Incheon, Sep 11 (AP/UNB) — Move over pot stickers, here comes another Asian dumpling.
South Korea's largest food company is making a multimillion-dollar bet on "mandu," developing its own machines to automate the normally labor-intensive production of the Korean dumpling and building factories around the world.
"It will be the next kimchi," predicted Cho Gun Ae, a senior researcher at CJ CheilJedang Corp. who has spent more than 20 years researching dumpling recipes and production.
The nearly 4-year-old effort is an example of how technology is transforming the food industry, in this case making over the image of frozen dumplings as a cheap and unhealthy product made by small companies. Automation made the quality, the look and the size of each bite-size dumpling consistent and significantly improved productivity, Cho said.
CJ recently opened a factory in New Jersey, its third in the U.S., and has expanded production lines in China and snapped up local companies in Vietnam and Russia so it can churn out more of its Bibigo-brand frozen dumplings.
Few workers could be seen on a recent visit to a CJ factory in South Korea. One picked out defective onions and cabbages from a conveyor belt where machines washed the vegetables with water and chopped them into cubes in seconds. At another conveyor belt, two workers picked out defective chives, while another checked the machines to make sure they were running smoothly.
A series of machines cut the dough into identically sized circles, dropped a dollop of filling inside and closed the dumpling into a crescent shape, onto which another machine put a frill-shaped pattern. Lines of dumplings streamed out on conveyor belts, like a production line of miniature cars. The facility in Incheon, outside of Seoul, produces 100 tons of dumplings a day.
One challenge was designing the machines that make the pattern on the dumplings. Instead of using machines made in Japan for its popular "gyoza" dumplings, CJ developed a new machine for mandu.
Last year, U.S. sales of CJ's Bibigo dumplings surged 70 percent to 175 billion won ($156 million).
Tess Sarosdy of San Antonio, Texas, who reviews ready-made foods on her blog "I Am Tired of Cooking," praised the mandu for being easy to heat and serve.
"American consumers are more familiar with pot stickers and not the Bibigo-style of dumpling," she said in an email interview. "My daughter loves them."
Moon Jung-hoon, a food business professor at Seoul National University, is upbeat about CJ's dumpling business.
"Its targets are Chinese, Chinese people outside China and others around the world who are familiar with Chinese dim sum," he said.
Globally, the company aims to triple its dumpling sales to 1 trillion won ($929 million) by 2020, mostly to Koreans, Americans, Chinese and Russians.
It would be an unusual feat at a time when mainstay South Korean exports, such as autos and ships, are struggling to grow and companies are reluctant to expand investment.
Tokyo, Sep 10 (AP/UNB) — The Japanese economy grew at a robust annual rate of 3 percent in April-June on the back of healthy capital spending, according to revised government data released Monday.
The revision is an upward change from the 1.9 percent annual rate from an earlier preliminary reading, and a reversal from the 0.6 percent annual contraction rate in January-March.
That contraction had ended two years of continual expansion, the longest stretch in nearly three decades for Japan.
The annual rate of growth is what the pace would have been if that quarterly number had continued for a year. The data are for real gross domestic product, or GDP, the total value of a nation's goods and services.
Junichi Makino, chief economist at SMBC Nikko Securities, said the recovery momentum is better than expected, and will likely continue as electronics, auto and chemical sectors invest more, and consumer spending holds up.
He said despite worries about President Donald Trump's tariff policies, some targeting Japan, the impact appeared to be minimal so far.
The Trump administration has imposed tariffs this year on imports of steel and aluminum from many countries, including Japan.
It is also threatening tariffs on Japanese autos and auto parts. The damage to the Japanese economy from the auto tariffs is expected to be greater than the action on steel and aluminum.
Beijing, Sep 10 (AP/UNB) — Jack Ma, who founded e-commerce giant Alibaba Group and helped launch China's e-commerce boom, announced Monday he will step down as the company's chairman next September.
In a letter released by Alibaba, Ma said he will be succeeded by CEO Daniel Zhang, an 11-year veteran of the company. Ma handed over the CEO post to Zhang in 2013 as part of what he said was a long-planned succession process.
