A five-year-old manufacturing joint venture in Shenzhen between IBM and mainland-based China Great Wall is poised to become one of Asia's biggest exporters of computing equipment. The joint venture, called International Information Products (Shenzhen) (IIP), is already one of the biggest makers of computing equipment for the mainland, according to its general manager Jeffrey Gallinat. He said IIP, located at the Shenzhen Science and Industry Park in Nantou, had evolved from a PC manufacturing base for China's large domestic market into 'a strategic fulfilment centre' for IBM's vastly larger PC business across Asia. 'This has meant significant expansion in our product offerings, our volumes and our customers,' he said. This would mean more of the company's annual output of IBM desktops, ThinkPad notebooks and servers allocated for export in the next few years. And it would see IIP being transformed into 'a critical IBM global manufacturing centre for computers'. Mr Gallinat said IIP's target was to make more than half of its annual output for export. 'All of the IBM desktops, ThinkPads and e-Servers being sold around Asia are manufactured here,' he said. Meanwhile, research firm International Data Corp (IDC) has predicted PC sales in the Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, will continue to grow despite what it sees as a significant slowdown in demand elsewhere in the world. 'The Asia-Pacific region will continue to witness a strong expansion in PC sales for 2001 as the primary growth drivers remain rooted in factors such as low penetration rates and the PC being the main Internet access device,' said Davina Yeo, IDC's personal systems research manager for the region. From its first big export volume worth US$132 million in 1997, IIP is looking forward to generating volumes in the billion-dollar range with demand for computing products expected to steadily grow in Asia. This target would be worth the total product export in 1998 from all IBM-invested enterprises in China, which exceeded US$1 billion. Mr Gallinat said such an accomplishment would be a major achievement for the joint venture. The venture was set up in February 1994 with an initial investment of only US$10 million. IBM has invested more than US$100 million in Shenzhen, where most of its joint ventures with Great Wall are located. Apart from IIP, there is Shenzhen GKI Electronics (electronic circuit card manufacturing) and Shenzhen Hailiang Storage Products. Another IBM-Great Wall joint venture, Beijing GKI Electronics, makes advanced printed circuit board assemblies for Nokia. They go into Nokia's own joint venture manufacturing companies in China. Beijing GKI Electronics is located at the Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area.