INTERNATIONAL BRIEFS

INTERNATIONAL BRIEFS

JAPAN TO ACCELERATE

NEW STORE APPROVALSJapan by the end of May will slash the maximum waiting period for approval to open department stores or supermarkets to 15 months from the present 10 years, Teiichi Yamamoto, a senior Ministry of International Trade and Industry official, said Friday.

He was speaking to reporters after a meeting between Kabun Muto, the head of MITI, and the Industrial Structure Council and the Small and Medium Enterprises Policy-Making Council.

Mr. Muto told them Japan had agreed to ease the large-scale retail law to help consumers and boost international relations, Mr. Yamamoto said.

TUNISIA BECOMES

FULL MEMBER OF GATT

GENEVA - Tunisia Friday became a full member of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, in which it has held temporary status for the past 30 years, GATT announced Friday.

Under the articles of membership, signed by Mohamed Ghannouchi, economy minister, Tunisia agreed to consolidate more than 900 separate tariffs, currently ranging between 17 percent and 52 percent, on a number of industrial and agricultural products, a GATT communique said.

Tunisia also agreed to eliminate import licensing procedures and other quantitative restrictions, with the understanding that these concessions ''should be considered as its contribution to the Uruguay Round (trade) negotiations," GATT said.

MADAGASCAR TO RESTORE

LINKS WITH S. AFRICA

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar - Madagascar has announced it will restore air links and economic ties with South Africa to encourage President F.W. De Klerk's move away from apartheid.

But President Didier Ratsiraka stressed his country would only establish diplomatic relations with South Africa once racial discrimination had been fully dismantled.

US COAST GUARD SEIZES

SOVIET FISHING VESSEL

JUNEAU, Alaska - The U.S. Coast Guard seized a Soviet fishing vessel in the Bering Sea Thursday for illegally fishing within the U.S. exclusive economic zone, a Coast Guard spokesman said.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Greg Robinson said the Coast Guard cutter Yocona intercepted and boarded the Soviet trawler Ilya Ilyin in international waters after a chase and was escorting the trawler to the Alaskan Port of Kodiak.

The 213-foot cutter pursued the trawler at high speed for 90 minutes, crossed into international waters and boarded the Soviet vessel, he said.

SALE OF AVON JAPAN

TO TOKYO GROUP HALTED

NEW YORK - The sale of Avon Japan to a Tokyo bidding group was terminated Friday, as expected, Avon Products Inc. said.

The bidders, Friends of Freesia Co. and Veji Sasaki, signed an agreement with Avon terminating the transaction, Avon said. As agreed, Freesia and Sasaki forfeit their $6.3 million escrow deposit.

Under the terms of the agreement, Avon would have sold its 60 percent stake in Avon Japan for about $450 million. Avon said it will resume discussions with other potential buyers.