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Business

Business Briefs

BASF issues landmark environmental report; Telekom faces increased competition in the local market; Lufthansa wants to resume flights to Baghdad and more.

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Lufthansa wants to resume commercial flights to Baghdad.

Chemical giant draws up environmental road map

The German chemical manufacturing giant, BASF, released an ambitious report today, a road map of sorts setting high standards for the reduction of environmental pollution and work-place accidents through the next decade. The Report on Environment, Safety and Health 2002, released today at a press conference in Ludwigshafen, sets high standards in a number of areas: a ten percent reduction in greenhouse gases, a 40 percent reduction in airborne pollution like carbon monoxide, a 30 percent reduction in water emissions like nitrogen, and an 80 percent reduction in workplace accidents – all by 2012. Dr. Walter Seufert, director of the Competency Center for the Environment, Safety and Energy, told reporters at the press conference that this report is a “quantum leap” in the establishment of transparency at BASF and goes a long way towards establishing firm goals, the progress towards which can be quantified and measured by an audit bureau.

Deutsche Telekom to face stiff competition

Deutsche Telekom’s single remaining monopoly – the local market – is about to disappear. As of today, customers will have the right to what’s called “pre-selection”, which means they can choose a local phone service provider other than Deutsche Telekom. Since April 25, German Telekom users have had access to another service called “call-by-call”, which allowed them to use a special prefix provided by a competing company to dial around Telekom, and thereby place local calls with another provider. But this second stage of the local phone market liberalization will allow Telekom customers to make a permanent switch, and “pre-select” a competing provider, like Tele2 and Arcor, thereby doing away with the pesky process of dialling a call-around prefix. However, customers eager to make the switch are likely to face delays, as competitors don’t have the resources to process a huge volume of orders. Industry experts estimate that Tele2 already has a back-log of 350,000 orders, while Arcor is behind by 450,000. Telekom has already lost six percent to these upstart competitors, and is likely to lose more when their capacity catches up with demand.

EU might levy surcharge tax on trucks

German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported Wednesday the EU Commission may oppose German efforts to introduce a 12 Cent surcharge tax, the “LKW-Maut”, on large trucks travelling on German motorways. The report says the EU Commission may demand “sweeping changes” to the policy, set to take effect on August 31. At issue are two things: whether the income from the surcharge can flow into general German coffers or should be used exclusively for the maintenance and repair of autobahns and roads, and whether or not the surcharge poses a threat to fair competition. According to the report, the EU would like to see the surcharge employed only in environmentally sensitive areas, such as the Alps, and is leaning towards labelling the surcharge unfair to competition. According to transportation minister spokesman, Michael Zirpel, plans to introduce the surcharge at the end of the summer are not in danger and the income derived from it will not flow into the general German household, but will be “used for roads – especially federal roads”.

Lufthansa may begin flying to Baghdad

The German airline, Lufthansa, would like to resume commercial flights to Baghdad for the first time in ten years. The airline petitioned the temporary American administration in Baghdad for landing rights on Wednesday, and expects an answer shortly, announced company spokeswoman Katrin Haase on Wednesday. “Baghdad is the former industrial center of the region,” said Haase, “And, therefore, it’s very important to business travellers.” She, however, declined to comment on potential security concerns. The American administration in Iraq called upon airlines to submit applications for landing rights on July 1, and is hoping to open the airport to civilian traffic shortly. British Airways and Gulf Air have also expressed an interest.