A law on foreign investment and other legislation regarding private entrepreneurship passed since 1991 now provide most of the conventional guarantees to foreign investors in Turkmenistan. However, until 1994, the purchase of property by foreign parties remained highly restricted. Reflecting some of this ambiguity, by 1992, only 23 joint ventures had been established, most of a relatively small scale and with negligible impact on foreign trade. Nevertheless, the country's political stability, rich natural resources, and increasingly liberal regulations are likely to make it a favored target for foreign investors in the near future. Significant inflows of foreign assistance have already allowed expansion of the petroleum industry to begin. Negotiations with foreign firms and several countries are underway for establishing a liquefied natural gas plant and the joint construction of a new gas pipeline to Europe that would bypass the need to transverse potentially unstable states of the former USSR.
In 1994, Turkmenistan's laws were modified to offer greater protection for property and rights of foreign investors and exemptions from duties and taxes for specific categories of investment; foreign investors registered in Turkmenistan, and enterprises importing and selling consumer goods there have been exempt from the value-added tax since March 1994. The Commodity and Raw Materials Exchange, created in 1994 to regulate all commercial transactions in Turkmenistan, registers individual trade contracts concluded by foreign companies and joint ventures, and charges a 0.2% commission. The State Agency for Foreign Investment (SAFI), established by presidential decree in 1996, monitors investments, reviews proposals and foreign currency credits, and may award priority status to projects favored by the government. There were no investment statistics reported by the government in 1998.