May 1999


  • World News Today... daily headlines and abstracts
  • Asia's Economic Crisis Slowly Recovering
  • Britain's Cadbury Schweppes Acquires America's Hawaiian Punch
  • Nike's Cole Haan Shoes Moves Operations Abroad
  • Egypt to Halt Widening Trade Deficit
  • Genetically Modified Foods Removed From Britain's Shelves
  • Virgin Cola Launches in Japan
  • Coca Cola Reinforces Commitment to the Philippines
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  • SINGAPORE -- Singapore's Prime Minister, Goh Chok Tong believes that Singapore's recession may be ending, and recovery seems likely for many of its Asian neighbors. But added that some Asian economies could take between 4 to10 years to rebound from the regional crisis.

    On the positive side, Goh remarked that financial markets in the region have stabilized as have foreign exchange rates. And interest rates have returned to pre-crisis levels. Banks are beginning to lend again. And more importantly, confidence in the Asian stock markets is returning.

    Though optimistic, Goh remains cautious about his island-state's recovery over the coming year. Regional issues that cause continued concern include China's slowed economy, the uncertain pace of recovery in Japan and the socio-political situation in Indonesia. Moreover, economic growth in the US and Europe, though healthy, is expected to slow down.

    Meanwhile, S. Korea's economy shows dramatic improvements in key indicators and officials are forecasting an economic growth of up to 4.3% this year (after a 5% contraction in 1998). Nevertheless recovery could be diminished due to bad loans held by banks and the government's huge fiscal deficit. [Recall that in December 1997 South Korea received a US$57 bil bailout from the International Monetary Fund to avoid a foreign debt moratorium.]

    Singapore's economy grew by 1.5% in 1998, down sharply from 8% the previous year. But foreign investors give Singaporean workers high marks for their efficiency, discipline and strike-free culture. However, they have become too expensive for basic manufacturing and are being constantly retrained for higher value-added tasks in electronics and other advanced fields.

    In an effort to stay competitive, Prime Minister Goh urges workers to improve job skills that will improve Singapore's economy for the long-term.

    While recovery seems likely for Singapore and its neighbors, the rate of recovery is anticipated to be slow. Leaders remain cautiously optimistic.

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    LONDON, UK -- Cadbury Schweppes PLC of the UK already dominates the US non-cola carbonated soft drink market with leading brands including: Dr. Pepper, 7Up and Canada Dry brands. It has just entered into an agreement with Procter & Gamble Co. to purchase Hawaiin Punch for US$203 million in cash. Hawaiian Punch is America's leading non-carbonated fruit punch brand.

    This acquisition is consistent with Cadbury's stated goal of developing its line of candy and American soft drinks.

    Cadbury's move to acquire a niche product with greater potential for growth than the growth potential in the highly competitive carbonated drinks market appears to be a smart move. Hawaiian Punch, with annual sales last year of US$133 million, will help them develop a strong relationship with younger American customers, without competing head-on with the cola giants.

    Cadbury is the world's third leading soft drink maker, commanding an approximately 15% share of the U.S. market, behind Coke's 44% and Pepsi's 31% shares. Cadbury's other soft drink brands include: A&W Root Beer, Sunkist, Schweppes, Squirt and Crush.

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    LIVERMORE FALLS, Maine USA -- Cole Haan shoes, a subsidiary of Nike brand, has decided to close its last manufacturing facility in Maine, which accounts for 11% of its worldwide production. This 9-year-old Livermore Falls, Maine plant accounts for the production of nearly 250,000 pairs of Cole Haan shoes annually, selling for about US$225 a pair. Due to escalating local costs, Cole Haan, like many other leading Maine-based shoe companies have had to move operations abroad. In October, Cole Haan will be relocating their facilities to Italy, Brazil and Mexico.

    Today, more than 90% of all shoes sold in the US are manufactured in other countries.

    Cole Haan will, however, continue to maintain its headquarters in Yarmouth, Maine where it employs 210 people.

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    CAIRO, Egypt -- In a recent address, Egypt's President Mubarak reported a widening 1998-99 trade deficit of US$12.36 bil, up from US$6.3 bil in 1991-92, when the policy of economic liberalization began in Egypt . Mubarak is urging union leaders to close this trade gap immediately and reduce imports, while increasing exports. Even crude exports were down by 32% in value last year (from US$1.72bil in fiscal 1997-98), due to low international oil prices. And the import of agricultural products accounted for nearly 25% of imports, including the import of canned fava beans, a staple in the Egyptian diet, which are grown domestically. We can expect to see stringent measures implemented in the coming months.
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    LONDON, UK -- In a country where consumer confidence is low with regard to genetically-modified (GM) ingredients in foods, Nestle has just decided to remove such genetically modified foods from Britain's shelves. Unilever also recently announced a similar move. The country's four biggest supermarket chains: Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Safeways have already removed nearly all products containing GM substances, including engineered produce, from their shelves due to consumers' backlash. Products that were not feasible to remove have been properly labeled to reveal ingredient sources.

    A Tesco survey revealed that 25% of shoppers wanted GM material removed from its shelves.
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    TOKYO, Japan -- Britain's Branson -- Virgin Cola -- breaks into Japan's US$25.4 bil soft drink market. Dominant market positions are presently held by Coca Cola (85% share) and Pepsi Cola (13%). Branson's introduction of its Virgin beverage was made possible through a joint effort, together with Japan's Pokka Co., a canned coffee maker. While distribution can be difficult for a foreign entry in the Japanese market, this joint effort makes it possible to distribute Virgin through convenience stores and Pokka's own vending machines.

    Virgin's goal is to become Japan's number two soft drink brand within the next few years. Launched March '99, Virgin plans to spend over 5 billion yen each year promoting the brand in Japan.

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    MANILA, the Philippines -- At a time when many multinationals in the Philippines have been downsizing local operations or closing and relocating plants outside of the country due to the country's weak infrastructure, Coca Cola reinforces its commitment to the Philippine market. Coke has been selling its soft drink brand there for nearly 100 years and continues to show its commitment to being a part of the country's economic growth. Coke's US headquarters has invested more than US$400 million in the last three years in the Philippines market.

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    International flight departures leave on Thursday or Friday, May 27 - 28, 1999* or June 3 - 4, 1999**. Thursday departures return anytime the following Monday and Friday departures return anytime the following Monday/Tuesday.

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    Updated 5/26/99