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PetroChina Posts Large Annual Profits

China's largest oil producer reported a gain in net profit for 2006 and FedEx will begin domestic express delivery services in China. Claudia Blume at VOA's Asia News Center in Hong Kong has more on these and other business stories from the region.

China's biggest oil producer PetroChina raked in a net profit of about $18 billion in 2006. This is an increase of almost seven percent compared with a year earlier.

Speaking through an interpreter, the secretary of PetroChina's board of directors, Li Huaiqi, said profit was boosted by the company's record crude oil production last year. PetroChina produced more than 830 million barrels in 2006.

"Given the growing demand for oil and gas, PetroChina enhanced our core business development and accomplished good results in oil and gas exploration," said Li. "We again achieved a record high in oil and gas production volume."

FedEx, one the world's largest transportation-services companies, will begin a domestic express delivery service in China. Starting in May, the U.S.-company will offer next-day delivery to 19 cities in the country. FedEx will run the domestic express network from a hub in the eastern city of Hangzhou.

The company already has international delivery services to and from China.

Computer maker Dell is another U.S.-company that is trying to boost its presence in China. Dell unveiled a low-cost personal computer that targets first-time buyers in the country. Designed by engineers in Shanghai, the EC280 computer is priced between $335 and $520.

China is the world's second largest PC market. Dell ranks third in the country in terms of market share, trailing behind local computer makers Lenovo and Founder Technology.

Malaysia has announced a number of pro-investment programs and incentives aimed at boosting the economy. In April, the capital gains tax on property sales will be scrapped. And the national bank plans to further liberalize foreign exchange rules in a bid to maintain the country's competitiveness.

Malaysia also announced that six industries in the planned Iskandar special economic zone in the southern state of Johor will not require mandatory Malay equity participation. Malaysia's affirmative action program, which grants economic preferences to the country's largest ethnic group, requires all publicly traded companies to have at least 30 percent Malay ownership.

Burma has turned down a proposal to export gas found in the Bay of Bengal to India and decided to do business with China instead.

China says it will lay the 900 kilometers of pipeline required to transport the gas to its border.

Energy-hungry India and China, as well as other Asian countries, are competing for a share of Burma's energy resources. This has weakened the effectiveness of U.S. and European sanctions on the country because of the military government's human rights abuses.