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Prayut backs China help

Posted by pakin On November - 10 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

The government backs Chinese involvement in Thai transport projects, the premier told the Chinese leader Sunday.

Thailand also has expressed its appreciation for China’s involvement in a highway stretching nearly 2,000km linking Kunming in southern China to Bangkok.

In Beijing, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed the mammoth R3A Highway project, as well as a dual-track railway connecting the countries and others en route. Gen Prayut said he backed Chinese joint ventures in transport here.

They were speaking ahead of the 22nd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit that begins today. Gen Prayut said he valued the project because it would contribute to economic development. The 1,887km highway passes through Laos and enter Thailand at Chiang Rai province.

Government spokesman Yongyuth Maiyalap said Gen Prayut told the Chinese president that Thailand supports a Chinese policy to push the yuan as an international currency.

Meanwhile, Mr Xi is promising US$40 billion (1.3 trillion baht) to help Asian nations improve trade links in a new effort to assert Beijing’s ambitions as a regional leader. He made the pledge in a meeting with the leaders of Pakistan, Bangladesh and five other Asian nations, Chinese state media reported Sunday.

GUIYU (CHINA) – Mountains of discarded remote controls litter the warehouse floor. In a dimly-lit room, women on plastic stools pry open the devices, as if shucking oysters, to retrieve the circuitry inside.

In a narrow alley a few blocks over, a father and son from a distant province wash microchips in plastic buckets. Men haul old telephones and computer keyboards by the shovelful off a truck.

Some items will be refurbished and resold, others will be stripped for components or materials such as copper or gold.

Business is booming in the Chinese town of Guiyu, where the world’s electronic waste ends up for recycling — and is set to get even better.

But the industry has a heavy environmental cost. Electronic remnants are strewn in a nearby stream, and the air is acrid from the burning of plastic, chemicals and circuitboards.

Heavy metal contamination has turned the air and water toxic, and children have high lead levels in their blood, according to an August study by researchers at Shantou University Medical College.

Much of the e-waste that passed through Guiyu over the past few decades came from outside China.

Western countries are now making a greater effort to process their own e-waste, but Chinese domestic supply will soon be more than enough to step into any breach, campaigners say.

China’s surging economy has transformed the country into a consuming power in its own right — it is now the world’s largest smartphone market — and use of electronic devices has soared.

“Before, the waste was shipped from other parts of the world coming into China — that used to be the biggest source and the biggest problem,” said Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, one of China’s foremost environmental NGOs.

“But now, China has become a consuming power of its own,” Ma said. “We have I think 1.1 billion cell phones used, and the life of our gadgets has become shorter and shorter.”

“I think the wave is coming,” he added. “It’s going to be a bigger problem.”

– ‘This cannot be allowed to go on’ –

China currently generates 6.1 million metric tonnes of e-waste a year, compared with 7.2 million for the US and 48.8 million globally, according to the United Nations University’s Solving the E-waste Problem (StEP) Initiative.

But while US e-waste production has increased by 13 percent over the past five years, China’s has nearly doubled, setting the Asian giant on track to overtake the US as the world’s biggest source as early as 2017.

Nowhere are the profit and environmental toll of e-waste recycling more on display than in Guiyu in the southern province of Guangdong, where some 80,000 of 130,000 residents work in the loosely-regulated industry, according to a 2012 local government estimate.

More than 1.6 million tonnes of e-waste pass through Guiyu each year, with recycling worth 3.7 billion yuan ($600 million) annually and attracting migrants from near and far.

“This work is tiring, but the salary is okay compared with the work in town,” said a 30-year-old surnamed Ma, who left a salesman’s job to dismantle electronics. “You can make 4,000 or 5,000 yuan ($650 to $815) a month.”

At the same time, the town has made worldwide headlines for the devastating health impact of its tainted environment.

“People think this cannot be allowed to go on,” said Leo Chen, 28, a financial worker who grew up in Guiyu.

The situation was better than a decade ago, he said, following authorities’ interventions, but the effects of years of pollution remain.

“In my memory, in front of my house, there was a river. It was green, and the water was very nice and clear,” he said. “Now, it’s black.”

– ‘Morally complicated’ –

Lai Yun, a Greenpeace researcher who has often visited Guiyu, said that while Beijing has tightened regulations enforcement is often lax, and the bottom line is that development cannot be obstructed.

“From the government’s perspective, e-waste gathering and processing is important for the local economy,” Lai said. “Research has shown that 80 percent of households are involved in this work. So, if they don’t expand this industry, these residents will need some other kind of employment.”

