Sunday, April 10, 2016

World Bank trims East Asia growth forecasts; Tata Steel UK begins sale process; Tiger numbers rise, first time in 100 years

1 World Bank trims East Asia growth forecasts (Straits Times) The World Bank trimmed its 2016 and 2017 economic growth forecasts for developing East Asia and Pacific, and said the outlook was clouded by risks such as uncertainty over China's growth prospects, financial market volatility and further falls in commodity prices.

The Washington-based lender lowered its growth forecast for this year for developing East Asia and Pacific countries marginally to 6.3 per cent from 6.4 per cent. Growth is set to ease from an estimated 6.5 per cent in 2015, it said.

While developing nations in East Asia - from Indonesia to China - have benefited from careful economic policies, global risks are considerable and threaten the region's outlook, the lender said. Among these are a slowdown in high-income countries, the slump in exports and financial market volatility.

For China alone, the World Bank is forecasting 6.7 per cent economic expansion this year, unchanged from its October estimate. Excluding China, the region is projected to grow 4.8 per cent this year, up from 4.7 per cent in 2015 and 0.1 percentage point lower than previously predicted.

In Southeast Asia, the biggest downgrades in growth forecasts were for Indonesia and Malaysia, both commodity exporters. Indonesia's estimate for 2016 was lowered by 0.2 percentage points to 5.1 per cent, while Malaysia was cut by 0.3 points to 4.4 per cent. The largest forecast upgrade was for Thailand, with the World Bank now projecting expansion of 2.5 per cent this year, up from 2 per cent in the earlier report.

2 Tata Steel UK begins sale process (BBC) Tata Steel is beginning the formal process of selling its loss-making UK plants, inviting interested bidders to submit their offers. So far, the only company to have publicly expressed an interest is Liberty Steel, owned by Sanjeev Gupta. Thousands of workers in England and Wales risk losing their jobs if a deal cannot be struck.

The BBC understands that a city investment firm will agree to buy Tata's Scunthorpe plant. Greybull Capital has been in talks to buy the business for several months and is expected to invest up to £400m. The move would safeguard more than 4,000 jobs but workers are being asked to accept a pay cut and less generous pension arrangements.

Tata is known to want a quick sale. Business Secretary Sajid Javid said last week after talks in India that Tata had told him it would allow a "reasonable amount of time" for the sale process. He added that he expected other interested parties to come forward once the formal sale process had begun.
Tata Steel directly employs 15,000 workers in the UK, across plants in Port Talbot, Rotherham, Corby and Shotton, and supports thousands of other jobs.

3 Tiger numbers rise, first time in 100 years (The Guardian) The number of tigers in the wild has risen for the first time in more than a century, with some 3,890 counted in the latest global census, according to wildlife conservation groups.

The tally marks a turnaround from the last worldwide estimate in 2010, when the number of tigers in the wild hit an all-time low of about 3,200, according to the World Wildlife Fund and the Global Tiger Forum.

India alone holds more than half of them, with 2,226 tigers roaming reserves across the country, from the southern tip of Kerala state to the eastern swamps in West Bengal, according to its last count in 2014.

But while experts said the news was cause for celebration, they stopped short of saying the number of tigers was actually rising. In other words, it may just be that experts are aware of more tigers, thanks to the fact that survey methods are improving and more areas are being included. But this is the first time tiger counts are increasing since 1900, when there were more than 100,000 tigers in the wild.

Tigers are considered an endangered species, under constant threat from habitat loss and poachers seeking their body parts for sale on the black market. They are also seeing their habitats rapidly shrinking as countries develop.

The tiger count is based on data from 2014. Here is the tally broken down by country: Bangladesh, 106; Bhutan, 103; Cambodia, 0; China, more than 7; India, 2,226; Indonesia, 371; Laos, 2; Malaysia, 250; Myanmar, no data available; Nepal, 198; Russia, 433; Thailand, 189; Vietnam, fewer than 5.

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