Wal-Mart invests in China e-commerce retailer 360buy.comBeijing (AFP) Dec 28, 2010 - US chain Wal-Mart has invested in Chinese e-commerce consumer electronics seller 360buy.com, as the world's largest retailer steps up its presence in China, a report said Tuesday. Wal-Mart has teamed up with another five investors to inject 500 million dollars into 360buy, whose rivals include Taobao, the dominant online marketplace owned by Alibaba, the Financial Times said, without citing sources. A spokeswoman for 360buy declined to comment when contacted by AFP and no one at Wal-Mart's Beijing office was immediately available to comment. The US chain has nearly 200 outlets in China, according to its website. Wal-Mart last month launched a no-frills store format in China targeting low-income and rural consumers, the Financial Times said.
It opened a "compact hypermarket" in the eastern province of Jiangxi that is expected to be the first of a series of stores using a bare-bones model developed in Latin America. The retailer's third-quarter sales in China soared 15.2 percent from a year earlier. Global sales in 14 countries outside the United States rose 9.3 percent in the same period, while US sales rose 1.4 percent. Wal-Mart is the latest foreign retailer seeking to tap the fast-growing e-commerce market in China. Internet sales in the country, the world's biggest web market with more than 420 million users, soared 60 percent year on year in the first half of 2010 to 2.25 trillion yuan (340 billion dollars), state media said in August. Underlining the growing appeal of the country's Internet market, sportswear giant Adidas has opened a flagship online store on Taobao. Clothing retailer Gap has opened an e-store along with its first outlets in the country.
http://www.terradaily.com/reports/China_setting_up_rare_earth_industry_group_999.html Beijing (AFP) Dec 28, 2010 China is setting up a rare earth industry group that will lead price negotiations with foreign buyers, organisers said Tuesday, as Beijing tightens its grip on exports of the precious metals. The China Rare Earth Industry Association is expected to be launched in May and has already recruited 93 member firms, Wang Caifeng, who will set up the group, told reporters on the sidelines of an industry forum.
Wang is a former official in the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, one of the key government bodies overseeing the sector. The new negotiating group will have direct links to the MIIT.
"The association must reflect the calls of (Chinese) firms and will take up specific tasks in areas such as rare earth exports and foreign exchanges," she said, adding the group will lead price talks with overseas buyers.
"We will be on the front line and will cooperate with the government to serve the companies."
China produces more than 95 percent of the world's rare earths, which are critical to manufacturing 21st-century goods from iPods to low-emission cars to wind turbines.
Beijing has moved to tighten controls over the elements by cracking down on heavily polluting producers, cutting quotas for overseas shipments and hiking export taxes.
Japanese industry sources said China temporarily cut off exports earlier this year during a territorial row between Asia's two largest economies.
While China has denied halting exports, the United States last week called for Beijing not to use controls over the metals as a "weapon" to serve political interests.
Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming, on a visit to Washington earlier this month, denied any political motivation over rare earth exports.
Chen said Beijing was restricting mining due to environmental concerns and that Chinese companies were also affected.
The commerce ministry on Tuesday announced a preliminary rare earth export quota for next year of roughly 14,450 tonnes to allow companies to prepare for production, but emphasised it was not a full-year figure.
Wang said she believed the full-year quota for 2011 would not be reduced significantly as compared with this year and would still "be sufficient to meet domestic and international demand".
The quota this year was 30,300 tonnes, down 39 percent from 2009, according to government figures.
Wang warned that Chinese rare earth producers were facing rising competition as foreign firms were seeking supply from other countries including Mongolia, Vietnam and the United States due to China's stiffer controls over the metals.
"Competition will become more fierce and the market landscape will change in the future with the diversification of rare earth production and research and development," she said.