A LONG-SOUGHT INTERNATIONAL ACCORD on foreign export credit subsidies may finally be at hand.

The United States and the European Community have agreed to a proposal that would discourage some industrial countries' practice of mixing foreign aid and supplier credits as a way to win export orders in developing nations.If Japan agrees to the proposal - its answer is due by mid-March - the way should be clear for an international accord, U.S. officials say. Chances that Japan will agree are better than 50-50.

Under the proposal, any so-called mixed credit would have to include a 35 percent grant element, as opposed to a present 25 percent floor, and, in calculating this element, a special formula would be used to help assure export credit subsidy discipline on such low-interest creditor countries as Japan, Germany and Switzerland.

If the proposal is adopted - over 20 industrial nations are involved in its negotiation - it could effectively end mixed credits, officials here say. The United States has long denounced them as an unfair trade practice.

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THE AIRLINE INDUSTRY may be violating the old rule about gift horses.

The gift is the Reagan administration's proposal to grant airlines limited antitrust immunity so they could cut flight scheduling deals for several congested airports.

The suggestion is one of the administration's solutions to the growing problem of travel delays, but the airlines appear to resent the insinuation that their scheduling practices are the problem's prime cause.

The Air Transport Association's president, William Bolger, says that by emphasizing scheduling, the administration is distracting attention from what he argues is the real cause of the delays, inadequate airport and air traffic control facilities.

He notes that the government has asked the airlines twice before to adjust their schedules to alleviate delays but the problem has never been solved.

Mr. Bolger says the airlines carried 140 percent more passengers last year than in 1969, but operated only about 20 percent more flights. In the intervening 17 years, the government has failed to do the long-range planning that would have kept the national aviation system abreast of that modest traffic growth, he contends.

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A BILLION DOLLARS here and there can add up to real money in the case of the federal budget's interest burden.

In an analysis prepared by the Congressional Budget Office, it adds up to $35 billion in interest costs above what the administration projects for the next five years.

CBO assumes that interest rates will be higher and budget deficits larger than the White House expects. The agency also warns about a growing revenue loss from selling assets such as government loans.

Both CBO and the administration put net interest costs in fiscal 1988 at $139 billion, but CBO figures are higher after that. By 1992, the budget projects net interest at $122 billion, but CBO says the same policies will require nearly $140 billion in interest that year.

The administration sees net interest outlays peaking in 1989 at $141.5 billion and then declining. CBO sees the peak coming higher and later, at $145.2 billion in 1990, before starting a slower decline.

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THE DRUG AND ALCOHOL ABUSE controversy involving on-the-job workers is not confined to the transportation industries.

Most people think that nuclear power plants are operated by sober technicians in white coats, says Joshua Gordon, nuclear analyst with Public Citizen, an advocacy organization founded by Ralph Nader. The truth is, however, that they are run by too many people who routinely drink on the job or work under the influence of drugs.

Public Citizen is charging federal regulators with ignoring rampant drug abuse at U.S. nuclear reactors, including reports involving 400 workers it claims have been made to the Nucle ar Regulatory Commission in the past several years.

Energy Secretary John Herrington argues that drug and alcohol charges are another means by which anti-nuclear groups hope to halt U.S nuclear power development.

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INSURANCE AGENTS HAVE A SUGGESTION for any states still wondering what to do with the revenue windfall they may receive because of the federal tax reform act.

Nick A. Verreos, president of the the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, recommends that such states spend part of the windfall to beef up their insurance departments.

He contends that state insurance departments are understaffed, underbudgeted and without political clout.

Mr. Verreos maintains that one in 10 liability insurers are financial unstable and warns that without more state oversight there will be a wave of insurance company bankruptcies, leading to higher rates for consumers and even more unstable markets.

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THE AMERICAN COUNCIL OF LIFE INSURANCE says household size has reached an all-time low, dropping from an average of 3.14 persons in 1970 to 2.69 persons in 1984.

In a report analyzing U.S. census data, the life insurers also say that only 58 percent of households in the United States were led by married couples in 1985 down from 73 percent in 1970. There was an 84 percent rise in the number of homes led by single women.

The report also found that when inflation is taken into account, Americans had a median income in 1984 below that of 1970. The 1984 median was $22,415, compared to $8,734 in 1970, but with adjustment for inflation the 1984 household had nearly $1,000 less.

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SLOGAN TIME: The Maritime Administration may not be doing all the shipping industry would like in the way of promotional programs but it's found a way to toot its own horn.

The agency has joined the customized T-shirt craze and for a modest $6.50 for adults, $6 for kids, you can get a T-Shirt proclaiming that Marad is Keeping the ships . . . afloat.

The American Bar Association commission that hammered out the association's first report in favor of changing liability left their message on a cap they presented to their chairman, Robert B. McKay, former dean of the New York University Law School. The inscription: I am their leader. Which way did they go?

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