EAST-WEST TRADE: Ordeal on the Volga

On a snowy plain near the Volga River 625 miles southeast of Moscow stands the most important monument to East-West trade yet erected: the $800 million Togliatti auto plant. Completed in 1970 and equipped by Italy's Fiat, the plant is scheduled to turn out some 500,000 sedans this year. For businessmen throughout the West, Togliatti's completion stands as proof that capitalists and Communists can cooperate in a major industrial venture. But for Fiat, the experience has been a virtually profitless ordeal.

Fiat Chairman Giovanni Agnelli concedes that the company has done no...