TRADE BRIEFS

TRADE BRIEFS

TRINIDAD'S HOUSE SPEAKER

FREED AFTER 3-DAY ARREST

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad - Authorities lifted a state of emergency and freed House Speaker Occah Seapaul Monday after three days of house arrest prompted by what Prime Minister Patrick Manning called a plot to overthrow his government.

The moves came as the government sought to allay concern about the status of the first summit of the newly formed Association of Caribbean States, which Trinidad is due to host in 10 days.

The state of emergency declared last Thursday night and the house arrest of the speaker brought to a head an ongoing battle between Ms. Seapaul and the government.

After her release Monday, Ms. Seapaul accused Mr. Manning of deceiving the nation and trying to draw the army and police into a "web of falsehood."

She denied involvement in any plot to overthrow the government.

RAMIE TEXTILE EXPORTS

SLUMP IN CHINA

BEIJING - Customs figures show China's exports of ramie textiles continues to fall, a trend attributed to weak demand for knitwear overseas, rising production costs caused by high prices fr raw ramie, poor quality of raw ramie and products, and an outdated product mix.

China exported 12,478 metric tons of ramie yarn in the first five months of 1995, down 44.8 percent from the 1994 period. The export value dropped 31 percent.

NEWLY ACQUIRED ZENITH

LOOKING TO S. AMERICA

CHICAGO - Just two weeks after being acquired by a South Korean electronics firm, Zenith Electronics Corp. of Glenview has announced a marketing offensive in South America.

In partnership with Barley Group, a consumer electronics distributor and retailer in Brazil, Zenith will build a color TV assembly plant in Rio de Janeiro.

In mid-July, LG Electronics Inc., the Seoul-based firm that makes Goldstar brand television sets and other items, said it would acquire 60 percent ownership in Zenith.

Under the deal announced Friday, Zenith and Barley will establish the Brazilian assembly plant using production and test equipment that Barley will buy from Zenith. Barley will import TV components such as circuit boards and remote controls from Zenith plants in Mexico and color picture tubes from Zenith's Melrose Park plant.

CASTRO SAYS INVESTMENT,

DOLLARS BRING INEQUALITY

HAVANA - Cuban President Fidel Castro has acknowledged that opening up Cuba to foreign investment and legalizing the use of dollars have created inequalities and privileges.

Closing a youth meeting here Sunday night, Mr. Castro said Cuba had been forced to adopt the measures to counter the impact of the collapse of trade with the former Soviet Union and a continuing U.S. economic embargo.

"But you can be sure that they hurt, they hurt a lot (because) we knew the inequalities, the privileges they were creating," he said in a 2 1/2- hour speech.

The Cuban leader, who will be 69 next month, stressed that his government was introducing "capitalist elements" to "save the revolution and its conquests," the official term for Cuba's one-party socialist system.

ROMANIA BANKS OFFER

FIRST CREDIT CARDS

BUCHAREST, Romania - Visa International and Romania's Banca Romana de Comert Exterior SA (Bancorex) said Monday they launched the first pay-by- plastic scheme in Romania, but credit cards will initially only be available to companies.

Visa International and five local banks, including Bancorex, set up the operation to issue and process Visa cards last year.

International credit cards are still unknown in Romania, which is making the difficult transition to a market economy more than five years after communism's collapse.

Last week, the state-run Banca Romana pentru Dezvoltare SA commercial bank issued cards for the local leu currency.

The Banca Romana expects its card, called Prima, to attract many Romanians as inflation in the early 1990s has forced people to carry around huge wads of cash.

The leu is quoted at 2,032 to the dollar.