Ma, a former English teacher, founded Alibaba in 1999 in an apartment in the eastern city of Hangzhou to connect Chinese exporters with foreign retailers. It expanded into consumer retailing, online finance, cloud computing and other services, becoming the world's biggest e-commerce company by total value of goods sold across all its platforms.
Ma, who turned 54 on Monday, became one of the world's richest entrepreneurs and one of China's best-known business figures. The Hurun Report, which follows China's wealthy, estimates his net worth at $37 billion.
Alibaba said Ma will remain a member of the Alibaba Partnership, a group of 36 people that has the right to nominate a majority of the company's board of directors.
"This transition demonstrates that Alibaba has stepped up to the next level of corporate governance from a company that relies on individuals, to one built on systems of organizational excellence and a culture of talent development," Ma said in his letter.
Ma said he wants to "return to education" but gave no details of his plans.
Alibaba is one of a group of companies including Tencent Holding Ltd., a games and social media giant, search engine Baidu.com Inc. and e-commerce rival JD.com that have revolutionized shopping, entertainment and consumer services in China.
Alibaba was founded at a time when few Chinese used the internet. As internet use spread, the company expanded into consumer-focused retailing and services. Few Chinese used credit cards, so Alibaba created its own online payments system, Alipay.
Ma, known in Chinese as Ma Yun, appears regularly on television. At an annual Alibaba employee festival in Hanzhou, he has sung pop songs in costumes that have included blonde wigs and leather jackets. He pokes fun at his own appearance, saying his oversize head and angular features make him look like the alien in director Steven Spielberg's movie "E.T. The Extraterrestrial."
Ma also became one of the best-known Chinese businesspeople abroad.
The company's $25 billion initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in September 2014 was the biggest to date by a Chinese company.
Zhang, Ma's planned successor, is a former accountant who joined Alibaba in 2007 after working at Shanda Entertainment, an online games company. Zhang served as president of Alibaba's consumer-focused Tmall.com business unit.
Alibaba's e-commerce business spans multiple platforms including business-to-business Alibaba.com, which links foreign buyers with Chinese suppliers of goods from furniture to medical technology, and Tmall, with online shops for popular brands.
Alibaba launched a series of initiatives to keep counterfeit goods off its platforms following complaints by luxury brands, sporting goods makers and others.
Despite that, the French luxury company Kering, owner of brands including Gucci and Saint Laurent, accused Alibaba in a 2015 lawsuit of facilitating counterfeit sales. The two sides settled the dispute last year with an agreement to cooperate in combating trafficking in fakes.
Alipay became a financial company, Ant Financial, in 2014. Alibaba also has expanded into entertainment, set up its own film studio and invested in logistics and delivery services.
Alibaba reported profit last year of $9.8 billion.
The total value of goods sold across all of its platforms rose 28 percent over 2016 to 4.8 trillion yuan ($768 billion), according to the company.
Ma has faced controversy, including when it was disclosed in 2011 that Alibaba had transferred control over Alipay to a company controlled by Ma without immediately informing shareholders including Yahoo Inc. and Japan's Softback.
Alibaba said the move was required to comply with Chinese regulations, but some financial analysts said the company was paid too little for a valuable asset. The dispute was later resolved by Alibaba, Yahoo and Softbank.
Corporate governance specialists also questioned the unusual structure of the Alibaba Partnership, which gives Ma and a group of executives more control over the company than shareholders.
Ma defended the arrangement as necessary to ensure Alibaba focuses on long-term development instead of responding to pressure from financial markets.
Dhaka, Sept 9 (UNB) - Kihak Sung, Chairman of Youngone Corporation, has taken over as President of the International Textile Manufacturer’s Federation (ITMF) for the 2018-20 term.
He assumed the presidency at a glittering gala dinner at the National Museum in Nairobi, Kenya, said a press release.
The ITMF Conference, the biggest gathering of international textile manufacturers from all over the world, was held in Nairobi this time.
Over 300 textile luminaries attended the conference, which was inaugurated on September 7 and concluded on September 9, 2018.
The ITMF is among one of the oldest non-governmental organisations founded in 1904 with its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.
