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Intel: China could be top Asian customer

Anticipating continued growth in the Chinese market, Craig Barrett, CEO of the chipmaking company, thinks China could overtake Japan as its largest Asian customer.

Chipmaking giant Intel said Friday that China, within the next two years, could overtake Japan as its largest Asian customer.

"The Chinese market has been very strong in growth, which I anticipate will continue," Chief Executive Craig Barrett told reporters on a visit to Tokyo. "Probably this year or next China will surpass Japan as our largest customer."

Japan accounted for 7 percent of Intel's October-December sales of $6.9 billion; the rest of the Asia-Pacific region made up 35 percent.

Intel said Asia would increasingly become its biggest source of growth as the region catches up with the rest of the world in computing demand.

China is well on the way to becoming a huge consumer market with its entry into the World Trade Organization. Japan has been mired in an economic slump for a decade.

Barrett said that Intel would continue to develop new technologies, although capital investment would be pared back to about $5.5 billion this year, compared with $7.5 billion in 2001.

This year's budget, he said, would mainly go toward equipment for its 0.13-micron manufacturing process and 300-millimeter wafers.

Story Copyright © 2002 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.