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US Firms in China Flourishing; Macau Bank Cuts Ties with North Korea


U.S. companies are doing well in China, and a bank in Macau accused of laundering money for North Korea says it has cut all links with the country.

A survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing shows that three quarters of U.S. companies in China are making a profit.

Teresa Woodland, member of AmCham's board of governors, says China's market growth and an improved regulatory environment have contributed to the success of U.S. companies.

U.S. businesses have gained easier access to domestic markets and a growing number are setting up companies without a Chinese partner, which was difficult a few years ago.

But Woodland says challenges remain, including China's often complicated regulatory system and a shortage of top-level workers.

"The biggest challenges - it remains transparency and bureaucracy," she said. "The number one challenge has been and continues to be management-level human resource constraint."

In China's southern territory of Macau, Banco Delta Asia says it has cut all business links with North Korea and will implement a new anti-money laundering program to restore its reputation.

The U.S. government designated the bank last year as a "primary money laundering concern" because of its close ties to North Korea. The United States and other governments say North Korea raises money by trading in illegal narcotics and counterfeiting.

The Macau government took control of the bank last September, after the U.S. accusations had prompted its customers to try to empty their accounts.

In news from the Philippines, last year's remittances by the country's overseas workers jumped 25 percent compared with a year earlier, to a record $10.7 billion.

The rise was largely caused by an increase in the number of Filipinos working abroad, as the local economy fails to create enough jobs. More than eight million work in other countries.

The money they send home plays a crucial role in supporting the Philippine's cash-starved economy.

In other news from the Philippines, Dell - the world's largest producer of computers - has opened a call center in a suburb of the capital Manila. The call center provides customer and technical support to Dell computer users abroad.

The Philippines has become a major location for call centers. Companies are attracted by the country's educated, English-speaking workforce.

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