TRADE BRIEFS

TRADE BRIEFS

CURRENT ACCOUNT SURPLUS

UP SHARPLY IN JAPANJapan's massive surplus in its current account, its broadest measure of trade in goods and services, rose sharply in August on a wave of investment funds and income flowing into the country.

The government announced Thursday that the surplus surged 23 percent to $7.58 billion in August from $6.16 billion a year earlier, although the surplus in the narrower measure of merchandise trade actually shrank slightly.

The overall rise, attributed partly to a surge of foreign interest in Japanese investments, confounded many economists' predictions of a barely changed surplus.

But despite the unexpected blip, economists said they believed Japan's surplus, a source of friction with the United States and other trading partners, was still on a long-term downward trend.

33 PERCENT OF S. KOREAN FIRMS

USE OVERSEAS LABOR

SEOUL, South Korea - The South Korea Foreign Trade Association said one- third of the nation's exporting companies have invested overseas to capitalize on cheap labor costs. The survey covered 225 Korean exporters.

Of the investments made, 41 percent established a locally incorporated company overseas, 33 percent set up a joint-venture abroad with local business partners, while 13 percent purchased overseas companies outright.

Exporters told the association the Korean government should provide its exporters with more financial support and information, including financial assistance programs available for exporters and ways to develop new technology.

MFS' HONG KONG MOVE

TO SPUR MORE EXPANSION

GENEVA - MFS Communication Co. said it will expand its fiber-optic business telephone network to Hong Kong by the end of this year.

The firm's network already links businesses in London, Paris, Frankfurt, Zurich, Switzerland, and Stockholm, Sweden, to over 40 cities in the United States.

Omaha, Neb.-based MFS at a conference here, said the move into Hong Kong would spearhead its onslaught on Asian Pacific markets.

"Hong Kong is chosen as MFS' first step in the region due to its position as a cornerstone of both the region's and the world's business community," Colin Williams, MFS executive vice president, told a press conference.

MORE RESTRUCTURING DUE

AT NKK STEEL DIVISION

TOKYO - NKK Corp. said the company's steel division will strengthen its restructuring program by closing a plant and becoming more selective about filling export orders.

NKK unvailed its restructuring plan last December. But because of further appreciation of the yen, the company has been forced to take additional steps.

The company said it will close the company's Keihin Works at the end of March 1996. The company said it will also restructure its seamless-pipe operations by moving to a three-person crew structure from the current five- person structure.

ELECTROLUX TO INVEST MORE

IN CHINESE JOINT VENTURE

TIANJIN, China - Electrolux Compressor of Sweden said it agreed with the Haihe refrigerator factory to add $60 million of investment to their compressor joint venture.

The additional capital will be used to develop new products to expand annual capacity of Zanussi Tianjin Compressor Co. to 3 million units from 1 million now.

Executives are forecasting more than 100 million yuan ($12 million) in profit for 1995.

EASTERN EUROPE JUMPS

IN TOURIST POPULARITY

LONDON - Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic are among the top 10 tourist destinations in Europe following the end of the Cold War, but France remains No. 1 for visitors, accountants Touche Ross said Thursday.

Comparing international tourist arrivals in 1994 with 1985, a Touche Ross survey showed Hungary was the fourth most popular destination, after being eighth in 1985.

Poland has risen to seventh from 16th place and the Czech Republic to eighth from 12th. The 1, 2, and 3 ratings of France, Spain and Italy have remained unchanged over the decade.