The private British news agency Reuters Ltd. says it has taken steps to avoid future "procedural errors" such as those that resulted in a $400,000 fine for re-exporting U.S.-origin microcomputer equipment.

The Commerce Department on Friday announced that Reuters had agreed to the civil penalty. The department said that between April 1983 and December 1986, Reuters made 488 shipments of such equipment from the United Kingdom and other locations to various destinations around the world, including East Bloc countries.Reuters said it was under the mistaken belief that the shipments were permitted under a distribution license held by its U.S. subsidiary.

Reuters, in a statement, said it was the company's understanding that the department "would have granted licenses for virtually all of those equipment shipments had the correct procedure been followed. Reuters has put in place extensive controls to avoid any future such procedural errors."

The department said Reuters acknowledged that more than 100 of the shipments occurred while the company was subject to a 24-month probationary period resulting from a previous case involving similar violations.

The $400,000 fine includes $23,400 which represents a civil penalty for the earlier violations that had been suspended and would have been waived if Reuters had fully complied with regulations during the probationary period, Commerce said in a statement.

Reuters voluntarily disclosed the violations to the Commerce Department and cooperated with the investigation, the department said.