IN SOUTHEAST ASIAMANILA - While some investors may be shying away from troubled Southeast Asia, the government and a number of companies in Taiwan are licking their lips in anticipation.

The shopping spree began in earnest this week, with a delegation of 20 companies led by Liu Tai-ying, director of the ruling party's business division, hitting Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Among the participants are Shin Kong Life Insurance, Fubon Insurance Co., China Steel Corp., Winbond Electronics Corp. and several companies affiliated with the governing Kuomintang.

The group hopes to complete millions of dollars of investment deals in Southeast Asia during the tour through March 25, said a spokesman at China Development Corp., the main business affiliate of the Kuomintang.



MANILA - Despite a string of accidents, China's commercial space launch business remains attractive to overseas customers.

China Great Wall Industries Corp. signed an agreement to use Long March 3B rockets to send five satellites aloft for Loral Space Systems by 2002. A similar multiple launch deal was concluded last summer with Hughes Telecommunication & Space Co. of El Segundo, Calif.

Two of the five Loral launches are set for the third quarter of 2000 and first quarter of 2001. The other dates haven't been determined yet.



SEOUL - The South Korean government plans to revise its trade surplus target for 1998 to about $20 billion from its forecast of $7 billion at the beginning of the year, an official at the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said Tuesday.

''Macroeconomic factors have changed a great deal since we made the original forecast at the beginning of the year and we are working to revise up the trade surplus target,'' said an official at the export division of the ministry.

The official pointed out that the outlook for the country's trade performance is relatively bright as imports are dropping sharply while the trade balance has posted a surplus for the first two months of this year.

Imports are falling, led by a decline in imports of raw materials and capital goods due to low industrial production and decreasing investments by domestic companies, the ministry said.



WASHINGTON - Brazil's gradual depreciation of its currency, the real, and the central bank's cautious lowering of interest rates is the best policy mix to help it survive the fallout from Asia's financial turmoil, the International Monetary Fund said.

Brazil's central bank has been depreciating the currency at a rate of around 7.44 percent a year since the real plan was instituted.

Since official interest rates began coming down after the initial spike, capital inflows have increased as the market's confidence in Brazil's ability to weather the crisis mounts, the IMF said.