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Business

Business Briefs

Germany's coffers are short some €15 billion; Internet provider Freenet announces big profits; Sales at tele-shopping channel QVC are booming; and Gerhard Schröder is off to Asia to drum up business.

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Gerhard Schröder and Wolfgang Clement are off to Asia to improve business ties

Schröder Leaves For Asia Business Visit

Gerhard Schröder leaves tomorrow on a visit to drum up business for Germany in Asia. He is being accompanied by his economics minister, the Chairman of the Board of Siemens and the head of the Asia-Pacific Working Group of German Industry. Although he is due to speak on non-business topics, the trip has an economic focus. Schröder will begin his visit in Malaysia, where he will be the first German Chancellor to visit the country since it gained independence in 1957. He is then due to meet with heads of government in Indonesia, where some 600 German companies are based. Trade between Germany and South Asia is higher than Germany's trade with the USA. German trade with Singapore is worth some €7.7 billion, Malaysia stands at €6 billion and exports to Indonesia are worth around €3.7 billion.

Sales Strong at QVC Germany

Sales at booming at Germany's largest shopping channel, QVC, despite the dire economic problems plaguing Europe's biggest economy. In the first quarter of 2003, the Düsseldorf based channel saw its after-tax profits rise by 30.6 percent over last year to €90 million ($103 million.) The shopping channel, which was launched in Germany in 1996, says it reaches over 34 million German-speaking households. In 2002, QVC turned over after-tax profits of €289 million ($332 million.)

Germany Faces €15 billion Budget Deficit

Germany's coffers are €15 billion ($17 million) short this year, according a report in the Financial Times Deutschland. "That is what we can predict from today's figures, it could be worse," a government spokesperson told the FTD. With individual states and municipalities also fighting budget deficits of at least €5 billion, ($5.7 million), Germany's current budget deficit of 3.6 percent could rise to 4 percent for 2003. Under the Stability Pact rules governing Eurozone countries, countries exceeding 3 percent budget deficits face stiff fines.

Freenet Gains Ground

Freenet, Germany's second largest internet service provider is fast gaining ground over its main competitor, AOL Deutschland. Freenet said its turnover was up 50 percent on the same period last year at €13.4 million ($15.3 million). Operating profits at the firm were also up last year to €370 million ($424 million). Freenet is the second most popular provider in Germany, after Deutsche Telekom's Internet arm, T-Online. AOL is yet to turn a profit in Germany, although the company says it expects to make money in 2004. Announcing the positive figures, Freenet head Eckhard Spoerr said, "we're surprised ourselves."