Consumer sovereignty in the framework of social justice, economic equality and environmental balance, within and across borders


  • Price ceiling feasibility in doubt

    March 29, 2014

    Few dairy companies are willing to give comments on a possible imposition of a powdered milk price cap as announced by authorities. They said however that such a limit would be very difficult to execute in reality.

    A representative of Vinamilk told the Saigon Times that it would be a formidable task in setting a price ceiling for dairy products available on the market. After the arrival of imported materials, there are a lot of other phases to implement, such as research and tests for an optimal formula, and then product marketing, said the representative. Moreover, Vinamilk also has to bear the costs of equipment investment and technology, pays for its 5,000-strong work force, ensure profits for 10,0000 dairy farmers and fulfill tax obligations.
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  • Knowledge is the key to conservation

    March 29, 2014

    DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA – My day begins with a cup of coffee and ends with hot chocolate. In between, I consume a variety of food and medicines, including my daily 81mg dose of aspirin. A brightly colored orchid enlivens my study, and, through the window, I catch a glimpse of my green garden. In short, my life – like everyone’s – is enabled, enriched, and extended by a wide variety of plants and their derivatives.

    But the biodiversity on which all of us depend is under threat, as human activity devastates forests and other plant-rich habitats. The question now is how quickly are species being destroyed – and what can be done to stop it.
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  • Wal-Mart sues Visa for $5B over card swipe fees

    March 28, 2014

    Wal-Mart Stores Inc. this week sued Visa Inc. for $5 billion, accusing the credit and debit card network of excessively high card swipe fees, several months after the retailer opted out of a class action settlement between merchants and Visa and MasterCard Inc.

    Visa declined to comment on the suit, filed Tuesday in the US District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, where Wal-Mart is headquartered.

    Visa and other card networks charge retailers fees, called swipe fees or interchange fees, each time a shopper uses a debit or credit card to pay.
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  • Biggest energy suppliers face anti-trust probe

    March 27, 2014

    Britain ordered a full anti-trust investigation into its biggest energy suppliers on Thursday after finding signs of tacit price coordination, launching a process that could result in the break-up of companies including Centrica and SSE.

    In a move that may usher in the biggest shake-up of Britain’s retail energy market since it was opened up 15 years ago, three regulators said competition was so weak and public trust so low that an investigation was needed.

    “Profit increases and recent price rises have intensified public distrust of suppliers and highlight the need for a market investigation to clear the air,” energy regulator Ofgem said.
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  • Growth indicators may be misleading

    March 25, 2014

    WASHINGTON – “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” That is the wisdom behind metrics like gross domestic product and other aggregate indicators that signal the health of national economies around the world. Policymakers and planners have used these numbers for decades to help them understand how to guide domestic economic growth.

    But reliance on GDP and other traditional indicators may be sabotaging a keenly sought goal: the development of thriving innovation economies. Today, some vital parts of the information-technology sector barely register in the national accounts. While GDP measures the market value of all goods and services produced within a country, many stars of the digital age (think Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, Mozilla, Netscape, and so on) produce no goods and provide free services.
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  • Int’l climate change meeting opens in Yokohama

    March 25, 2014

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.N.-sponsored scientific body, began a five-day general meeting Tuesday in Yokohama as part of efforts to finalize its latest assessment report.

    About 500 scientists and government representatives from around the world will negotiate and eventually agree on a report prepared by Working Group II of the influential panel before releasing it Monday.

    The report is a part of the fifth assessment report from the panel that comprises three working-group reports as well as a synthesis report that is scheduled to be published in October.
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  • Vietnam private firms facing unfair competition from SOEs, they claim

    March 21, 2014

    Private companies complain that provincial authorities favor state firms for allocation of land and funds and prioritize foreign investment rather than help them resolve their problems, a study has found.

    The ninth iteration of the annual Vietnam Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI), which studies Vietnamese provinces and cities in terms of ease of doing business, economic governance, and administrative reform efforts, was released Thursday.

    It showed that 31 percent of respondents complained of a bias toward SOEs in the allocation of land, capital, and procurement contracts as a major impediment to their own business.
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  • Trade – Growth Recovering but Restrictions on the Rise

    March 20, 2014

    Roberto Azevedo, director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), says this will be a pivotal year for global trade.

    GENEVA – The Bali Package, approved on Dec. 7 by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) members, was a historic achievement, representing a significant boost for trade, growth and development around the world. But its true significance lies in what it allows us to do next to conclude the Doha Development Agenda.

    As we prepare to seize this opportunity in 2014, it is timely to look back on the challenges which emerged in the international trading environment in 2013 and to consider how members might respond.
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