S Korean exports high

SEOUL: South Korean exports hit a record high of more than $250 billion in 2004, with the country’s trade surplus doubling year-on-year to some $30 billion. Semiconductors, autos, mobile phone handsets and ships led the outstanding performance in exports. Exports jumped by 31.2 per cent year-on-year to hit $254.22 billion in 2004. Imports also rose by 25.5 per cent to $224.47 billion last year.— AFP

Oman predicts deficit

MUSCAT: Oman, faced with declining oil output, has adopted a budget for 2005 that foresees a deficit of $1.4 billion. Revenues are projected at $8.1 billion and spending at $9.5 billion. Economy minister Ahmad bin Abdel Nabi Mekki will unveil details of the new budget on Sunday. The 2004 budget had projected a deficit of $1.3 billion. — AFP

Japan’s economy recovers

TOKYO: A majority of chief executives at big Japanese companies predicted the economy would not improve in 2005 due largely to a possible US economic downturn. The survey was conducted by the Kyodo news agency in mid-December on CEOs at 105 companies including Nippon Steel Corp, Toyota Motor Corp, Sony Corp and Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group Inc. — AFP

Israeli economy improves

JERUSALEM: The Israeli economy grew faster last year than at any time since the launch of the Palestinian uprising in 2000 but the government began the New Year without a budget amid continuing efforts to forge a new coalition. GDP grew by 4.2 per cent last year, against 1.3 per cent in 2003. GDP per inhabitant was up by 2.4 per cent following a 0.5 per cent decline in 2003. And unemployment posted a slight fall from 11 per cent in 2003 to 10.4 per cent now. — AFP

China to export cars to US

DETROIT: A Chinese automaker will begin exporting cars to the US, with a goal of selling 250,000 in 2007, according to the head of the company that plans to market them. Chery Automobile Co, owned by the Chinese government, has signed a deal with the privately held Visionary Vehicles LLC of New York to sell the cars in US. — AP