BRIEFS

BRIEFS

SENATOR: GAO TO REVIEW

CANADA'S WHEAT EXPORTSWASHINGTON - The General Accounting Office has launched a probe of Canada's wheat exports to the United States, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said.

If the investigation by the congressional agency proves Canada unfairly pricing wheat for export, the United States will demand it stops the practice, Sen. Dorgan said.

U.S. wheat farmers, particularly in the Northern Plains, have complained for years that the Canadian Wheat Board artificially lowers the prices to undercut U.S. competitors.

Canada had a yearlong agreement to limit wheat shipments to the United States, but that pact has expired. U.S. farmers now claim wheat imports from Canada are again rising and could climb above 50 million bushels of durum and spring wheat this year, above the limit of the expired agreement.

JAPANESE FINANCE CHIEF

TO BE SELECTED FRIDAY

TOKYO - A new finance minister will be nominated Friday, ruling Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Koichi Kato said Wednesday.

Mr. Kato told reporters following a meeting with Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and LDP executives that it will be too busy today as the upper house Diet session will convene.

Mr. Kato said the premier and the LDP executives have not reached any conclusion over the appointment of a successor to Hiroshi Mitsuzuka, who resigned Wednesday morning to take responsibility for alleged bribery by two Finance Ministry banking inspectors.

NTT WINS APPROVAL

FOR US-JAPAN SERVICE

TOKYO - Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp. said a U.S. subsidiary had obtained a license to offer international leased line services between the United States and Japan.

NTT, Japan's largest telecom carrier, said in a statement that ntta.Com, a unit of a wholly owned NTT subsidiary in the United States, applied to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission for the license in September.

''With the obtaining of the license, we have established a system for offering end-to-end international telecommunications services in the NTT group's global operations started in September last year,'' NTT said in the statement.

SINGAPORE TO AID

FIRMS COPING WITH RATES

SINGAPORE - Singapore Trade Minister Lee Yock Suan said Wednesday that the government is looking for ways to help companies cope with higher interest rates, but warned private banks will continue to make their own lending decisions.

Since last November, the prime interest rate has risen at the largest banks to 7.5 percent from 6 percent, and market observers expect further increase.

With no official key rate issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the country's de facto central bank, the market tracks the prime rate from private banks.

''There have been calls for the government to help companies tide over this credit squeeze,'' Mr. Lee said during a Chinese New Year gathering. ''We are examining how to help the economy and companies through this difficult period.''