“This indeed is not only a great honour for Korea but also for Bangladesh and its 80,000 workforce,” said the release.
Kihak Sung’s meteoric rise in the textile arena is associated with the success of Youngone Corporation, over the years, as a pioneering investor in RMG and textile sector FDI which led investments both in Chattogram and Dhaka EPZs and lately in Korean EPZ.
Youngone was the first investor in the textile and apparel export sector in May 1980 and has been a pioneer in female employment in the industry.
Almost all other subsequent investors from Korea followed in Youngone’s footstep to invest in Bangladesh.
Its production of world famous brands has greatly enhanced the image of Bangladesh in the garment and textile sector, the press release said.
Because of his invaluable contribution to the development of apparel and textile industry and the national economy of Korea, Kihak Sung was conferred upon the highest class of the “Order of Industrial Merit Gold Tower” by the President of Korea in 2008.
This was followed later by his election to the top post as Chairman of the Korean Federation of Textile Industries (KOFOTI), a post which he still holds.
His dynamic leadership and steadfast policies led to the emergence of Youngone Corporation as one of the most reputable and recognised multinational companies which has successfully spread its wing across the globe in Korea, USA, Switzerland, Vietnam, China, India, Uzbekistan, San Salvador and Ethiopia.
Beijing, Sep 9 (AP/UNB) — China's trade surplus with the United States widened to a record $31 billion in August as exports surged despite American tariff hikes, potentially adding fuel to President Donald Trump's battle with Beijing over industrial policy.
Exports to the United States rose 13.4 percent to $44.4 billion, ticking up from July's 13.3 percent growth, according to customs data. Imports of U.S. goods rose 11.1 percent to $13.3 billion, decelerating from the previous month's 11.8 percent.
That could help reignite U.S. demands that Beijing narrow its trade gap, which has temporarily been overshadowed by their clash over complaints China steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology.
The two sides have imposed 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion of each other's goods. The Trump administration is deciding whether to extend penalties to another $200 billion list of Chinese imports. Beijing says it will retaliate.
With no settlement in sight, the spiraling conflict between the two biggest economies has fed fears it will chill global trade and economic growth.
The Commerce Ministry expressed confidence Thursday that China can maintain "steady and healthy" economic growth despite the trade pressure.
On Friday, Trump he was ready to step up pressure by raising tariffs on yet another $267 billion list of Chinese imports. That would mean penalties cover almost all goods from China sold to the United States.
Chinese leaders have rejected pressure to scale back plans for state-led development of global champions in robotics and other technologies.
Their trading partners complain those violate Beijing's free-trade commitments and U.S. officials worry they might erode American industrial leadership. But communist leaders see their industry plans as the path to prosperity and global influence.
As tensions mounted, Beijing agreed in May to narrow its trade gap with the United States by purchasing more American soybeans, natural gas and other exports. Chinese leaders scrapped that deal after Trump's first tariff hikes hit.
Chinese exporters of lower-value goods such as handbags and surgical gloves say U.S. orders have fallen off. But sellers of factory machinery and other more advanced exports express confidence they can keep their U.S. market share.
The Chinese customs agency took the rare step of announcing August trade data on Saturday instead of a working day. That would give financial markets a chance to digest the politically sensitive data before trading opens Monday.
The Chinese trade gap with the United States was up from July's $28 billion and June's $29 billion. Beijing reported a record $275.8 billion trade surplus with the United States last year.
Forecasters had said China's sales to the United States, its largest national export market, might weaken after manufacturers rushed to fill orders ahead of Trump's first tariff hike July 6. But trade data have yet to show a significant impact.
China's global exports rose 12.2 percent to $217.4 billion, down from July's 12.6 percent. Imports rose 20.9 percent to $189.5 billion, down from 21 percent.
The country's global trade gap was $27.9 billion. That meant that without sales to the U.S. market, China would have run a trade deficit.
China regularly runs deficits with many of its trading partners that supply oil, industrial components and other imports and pays for those by running a surplus with the United States and Europe.
Exports to the 28-nation European Union, China's biggest trading partner, rose 11 percent to $37 billion. Imports rose 15 percent to $24.9 billion, leaving a surplus of $6.1 billion.