UK firm moves back jobs

LONDON: Insurance major AXA has moved back some jobs it had outsourced to India because its clients wanted to work with people they had come to know personally. The Indian workers in AXA’a PPP Healthcare division had carried out the tasks in Bangalore. The work involves dealing with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that arrange medical services through PPP Healthcare. An AXA spokesman said that larger companies did not mind dealing with call centres in India, but SMEs appeared to prefer having personal knowledge of the people they were dealing with. — AP

Latvia, China trade ties

RIGA: Latvian president Vaira Vike-Freiberga starts a one-week state visit to China on Monday, as the small Baltic former Soviet republic seeks to use its forthcoming European Union membership to boost trade with the world’s most populous country. “The relationship with China will take on a different perspective, once Latvia joins the EU,” Vike-Freiberga told AFP in an interview before leaving for her April 12-18 visit with a sizeable business delegation representing 40 companies. — AFP

Soaring steel costs in US

CLEVELAND: Soaring steel prices, a boon to a troubled US industry, also have a downside: American consumers eventually will pay more for automobiles, refrigerators and even roller coaster rides. Analysts and other industries say it’s just a matter of time. Steel prices are rising because its production is costing more for several reasons, including a shortage of raw materials such as scrap and coke. — AP

S’pore, Russia talk trade

SINGAPORE: Singapore trade minister George Yeo and representatives from 13 local companies will visit Russia from April 11-17 to strengthen economic relations, the government said on Saturday. The delegation will be making stops in Moscow and St Petersburg to meet with industry insiders and Russia-based Singaporean businessmen to gain insights into the economic environment of the former Soviet country, International Enterprise (IE) Singapore said in a statement. — AFP

V’nam to cut tele charges

HANOI: Vietnam will slash telecommunication charges next month, in the latest in a series of recent reductions intended to bring them more in line with the regional average, state-controlled media reported on Saturday. Beginning May 1, charges for international calls and international and domestic leased lines will be lowered by between 10 per cent and 20 per cent, the Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper said. — AP

India helps Myanmar

YANGON: India has helped Myanmar upgrade its port facilities by providing hi-tech tidal gauges at two ports. The local Myanmar Times quoted the meteorology and hydrology department as saying the tidal gauges were the first of their kind installed in Yangon and Pathein ports. The gauges, supplied under a bilateral cooperation agreement in science and technology, were developed by India’s National Institute of Ocean Technology. - HNS

US plans reactors in China

WASHINGTON: On a trip to China next week to talk about high-stakes issues like terrorism and North Korea, vice-president Dick Cheney will have another task — making a pitch for Westinghouse’s US nuclear power technology. At stake could be billions of dollars in business in coming years and thousands of American jobs. The initial installment of four reactors, costing $1.5 billion apiece, would also help narrow the huge US trade deficit with China. — AP