• Chile Joins Mercosur
  • International Law Firms Open in China
  • Microsoft and Nintendo Partnership to Deliver Broadband Internet Data Via Satellite
  • European Patent Prices Decline
  • Turkish Kabobs Outsell American Fast Food in Germany
  • Aging US Wine Market Fears Decline
  • Philip Morris' Comparative Advertising in France Results in Lawsuit
  • Germany's Telecom Industry Opens to Competition
  • Germany Votes to Extend Retail Shopping Hours
  • R&D On the Rise in Southeast Asia as Competitive Edge
  • Country Update -- Brazil
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  • Crack the Safe!
  • .....check back for more news later this month!
  • BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- Chile joins Mercosur, the largest South American Free-Trade Bloc, in its efforts to become a world trading power. Mercosur is comprised of Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina. Bolivia is expected to to become a formal member in September. All six nations together have a population of more than 208 million people and a combined GNP of US$907.3 billion. Chile, considered the most economically developed in the region provides a gateway to trade with Asia via its Pacific Ocean ports. It is considered an exemplary nation as the first in the region to move to a market economy, privatizing most state enterprises and opening itself to foreign investment. Chile has recorded 12 years of steady economic growth, low inflation and low unemployment. The economy reported 8.5% growth in 1995 and is expected to expand 7.5% in 1996. Exports are taking on a greater importance for Chile as well, rising 11.4% in 1995. Exports account for nearly a quarter of the country's GNP (US$16 billion of US$66.7 billion). In addition to Mercosur's trade agreements, the member nations are all expected to sign a "democracy guaranty clause" which would suspend member benefits to any country that strayed from democratic principles.
    (Source: YOUR LINK HERE)

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    BEIJING, China -- 16 foreign law firms were approved by the Ministry of Justice in China late last month to open offices in China, bringing the total number of foreign law firms in China to 73. Five of the 16 are US firms; the remainder are from Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Jordan and the UK. This wave of approvals bodes well for foreign companies that have been investing in China over the last several years -- many requiring local business-related legal work. And it reflects well on US-China trade relations as well. More than 130 other law firms have applications pending, some for as long as three years. Dozens of foreign law firms operate unofficially in China, priming the local government for approval.
    (Source: YOUR LINK HERE)
    TOKYO, Japan -- Leading video game and software companies, Nintendo Company and Microsoft Corp., announced their partnership to create the next wave of broadband data delivery in Japan -- satellite broadcasting to personal computers by way of the internet. Satellite transmission is as well-suited to the Japanese market, as cable is in the US market, due to the high penetration of satellite and cable households, respectively. For example, 10 million households in Japan already subscribe to pay-television services provided by the same satellite company this new joint venture will use. Other nontelephone delivery alternatives are being explored by several other firms such as the Intercast system, a product of Intel Corp. Intercast uses conventional terrestrial television broadcasting; other companies are exploring cable television delivery. Efforts to find suitable, lower-cost delivery channels are in great demand for delivering high bandwidth services such as music, video, full-graphic multimedia catalogs and the like. The Microsoft-Nintendo partnership is focusing on data deliver to PCs, where the information could be stored on the subscriber's hard disk for later use, then viewed using a www browser, such as the Microsoft Internet Explorer. Nintendo says that this venture is an opportunity for them to expand beyond the gaming industry, into other forms of home entertainment.
    (Source: YOUR LINK HERE)
    MUNICH, Germany -- To encourage more local and foreign companies and individuals to file patents, the (EPA) European Patent Office plans to reduce the price to file European patents by nearly 30%. At present, the cost of a patent in Europe is about US$39,000 to register in 8 countries. Nearly one-third of this goes towards language translation expenses. The EPA price reductions reflect a dramatic reduction in translation costs. Interestingly, the number of patents filed with the EPA has been on the rise, up 5.4% in 1995 to 78,300, to the tune of US$690 million. An 8% increase is expected this year. (Comparatively, 54,000 patent applications were received at the German Patent Office in 1995.) The majority (51%) of EPA patent applications come from the Americas and Asia, which requests rights in 7.9 countries, on average. Germany, UK, France and Italy are the most popular countries covered by the patents -- in the fields of medical technology, electrical and electronic components and telecommunications.
    (Source: YOUR LINK HERE)
    BERLIN, Germany -- Turkish doner kebabs, introduced to Germany in the 1970s by Turkish immigrants has become assimilated and replaced traditional fast food, outselling local McDonald's and Burger King fast food outlets, combined. Germans ate an average of 10 doners each in 1995, making the doner kebab a US$3 billion industry in Germany which employs about 70,000 people. There are more than 100 factories throughout the nation which produce 300 tons of beef and veal for these sandwiches. The largest and most modern factory opened just two months ago, in Berlin. From this factory, doner kebab meat product is exported throughout all 15 EU member states. The kebab sandwiches are generally sold from small street vendor carts and stalls, which do the bulk of their business at lunchtime -- they are generally "open" until late in the evening. The price? About US$3. Requests for exports are coming from all over the world, including central Asia and China. Some say the doner's popularity has come about as a first-time experience with foreign culture. In any case, it has certainly spurred a good deal of analysis by sociologists such as Eberhard Seidel-Pielen and obsession as it stars in a highly successful satire written by the playwright, Gaby Sikorski, called "The Last Doner" in which the doner is banned, riots ensue and an underground black market supplies the addicted population.
    (Source: YOUR LINK HERE)


