TRADE BRIEFS

TRADE BRIEFS

ASEAN LEADERS DECLINE

2000 DEADLINE FOR AFTA

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei - The Association of Southeast Asian Nations agreed on Wednesday to put off a 2000 deadline for the start of a regional free-trade area.

Asean ministers meeting in the Brunei capital said they would have to discuss the accelerated time frame for the Asean Free Trade Area (AFTA) before committing themselves.

"We can't just agree to any new target at this point in time," Malaysia's Trade Minister Rafidah Aziz told reporters.

FORD JOINT VENTURE

APPROVED IN VIETNAM

NEW YORK - Ford Motor Co. and Song Cong Diesel Co. said Wednesday they have received government approval for a joint venture to build vehicles in

Vietnam, and production will start in late 1997.

Murray Gilbert will be nominated by Ford Motor as the managing director for Ford Vietnam Ltd., the joint venture company. Mr. Gilbert, a 25-year Ford employee with broad manufacturing experience, was the manager at Ford's Broadmeadows Assembly Plant in Melbourne, Australia.

Ford announced its return to the Vietnamese market in October with the launch of its sales and marketing presence. Ford and Song Cong agreed in February to form a joint venture and submitted the plan to Vietnam's State Committee for Cooperation and Investment for approval.

Construction of a 15,000-square-meter assembly plant - to be located east of Hanoi on Highway 5, in Hai Hung Province - is scheduled to begin later this year.

JAPAN'S EX-IM BANK

OKS KAZAKHSTAN LOAN

TOKYO - The Export-Import Bank of Japan said Wednesday it has signed a loan agreement with Kazakhstan for a total of $16.2 million to help the country's economic reforms.

The loan is part of a cofinancing package with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The loans are to help Kazakhstan reduce its high inflation rate - 1,160 percent in fiscal 1994 - and stabilize the exchange rate, as well as to deregulate and privatize state enterprises, the bank said.

PHILIPPINES, INDONESIA

OPEN TRADE TALKS

MANILA, Philippines - Senior officials from the Philippines and Indonesia on Wednesday began three days of talks expected to focus on boosting trade and

investments, Philippine officials said.

The closed-door discussions also are likely to touch on delimiting maritime boundaries and the security situation in the disputed South China Sea, the officials added.

The senior official-level talks headed by Philippine Foreign Undersecretary Rodolfo Severino and his Indonesian counterpart Izhar Ibrahim will be followed today with discussions between Philippine Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon and Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas.

Officials said the talks between the two members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are likely to include measures to boost trade and

investments under the proposed East Asean Growth Area that links Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.