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TOKYO – Toyota kept its title as the world’s biggest automaker on Wednesday as it announced global sales of 10.15 million vehicles last year, outpacing scandal-hit Volkswagen and US rival General Motors.

Struggling to move past a pollution-cheating scandal, Volkswagen earlier said it logged sales of 9.93 million vehicles worldwide in 2015, while Chevrolet and Cadillac maker GM moved 9.8 million.

In the first half of the year, Volkswagen was in pole position, outpacing Toyota as the German automaker rode momentum in emerging economies.

But then it posted its first drop in annual sales in more than a decade, as it was hammered by a massive pollution cheating scandal.

Volkswagen sank into its biggest crisis over stunning revelations in September that it had fitted 11 million of its vehicles with devices designed to dodge pollution tests.

Toyota broke GM’s decades-long reign as the world’s top automaker in 2008 but lost it three years later as Japan’s earthquake-tsunami disaster dented production and disrupted the supply chains of the country’s automakers.

However, in 2012 it once again overtook its Detroit rival and has remained on top since.

VN trade with nearly 30 nations hit $147 bn in 2015

Posted by pakin On January - 27 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

HANOI – Of more than 200 countries and territories that Vietnam had trade relations with last year, there were 29 countries that the country had export turnover of more than $1 billion.

The export value to the 29 countries hit $147.4 billion, accounting for nearly 90.9 per cent of the total export value of Vietnam, according to the General Department of Customs.

The US is the largest importer of Vietnamese goods with total turnover of $33.5 billion, increasing by 16.9 per cent compared to 2014.

This is also the market in which Vietnam recorded the largest surplus with $25.68 billion.

Key products exported to the US include textiles and garments with nearly $11 billion, a year-on-year increase of 11.7 per cent and accounting for 32.7 per cent of the country’s export value to this market.

Exports of footwear ranked second with export value of over $4 billion, up 22.5 per cent; followed by computers, electronic products and components with $2.8 billion, up 33.7 per cent.

Other large export markets of Vietnam are China and the Republic of Korea (RoK) with turnover of $16.6 billion and $8.9 billion respectively.

Exports to the Americas hit $55.4 billion, a year-on-year increase of 18.6 per cent.

Export value with Europe and Africa reached $46.6 billion and $5.1 billion, growing 9.4 and 9.8 per cent respectively.

Meanwhile, exports to Oceania decreased by 16.2 per cent to $5.79 billion.

In terms of importing, there are 19 markets that Vietnam imported commodities from of more than $1 billion, with a total value of $150.4 billion, accounting for 90.8 per cent of the total imports of the country.

China continued to be the leading market in supplying goods for Vietnam with an import value worth $49.5 billion, increasing 13.9 per cent compared to 2014.

Main commodities imported from China are machinery, equipment, tools and spare parts with turnover of $9 billion; telephones and accessories with $6.9 billion; fabrics with $5.2 billion and computers, electronic products and components, earning $5.2 billion.

The second largest exporter to Vietnam is the RoK with a value totalled $27.6 billion, increasing 27 per cent compared to 2014.

Other large exporters included Japan ($14.4 billion), Taiwan ($11 billion) and Thailand ($8.3 billion).

AIS budgets Bt40 bn on 4G roll-out

Posted by pakin On January - 27 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Advanced Info Service plans to spend Bt40 billion this year on the roll-out of its nationwide fourth-generation wireless network on the 1,800-meghertz spectrum, and another Bt20 billion on the further expansion of its 3G network on 2.1 gigahertz.

AIS chief executive officer Somchai Lertsutiwong announced yesterday that the company would initially spend Bt20 billion this year on the installation of its 4G network at 7,000 sites in 42 provinces.

A company source said AIS was currently awaiting board approval to spend an additional Bt20 billion on the 4G network in the middle of this year, which would give it a total of 14,000 sites in 72 provinces.

Somchai said the Bt20 billion earmarked to be spent on expanding the 3G network would result in the company covering 27,000 3G sites nationwide.

Also this week, True Corp CEO Suphachai Chearavanont said True would spend Bt55 billion over three years on the expansion of its 4G service on the 1,800MHz, 2.1GHz and 900MHz spectra, and on the development of 2G service on 900MHz.

AIS, meanwhile, is hopeful of signing a partnership deal with TOT during the current quarter to provide 3G service jointly on the state agency’s 2.1GHz spectrum, Somchai said.

AIS subsidiary Advanced Wireless Network (AWN) currently offers 3G service on 2.1GHz under the National Broadcasting and Telecommunica-tions Commission (NBTC) licensing regime.

It won an 1,800MHz licence in the auction held by the regulator in November.

Somchai said AWN’s present spectrum portfolio was enough to provide a quality service to customers.

AIS has a total of 38 million mobile subscribers, of which 20 million are active users of mobile data service. Of the 20 million, more than 10 million are expected to use 4G service this year.

