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Old 20th January 2018, 16:20
Gotno Gizmo Gotno Gizmo is offline
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Extracts from Ukraine Business Journal

President Poroshenko’s office rejects IMF criticism of his draft law to create an anti-corruption court, saying Monday evening: “All discussions about certain norms must be held within the legal framework in the Ukrainian parliament." Earlier in the day, news outlets published a letter to Ihor Rainin, head of the Poroshenko administration, from Ron van Rooden, IMF mission chief for Ukraine. “We have serious concerns about the draft law,” van Rooden wrote June 11, referring to the draft law. “Several provisions are not consistent with the authorities’ commitments under Ukraine’s IMF-supported program.” Analyst Timothy Ash writes: “[Poroshenko] obviously does not think Ukraine needs cheap IMF financing. It always amazed me to read analysis suggesting IMF disbursements in Q1 or earlier. As is, Ukraine will be lucky to get any IMF disbursements this side of elections next year.”

The hryvnia weakened by 1.6% over the first two weeks of January to UAH 28.5 to the dollar. This comes after the national currency only weakened by 3.1% during all of 2017, it’s most stable performance in four years. To prevent exchange rate spikes, the National Bank of Ukraine has injected $53.5 million into the banking system this month. Concorde Capital’s Evgeniya Akhtyrko writes: “By the end of 2018, we expect the hryvnia will touch UAH 29 to the dollar on the back of further current account deficit widening.”

Rents in upscale Kyiv shopping centers rebounded last year by 23%, to $960 per square meters per year, the highest jump in the history of the local index, reports Jones Lang LaSalle, the real estate consultancy. At the same time, vacancies dropped by 6.5 percentage points, “a record drop in the annual vacancy rate,” JLL reports. Pressing the market, real wages in Kyiv increased last year by 11.3% and, for the first time in recent memory no new shopping centers opened. Due to construction delays, five new shopping centers are to open in 2018, adding 114,000 square meters of new retail space. Also, this year, Kyiv is to see several new international brand stores: De Facto, Decathlon, FLO, H & M, IKEA, Koton, and Zara Home.

The average sale price for a Kyiv apartment fell 6% last year, to $977/square meter, consulting company SV Development tells UNIAN. While prices fell across the city, the lowest drop was in Podil, where prices fell by 4.4% to $905/square meter.

Nuclear power production increased by 5.7% in 2017, Energoatom reports. About half of Ukraine’s power comes from its four nuclear power plants, a ratio topped in Europe only by France. Last year, the nation’s 15 nuclear reactors produced 85 billion kWh.

Despite foreign press reports that imply that Ukraine has a high crime rate, the number of murders is one third the level of 20 years ago, Viacheslav Abroskin, deputy chief of Ukraine's National Police writes on Facebook. In 1997, 4,529 people were murdered in Ukraine, three times as many as the 1,551 murders recorded in 2017. He wrote: "In 2017, culprits were identified in 1,387 out of 1,551 murder cases, while 466 cases were solved that had been dragging over the years." Last November, The Wall Street Journal started a feature story: “Bodies are piling up in Kiev...” Last week, The New York Times published a lengthy story on the murder of Iryna Nozdrovska, the human rights lawyer.

Turkey plans to start building this year a 45 km sea level canal to allow ships to bypass the congested Bosphorus Strait, Anadolu news agency reports. The Istanbul Canal is to cost over $10 billion and is to be completed in 2023, the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic. Most of Ukraine’s trade with the outside world leaves the Black Sea ports and passes through the Bosphorus.

Thailand is to receive by ship next week a final batch of Oplot battle tanks from a 2011 order to Kharkiv’s Malyshev Factory, UkrOboronProm reports. To complete the $240 million Thai order, Malyshev is to ship several combat vehicles in coming weeks. Fulfillment of the order was held up by the need to make tanks for Ukraine’s war effort after Russia supplied hundreds of tanks in 2014 to separatists 300 km southeast of Kharkiv Now, the plant is returning to producing Oplot tanks full time for Ukraine’s army.

After Vodaphone lines were cut last week in a part of Donetsk controlled by separatists, the secessionist leader Alexander Zakharchenko threatened Monday to place the cellphone operator’s property under “external control.” This coded threat to seize Vodaphone property came after several days of loss of cell service for Vodaphone subscribers on the eastern side of the line of control. Zakharchenko charges Vodaphone with “sabotage.” Vodaphone has asked permission to send a team into the area to repair the cut line.

Over the Christmas/New Year's holidays, Ukrainians called less, but used twice as much internet traffic on their smart phones, according to the nation’s top three mobile operators. Kyivstar, the largest reports: “The total amount of data traffic used by subscribers in the Kyivstar mobile network for the New Year and Christmas 2018 reached 2,4 thousand terabits (nearly 200 years of HD video viewing).

