fine. Fonterra was fined 4.5 million yuan. "The investigation leaves us with a much clearer understanding of expectations around implementing pricing policies which is useful as we progress our future business plans," Fonterra's president for Greater China and India, Kelvin Wickham, said in a statement. According to Xinhua news agency, three companies - Wyeth, which is owned by Swiss giant Nestle, Japan's Meiji, and Chinese firm Beingmate - had been exempted from punishment. The fines, announced by China's National Development and Reform Commission, coincide with a separate pricing investigation into the pharmaceutical industry. Image: © Getty Copyright is owned by Asia Outlook and/or Outlook Publishing. All rights reserved.
Cardno seeks expansion
Africa is undergoing a period of unprecedented economic growth and this represents huge opportunity says Bruce Johnson, Area Manager/Manager New Projects, Cardno BEC. Writer Ian Armitage Africa is undergoing a period of unprecedented economic growth and is increasingly catching the attention of foreign investors, who have contributed to a rapid increase in capital expenditure. In fact, it's nothing new - foreign direct investment in Africa has been on the rise since the early 2000s, increasing fivefold in 2000-2010. It is the real deal and the continent's economic outlook for 2013 and 2014 is promising, confirming its healthy resilience to internal and external shocks and its role as a growth pole in an ailing global economy. Africa's economy is projected to grow by 4.8 percent in 2013 and accelerate further to 5.3 percent in 2014. "Now is the time for Africa," says Bruce Johnson, Area Manager/Manager New Projects, Cardno BEC, the head of project development, service and business development within the Cardno BEC engineering team. "We agree that Africa's potential is huge; there are fantastic opportunities in Africa. Its large reserves of undeveloped mineral resources are in demand and in that there is opportunity." Cardno BEC is part of Brisbane-based environmental and engineering consulting services company Cardno Limited. Cardno, with its large project history in Africa, strong infrastructure capabilities, and prior experience working with government policy makers around the world, is uniquely positioned to provide the services to help Africa fulfil its potential, says Johnson. "Cardno has been in Africa for many decades; it is not a…
Fukushima plant hit by power failure
Japan's tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant has been hit by a power failure, affecting its cooling systems for spent fuel ponds. A statement from operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) said the cause of the power failure, which began at 18:57 on Monday, was still being assessed. But it said there is no immediate danger. The outage had hit ponds at reactors 1, 3 and 4, it said, but cooling to the reactors themselves was not affected. It would take four days for the hottest pool to hit safety limits, Tepco said. "We are trying to restore power by then," spokesman Kenichi Tanabe said. In an announcement Tepco said, "Upon investigation, it was found that part of the power supply facilities at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station have stopped due to the incident and the following facilities are currently being suspended." According to the AP new agency, Tepco said it was trying to repair a broken switchboard that could have caused the problem. "In the worst case scenario, we have a system in place to put water into the pools, so we have a double strategy: we have time to find a solution before the temperature gets out of hand and then also the ability to inject water into the pools if needed," Tepco official Masayuki Ono said. Image: © Tepco Copyright is owned by Asia Outlook and/or Outlook Publishing. All rights reserved.
Japan in energy breakthrough
Resource-starved Japan has extracted methane hydrate - better known as "fire ice" - from its seabed in what has been described as an energy breakthrough. A consortium led by the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) on Tuesday started a trial aimed at proving the feasibility of the deposit of the fossil fuel that looks like ice but consists of dense methane surrounded by water molecules. The solid white substance burns with a pale flame, leaving nothing but water. In a statement, JOGMEC said the project team planned to separate methane - the primary component of natural gas - from the solid clathrate compound under the seabed using the high pressures available at depth. Initial work began in February last year and two-week experimental production started on Tuesday. A huge layer of methane hydrate containing 1.1 trillion cubic metres in natural gas is believed to lie in the ocean floor off the coast of Shikoku island, western Japan. That would be enough gas to satisfy Japan's consumption for 11 years. The resource-poor country has been seeking out new energy supplies after shutting down several nuclear reactors in the wake of 2011's tsunami. Only two of Japan's 50 nuclear reactors are operating, forcing the country to use expensive fossil fuels for electricity generation. According to reports, Japan aims to establish methane hydrate production technologies for practical use by the fiscal 2018 year. For more information visit http://www.mh21japan.gr.jp. Image: © Getty Copyright is owned by Asia Outlook and/or Outlook Publishing. All rights reserved.
Chinese manufacturing slows in Feb
Manufacturing activity in China expanded at its slowest rate in five months in February, official data showed Friday. The purchasing managers' index (PMI) was 50.1 in February, the lowest since September when it stood at 49.8, according to the National Bureau of Statistics and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing (CFLP). The figure was seasonally adjusted, they said, to mitigate volatility led by the week-long Chinese New Year holiday that fell in the middle of the month. PMI is a widely watched barometer of the health of China's economy, with a reading above 50 indicating expansion while anything below points to contraction. Image: © Liangzijunlf | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images Copyright is owned by Asia Outlook and/or Outlook Publishing. All rights reserved.
China to become world’s biggest online market
China is set to become the world's biggest online market with online sales forecast to exceed $420 billion annually by 2020. According to global management consulting firm McKinsey & Co, online sales are expected to reach between $420 billion and $650 billion, driven by a growing consumer class and the world's largest population of internet users, now more than 500 million people. "China is poised to become the world's largest e-tailing market," McKinsey said, adding sales in 2020 would match the current size of the US, Japanese, British, German and French markets combined. China's online retail sales reached $120 billion in 2011 and surged further to an estimated $190 billion to $210 billion last year. That put China second in the global 'e-tail' market, close to the United States, the current world leader, which had estimated online retail sales of $220 billion to $230 billion in 2012, the McKinsey report said. Online retail sales now account for five to six percent of total Chinese consumer transactions, the report called China's e-tail revolution: Online shopping as a catalyst for growth, added. "China could forgo the national expansion of physical stores commonly seen in Western nations and move directly to a more digital retail environment," the report predicted, adding that "China may have largely sat out the 19th-century Industrial Revolution, but as the explosion of its new consuming class continues to reshape 21st-century economic life, e-tailing and the Internet revolution have important roles to play." Image: © Getty Copyright is owned by Asia Outlook and/or Outlook Publishing. All…
China’s solar giant Suntech bankrupt
China's Suntech Power, one of the world's biggest solar-panel makers, has gone bust. The New York-listed company on Wednesday declared bankrupt and will reportedly reorganise. Suntech was once the world's largest solar panel producer and last week the company's board ousted founder Chinese-born Australian businessman Shi Zhengrong after 12 years in which he led it from nothing to world market domination and then to the edge of ruin. Suntech defaulted on repayments for a $541 million bond issue. At one point the solar giant had as many as 10,000 employees in its hometown of Wuxi and even set up a small assembly plant in the US. Chinese producers have flooded the global market since 2010 and trade disputes over alleged Chinese dumping caused a sudden and spectacular reversal of fortunes for Suntech. The firm recorded a net loss of $1.0 billion in 2011, from a profit of $237 million in 2010. It has yet to report financial results for 2012. Image: © Suntech Copyright is owned by Asia Outlook and/or Outlook Publishing. All rights reserved.