As an enticement for U.S. companies to conduct business in Central and Eastern Europe, Rupert Finke, assistant director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Eurasia business committee, pointed to currency valuations in Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.

      Unlike the paper tiger economies of Southeast Asia, currency risk is relatively small, he told attendees of a breakfast meeting held at the World Trade Center downtown last week.  Companies may also want to consider booking contracts now because the dollar will buy more, he added.

      He also said that it was easier for small- to medium-sized companies to get involved in these markets now because multinational and telecommunications companies have provided the initial infrastructure and paved the way for small companies.

      As an example, he cited a medium-sized member of his chamber, which converted several plants in Poland into specialized auto parts manufacturers and is now supplying parts to General Motors.

      On the other hand, he pointed to the sorts of blunders which, he said, could only be avoided by doing sufficient research.  Among them, he cited: telecom companies in Poland, which have encountered surprises, delays and disappointments in telecom privatization.

      The U.S. Chamber, he said, could provide services to help its members avoid such blunders by drawing on its informational resources and contacts as well as the experiences of its members.

      The chamber publishes a weekly news dispatch on these economies which is available for free to members of the chamber’s American Business Alliance for the Transition Economies of Eurasia (A.B.A.T.E.) or for $200 to non-members.

      Mr. Finke may be reached by calling (202) 463-5473; fax, (202) 463-3114.  His email address is