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This Week
Print Edition> This Week
UPDATED: March 20, 2007 NO.12 MAR.22, 2007

Corn output record high

China's corn production last year hit a record 144 million tons, 3.3 percent more than in 2005, the National Grain and Oil Trade Center said recently.

The main reason for the record output was good weather during the later stages of cultivation in northeast China.

The crop was grown on 27.1 million hectares last year, nearly a 3-percent increase over 2005, the center said, and forecast that it could be grown on 27.4 million hectares this year.

If the weather is favorable, corn output could reach 146 million tons this year, an increase of 2 million tons.

The steady increase in corn output and area on which it is grown is attributed to the higher rate of profit the crop earns compared to soybean.

Shanghai's leap

Shanghai's economy will rank 16th in the world in 2020, up 16 places from its position in 2005, according to a new report by an international accounting and consulting firm.

Shanghai's economy is projected to top $360 billion in terms of purchasing power parity, Price Waterhouse Coopers said in the report.

Purchasing power parity calculations eliminate the differences in foreign exchange and price levels between countries.

The city's average growth rate will top 6.5 percent from 2005 to 2020, the report said.

Shanghai aims to build itself into a world-class financial, shipping and trade hub. It has already attracted more foreign banks than any other city in the nation. Of the first batch of nine overseas banks to set up locally in China, all chose Shanghai as their headquarters.

Growing market for ice cream

An increasing number of people are paying more than 30 yuan for a scoop of ice cream as trendy ice cream cafes are becoming more frequent in China's big cities.

"Some of the ice cream habits of the Chinese today relate to the ability to pay for the luxury at trendy cafes," said Tue Tyge Moller, Vice President of Danisco China, a Danish ingredient producer. Danisco produces food ingredients that end up in cone ice or stick ice, the ones sold for 1-8 yuan.

Experts in the field estimate that Chinese people consume 2 liters of ice cream per capita, leaving them far behind the ice-cream-loving Americans who consume 19 liters. Still a growing group of affluent Chinese people have made it a dream for local and foreign companies to be the ones to make the Chinese mainland really love ice cream.

The information boom

The number of cell phone and fixed phone subscribers in China exceeded 800 million at the end of 2006, Minister of Information Industry Wang Xudong said on March 14.

The country's information industry reported sales revenues of more than 4 trillion yuan ($512.8 billion), Wang said.

The information industry also scored total exports of more than $300 billion last year, the minister said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

The number of Internet subscribers has surpassed 130 million, he added.

However, the minister said, the information industry is still lacking essential competitive power, and it is a pressing job to improve the capability for innovation.

HSBC to double mainland branches

HSBC Holdings Plc plans to double the size of its branch network on the Chinese mainland this year as it focuses growth on emerging markets, Bloomberg News reported March 13.

The London-based company may open as many as 30 to 40 branches and sub-branches this year and hire 1,000 people both this year and next, said Peter Wong, Executive Director for Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland. The investment in new outlets and training personnel will weigh on profits, Wong said.

"The global players can't miss out on China's mainland even though the profit may not come in the next few years," said Kent Yau, Hong Kong-based Deputy Head of Research at Core-Pacific Yamaichi International Ltd. HSBC is "trying to keep itself ahead of the others," he added.

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