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News from China
Loan program helps rural women start business
7th September 2015
 In the Tibet Autonomous Region, rural women who want to start a business face even heavier financial burdens. But thanks to a micro-loan plan, the women are able to receive subsidized loans, as long as they train and employ other villagers in the business.
39-year-old Pasang Dolma started a weaving shop at home 13 years ago. She didn’t turn it into a proper factory until 2012, when she recruited five workers from her village.
“Most people who live in the village are women. They can’t travel far to work elsewhere. And weaving is what we are good at. That's why I started this workshop,” she said.
Dolma needed money for factory space and machinery, but the highest amount of credit loan she could apply for as a rural resident was just 50,000 yuan, or US$8,000. That was far from enough to start a business.
Dolma talked to the local women’s federation. The semi-official organization then worked with the local treasury and agricultural bank to grant Dolma a two-year, 200,000-yuan mortgage loan. Under the program, Dolma was backed by a guaranty company in case she couldn’t pay her debt.
The local treasury would cover the 1.08-percent interest, while Dolma only needed to pay the principle.
Tibet’s Agricultural Bank said that since 2010, nearly 400 women across the Tibet Autonomous Region set up businesses thanks to the special loan. Xigaze’s Bainang county has the most lenders.
"Many textile and manufacturing related businesses in our county are established by women. But they didn’t have proper training, and their production and sales were quite simple, so they didn’t generate much revenue. We have set up this special microloan program to help them meet their financial challenges,” said Tseten, credit clerk, China Agricultural Bank Tibet, Bainang Branch.
The start-up loans for women here in Tibet often carry welfare purposes. In order to receive government subsidized loans, women entrepreneurs have to create job opportunities for other families in the same neighborhood.
32-year-old Lhakpa Cangchok inherited her family’s five-generation craft of incense-making. As a beneficiary of the microloan, she feels responsible for training and employing other villagers who live in poverty. She covers her eight workers’ three meals and pays each of them 80 yuan a day.
Cangchok’s incense is popular in neighboring areas, so she provides the option for her employees to work in exchange for the incense. They can then sell the product and keep the income.
"Now my production is expanding, and I’m also training other villagers to make incense. People from two nearby villages all come to buy in wholesale. I’m really happy with what I’ve accomplished,” said Lhakpa Cangchock, incense producer.
Cangchok is planning to build additional workspace and a storage house just outside the current site.
And for early bird Dolma, the local agricultural bank just granted her a new round of loans, totaling 2 million yuan. Dolma plans to buy more machines in Guangdong province and expand her work force to 100.
Source: CCTV
Shares fall despite stabilization pledges
4th September 2015

 SHANGHAI stocks fell for the third day in a row yesterday despite pledges by China’s top brokerages to pump money into a government-backed market stabilization fund operated by the China Securities Finance Corp.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.2 percent to settle at 3160.17 points.

It has slumped 39 percent since a mid-June high despite government measures to try to halt the rout.

A report in yesterday’s Securities Times said 50 brokerages, including CITIC Securities, Haitong Securities and Guotai Junan Securities Co, will provide 100 billion yuan (US$15.7 billion) to the stabilization fund, which will be invested in blue-chip shares.

However, the news didn’t prevent more than 300 stocks hitting the daily-limit decline of 10 percent on the Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges.

Banks did well in the afternoon with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world’s biggest lender by assets, rising by the daily limit of 10 percent and the Agricultural Bank of China up 6.7 percent.

“The market hasn’t bottomed out yet as pessimism prevails,” said Wang Fen, an analyst with Shanghai Securities. “Without the support of state funds, it will continue to fall.”

China’s stock markets will be closed today and tomorrow as the country commemorates the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and victory in the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression.

Source: Shanghai Daily, September 4, 2015
Indonesia rail line decision delayed
3rd September 2015

 INDONESIA has delayed naming the winner of a hotly contested race between China and Japan to build the first high-speed railway in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, a senior government official said yesterday.

 
The two Asian giants have repeatedly sent high-level envoys to lobby the Indonesian government in what has been an unprecedented battle to build the 150-kilometer link between the capital, Jakarta, and the textiles hub of Bandung.
 
President Joko Widodo had been expected to announce a winner as early as this week. But Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung said Widodo now planned to make a decision based on a review of the two proposals by an independent consultancy and a team of Cabinet ministers.
 
“The president has extended the time for the review until September 7, so that the process is fairer,” Anung told reporters, adding that the announcement of the winner could come any time after that.
 
Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Darmin Nasution said he and other senior officials assessing the bids would be making a recommendation to Widodo today.
 
“We want to meet the president together, and explain how we reached our decision, while giving our recommendation letter,” he told reporters.
 
Nasution said he did not know when Widodo would announce the winner.
 
Two government sources have said that Indonesia is leaning toward awarding the multi-billion dollar contract to China because its proposal is seen as “less financially burdensome.”
 
Indonesia’s state enterprises minister said that if China were to win the contract, state-owned companies PT Wijaya Karya, PT Jasa Marga, PT Kereta Api, and PT Perkebunan Nusantara VIII would be involved in the consortium with China.
 
“There is truly no burden on the government,” the minister, Rini Soemarno, told reporters yesterday.
 
Japan competes with Singapore as Indonesia’s top investor, while China is its biggest trading partner.
Source: Shanghai Daily, September 3, 2015
US factory activity slips to over 2-year low
2nd September 2015

 US factory activity hit a more than two-year low in August as manufacturers struggled with a strong dollar, weak global demand and the lingering effects of deep spending cuts in the energy sector.

Other data yesterday, however, suggested the economy appeared to be on solid footing, with construction spending rising in July to its highest level since 2008.

The Institute for Supply Management said its national factory activity index fell to 51.1 last month, the lowest reading since May 2013, from 52.7 in July. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the manufacturing sector.

The index’s decline also likely reflected the recent global equities sell-off, which was triggered by concerns over China’s slowing economy. The ISM’s new orders subindex fell to 51.7, also the lowest level since May 2013, from 56.5 in July.

The employment index slipped to 51.2 last month from 52.7 in July.

Manufacturing, which accounts for 12 percent of the US economy, has been under pressure from the strength of the dollar, which has gained 16.8 percent against the currencies of the US’ main trading partners since June 2014.

A more than 60 percent plunge in crude oil prices since June last year has led to deep spending cuts in the energy sector.

The US dollar fell against a basket of currencies after the data, while US stocks traded sharply lower. Prices for shorter-maturity US government debt rose.

But apart from manufacturing, the economy is thriving. In a separate report, the Commerce Department said construction spending added 0.7 percent to US$1.08 trillion, the highest since May 2008, after a similar gain in June.

Construction spending has risen for eight straight months and was up 13.7 percent compared to July of last year.

The construction spending report rounded off a month of solid data that suggested the economy had retained much of its strength from the second quarter, when it grew 3.7 percent annually. July data for consumer spending, industrial production, business spending, housing and employment painted a fairly upbeat picture of the economy.

Construction spending in July was buoyed by a 1.3 percent jump in private construction spending to the highest level since April 2008. Spending on private non-residential construction projects surged 1.5 percent to the highest level since October 2008.

Spending on private residential construction rose 1.1 percent in July to a near 7-1/2-year high, reflecting gains in home building.

Public construction outlays fell 1 percent. Spending on state and local government projects, which is the largest portion of the public sector segment, fell 1.1 percent.

Source: Shanghai Daily, September 2, 2015

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