AWN announced the official launch of 4G services from yesterday under the name AIS 4G Advanced, with a service area starting with 42 provinces covering each of the country’s regions, plus full-speed packages and a wide range of 4G service centres. The company targets full coverage in every province by May.

After winning a 1,800MHz licence in November, the company has been conducting early trials since last month.

“After we were awarded an 1,800MHz licence from the NBTC on November 25, we went full throttle in accelerating our network expansion along with the development of the fastest services in every aspect, via a Bt14.52-billion budget.

“Then we started inviting certain customers to get the first touches on their 4G experience in December,” Somchai said.

AIS and True Corp each won a 1,800MHz licence in the November auction, while True and Jasmine International each secured a 900MHz licence in the ensuing NBTC auction last month.

Total Access Communication (DTAC) has already launched 4G on 1,800MHz, under a CAT Telecom concession.

As AIS failed to win a 900MHz licence, it is rushing to migrate its 12 million 2G customers on 900MHz to AWN by offering them subsidised handsets.

It has already migrated a million of these users to AWN.

The 900MHz spectrum previously belonged to AIS under a TOT concession. After its concession ended last September, the NBTC put the spectrum up for auction.

Somchai declined to comment when asked whether AIS was in talks with Jasmine International to allow its 2G customers to roam with the latter’s 900MHz service. He said AIS had paid a combined concession fee of Bt180 billion to TOT during its operation under the state agency’s concession over the past 25 years.

Pratthana Leelapanang, executive vice president for marketing at AIS, yesterday said the company had taken this opportunity to launch the largest full-scale mobile entertainment application centre – AIS Play – from which subscribers could access 100 TV channels for live and recorded viewing, movies from a number of famous Thai and foreign producers, series from Hollywood, sports, cartoons and karaoke, among other offerings.

Angel dolls bring joy to sad people

Posted by pakin On January - 27 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

THE WORSHIP of a “child angel doll” made into a spiritual icon might look incredulous to rational people, but such behaviour can always inspire those with a good sense for creative business.

In a country like Thailand, where so much can be considered sacred, except law, people are willing to pay respects to anything they believe will bring them “good things” or even just “good feelings”.

Buddhism teaches people not to worship anything – but instead counsels people to exercise their intellect to consider the nature of life and release their minds from suffering. Nevertheless, Buddhists in Thailand seem ready to worship everything that is against the Lord Buddha’s teaching.

They build a Buddha image for the entire country to worship. Individuals have amulets and many similar objects consecrated by famous Buddhist monks to worship at home and to carry around for luck and self-protection.

Sacred objects are common in Thailand’s Theravada Buddhism sect. They are included under Buddhism as they are recognised by many religious personnel, monks included. In recent memory, we have had “Look Krok” and “Kumarn Thong” – icons made of the body of a baby boy who died before or during delivery. In another society, a wizard might function to “spiritualise” such items as sacred objects, but in Thailand it is Buddhist monks who learn black magic to give them the breath of life.

The now-famous child angel doll, better known locally as “Tukkata Look Thep”, is no different. Made of resin and polymer, the child doll appears as a boy or girl, and possessors believe it can bring them good luck and fortune.

Anthropologists and psychologists might scientifically explain that people need this so-called sacred object whenever they feel hopeless and desperate in times of economic downturn and political setback. Two coups in less than a decade and the ongoing economic slowdown have left Thai people with little that is bright in the future for their own lives and the country.

Perhaps the angel-doll worshippers want to have something similar to Kumarn Thong, but it is illegal these days to use a baby’s corpse for such a purpose – and it could not be carried openly in public.

Furthermore, angel-doll holders are mostly urban middle class and relatively well-educated women of middle age. They are looking for something neat, nice, modern and more importantly sacred. The angel doll is their best solution.

A woman said on local media that initially she had a doll just simply for joy – like having a toy or a pet. But she found good fortune with it, winning the lottery many times after getting the doll, and she believed there was an angel inside it. The story fanned like wildfire.

That’s the beginning of a real business. Doll manufacturers – with the corroboration of Buddhist temples and monks – started pushing the resin dolls last year and processing “spiritualisation”, inviting angels to inhabit the dolls. The dolls are priced from Bt1,000 and up – to many tens of thousands of baht.

Some worshippers might take an abandoned baby doll to the temples to “spiritualise” and get its breath of life. But perhaps it’s not fashionable enough since the doll’s body would likely be too old for the angel to live in. So buying a new one is better.

Angels cannot be treated worse than the human beings they live with and to whom they help bring good luck. Spiritual dolls also need food, dresses, accommodation and transportation. Many people are now doing good business with the angel dolls: restaurants, airlines, bus services, beauty salons, nursery-care services, gift shops, music teachers and language schools all offer their services to the angel and its holders.

The government has also mulled a plan to use low-price rubber to produce angel dolls to help raise local consumption and lift rubber prices.

Exporters could explore market opportunities in foreign countries where the angels also might like to live. If the demand is high and sustainable, the angels could help restore the sluggish economy, for sure.

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