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Soviets Weigh Joint Ventures With the West

June 21, 1986|From Reuters

MOSCOW — The Soviet Union, departing from its longstanding policy, on Friday agreed with leading Western businessmen to study prospects for joint industrial ventures between Western and Soviet enterprises.

The International Chamber of Commerce, a Paris-based non-governmental business group, decided with Soviet officials to examine the legal and organizational framework under which joint projects could be set up.

Moscow has long avoided such ventures, questioning whether they could guarantee access to foreign markets and suspecting that Western governments might seek extraterritorial rights in the Soviet Union through the Western firms.

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But a steep fall in Soviet foreign exchange earnings this year, caused mainly by the collapse in oil prices, has made it more expensive to buy equipment directly from the West and has accordingly raised Soviet interest in joint ventures.

International Chamber sources said the Soviet Union was particularly keen to look at areas such as machine tools, electronics, electrical engineering, textiles, agriculture and and energy.

The agreement was reached after a two-day seminar staged by the International Chamber and the Soviet Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Moscow.

Yevgeny Pitovranov, head of the Soviet chamber, told a news conference that Soviet foreign trade officials needed to study the legal aspects of joint ventures and would take into account the experiences of Hungary in the field.

International Chamber sources said a senior Soviet official raised points at the seminar such as how Western businessmen would work under Soviet labor law and who would arbitrate in a dispute between the two partners of a joint project.

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