Morning business round-up: South Korea-UK in trade deal


What made the business news in Asia and Europe this morning? Here's our daily business round-up:

A trade deal has been agreed between the UK and South Korea, the UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced.

The UK has approved a Free Trade Agreement between the EU and South Korea, which could bring £500m a year into the British economy, he said.

Mr Clegg, attending a nuclear summit in Seoul, said the UK aimed to foster good trade links with expanding economies.

In Europe, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said it would be a huge political mistake if debt-stricken Greece was allowed to leave the euro.

In an exclusive interview with the BBC, she said Germany would do everything it could to keep the eurozone together.

She also calmed fears of further bailouts for eurozone countries, saying important lessons had been learned.

And she applauded the UK government's austerity programme, saying "no country can live beyond its means".

Greece recently won approval for a second bailout of 130bn euros ($173bn; £110bn) intended to help keep it afloat until 2014.

Meanwhile in Germany itself, German business confidence has risen for the fifth month in a row.

According to the Ifo business climate index, which is based on a survey of 7,000 executives, edged higher to 109.8 in March, up from 109.6 in February.

Recent data on the German economy has been mixed. Last week, a report showed that German manufacturing activity contracted in March.

Media caption,
Biz Heads

The private bank has been fined £8.75m ($13.9m) by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) for not taking adequate measures to prevent money laundering.

The FSA said the failings "resulted in an unacceptable risk of Coutts handling the proceeds of crime".

The findings related to high-risk people, especially those whose political positions meant they were vulnerable to corruption.

The low cost airline, Easyjet predicted smaller losses.

The company said its six-month losses will be lower than previously forecast.

The low-cost airline is predicting losses for the six months to the end of March of between £110m and £120m, down from its previous forecast of £140m to £160m. In the first half of the previous year, it lost £153m.

Easyjet saved money because a mild winter meant there was less disruption to flights.

And still with airlines, Easyjet and its rivals have a new competitor after Spain's Iberia launched a low-cost airline.

Iberia Express will begin business on Sunday with prices starting at 25 euros (£21) for a one-way ticket.

It will cover Spanish cities including Madrid and the islands such as Ibiza, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote.

The latest edition of the BBC's Business Daily programme is all about jobs.

It goes to the place where everyone wants to work in the public sector - and look at whether there is a better way to cope with unemployment.

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