May 1998


  • World News Today... daily headlines and abstracts
  • Jobless Rate in Japan Reaches New High
  • Global Workforce Falls Short on Literacy
  • Vietnam Economy Shows Continued Strength
  • Libya and Lebanon Sign Trade Accord
  • Beijing's Private Sector Encouraged to Hire Laid-off Workers
  • Israel Gains Recognition as Silicon Valley #2
  • Starbuck's Plans Launch into Europe
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  • TOKYO, Japan -- During the last week of April, Japan announced it's highest (3.9%) unemployment rate for the nation since they began recording it in 1953. Despite economic measures -- such as Japan's US$128 billion fiscal package to stimulate the economy -- workers are dissatisfied, saying it's too little too late.

    Among the population segments most affected by these unemployment rates are recent grads (ages 15 - 24) and the 55 - 64 year-old men seeking re-employment. Unemployment among males in these age brackets is 10.1% and 6.3%, respectively.

    While the economic picture seems grim to many of the workers in Japan, in truth, these umemployment levels are enviable in other nations, (ie. in Germany the rate is about three times this level; and Japan continues to maintain the lowest level of jobless rates among the other G7 nations).

    Meanwhile, the G7 countries continue to encourage Japan to deregulate its service and retail sectors in order to open its markets to cheaper foreign goods. In a recent news conference, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said to Japanese officials, ``We (the United States) are selling to the world but we are also buying exports that will lead this (Asia) region back to prosperity and growth.'' These issues will be addressed during the May '98 G7 summit.

    Jobless rates in the region are reaching all-time highs -- S. Korea's recent rate is reported at 6.5%, the highest in 16 years. And of Indonesia's 90 million workforce, 9 million are out of work; this number is expected to swell to 13 million by year-end. Hong Kong's unemployment level was at 3.5% in the first quarter of 1998, a 3-1/2 year high.

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    PARIS, France -- According to the recent OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) study of literacy rates, about 1/3 - 1/2 of the world's workforce in industrialized nations falls short on literacy levels essential to function in a modern economy. Advancements in technology should lead to more jobs and economic growth, but the positive impact is limited by the ability of our workforce to adapt and learn new skills.

    Poland ranked lowest, with about 75% of its adult population unable to read well enough. Sweden ranked the most literate -- with about 75% of Sweden's adults capable of handling more complex reading tasks. But in other nations, including Belgium and Ireland, the study noted a major discrepancy between older and younger generation literacy levels, in contrast to those in the US, for example, where literacy levels were comparable between old and young.

    Overall, the study indicated that half of the workforce in the United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland, New Zealand and Australia did not have the reading skills needed by our modern economic societies. Our global workforce is not literate enough.

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    HANOI, Vietnam -- Leveraging Vietnam's lower cost of goods and labor, exports continue to surge (up 19.8% to US$3.21 billion), despite a general Asian economic downturn. Vietnam's industrial production was up 12.8% during the first four months of 1998 (vs. 1997). And the trade deficit plunged 43% in the first four months of the year. Major export growth is attributed to Vietnam's expanding exports of rice, crude oil and garment sales.

    Meanwhile, unemployment rates in Vietnam continue to rise -- up to about 6% by the end of '97. Urban jobless rates are now estimated at about 7%. Vietnam's workforce is 40 million strong, and growing by approx. 1.3 million each year.

    According to a recent report from the Vietnam Labour Ministry, heavy lay-offs in state and foreign-invested enterprises could be attributed to fallout from the Asian economic crisis.

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    TRIPOLI, Libya -- Newsbyte:
    A bilateral trade agreement was signed between Libya and Lebanon last month.
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    BEIJING, China -- In an effort to stimulate the economy and reduce unemployment, the government of Beijing is offering tax incentives and low-cost loans to private companies that hire laid-off workers. In recent months, nearly 10% of Beijing's public sector workers have been let go due to state reforms. Throughout China, another 8 - 14 million workers are expected to be without jobs by the end of 1998.
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    JERUSALEM, Israel -- As the world's technology market continues to expand, Israel has become an active player and aggressively competes in this high-technology revolution. Their presence is significant and commands billions of investment dollars.

    Private sector investment in Israel's computer software/hardware, telecom and biotech companies, built mostly by young entrepreneurs, have garnered foreign funds in the amount of US$1.5 billion -- 40% of which comes from the US, Europe and Japan. Incidentally, these investments in the high-tech sector account for nearly half the nation's foreign capital investments. And more than 100 Israeli companies raised capital for their firms by selling stock on the NY stock exchanges. Moreover, to further support this growing sector, the government of Israel has been subsidizing up to 50% of the industry's research & development costs for the last six years.

    Multinational companies now actively present in Israel include such hi-tech leaders as Microsoft, IBM, Intel, Siemens and Deutsche Telekom, together with financing giants including Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley, Societe Generale of France and the Union de Banque Suisse.

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    SEATTLE, USA -- With the recent announcement to acquire Seattle Coffee Co. of the UK, Starbuck's Corp. moves closer to its expansion goal -- to expand its US operations into Europe and open 500 outlets there within the next 5 years.

    Starbuck's already has operations in the Asia/Pacific market -- with more than 30 outlets there. Plans are to run 200 retails sites in the region by the Year 2000, despite economic conditions there. The most recent outlet opened in Taipei. Look for openings in New Zealand, S. Korea and Thailand.

    Seattle Coffee Co. currently has 56 stores in the UK and plans to open another 30 by year-end. In addition, they have locations in South Africa and Malaysia with plans to open others in Kuwait and Singapore this year. These will operate under the Starbuck's brand name.

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    LAST MINUTE TRAVEL BARGAINS -- Special Discounted Fares

    American Airlines' Net SAAver and Net SAAver International offers last minute travel bargains for travelers departing from the USA. You can schedule a last minute meeting or a weekend getaway to selected destinations throughout the USA, Europe, the Caribbean, Central America or South America each week and benefit from these discounted rates.

    Through this program, you can fly at discounted rates, as long as you can plan to travel on short notice. These low round-trip fares are good for travel only on the dates specified. They expire on Fridays. Check back each Wednesday for the week's destinations!

    From Boston, MA (BOS) to:

  • US$114 -- Bermuda (BDA)
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    From Chicago O'Hare, IL (ORD) to:

  • US$219 -- Mexico City, Mexico (MEX)

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  • US$189 -- Guadalajara, Mexico (GDL)
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    From Miami (MIA) to:

  • US$249 -- Barranquilla, Colombia (BAQ)
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    From New York Kennedy, NY (JFK) to:

  • US$298 -- London Heathrow, England (LHR)

    [Restrictions apply. Check with American Airlines or our travel service group for details and confirmation. Not responsible for typographical errors.]

    International flight departures must be on Thursday or Friday, May 28 - 29, 1998. Thursday departures return anytime the following Monday and Friday departures return anytime the following Monday/Tuesday. To take advantage of these last minute bargains, or any travel needs, Call 1-800-715-4440 and ask for a Net SAAver Domestic or International Fare. Be sure to give the agent this PIN#: 27035 to book your flight. Or send e-mail to, include your name and telephone number, please.

    You can also read the latest news about Travel & Tourism.

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    Updated 5/26/98