Samsung Electronics has announced that it will start trading the Chinese currency directly with the South Korean won.
The news came as the South Korean government announced that it hoped to sign a final free trade agreement with China within the first half of the year, in a further sign of strengthening relations between the countries.
South Korea is the third country in the world to begin direct trading of the yuan for a local currency in December under the aim of grabbing a larger share of the growing business opportunities involving the yuan outside China.
With a big player like Samsung taking part, the thought is that other big companies will join in.
Samsung said in a statement it was “looking into starting won-yuan direct trading”. It did not elaborate, but traders said such a move would be a big boost for the market, which until now has been in operation led by banks.
“The fact that there’s real demand and supply for commercial purposes carries a big significance even though the amount is small,” said one currency dealer at a local bank.
South Korea has been encouraging companies trading with China to settle transactions with the yuan or the won instead of the US dollar, but actual use of the local currencies in trade deals remains very low.
Samsung uses the currency market to settle direct transactions between its headquarters and its foreign subsidiaries, and it is not clear how much influence it can make on the market on its own.
South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission is investigating Qualcomm, adding to more antitrust woes for the US chipmaker.
The outfit had a record fine it agreed to pay in China, and claimed that other antitrust authorities would see its actions differently.
South Korea’s Maeil Business newspaper, without citing direct sources, reported that the commission will look into whether Qualcomm is abusing its dominant market position.
As part of its investigation, the commission plans to send inquiries to domestic smartphone makers such as Samsung and Intel.
Qualcomm is also dealing with antitrust probes in Europe and the United States. In their investigation of Qualcomm, Chinese antitrust officials had met with their South Korean counterparts.
In 2009, South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission fined Qualcomm more than $200 million for abusing its dominant market position, so it will be especially interested because the outfit has previous form.
Massive South Korean
combine Samsung said its earnings fell for the first time in three years.
And it’s blaming the decline on mobile phone sales, which fell by 21 percent in its financial year.
The company’s net profit fell to $21.3 billion for the year, down by 27 percent compared to its previous financial year.
Many are agreed that competition from homegrown Chinese manufacturers have nibbled into Samsung sales in the country.
It also missed a trick in the second half of last year by not having anything to compete with Apple introductions.
Samsung is predicting an increasing decline for smartphones in the first calendar quarter of this year.
A South Korean company was hit by what authorities described as a low risk computer worm.
The Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co was hit by a hack earlier this month and data stolen from its system.
But the South Korea energy ministry said today that the control systems for three nuclear reactors were unaffected by the hack, according to a Reuters report.
The energy minister told the South Korean parliament that the worm was most likely transmitted to the computer systems by an infected USB device – a claim that some have their doubts about.
The CEO of Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power told the parliament that all of the country’s reactors were invulnerable to viruses and worms. But nevertheless he said that the firm was hiring more IT security staff to be on the safe side.
Some people believe that North Korea is behind attacks on South Korea computer installations. The two countries are still technically at war with each other.
North Korea’s only ally, mainland China, has condemned the hacks on Sony but said there is no proof it was behind the attacks on the movie company.
A report in Reuters quoted a spokesperson as saying that while China was against any cyberattacks and cyber terrorism, there is no proof that North Korea was the culprit.
North Korea claims that it had no idea which individual or group had hacked Sony Pictures but its press agency said “we can surely say that they are supporters and sympathisers with the DPRK”.
It threatened action against the US which it described as “the cesspool of terrorism”. US president Obama said his country would take action against the perpetrators of the hack, but did not specify what such action would be.
In a statement, the official North Korea news agency said the USA should “honestly apologise to makind for its evil doing”.
North Korea “highly estimates the righteous action taken by the guardians of peace, though it is not aware of their residence”.
It continued: “The army and people of the DPRK who aspire after justice and truth and value conscience have hundreds of millions of supporters and sympathizers, known or unknown, who have turned out in the sacred war against terrorism and the U.S. imperialists, the chieftain of aggression, to accomplish the just cause.”
USA bodies have, in the past, accused the Chinese government of being behind cyber attacks.
According to an analyst note from Carnegie, world chip sales are likely to be largely untouched between the June to July – at one percent seasonally adjusted month by month – and $24.9 for the month.
A May spike could have been thanks to Samsung’s latest Galaxy handsets, but a drop in June could be down to clearing previous inventories of previous phone and PC models ahead of new launches.
Carnegie’s early indicator for the three month moving average of chip sales for July suggests a “modest improvement slightly better than the normal seasonal pattern”.
Korean chip exports were better throughout July and August compared to June levels. Other tech production in South Korea was on the up after a long slump post the Q4 iPhone and iPad boom.
Taiwanese production improved over July thanks to electronic components and parts, however, overall it was held back by a weakness in high end smartphones and a drop in TV manufacturing.
Japan has been losing market share in semiconductors to other countries in the APAC region, in particular China and Vietnam. A sharp drop in chip segments was noted for Japan, with Carnegie adding an overall drop in Japanase consumer electronics market share and less production in Japan likely contributed.
Carnegie estimates world semiconductor sales will drop by one percent for the year.
Carnegie warned that US PC imports have been weak since March – and that the numbers could include tablet computers. Meanwhile, retail sales are sluggish for tech categories. Some of this is attributed to shopping patterns, as internet sales replaced buying through brick and mortar stores.
US inventory levels for electronics fell sharply, with leading retailers like Best Buy slashing their stock.
For the US telecom enterprise sector, it is expected that imports are flat, including Ericsson and Cisco equipment. Although the July numbers are not in, May and June imports were weak after a spike in April.