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Mon, Mar 20, 2006 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Electronics
China forecasts PC output

China expects to produce 98 million desktop and laptop computers in this year, mostly for overseas markets, state media reported yesterday. Of the output forecast for this year, China aims to export 58 million computers, or 59 percent of the total, the Xinhua news agency said, citing the Ministry of Information Industry. However, huge Chinese exports have forced computer makers to cut their prices to remain competitive. The average export price for a desktop last year stood at US$617, down from US$644 at the end of 2004, Xinhua said, citing the ministry. The Chinese computer industry's foray overseas is led by the nation's largest computer maker Lenovo Group Ltd (聯想), which stunned the world when it bought US icon IBM Corp's personal computing division last year.

■ Banking

Money-laundering rises

Japanese banks reported a 3.7 percent increase in the number of suspected money laundering cases last year to a record high of 98,935 transactions, a news report said yesterday. The increase comes as regulators worldwide try to track trails of illicit funds to militant groups such as al-Qaeda. The US has blacklisted several North Korean companies it accuses of involvement in illicit financial activities. Banks accounted for about 86 percent of the cases reported last year in Japan, followed by 7 percent for other financial institutions such as credit cooperatives, the Nihon Keizai newspaper reported, without citing a source. Financial institutions are required by Japan's Financial Services Agency to report transactions that may have been used to finance drug deals or offenses by criminal gangs or terrorists, the Nihon Keizai said.

■ Investment

Japan seeks foreign capital

Japan's government, which previously saw foreign capital as a threat, now hopes to double the amount of direct foreign investment in Japan by the end of 2010 in an attempt to boost the economy and create new jobs, a newspaper said yesterday. A panel on foreign investment will draft new measures to encourage investment, including an overhaul of taxes, in June, the national Yomiuri newspaper said, citing sources it didn't identify. Foreign investment is expected to reach ?13.2 trillion (US$112.8 billion), or about 2.5 percent of Japan's GDP, at the end of this year, the newspaper said. The government wants to boost that figure to ?30 trillion, or 5 percent of GDP, by the end of 2010, it said.

■ Semiconductors

Intel, Micron plan flash JV

US chipmakers Intel Corp and Micron Technology Inc plan to invest in a new plant that will make flash memory chips, used in popular gadgets such as MP3 players and digital cameras, an Intel official said. Their new joint venture, called IM Flash Technologies, aims to take on market leaders Samsung Electronics Co of South Korea and Toshiba Corp of Japan, said Brian Harrison, vice president of Intel's Flash Memory Group. Intel hasn't decided where the new facility will be based, and Asia hasn't been ruled out, Harrison said in a recent telephone interview with Dow Jones Newswires. NAND-type flash chips will ramp up production by late 2008 or early 2009, Harrison said. Capacity will also be boosted at three existing facilities through 2007, he added. Last November, Intel and Micron announced formation of a joint venture to take advantage of strong market demand for NAND flash chips.

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