Australian exports up

SYDNEY: Australian commodity exports are expected to reach a record 116 billion dollars ($89.9 billion US) in the coming year despite severe drought cutting into farm production, the country’s commodity forecaster said Monday. The drought, which has left much of the eastern

states parched, has slashed farm production for 2005-2006, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) said. — AFP

Budget deficit grows

MANILA: The Philippines posted a budget deficit of 7.6 billion pesos ($138 million) in May, reversing a surplus in April, the finance department said Monday. Revenues hit 68.2 billion pesos while the state spent 75.8 billion pesos, the department said. President Gloria Arroyo’s government in April reported its first monthly budget surplus in four years at 3.3 billion pesos following healthy tax collections. Reforms to raise revenue are due to take effect in the second half. The deficit for the five months to May has reached 67.8 billion pesos, still below the 98.5 billion peso deficit estimated for the first half of 2005, the finance department said. — AFP

India, S’pore trade ties

NEW DELHI: India’s cabinet on Monday gave the go-ahead for a landmark trade agreement with Singapore that is expected to accelerate the flow of foreign direct investment, a government minister said. “The cabinet today gave its approval to a comprehensive trade agreement between India and Singapore,” information and broadcasting minister Jaipal Reddy told reporters. He said the details of the agreement were due to be unveiled later Monday. Officials, however, said the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement encompasses accords on trade of goods and services, investment protection and avoidance of double taxation. — AFP

Buyer for MG Rover

BEIJING: China’s biggest private automaker Geely Group said on Monday it is in talks with MG Rover to buy the collapsed British car manufacturer but analysts argued it will have problems finding sufficient funds to secure a purchase. “We are indeed in touch with Rover,” a spokesman for Geely told AFP. “We’re both interested but I don’t know when we’ll complete the talks, or what we might eventually end up buying.”— AFP