Iraq starts to pump oil

BAGHDAD: Iraq has successfully pumped oil through a pipeline linking its northern oil fields to the Turkish export terminal of Ceyhan, but an official reopening date has not been decided. “Last week, on a trial basis, we pumped six million barrels of oil, enough to fill up the resevoirs in Ceyhan,” the interim minister, Bahr al-Ulum, said. The pipeline, which runs across the Sunni Triangle, was closed in August because of repeated attacks blamed on loyalists of former president Saddam Hussein and anti-US Islamist militants. — AFP

Mobile sales rise in Iran

TEHRAN: Mobile phone users in Iran have snapped up by 5.6 million SIM computer chip cards in 20 days. Post offices and banks have been swamped with customers for the $530 cards that have a memory for data and applications, a processor and the ability to interact with the user, as well as carry the phone number. The sales for the 20-day period ended on March 10 totalled $2.93 billion. — AFP

Malaysia’s trade surplus

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s January trade surplus declined by 8.2 per cent from a year ago to $1.7 billion as growth in imports outpaced exports. January’s export growth was weaker than anticipated, rising by 7.5 per cent on year to $8.4 billion, while imports grew by 12 per cent on-year to $7.2 billion. The preliminary figures were in line with the expectations of private economists, who predicted a surplus of between $1.3 billion and almost $1.8 billion. — AP

HP eyes Chinese market

BEIJING: US computer giant Hewlett-Packard plans to open more than 1,000 retail stores in China as it takes advantage of the emerging market for consumer and home-entertainment products. The China Business Weekly quoted Carly Fiorina, HP chairwoman and chief executive, as saying the company was committed to China and planned to increase its investments. The company announced last week that it will start selling digital cameras, projectors and displays in China this year, eight months after entering the country’s personal computer market. — AFP

V’nam plans power plant

HANOI: A Vietnamese company will build a $273 million hydro-electric power plant in Laos that will export electricity to Vietnam to meet energy shortages there. Tran Dieu Ha, deputy head of the planning department at the Vietnam-Laos Joint Stock Investment and Development Co, said work will begin on the 250 Megawatt plant in May. It is expected to be operational in December 2008. The 30-year build-operate-transfer project involves the construction of a dam and a plant in the Se Kong River basin in the southern province of Attapeu. — AFP

Siemens eyes Alstom unit

FRANKFURT: Siemens is trying to convince the European Commission in Brussels to force troubled French rival Alstom to sell its large-scale gas turbines business to the German group. Siemens already acquired Alstom’s small and medium-sized gas turbines activities last year for $1.3 billion. But the German engineering giant is hoping to take advantage of Alstom’s current financial difficulties to get its hand on the large-scale turbines business as well. — AFP