Digital audio broadcasting is to come to Kyiv in the second half of 2018 as a DAB+ broadcasting license is to be issued shortly by the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine. The new multiplex will feature 14 radio stations, which will be made up of five national radio stations and nine regional and local stations, reports Radio World news site. Concern Radio Communications and Television is managing the project, which involves building by June two transmitters, one on the left bank and one on the right bank.

Financing now is lined up for construction of the EUR 44 million Radisson Blu hotel in Odesa, reports the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank. The bank is loaning EUR 15.4 million for the project, joining two other institutional investors – the Danish Investment Fund and The Nordic Environment Finance Corporation. Located on Primorsky Boulevard, the 205-room hotel will be one of the first international hotels in Odessa.
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Old 20th January 2018, 16:30
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Ukraine’s IT exports should grow by 25% this year, to $4.5 billion, the IT Ukraine Association predicts. Last year, growth was 20% to $3.6 billion, the industry group says. It says that the sector employs 116,000 specialists and pays about $600 million in taxes.

Yuzhmash will supply 20 rocket engines to the European Space Agency through 2020, the Dnipro-based company reports. The engines are used in Vega rockets which launch satellites. Since 2013, Ukrainian engines have powered 11 rockets, which placed 26 satellites for 20 customers into orbit.

Ukraine’s central bank says an investigation by Kroll Inc. confirmed fraud at Privatbank that caused a loss of at least $5.5 billion before the country’s biggest lender was nationalized one year ago. The National Bank of Ukraine hired the American corporate investigations firm to study Privatbank’s operations during the decade before the December 2016 nationalization. The investigation blamed a ‘bank within the bank’ for the fact that more than 95 percent of borrowing was to parties related to the former shareholders and their affiliates. Citing the Kroll study, the central bank charged Tuesday that Privatbank “was subjected to a large, coordinated money-laundering scheme and bank fraud with the characteristics of a pyramid scheme.” Last month, London’s High Court granted a worldwide freeze against $2.5 billion of assets held by Privatbank’s ex-owners, Ukrainian billionaires Igor Kolomoisky and Gennady Bogolyubov.

Today, lawyers for the new management of PrivatBank will argue in the Economic Court of Dnipropetrovsk for the bank’s $65 million claim against Dniproavia, a bankrupt airline once controlled by Igor Kolomoisky.

Farm production in Ukraine decreased by 2.7% last year, compared to 2016, reports the State Statistics Service. The decline came after a 6.3% jump in 2016.

Production of grapes for wine, grew by 7% last year, slowing down after a 31% jump in 2016, the State Statistics Service reports. In southern Ukraine, the big growth regions this year were Odesa with a 24% growth in grape production and Kherson which recorded a 30% jump.

Ukraine is preparing tenders to sell 20 large state companies, including 68% of Zaporozhye Aluminum Smelter, 99.567% of Odessa Port Plant and 99.995% of Sumykhimprom and five regional energy companies, Vitaly Trubarov, head of the State Property Fund, writes on Facebook. At the same time, Rada, deputies are to start debating a new privatization law this week.

A 6-hectare site near Chernobyl is about to put for tender for a 30-year-lease, the State Property Fund reports. The Fund says it already has one proposal, from a company that wants to build a 3M solar power plant.

Ukraine almost cut in half its consumption of anthracite coal last year, a cut prompted by Kyiv’s boycott of coal from secessionist controlled mines Increased nuclear power production saved 2.3 million tons of coal, and a switch to gas coal saved another 1.8 million tons of anthracite, Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Kistion said.

Ukraine has enough proven natural gas reserves to guarantee production at current rates through 2040, reports Yaroslav Klymovych, chair of Nadra Ukrainy, the state geological survey company. Reserves available for production amount to 453 billion cubic meters. However, he said 10 times that volume could be identified if Ukraine undertook a nationwide survey program using modern technology.

Ukraine nearly doubled exports of scrap metal last year, to 486,500 tons. Most of the scrap goes to Turkey and Moldova for the production of new steel, according to the Ukrainian Association of Secondary Metals.

Ukraine increased its butter exports to the EU nearly seven times, taking second place after long term supplier New Zealand. The EU imported 2,300 tons of butter from Ukraine. Perhaps pulled along by the export surge, domestic butter prices jumped 27.6% last year, well above Ukraine’s overall inflation rate of 13.6%.

The Eva drugstore chain expanded by one third last year, opening 154 new stores across Ukraine, according to the owner, Rush LLC of Dnipro. Employing 7,600 people, Rush saw its profit during the first three quarters of last year increase to $6 million.

As part of the fight against the shadow economy, Ukraine will require that all merchants have point of sale card terminals within two years. Customers will have the option of paying with cash or card. The new rule will extend terminals to 183,000 new businesses, the Economic Development and Trade Ministry calculates.

