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Asia Business: The Week in Review - 2004-03-22


Hong Kong's Hutchison Whampoa has announced that its third-generation mobile phone business recorded major losses in its first year of operation, and Malaysia has reported a its trade surplus in the month of January hit a ten year high.

The launch of Hong Kong-based Hutchinson Whampoa's third generation or "3G" mobile phone technology has prompted little enthusiasm among potential subscribers over the past year.

The new technology allows customers to watch television or access the Internet at high speed on their mobile phones - but so far less than a million people in Europe, Australia and Hong Kong have signed up for Hutchinson's service.

The company said it lost $1.2 billion in 3G's first year of operation.

Chairman Li Ka-Shing said the venture would continue to lose money in 2004, but was optimistic about its long-term prospects. Mr. Li says that Hutchinson, along with other subsidiaries of parent company Cheung Kong Holdings, sees great growth potential.

Elsewhere, Malaysia reported its best export figures for the month of January in more than ten years. Exports in January were up seven percent compared to the same month last year.

However, imports in January were also higher than in 2003, and the monthly trade surplus of $1.7 billion constituted a drop of almost nine percent from a year earlier.

Malaysia's main export markets in January were its nine partners in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the United States, Europe, Japan, China and Hong Kong. Exports to China were up more than 28 percent for the month.

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