BRIEFS

BRIEFS

SOUTH KOREA NEARS END

OF US FARM CREDITSSouth Korea has nearly exhausted available U.S. farm credit guarantees to buy cotton, soybeans, wheat, hides and other farm commodities, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said. As of Thursday, South Korea had used $444.4 million of the $550 million in operational credits, USDA officials said.

In all, USDA has granted South Korea $1.1 billion in farm credits for fiscal year ending in September to help keep U.S. agricultural exports flowing while South Korea recovers from its current economic crisis. The remaining $550 million may be allocated at a later date, USDA said.

US ASKS MEXICO TO

CUT INFLATED PHONE FEES

WASHINGTON - The nation's top telephone regulator asked Mexico Wednesday to cut inflated fees that U.S. phone companies must pay Mexican carriers to complete calls there.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Bill Kennard's comments come as U.S. telephone companies and others are complaining that Mexican regulators unfairly favor Telefonos de Mexico SA, known as Telmex, the former state telephone monopoly.

Mr. Kennard also wants Telmex to get rid of a 58 percent surcharge it imposes on new long-distance competitors in Mexico to route calls over its network.

Earlier this month, MCI Communications said it was halting a $900 million investment in a Mexican long-distance venture, called Avantel SA, because it believes Telmex charges too much for the use of its local network.

ASIAN CONSUMER TASTES

LIMIT EU BEEF EXPORTS

LONDON - Lower EU beef prices are unlikely to increase exports to Asia after 2000 because of the area's preference for grain-fed feedlot beef, the director of British livestock trader Milltown Livestock and Meat Co. said Thursday. Speaking at AgraEurope's '98 Outlook Conference here, Richard Milton said that continued EU dairy bred beef production will allow South American and Australian exporters to win a major share of the south-east Asian market.