The Financial Times reports that Ukraine’s push to regulate cryptocurrencies is prompted by worries “that exploitation of the digital assets by criminals and geopolitical adversaries presents a growing national security risk.” The article quotes a government statement: “The lack of external and internal control over the cryptocurrencies’ turnover, and anonymity of payments, create prerequisites for their use in order to legalize criminal assets [and] to pay for prohibited goods, in particular, drugs and weapons.” This unregulated means of payment could mean, the government said, that cryptocurrencies are being used to “provide for financing of terrorism, in particular, in the occupied territories of Ukraine.”

As the Ukrainian banking sector stabilized last year, the closing of bank branches slowed to 8%, half the 2016 percent closure rate of 16%. Today, Ukraine has 9,489 bank branches, according to the National Bank of Ukraine. By shuttering 443 branches, Oschadbank accounted for about half of last year’s closings.

In advance of a visit to Kyiv by Albania’s Foreign Minister next month, Ukraine is ready to discuss a free trade pact with Albania, says Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration. The western Balkan nation is an official candidate for accession to the EU. Ukraine has 16 free trade agreements, covering 45 countries. Historically wary of Moscow, “Albania is one of the Balkan countries that unquestionably support Ukraine in countering Russian aggression,” Pandeli Majko, Albania’s Minister of State for Diaspora, said after meeting Klympush-Tsintsadze here. About 3,000 Albanians live in Ukraine. Last year, bilateral trade was $22 million.

New state support will allow the production of over 120 films this year in Ukraine, says President Poroshenko. He writes on Facebook: “A bright future awaits Ukrainian cinema!"

Heavy snow forced the cancellation of six flights into Odesa during the early afternoon of yesterday. Because inbound jets did not land, outbound flights to Ankara, Dubai, Istanbul, Minsk and Warsaw were cancelled. By early evening the airport was operating normally.

Betting on India, UIA has decided to increase the frequency of its new Kyiv Boryspil-Delhi flight to five times a week. Boeing 767s will fly the route, which starts May 1. At the same time, UIA will increase its flight frequency from Boryspil to Colombo, Sri Lanka to three flights a week.
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Old 20th January 2018, 16:42
Gotno Gizmo Gotno Gizmo is offline
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Ending a two-year boycott, Naftogaz will resume purchases of gas from Russia in coming weeks, Andriy Kobolyev, company CEO, told reporters in Kyiv Wednesday. Referring to the Russian gas company’s decision to lower prices after last month’s Stockholm court decision, Kobolev said: "We plan to import gas from two directions. The price which Gazprom is now obliged to set is very attractive. We should take advantage of this economic benefit.” He said Ukraine would probably import 4 to 5 billion cubic meters of gas, an amount equal to one third of Ukraine’s expected imports this year. In Nov. 2015, Ukraine stopped buying gas from Gazprom, but much of the gas Ukraine bought from the EU was actually Russian gas that did a U-turn through a gas hub in Slovakia.

Working with foreign drilling companies, Ukrgazvydobuvannya, the nation’s largest natural gas producer, plans to double exploration and production drilling this year, to almost 500,000 meters. At the same time, the state company aims to increase production by 4.5%, equal to last year’s growth, Oleg Prokhorenko, company CEO, told reporters Wednesday. The company plans to increase production in Western Ukraine by 50% through 2025. Turning to Eastern Ukraine, Prohkhorenko blasted Poltava’s regional council for ‘blocking’ his drilling plans.

GE Renewable Energy will supply 26 wind turbines this year to DTEK’s Primorsk wind energy station, in Zaporizhia, on the Sea of Azov. Catching wind off the sea, the power plant will have a capacity of 200 MW. The turbines are being made in Europe and will be maintained by a GE unit in Ukraine. Scheduled for commissioning in 2020, Primorsk is 45 km east of a second DTEK wind farm, at Botijeve. Also 200 MW, this station uses Vestas wind turbines from Denmark.

After Turkey and Egypt, Ukraine ranked third among the 37 nations receiving loans last year from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, or EBRD. Ukraine received EUR 581 million in EBRD funding, about 6% of the bank’s total funding. Turkey and Egypt each received about triple Ukraine’s amount.

Another bank, Industrial and Financial Bank, or Promfin, is losing its banking license and closing, the National Bank of Ukraine reports. Last year, the central bank closed nine banks.

