BRIEFS

BRIEFS

CITIBANK, SHIZUOKA BANK

TO JOINTLY MARKET FUNDSTOKYO - Shizuoka Bank and Citibank will jointly market yen-denominated trust-type commodity funds for individual investors in June, bank officials said.

The two banks will form a marketing partnership with around 10 regional banks, including Hiroshima-Sogo Bank, to sell the funds, the first of its kind for Shizuoka Bank, a major regional bank based in Shizuoka, central Japan, the officials said.

The funds will have a contract period of seven years, with one share costing 1 million yen ($7,575) and minimum investment set at five shares, they said.

Citibank will choose 30 U.S. investment advisory companies, which will invest in commodities including oil and agricultural produce and other commodities.

Returns will be paid out annually based on performance results.

PHILIPPINES COULD LOSE AID

IF BANK REFORMS STALL

MANILA - The World Bank has warned the Philippines that its $1.25 billion request for financial aid for 1998 will be drastically cut if it fails to implement structural reforms in the banking sector, official sources said.

A World Bank document provided to the Philippine government said assistance will be cut by nearly 75 percent should Manila fail to keep to an economic program tied to

an International Monetary

Fund standby loan, the sources said.

''If the economic situation deteriorates further due to policy lapses and insufficient policy adjustment by the government, with no IMF work in place, bank lending will be limited to $200 million,'' the sources quoted the document as saying.

Authorities said that the World Bank loan is still under negotiation.

JAPAN TO SEND CORPORATE

MISSION TO SOUTH KOREA

TOKYO - The Japanese business community will send a delegation of some 100 officials from about 70 corporations to South Korea in May to conduct a feasibility study on stepping up investments, industry officials said.

During a five-day tour of South Korean cities and industrial parks, the delegation, led by Masaya Fujimura, chairman of Mitsubishi Materials Corp., will inspect infrastructure and business conditions that could be conducive to investment, the officials said.

The delegation will fly into South Korea on May 12. The mission's dispatch was agreed upon in a meeting between the two nations' trade ministers last summer.

Deputies to the Asia-Europe Meeting that convened earlier in April in London approved a decision to send a similar delegation of European businesses to South Korea and other Asian nations that have been rocked by the ongoing economic turmoil.

CHINESE BANKS BOOSTING

LENDING TO SPUR GROWTH

BEIJING - Two leading Chinese banks announced they will increase lending to help the country achieve its economic growth target of 8 percent in 1998.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, one of the country's four big state-owned commercial banks, plans to grant 200 billion yuan ($24 billion) in new loans this year, up from 193 billion yuan last year, Xinhua news agency reported.

ICBC will increase its lending to projects in railways, highways, telecommunications, urban construction and

other key industries by a

total of about 10 percent over last year.

Another large state-owned commercial bank, China Construction Bank, also announced plans to increase lending, with an additional 31 billion yuan in new loans for infrastructure projects and for the technological upgrading of enterprises.

MERCOSUR SEEKS TO SMASH

TELECOM MARKET BARRIERS

NEW YORK - Latin America's Mercosur customs union plans on achieving a common telecommunications market by the year 2010-2015, in order to further strengthen the trade bloc area, a Mercosur official said.

Celedonio Von Wuthenau, Argentina's chief telecommunications official to Mercosur, said a regional communications subgroup from Mercosur will meet sometime in May to advance a general framework and establish a time line that would lead to a broader accord for a common telecom market.

''The way is long and complex, but the international and regional context is positive for the gradual opening of the members' borders in the telecommunications sector

with the objective of a

common market,'' Mr. Von Wuthenau said during a presentation at a Mercosur conference here.

Mercosur groups Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay in Latin America's largest trade bloc.