TRADE BRIEFS

TRADE BRIEFS

GLOBAL MUSIC PIRACY

HITS $2.1 BILLION LEVEL

LONDON - The estimated retail value of pirated music of Madonna, Michael Jackson and other singers sold in 61 countries around the world soared to $2.10 billion last year, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry said.

The federation said last year's rise from about $1.43 billion in 1991 was more the result of increased tracking of piracy in China, Mexico and Poland than a real boost in illegal trade.

An estimated 680 million cassettes and 38 million compact discs were illegal pirate copies sold last year in 61 countries surveyed by the IFPI. It did the survey for an annual review on the industry to be released later this week.

PRIVATE FIRMS TO OPERATE

MEXICAN WATER SYSTEM

MEXICO CITY - The Mexican government signed a second major contract to let private industry manage the capital's water system.

Empresas ICA Sociedad Controlladora said one of its subsidiaries, Grupo ICA, on Wednesday signed a 10-year agreement to operate the water treatment, delivery and drainage system in three districts of the capital.

Revenues over the 10-year period could reach $1 billion, it said.

Grupo ICA is Mexico's largest construction company.

The government last week granted a similar contract for other parts of the city to North West Water Group PLC of the United Kingdom.

NON-KOSHER MCDONALD'S

OPENS IN ISRAEL

TEL AVIV, Israel - Defying angry potato farmers and Jewish dietary laws, McDonald's opened its first restaurant in Israel this week.

Israeli officials initially prevented McDonald's from importing special potatoes for their French fries because Israeli potato growers objected to the competition. But an agreement was reached allowing imports until an Israeli company begins producing French fries to meet McDonald's standards.

The restaurant, which opened Wednesday, will serve its traditional non- kosher menu: hamburgers, cheeseburgers, French fries and milkshakes. Judaism forbids mixing meat and dairy products.

McDonald's estimates 80 percent of Israelis will enter the restaurant although it is not kosher.

FRENCH FRIES PLANT

OPENS IN BEIJING

BEIJING - J.R. Simplot Co., Boise, Idaho, opened its first french fries plant in Asia here.

The plant is intended to provide 10,000 metric tons of potato products a year to McDonald's restaurants in China.

The US$4.2 million joint venture, Beijing Simplot Food Processing Co., is backed by Simplot, Beijing's Nanjiao Farm and McDonald's. Simplot will contribute 47.5 percent of the investment.