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Russia: Laws Must Be Enacted Before Investment Will Flow

Washington, 15 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - The president of the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), Ruth Harkin, says she will tell senior Russian officials and business people in Moscow this week that Russia must enact the laws necessary for normal business operations if it hopes to draw the huge potential of American foreign investment.

Harkin will be in Moscow Wednesday through Saturday to meet with senior officials, including Presidential Chief of Staff Anatoly Chubais and First Deputy Prime minister for Economic Affairs, Vladimir Potanin. She will also meet with U.S. and Russian business people as well as check on enterprises the independent U.S. government agency has assisted through financing or insurance.

Harkin told reporters in Washington yesterday just before leaving for Moscow that current American investment in Russia is "but a tip of the iceberg" of potential investment money that could flow if further reforms are implemented.

She said the Russian government needs to "enact more laws to establish a level playing field for all potential investors and to have not only a strong regulatory system that is dependable, but also a court system in which American and other investors can be assured that if something goes wrong they have some kind of recourse."

Last week, Harkin told a business audience that there is a potential $30 billion in American foreign investment just waiting to go into Russia, but that it will go elsewhere in the world if Russia doesn't get more business oriented reforms in place.