Xechem, Alembic ink pact

NEW YORK: Xechem International Inc, a biopharmaceutical company has signed a $3.6-million funding deal with Baroda-based pharmaceutical major Alembic Ltd. Xechem, which manufactures pharmaceutical products using plants and herbs from Asia and Africa, has already received $640,000 from Alembic. — HNS

Air China to sell shares

BEIJING: Flagship carrier Air China is on schedule with plans to sell shares to foreign investors later this year. “The company is to be listed in Hong Kong at around the end of this year, but no further details I can provide at the moment,” Wang Jie, Air China’s Shanghai branch general manager, was quoted as saying by the China Daily on its Web site. — AP

China, S’pore FTA talks

SINGAPORE: China and Singapore will begin free trade talks in November, Singapore’s finance minister said, reversing an earlier decision by the prime minister to wait until ASEAN and the communist nation complete negotiations on a trade deal. Whatever happens to the ASEAN -China Free Trade Agreement, we are going to launch negotiations in November, the local Straits Times newspaper reported. — AP

Oil prices threaten airlines

SINGAPORE: Escalating jet fuel prices are threatening to clip the wings of Asian carriers just as they recover from last year’s unprecedented travel slump brought on by the SARS outbreak. Moves by Australia’s Qantas Airways and Air New Zealand to impose a passenger ticket surcharge from Monday were a warning to the industry about the impacts of record-high oil prices if they continue to rise. — AFP

‘Relaunch WTO talks’

PARIS: The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), which mainly groups leading western companies, wants the US to relaunch the stalled trade liberalisation talks under the Doha round, its president said in an interview with the Paris daily Le Figaro to be published on Monday. — AFP