UN ramps up assistance for Philippines flood victims

The UN has already made emergency cash grants available for the purchase of relief supplies and will determine whether to launch an appeal for the stricken country next week.The UN World Health Organization (WHO) is concentrating its efforts on search and rescue operations. The agency also plans to examine water source contamination levels and structural damage to health institutions.For now, the Philippines needs inflatable boats to reach the affected persons, clean water, medicine, body bags and shelter, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).Secretary-General Kofi Annan today sent his condolences to the families of the deceased and to all those affected by the catastrophe.In a statement issued by his spokesman he said he was “profoundly saddened” by the large-scale loss of life and destruction. read more

Chinas January trade soars exports up 25 per cent imports 28 per

China’s January trade soars; exports up 25 per cent, imports 28 per cent BEIJING, China – China’s trade growth surged in January but much of the increase was driven by the traditional Lunar New Year holiday.Exports soared 25 per cent over a year earlier, up from the previous month’s 14.1 per cent, as companies rushed to fill orders before shutting down for up to two weeks, data showed Friday. Import growth rocketed to 28 per cent, more than quadruple the previous month’s 6 per cent.China’s trade growth has rebounded in recent months in a sign of economic recovery but longer-term trade measures are likely to show lower growth than January’s double-digit increase.“Seeing the underlying trend is a little difficult. Nevertheless, the data were above expectations and seem generally positive,” said Moody’s Analytics economist Alaistair Chan in a report.Last year’s Lunar New Year shutdown began in January, leaving fewer work days and boosting this year’s figures by comparison. This year’s holiday falls entirely in February, which will make this month’s trade look unusually weak.Once holiday distortions are factored out, trade growth for the full quarter should be in high single digits, said Goldman Sachs economists in a report.China’s economic growth ticked up in the final quarter of last year from a three-year low. Analysts say a recovery in the world’s second-largest economy still is shaky and will be too weak to drive a global rebound without a turnaround in the United States and Europe.The World Bank and private sector forecasters expect economic growth of about 8 per cent in 2012 and about 7.5 per cent this year. That would be stronger than the West and Japan but China’s weakest performance since the 1990s.A slowdown in Chinese demand could hurt trading partners from Africa to Australia to Brazil where exports of oil, iron ore and other raw materials to China’s factories have fueled an economic boom.Beijing is pinning its hopes for recovery on government-driven investment and domestic consumer spending that is rising but not as fast as authorities want. Officials warned last year that global demand was so weak that trade would contribute little or nothing to overall economic growth.The country’s global trade surplus in January was $29.2 billion. Exports were $187.4 billion while imports totalled $158.2 billion.Analysts warn China’s recovery could be vulnerable if trade weakens or the government fails to pump enough money into the economy through investment. Societe Generale said last month there still is a chance of a “hard landing” this year, with growth dropping below 6 per cent — dangerously low for China.“A deceleration is likely by the end of the year if further stimulus measures are not forthcoming, which they probably won’t because of latent inflation pressures,” said Chan of Moody’s. “Exports are expected to record moderate growth as the global economy recovers.”___Genneral Administration of Customs of China (in Chinese): www.customs.gov.cn AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by Joe McDonald, The Associated Press Posted Feb 8, 2013 12:34 am MDT read more