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News briefs, part 1

U.S.-Europe Talks Break Without Agreement on Farm Subsidies

Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON

American and European trade negotiators broke off talks Thursday night without resolving a bitter and frustrating dispute over agricultural subsidies.

Officials had hoped to settle the issue this week to clear the way for a broader agreement on liberalizing global trade, but they could not come to terms on an acceptable level of government support for European oilseed producers.

U.S. Trade Representative Carla A. Hills, speaking to reporters outside the presidential guest quarters at Blair House, where the discussions had been held, said that the two sides were "quite close together" on the longstanding oilseed dispute. She said that there would be further talks, but did not specify when or where.

A European diplomat who has been following the talks said that the negotiators appeared to have reached agreement late Thursday afternoon, but the deal suddenly evaporated and the two envoys from the European Community abruptly left for the airport to return to Brussels, Belgium.

"We thought there was an agreement and then there wasn't," the European official said. "The Americans are now asking for more data. Things may change tomorrow when they reflect on it. We're willing to talk again if necessary, but it may not be necessary. We were that close."

Leaders of the European Community meet Friday in Brussels to review the talks' progress and could approve a deal without ordering new negotiations, the official said.

The United States is demanding that European governments reduce the level of support paid to farmers who grow oilseeds such as rapeseed and sunflower seeds used in cooking oils and animal feeds. Washington claims that the subsidies cost U.S. soy growers $1 billion a year in lost sales in Europe and elsewhere because subsidized European oilseeds are cheaper.

U.S. Again Leads in Computer Chips

The Washington Post

TOKYO

U.S. semiconductor chip firms have caught up with their Japanese competitors and regained global supremacy in the booming world semiconductor market in what industry analysts see as an important comeback for U.S. competitiveness.

Semiconductor technology, which has been described as the crude oil of the high-tech era, was invented and pioneered by American firms. But the Japanese electronics giants came on strong a decade ago, sweeping the market and dropping America to a distant second -- a development cited around the world as proof of U.S. industrial "decline."

But now American firms, many based in California's Silicon Valley, are gaining an advantage in investments and marketing over their Japanese competitors. Industry executives and analysts say final sales figures for 1992 are expected to show that:

* American semiconductor makers will pass, or at least tie, the Japanese in global market share.

* American makers of semiconductor manufacturing machinery, a crucial feeder market, will clearly lead in global market share.

* For the first time since 1984, the biggest microchip maker in the world will be an American firm-Intel, the San Jose company that makes the microprocessor chips at the heart of nearly all the personal computers in the world.

While industry analysts say American firms have rebounded thanks largely to aggressive investment, innovation and marketing, they have had help. In 1986 the Reagan administration weighed in, pushing Japan to sign a bilateral agreement that opened Japan's market to foreign -- essentially U.S. -- chip makers.

The Americans also were aided by a Japanese blunder in choosing to invest heavily in making computer memory chips, a relatively simple type of chip that is no longer so profitable. Japanese firms have been surprised by competition from Koreans, who have been cutting into Japanese sales for memory chips.

"We're number one-again," said G. Dan Hutcheson, president of VLSI Research, Inc., which analyzes the semiconductor industry. His firm predicts that the United States will end up with about 44 percent of the global semiconductor market for 1992, to about 43 percent for Japanese firms.

Weather

Cloudy and Warmer

By Yeh-Kai Tung
Staff meteorologist

It looks like the stage is set for a battle between a high-pressure cell located offshore and a large batch of moisture located over central portions of the U.S. The high-pressure cell, which is responsible for our current clear, cold weather, will be moving offshore but will still probably be able to hold off much of the approaching moisture from the west, thus keeping precipitation over our area to a minimum. In addition, winds will shift to the south and southwest, bringing warmer weather. In contrast to our recent cold weather, tempeartures in the 50's over the weekend will feel especially warm.

Today: Clear. High 42F (6C). Light winds shifting from northwest to northeast.

Tonight:<\p>Clouds arriving towards dawn. Low 36F (2C). Winds turning to the southwest.

Saturday: Generally overcast with occasional breaks in the clouds. Widely scattered showers possible. High 52F (11C). Low 41F (5C).

Sunday: Mostly cloudy. High 56F (15C).