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Volume 165: debated on Friday 19 January 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what advice the Government are giving to businesses considering investment projects in COMECON countries.

Companies considering investment in eastern Europe are welcome to consult my Department. We point out that in all COMECON countries except Hungary the scope for investment is at present limited to participation in joint ventures with local enterprises and that the rules and regulations for these ventures vary from country to country. Direct investment is possible in Hungary and is made more attractive by the existence of an increasingly coherent legal framework and by the availability of British accountants and lawyers based in Budapest. Other countries in this area, such as Poland, offer some similar attractions and are working hard to offer more. Throughout eastern Europe prospects are, perhaps, particularly good in food (production, processing and packaging) and health care (pharmaceuticals and medical equipment), but the risks of investment and the provisions for repatriating profits are changing. We therefore encourage companies to consult the commercial sections of our embassies as well as local representatives of British banks and their usual advisers.