A Good Legal System Is Key To Kazakhstan's Success

Having personally negotiated transactions involving more than $20 billion in potential investments in the past five years in the Republic of Kazakhstan, I found your "Spotlight on Kazakhstan" (Jan. 12) inaccurate and unfair.

Amoco Corp. has not "quit" Kazakhstan. In fact, it is a participant in a joint venture with Turkish Petroleum AO that our firm assisted in negotiating in October. In addition, Amoco is in discussions regarding further investments in Kazakhstan.

To be sure, several companies that have demonstrated an unmistakable air of condescension in their dealings with the Kazakhstan government have had difficulty. Conversely, those companies that have treated the Kazakhs with respect and have an understanding of the challenges inherent in such a difficult transition have had success. The proof is in the rate of foreign investment--among the highest in the former-communist sector.

This success results from the fact that Kazakhstan has developed the most comprehensive legal system in the former Soviet Union. It is by no means perfect, but it is already workable and improving steadily. Further, the central bank has shown exemplary discipline that has stabilized the currency for more than two years. The fact is that in Kazakhstan, as in the most other civilized places in the world, one can fully expect to reap what one sows.

Curtis M. Coward


McGuire Woods Battle

& Boothe LLP

McLean, Va.

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