What's new in business news: January 20, 2014

Thai chicken exports to Japan resume after 10-year avian flu ban ends, rice bond sale to pay farmers may breach election law & 20 million (out of 50 million) Koreans victims of credit card data leak.

Credit card scanner used in stores to get information from customer credit cards when they make a purchase with their card at a store.

AGRICULTURE

Thai chicken exports to Japan resume after 10-year avian flu ban lifted 

Tokyo has lifted its 10-year ban on fresh poultry from Thailand and will likely import 5,000 tonnes of raw chicken meat from Thai exporters this quarter.  Japan agreed late last year to resume imports after there were no new reports of avian flu among Thai poultry for many years.

Japan's government certified Thailand's food safety standard on raw chicken last month. It will resume imports by late this month. After the avian flu outbreak in 2004, Japan and Europe, two major importers of Thai chicken meat, imported only cooked chicken products from Thailand.

After the latest changes, export volume could reach 80,000 to 100,000 tonnes by the end of this year but it will take several more years to reach 200,000 tonnes, the level Japan purchased from Thailand before the bird flu outbreak in 2004. Japan has been importing chicken meat from Brazil, with a volume of 350,000 tonnes last year. Japanese importers have recently switched to place orders with Charoen Pokphand Foods Plc (CPF) instead of Brazil. Shipments from Thailand take only 7-10 days compared with two months from Brazil.

[Read full story here ]

AGRICULTURE

Rice bond sale to pay farmers may breach election law

The Finance Ministry has raised 32.6 billion baht from selling bonds to repay rice farmers. The BAAC will receive the proceeds from the sale this Thursday to pay farmers who pledged paddy from the current main crop. For the 2013-14 main crop from Oct 1 to Feb 28, a total of 10 million tonnes of paddy worth 100 billion baht have been pledged so far, but only half the amount has been paid. As executor of the programme, the BAAC ran out of money to pay farmers, while rice sales arranged by the Commerce Ministry have not brought in enough money to repay the farmers. 

Since the House dissolution on Dec 9, the Commerce Ministry has been reluctant to proceed with the sales for fear of breaching election law. The new bonds were issued through the existing fund-raising programme of the state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC). The latest batch of the bonds is part of the bank's existing 75-billion-baht of bonds guaranteed by the Finance Ministry and put on sale last November, but only 37 billion baht was sold at the time. 

The Finance Ministry believes the sale does not violate Section 181 of the constitution, which prohibits a caretaker government from spending money on new projects or creating debt burden for the next government, because the borrowing is part of the existing bond plan, which had been approved before the government became a caretaker government. Even though the sale could pose a threat to the Pheu Thai Party, it is a do-or-die situation, as the party could lose many votes in the upcoming election if the rice farmers do not get paid.

[Read full story here ]

TECHNOLOGY

20 million (out of 50 million) Koreans victim of credit card data leak

AFP News agency

The personal data of at least 20 million bank and credit card users in South Korea has been leaked, one of the country's biggest ever breaches. The breach affected at least 20 million people in a country with a population of 50 million

In this latest case, an employee from personal credit ratings firm Korea Credit Bureau (KCB) has been arrested and accused of stealing the data from customers of three credit card firms while working for them as a temporary consultant. The stolen data includes the customers' names, social security numbers, phone numbers, credit card numbers and expiration dates. The data was sold to phone marketing companies, whose managers were also arrested earlier this month. The credit card firms will cover any financial losses caused to their customers due to the latest accident.

This case is the latest of several recent cases in which customer data was leaked either by hacking attacks or by employees. In one case, an employee of Citibank Korea was arrested last month for stealing the personal data of 34,000 customers. In 2012, two South Korean hackers were arrested for taking the data of 8.7 million customers at the nation's second-biggest mobile operator. In November 2011, Seoul's top games developer Nexon also saw the personal information of 13 million users of its popular online game MapleStory stolen by hackers. In July the same year, personal data from 35 million users of Cyworld -- South Korea's social networking site -- was also stolen by hackers.

[Read full story here ]

About the author

columnist
Writer: Jon Fernquest
Position: Online Writer