US jobs eroded by NAFTA’

WASHINGTON: Rural workers from a small community in the southern US state of North Carolina say their county has been devastated by unemployment, blaming NAFTA and other free trade accords for their plight. Displaced workers from Robeson County, North Carolina, have taken their grievances to Washington where they are seeking financial help from

Congress, as president George W Bush and senator John Kerry trade blows over the economy ahead of November’s presidential election. — AFP

CalPERS to invest in India

SACRAMENTO: The United States’ largest public pension fund announced this week it had added India to its list of emerging equity markets in which it will invest. It will be

the first time the $166 billion California Public Employees Retirement System has invested in Indian markets. The fund, known as CalPERS, has set aside about $2 billion for investing in emerging markets around the world. — AP

AirAsia, ValuAir price war

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian no-frills carrier AirAsia is prepared for a price war with Singapore’s first budget airline, ValuAir, to protect its market share, a report stated on Thursday. “We have said that when we have more competition, we will just have to lower our price. We can go very low. That’s the only formula we know,” AirAsia chief executive officer Tony Fernandes said. — AFP

OECD opts new corp rules

PARIS: OECD governments are expected to approve new guidelines aimed at ensuring honesty in corporate governance that were drafted in response to massive corporate scandals in the US and Europe. The corporate governance principles, worked out under the auspices of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCED), will set more demanding standards covering protection of shareholders’ interests than the 1999 guidelines that they replace. — AFP

Jobless rate steady in HK

HONG KONG: Unemployment in Hong Kong held steady at 7.2 per cent in the three months ending on March 31, defying predictions from private economists that it would fall slightly. Joblessness had stood at 7.2 per cent in the previous three-month period, December-February. More people had entered the labour force as employment prospects improve along with Hong Kong’s economy, leading to a higher number of people out of work. — AP

Currency peg to remain

SHANGHAI: Higher consumer prices and a growing trade deficit have eased upward pressure on China’s yuan currency, the government said Thursday, citing an unnamed official who ruled out any near-term revaluation of the currency. The comments reinforced positions by top Chinese officials seeking to dash speculation that Beijing might yield to appeals to stop linking the yuan to the US dollar. — AP

Malaysian GDP to rise

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s GDP will likely rise by 5.7 per cent in 2004 and six per cent in 2005, the IMF predicted in its latest global report. The on-year figure for 2004 is higher than the IMF’s prediction in its March annual report, when it predicted 5.3 per cent growth for Malaysia. Both figures are less than the government’s forecast of six per cent to 6.5 per cent growth for 2004. — AP