WASHINGTON REPORT BUSINESS WATCHING AQUINO POLICY

PHILIPPINES PRESIDENT Corazon Aquino won rave reviews for her speeches here last week, but U.S. businessmen still want a clearer picture of Philippines policies before putting their money in her country.

They want to see what kind of new constitution the nation adopts in

December and how Mrs. Aquino handles the insurgency problem. They also say they need more details on the government's foreign investment regulations.Another problem is that the Aquino government is still staffed by many mid-level officials from the Marcos era. Mrs. Aquino may proclaim an open-door policy for private investors, but businessmen question how those bureaucrats will implement the policy.

Nick Hollis, executive director of the Agri-Energy Roundtable, which held a U.S.-Philippines conference here last week, finds that the Philippines government still has to do a lot more convincing to get U.S. business to invest in a big way.

THE DOLLAR IS DECLINING not only in foreign exchange markets but also in its role as a foreign reserve currency that nations hold in their official coffers. A decade ago, the dollar constituted about 80 percent of those reserves. Nations held only about 12 percent of their reserves in the German mark and Japanese yen combined. But, says the International Monetary Fund, the

dollar, by the end of 1985, accounted for less than two-thirds of total foreign reserve holdings. Mark and yen holdings had doubled to 24 percent of the total. What's more, the industrial countries now have a smaller proportion of their reserves in dollars than do the developing nations, the first time ever, the IMF reports.

This growing multiple-currency reserve system, economists say, could cause problems - perhaps make the financial system less stable. But so far, nobody is expressing concern.

IT'S NO NEWS to U.S. exporters but an unpublished Commerce Department report shows the United States continues to be outranked in spending for export promotion. This country is fifth on a list of seven nations, led by Japan.

In 1985 the report says Japan spent $627 million; United Kingdom, $230 million; Canada, $188 million; France $150 million; the United States, $132 million; Italy, $120 million and West Germany, $35 million.

In a preface to the report, Alexander Good, director general of the department's U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, downplays the data. He warns that because it is incomplete and because of the diverse nature of these programs, Any conclusions that one would attempt to draw on the effect...on total exports would be inappropriate.

FEDERAL RESERVE POLICYMAKERS will gather here this week to plan their short-term monetary strategy, but they won't have much to go on in the way of economic signals. The data for the last month has been mixed, and while there are a few indications of some firming in the economy, there's nothing that's been confirmed.

Further, Fed officials have noted that the end of the oil price slide will mark a pickup in inflation. While most still expect that to remain near a 3 percent annual rate, they could hold off on further easing until they're sure prices don't rise much faster than that.

LIVING WITH GRAMM-RUDMAN: The deficit reduction law and an accounting glitch have hit the the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee hard.

The committee is about out of money and can't get any more until new appropriations are available for the next fiscal year, beginning Oct. 1.

A number of staff personnel were dismissed outright earlier in the year as part of an initial general cutback under the budget balancing requirements.

Under the most recent curtailment, most of subcommittees' staffs are either on furlough, accepting temporary cuts in pay, or are working without salary.

CONGRESS WILL ACT SHORTLY on legislation aimed at resolving the rail-labor dispute on two Northeastern railroads. But the parent of the Maine Central and Portland Terminal Railroads, Guilford Transportation Industries, said it will challenge the legislation in court.

Any court action to prevent the Congress from imposing solutions to the dispute that were recommended by two presidentially approved advisory panels, is expected to focus on whether Congress really has the power to impose a settlement if the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes does not strike.

The union said it will refrain from taking such action as long as Congress is making progress on the legislation.

BIDS FOR THE NEXT ROUND of contracts to carry airmail for the U.S. Postal Service were due last Thursday, but awards will not be made for about three months, a postal official said.

The contracts will cover a two-year period beginning April 26, 1987 and this time around could include a new type of contract covering networks of cities, depending on the rates submitted.

Airmail now moves under either a segment contract covering transportation between specific city pairs or system contract embracing a carrier's entire system.

LAST WEEK'S QUICK REVIVAL and even quicker rejection of a deficit-reducing energy tax does not bury the issue forever.

Oil and gasoline taxes have been perennial proposals in the last four years and they are likely to surface again.

Legislators intent on a budgetary patch job this year, instead of a sizable deficit reduction plan, will return in 1987 with the fiscal situation still unresolved.

CONGRESSIONAL AND TREASURY Department staff are going over the tax bill and trying to dot all the i's before final congressional action. The review showed the staff experts that they needed to craft a special rule for frozen bank deposits such as those tied up in last year's Maryland savings and loan crisis.

The new rule has been dubbed the sperm bank rule.

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