BIZCHINA / Weekly Roundup

Quick review: April 10-16
(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-04-17 06:39

Major deals

Vice-Premier Wu Yi said last week that major commercial deals China has signed with the United States reflect its sincerity to reduce the huge trade surplus.

Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi (L) and US Trade Representative Rob Portman speak at a news conference following the annual meeting of US-China Joint Comission on Commerce and Trade in Washington April 11, 2006. [Reuters]
Wu, who heads a 200-strong delegation of business people in Washington, told a press conference that Chinese companies had signed 107 contracts with US firms worth US$16.2 billion.

The agreements cover sectors ranging from airplanes, electronics, car parts, heavy equipment and software to cotton and soybeans.

Bribery crackdown

The Ministry of Health last week appointed a team to lead the national crackdown on commercial bribery in the health sector. The team, headed by Health Minister Gao Qiang, will implement the guidelines and policies set by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council in the crackdown throughout the health system.

It will also liaise with other government departments in prosecuting cases of corruption, the ministry said.

Whistle-blower's hotline, mail address and the health minister's e-mail address have been made public on the ministry website. In China, some companies and individuals offered commissions to health officials and staff to secure contracts for substandard drugs and medical equipment, resulting in many medical accidents.

Bilateral trade

China's bilateral trade totalled US$371.3 billion from January to March, an increase of 25.8 per cent from the same period a year ago, the Ministry of Commerce said last week.

Exports stood at US$197.3 billion in the past three months, up 26.6 per cent year-on-year; imports hit US$174 billion, up 24.8 per cent.

Trade surplus mounted to US$23.3 billion, up 41.4 per cent year-on-year. Last year, China's trade surplus more than tripled from 2004, totalling US$101.9 billion.

Overseas investments

The China Insurance Regulatory Commission said last week the State Council has approved plans to let insurers buy foreign currency with their own yuan-denominated funds to invest overseas as the government tries to widen investment channels and boost returns on investment.

Commission Chairman Wu Dingfu said a pilot scheme would be launched in the first half of this year. The regulator will choose one or two insurance companies to start the pilot scheme and give approval case by case due to the risks involved, he said.

Chinese insurers, which have more than quadrupled their assets in the past five years to 1.6 trillion yuan (US$200 billion), have long been hampered by a lack of investment channels at home.
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