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Australia's Economy Slows in Second Quarter


Australia's economy slowed in the second quarter, and Coca Cola agreed to buy a Chinese juice maker. Claudia Blume in Hong Kong has more on these and other business stories from the Asia-Pacific region.

Australia's economy grew at just .03 percent in the three months to June compared with the previous quarter, the country's slowest growth rate in more than three years.

Treasurer Wayne Swan says the slowdown shows that Australia is not immune to the global credit crunch and worldwide economic uncertainties. But he says Australia is probably better equipped to withstand these challenges than any other country.

"We have got a significant surplus; we have got very high terms of trade, we have got very strong business investment - these are things that many other countries in the world would wish to have," he said.

Coca-Cola will buy China Huiyuan Juice Group for $2.4 billion. Huiyuan is one of China's best-known juice brands. If approved by Chinese regulators, the deal with the U.S. soft-drink maker will be the largest takeover of a Chinese company by a foreign business.

In other news from China, a new joint venture will build the country's largest steel plant, at a cost of $30 billion. The plant will be built outside China's industrial heartland in the southern province of Guangxi. The facility, a joint venture between Wuhan Iron and Steel Group and Guangxi's regional administration agency, is expected to have a capacity of up to 30 million tons a year.

And the Philippines' budget carrier Cebu Pacific said it will proceed with its expansion plans, despite rising fuel costs. Starting in November, the airline will operate its fourth international hub at Clark, about an hour's drive from the capital Manila.