TRADE BRIEFS

TRADE BRIEFS

G-7 ACTION CAN'T HELP

DOLLAR, GERMAN SAYS

FRANKFURT, Germany - The Group of 7 leading industrial nations cannot resolve the problem of the weak dollar, which is rooted in U.S. and Japanese economic policies, senior German official Juergen Stark was quoted as saying Friday.

Mr. Stark, state secretary to the German Finance Ministry and one of the G-7's so-called sherpas who help prepare for key international financial meetings, wrote in the Handelsblatt newspaper that credible measures to reduce the U.S. budget deficit and an increase in U.S. savings could help the dollar.

The Japanese need to deregulate further and open up their economy, he said. Although the yen's recent strength had helped force this process, more still is needed to be done, he added.

The Group of 7 comprises Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

PROPOSED TAX INCREASE

ADVANCES IN RUSSIA

MOSCOW - The Russian Cabinet has backed a Finance Ministry proposal to increase value-added tax by one percentage point next year from the current 20 percent level, Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov told the Interfax News Agency on Friday.

Mr. Panskov said the increase, agreed to on Thursday, will partially compensate for the loss of nearly 26 trillion rubles ($5.2 billion) in tax revenue from canceling a tax on excess company payrolls and the 1.5 percent special tax additional to VAT to support failing industry.

The minister said he was optimistic about the prospects for the 1996 budget draft, including the increase in VAT, being passed by the lower house of parliament following their approval by the Cabinet Thursday. He said that if the increase in VAT is rejected, the revenue section of the budget will probably have to be altered.

TOKYO BANK TO REOPEN

MYANMAR OFFICE TODAY

TOKYO - The Bank of Tokyo Ltd. (BOT) said on Friday it is reopening its representative office in Myanmar today after 11 years of closure.

It made the announcement despite an appeal by Myanmar's recently freed pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi for foreign governments to wait to see if there were genuine moves toward democracy in the country before resuming economic aid.

The Bank of Tokyo, one Japan's leading commercial banks, said in a statement that it was the only Japanese bank to have had an office in Myanmar in the past and would again be the only one there.

The office, in Yangon, includes a staff of four and plans to collect information on Myanmar's politics and economy for Japanese companies wishing to do business there, it said.

TRINIDAD'S CAPITAL

IN A STATE OF EMERGENCY

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad - Authorities declared a state of emergency in Trinidad's capital city before putting the speaker of the House of Representatives under house arrest, government sources said Friday.

They said the measure was adopted on Thursday night as the government moved to unseat speaker Occah Seapaul, who has refused to resign following her involvement in a court case.

A convoy of police vehicles drove into the yard of Ms. Seapaul's official residence Friday morning and placed her under arrest, the sources said.

Officials would not say what charges had been brought against Ms. Seapaul, and said a news conference would be held later on Friday.

MEXICAN BUSINESS GROUP

SEEKS AUDIT MORATORIUM

MEXICO CITY - A major business group has asked President Ernesto Zedillo to cancel all federal audits and inspections of business for the next six months to help companies recover from an economic crisis.

The daily Reforma reported Thursday that the proposal was among 18 points in a plan suggested by the Business Coordinating Council, one of Mexico's more influential business groups.

The organization also asked for greater help from government financial agencies, for government agencies to pay off a backlog of debts to businesses and even to pay partially in advance for some supplies.

Other dailies quoted officials of the organization as saying that more than 1 million Mexicans have lost their jobs since the crisis broke out on Dec. 20 when the government bungled an attempt to gently devalue the peso and the currency plunged, dragging the economy with it.