Central authorities including China’s powerful National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) have invested heavily in Guiyu’s recycling industry, pointed out Adam Minter, author of “Junkyard Planet”, on the economics of the global scrap industry.

The overall picture was mixed, he said.

“There is an environmental good happening there — they’re extending the life span of usable components, they’re pulling things out and recycling them, or sending them to Korea and Japan, something that’s very expensive to do in the US and the EU,” he said.

“Yet they do it in a way that’s not always good for human health and the environment,” he added. “Recycling is a morally complicated act.”

Alliance bumps True into black

Posted by pakin On September - 12 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

China Mobile’s B29bn stake boosts funds

True Corporation Plc, the country’s third-largest mobile operator, looks set to record its first profit in several years thanks to the arrival of its Chinese strategic partner.

China Mobile International (CMI) has injected fresh funds of 28.6 billion baht for an 18% stake in True.

The injection has improved True’s finances and its net debt to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation has reduced to 1.5 times from 5.1 times, said chief executive Suphachai Chearavanont.

True can reduce its interest payments of 4 billion baht a year. Its debt has been slashed to 10 billion baht from 65 billion. The debt is in the form of debentures.

Mr Suphachai said the company would clear the depreciation cost for its 2G network at the end of this month.

“We’re now ready to become a regional telecom player after successfully securing our strategic partner and completing the transaction. Our future is set to turn around,” he said.

Mr Suphachai is confident that True will see some profits in the last quarter of this year after a sharp decline in debts and better cash flow.

CMI chief executive Li Yue is committed to supporting True by bringing its advanced 4G technology.

True yesterday officially signed a strategic partnership agreement with CMI after it successfully raised 65 billion baht in funds from its recapitalisation programme.

True sold about 4.4 billion new shares to CMI for US$880 million. It also offered shareholders more than 5.6 billion new shares at 6.45 baht apiece, the same price paid by CMI.

The share sale was completed by the end of last month.

Mr Suphachai said True and CMI had jointly set up six committees and working groups for key areas such as product and content, international business, networks, device procurement, general procurement and human resources.

CMI will have three representatives to sit on True’s 18-director board.

Mr Li said CMI was glad to have True as a partner for its first foreign investment.

CMI plans to bring its 4G network experience and other advanced telecommunications technology to True.

Thailand’s telecom industry has had rapid growth in recent years. Mobile penetration has reached 140%, with the advent of 4G services offering further opportunities.

Mr Li said CMI would discuss cooperation with True on mobile payment services.

Telecom providers including CMI need to adapt to changes that threaten revenue for voice and short message services as consumers change their ways of communication through social networks.

“We are glad to be part of ICT development in Thailand as the strategic partner of True, one of the leading telecom firms, with strong convergence and a variety of services,” Mr Li said.

TRUE shares closed yesterday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 12.50 baht, up 50 satang, in heavy trade worth 7.12 billion baht.

WELLINGTON – New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra announced a joint venture with Hangzhou-based Beingmate Group on Wednesday aimed at increasing its presence in the multi-billion dollar Chinese infant formula market.

Chief executive Theo Spierings said Fonterra, which was involved in a botulism scare last year, would spend about NZ$615 million ($514 million) acquiring a 20 percent stake in Beingmate under the deal.

The companies will then form a joint venture to sell Fonterra’s premium Anmum baby formula brand in China.

New Zealand already exports formula worth around $3.0 billion a year to China, the bulk of it sourced from Fonterra, and Spierings said the Beingmate deal was a “gamechanger” for the dairy cooperative.

“The infant formula market in China is worth about NZ$18 billion today and is expected to be worth NZ$33 billion by 2017,” he said.

“This growth is driven by increasing urbanisation, higher disposable incomes, a preference for premium brands and the relaxation of the one-child policy.”

Fonterra also said it would invest NZ$555 million in new dairy processing facilities in New Zealand, boosting capacity to help meet burgeoning global demand.

Fonterra currently supplies whey products to formula companies that sell in China but does not distribute its own brands there.

The products were at the centre of a botulism scare that sparked international recalls last year that eventually turned out to be a false alarm but left New Zealand producers scrambling to maintain the gold-standard reputation they have long enjoyed in China.

Fonterra also part-owned a Chinese company involved in a 2008 scandal in which six children died and another 300,000 fell ill after milk was illegally laced with the chemical melamine.

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