AN INTERNATIONAL ACCORD next week on mixed export credits is given a 50-50 chance by U.S. officials.
The United States has been trying for years to get other industrial nations, primarily France, to stop bidding for export contracts in developing nations by mixing foreign aid with regular supplier credits. The United States is working with European Community countries and Ja pan on a complex agreement to phase out such mixed credits at a meeting starting Oct. 8 in Paris. Prospects of an accord remain uncertain.The U.S. Export-Import Bank, meanwhile, continues to finance U.S. exports at a low level. In the fiscal year ending this week, it will have issued over $2 billion less in export credit guarantees and insurance than a year earlier. Its direct credit authorizations are not expected to be much above $600 million.
Ex-Im Bank officials cite generally sluggish foreign demand for the agency's limited activity.
SEN. FRANK MURKOWSI, R-Alaska, is trying to step up pressure on Japan to open multi-billion dollar public works projects to U.S. construction and engineering firms.
He is asking fellow senators to cosponsor a buy American amendment, which he plans to try to attach to an appropriations bill, to deny Japanese firms contracts under the Airport and Airway Improvement Act of 1982, unless Japan opens its public works projects to U.S. contractors.
The Federal Aviation Administration, the senator says, expects to spend $11 billion over the next decade on renovating U.S. airports. The senator hopes his amendment will give Reagan administration officials more clout in their efforts to get Japan to open the Kansai airport project - and other major projects - to U.S. suppliers.
Commerce Undersecretary Bruce Smart says he detects a positive tone in his recent talks with Japanese officials, who, he says, even have volunteered to open the Nagoya airport project to U.S. companies.
A NEW POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE aimed at helping congressional candidates who favor an open U.S. trade policy has begun seeking funds. Called Trade Pac, the committee was registered four years ago, but only now is it becoming active.
Trade Pac, says its treasurer, Charles R. Johnston Jr., represents a way the silent majority of Americans favoring an open trading system can flex their collective muscles and demonstrate to the next Congress . . . that U.S. business people support such a system.
THE HOUSE AVIATION SUBCOMMITTEE'S chairman, Norman Mineta, D-Calif., says his patience with the Department of Transportation on various safety matters is beginning to wear thin.
He said there's been inertia and resistence in many quarters at DOT, including the secretary's office, on proposals to strengthen standards for cabin flammability and seat strength.
Secretary (Elizabeth Hanford) Dole has had proposals for safety improvements languishing in her office for months, said the congressman.
He sees the hand of the Office of Management and Budget in the delays and said his subcommittee will work to overrule OMB in the future.
He also intends to force DOT to be more aggressive in regulating airline computer reservation systems, which many say have given a handful of big carriers unwarranted market control.
ON ANOTHER NOTE, Rep. Mineta drew a few chuckles at a luncheon of the Washington Aero Club last week. It used to be that the Aero Club was a diverse group of competing interests, said the congressman. Now, most of you work for the Texas Air Corp. In fact, if all mergers plans come true, Eastern Airlines, People Express, Frontier Airlines, Continental Airlines and New York Air will all be under the Texas Air wing.
COAL INDUSTRY AND UTILITY officials claim that the pending Senate version of the acid rain control bill would be even more devastating to industry and consumers than its House committee counterpart.
The Edison Electric Institute told the Senate Environment Committee last week that a new study shows the Senate measure would cost utility ratepayers between $10 billion and $15 billion a year over 20 years.
The National Coal Association maintained that the Senate bill would force the shutdown of older coal-fired boilers. The debate continues, but it's highly unlikely that the legislation will get through both sides of Congress this year.
THE AMERICAN MINING CONGRESS says the pace at which the Mine Safety and Health Administration has implemented regulatory reforms under the 1977 Mine Safety Act is intolerably slow. An AMC representative told the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee last week that out of 15 regulatory reform efforts initiated by the agency since 1980, the mining industry has seen only two rule changes.
AMC also charged that the agency has applied some of its more severe means of enforcement without regard to the gravity of safety violations, and that the agency spends too much time at operations having strong safety records.
An Amax Coal Co. representative, Patrick Ryan, said the safest underground coal mine in the country, declared the winner of the Sentinels of Safety Award for 1985, experienced 308 federal inspector shifts and 58 state inspector shifts in 1985. He also said an inspector issued three significant and substantial violations, one for each shift, when a mine was a week overdue holding required quarterly fire drills. Such violations, AMC says, are supposed to be issued for infractions that have a reasonable probability of causing serious injury or death.
THEM THAT HAS (CHARTERS), GETS: There is a certain irony in last week's proposed treaty to settle the Iceland-U.S. flap over who is to carry U.S. military cargoes moving between the two countries.
The only U.S.-flag carrier in this sparse trade is Rainbow Navigation Inc. It functions with a ship it chartered from the Maritime Administration. The Icelandic companies charter foreign-flag vessels.
The treaty, accordingly, rather precisely stated that the cargo-sharing pact applied to military cargoes to be hauled by vessels of the United States and vessels operated by Icelandic shipping companies . . .
IT'S NOT PERFECT, but it gets the job done. Lawmakers who found themselves on the House or Senate floor last week without something specific to say about the legislation at hand discovered this stock phrase always seemed to fit the bill.
As Congress races through its calendar, trading off the ideal legislation for what's actually passable in the closing days of the session, this phrase was heard more and more.
It was applied to the tax bill and the budget legislation and could just as easily have been used in highway, banking and product liability bills called up in the 11th hour.