Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Richard N. Dean

First Page



The purpose of this Essay has been to provide, in somewhat summary fashion, basic background and guidelines to assist Western companies that are considering commercial transactions in the Soviet Union. It was not intended to be an exhaustive analysis of all factors that may affect the negotiation, completion and implementation of commercial transactions in the Soviet Union. Rather, we have drawn from our experience in assisting our clients over the last three years in the USSR and have attempted to provide an appropriate context for the consideration of potential business opportunities.

In our experience, the most effective perspective to adopt in evaluating commercial opportunities in the Soviet Union is to weigh the risks and the benefits and, in particular, to appreciate the difficulties in accomplishing a Western-style business transaction amidst extraordinary political, social, economic, and legal turmoil in a culture that is vastly different from our own.

No one knows yet whether recent events in the Soviet Union herald genuine reform and progress towards a more open, democratic system and a more market-oriented economy, or mark the destruction of an empire headed, at least in the short term, to chaos and breakdown. Therein lies the key risk in entering the Soviet market. Foreign companies that take up the challenge must be courageous, patient, and well-prepared. Few, if any, such companies will enjoy short-term rewards. Only those that develop and implement a long-term strategy will effectively secure themselves a place in the Soviet marketplace of the next generation.