    PARIS, France -- Comparative advertising is against the law in France. Typically, such advertising is used to compare one brand of tires to another or a beverage brand to another in the same category or frame of reference. Last month, a Philip Morris advertising campaign was banned in France for claiming that breathing second hand tobacco smoke was less of a health risk than eating cookies. 77 French cookie and cracker companies took legal action. If the judgement rules against Philip Morris, the company will be fined US$200,000 (about 1 million French francs).
    (Source: YOUR LINK HERE)

    USA -- In the US, loyal wine drinkers are typically older consumers. And while US wine sales are up in recent years, American wine makers say that Americans just don't drink enought wine/volume. Interestingly, in nearly all major wine-drinking countries, the number of people who consume wine has declined since the end of World War II. For example, over half the adult population in France says they never drink wine. Of course, that means that nearly half do; compare this with the US market, in which the majority of wine consumed (between 75 -88%) is drunk by a small minority of between 5 and 16 percent of the adult population. Wine makers are looking for ways to expand their market penetration in the US, despite the fitness and health trends, the increased drinking age (from 18 to 21), the more stringent drunk-driving laws, federal labeling requirements regarding sulfites and the proliferation of light beers (of which consumers drink 12.4 gallons/year) and the introduction of new, more flavorful microbrewed beers, whose appreciation can be likened to that of fine wines -- again, an older, more sophisticated consumer. As the typical wine drinker ages, the wine makers are looking to capture the incoming young adult market; but their interest in wines is lackluster at best for the industry, consuming wine less than once per week. Mass appeal wine consumption in the US began in the late 1960s and early '70s, but it peaked in 1982 at just under 175 million cases. Since then there has been a decline -- to 140 million cases in 1991, up to 153 million in 1992, back down to 149 in 1993 and another increase in 1994 to 157 million. Per capita consumption in 1970 was only at about 1.05 gallons/year; during the peak year of 1982 it reached 2.58 gallons and is now around 2 gallons.
    (Source: YOUR LINK HERE)
    GERMANY -- Early this month, the German Parliament approved a law to open the country's telecommunications industry to competition by 1998, ending the monopoly on basic telephone services. This 1998 deadline coincides with the liberalization of Europe's telecommunications industry. State-owned, Deutsche Telekom, will begin its public stock offering in November. As early as this year, private companies will be allowed to offer competing services in Germany such as data transmission.
    (Source: YOUR LINK HERE)


    MALAYSIA and INDONESIA -- Malaysia and Indonesia see their competitive edge eroding in labor-intensive industries against such regional giants as China due to rising labor costs in their markets. By channeling spending into R&D (and related educational programs) for more value-added, research-related areas, such as information and telecommunications, electronics, biotechnology and manufacturing, these countries hope to maintain their economic edge and are attracting foreign businesses such as Motorola, Delco Electronics, Thompson Multimedia, Sony and others.

    Malaysia’s Five-Year Plan calls for an increase in the number of researchers and scientists, from 400 in 1992 to 1000 by the year 2000. In 1992, Malaysia invested 0.4% of GNP in R&D efforts (from both private and public sources). They are aiming for 1% of GNP by the year 2000. Indonesia also plans to increase research-related spending to 1% of GDP by the year 2003. Comparatively, Singapore is already spending heavily -- 1.12% of GDP in 1994. But relative to the leading industrial nations, even Singapore is well behind (Japan - 2.84% in 1994; USA - 2.65% in 1993; Switzerland - 2.51% in 1992; Germany - 2.48% in 1993; Korea - 2.33% in 1993; UK - 2.18% in 1992; Taiwan - 1.82% in 1992).
    (Source: YOUR LINK HERE)

    GERMANY -- On June 21, the Bundestag approved the bill to extend hours of operation for retail establishments. The bill also passed through the Bundesrat early this month and goes into effect in November. Hours of retail operation are currently 7am - 6:30pm; shorter hours on Saturdays; closed Sundays. The new ruling will permit hours to extend to 6am - 8pm on weekdays, Saturdays until 4pm and longer hours on the four Saturdays prior to Christmas. Nevertheless, labor unions’ contracts may pre-empt these changes, in which workers’ allowable hours are written into formal labor agreements which extend until the end of this year. Controversy abounds between protesting labor unions, the country’s high unemployment (around 4 million people are out of work), and a greater prevalence of working women and couples -- since these laws were originally established. (Story updated 7/15/96)
    (Source: YOUR LINK HERE)

    .....check back for more news this month!


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    Updated 7/15/96