Satu Kahkonen, World Bank country director for Ukraine, has sent a letter to the Rada and the Presidential Administration warning that a bill on the anti-corruption court must be brought into line with international expectations or Ukraine risks losing $800 million in World Bank aid this year. The letter echoes concern in a similar letter from the IMF country director that the court would not be independent. In response, Iryna Gerashchenko, first deputy chairman of the Rada, told the Freedom of Speech TV program that she expects the Rada to approve the bill in March. She said: "There are certain comments, including ones from our international partners. And now it is in the hands of the Verkhovna Rada to finalize it, to make it perfect." Concorde Capital’s Zenon Zawada writes: “The Western establishment has found the Achilles Heel of not only the Poroshenko administration in its campaign of resisting reforms, but the entire Ukrainian oligarchy…[Poroshenko] won’t allow Western officials to fully determine the conditions of the anti-corruption court.”

Ukraine’s three major mobile operators have agreed on terms for tender to extend 3G and 4G into the Kyiv Metro, Kyivstar President Petr Chernyshov, writes on Facebook. Kyivstar, Vodafone and lifecell hope faster cell speeds could be installed in the metro one year from now.

One third of Ukraine’s villagers, half of schools and almost all medical facilities do not have access to high speed broadband internet, Stepan Kubiv, Minister of Economic Development and Trade told the Cabinet Wednesday. Unveiling a 3-year plan for “the development of the digital economy and society,” he said a priority is to extend broadband Internet to 80% of the national territory by 2021.

EBRD will loan Nibulon up to $50 million to build river terminals and a river fleet, to buy a reloading crane and to expand its main Black Sea terminal, in Mykolayiv. One of Ukraine’s largest grain operators, Nibulon seeks to save money and increase delivery reliability by shifting its logistics from rail to river. Japan joins the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in financing what is to be a 2-year, $140 million project.

Growers of grapes, berries and fruit will get government compensation for 80% percent of their new planting stock this year, Prime Minister Groysman told the Cabinet on Wednesday, Interfax reports. Southern Ukraine is rebuilding grape production after the loss of Crimea in 2014. Exports of fruits and berries to the EU are rising.

To rebuild dairy and beef herds, Prime Minister Groysman promises subsidized loans at 3% interest for the opening of new ranches and dairy operations. Last year, as herds dwindled, milk and meat prices rose, contributing to inflation. The Prime Minister told the Cabinet: “I want to build new farms, start new livestock herds. We will support, including, genetics, production of both meat and milk.”

Ukraine’s trade deficit more than doubled to $5.2 billion through November, according to the State Statistics Service. Imports were up 27.5% yoy, while exports lagged, growing 20.6%. On the import side, the two big variables were: energy up 52.5% and vehicles up 43.8%. On the export side, mineral products were up 48.8% and overall exports to the EU were up 30.4%. Concorde Capital’s Evgeniya Akhtyrko writes: “Given the much wider goods trade deficit in 2017, we see the 2018 deficit touching the $7 billion mark…The widening trade deficit will create further devaluation pressure on the local currency this year.”

TransferGo, a London-based money remittance company active in 45 countries, reports its Poland-Ukraine service almost doubled last year. Magnus Albee, director of marketing for the company, said in a press release: "Last year the amount and number of transfers from Poland to Ukraine through the online service TransferGo increased by almost 100%.” He expects more growth in 2018.

Construction has started on a three-story, $20 million, steel and glass terminal designed to make Zaporizhia International Airport the gateway to Ukraine’s south east. Last year, traffic at Zaporizhia jumped 26.5% to 348,438 passengers, 10 times the level of 2009. This flow pole vaulted Zaporizhia ahead of its rival, Dnipro, where traffic stagnated at 276,954. With a newly resurfaced runway and service by nine airlines, Zaporizhia now offers scheduled flights to Minsk, Tel Aviv, Istanbul’s two airports and Kyiv’s two airports.
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Old 21st January 2018, 20:13
Gotno Gizmo Gotno Gizmo is offline
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Ukraine Business Journal

President Poroshenko nominated Yakiv Smoliy on Thursday to be the new Governor of the National Bank Ukraine. If approved by the Rada, Smoliy, 56, will succeed Valeriya Gontareva who quit nine months ago. Smoliy’s tasks, Bloomberg reports, will include restarting IMF aid, taming Ukraine’s near 14% annual inflation and defending the bank’s independence before presidential and parliamentary elections next year. Timothy Ash writes from London: “Positive development. Smoliy has done a good job and is respected by international financial institutions.”

The Rada passed a law Thursday designed to speed up privatizations, to cut listing times in half, and to place major sales under English law. The government hopes to make $750 million this year, attracting foreign and national investors to the first of 3,000 state companies to be sold. To attract the largest number of bidders, an online auction system will be used. For state companies assessed at over $10 million, international advisors may be used. Prime Minister Groysman told the parliament that privatization will unlock value by attracting investment to the money losing companies. He said the law “gives the opportunity to create tens of thousands of jobs in the near future in Ukraine.”

The World Bank is encouraged by signs from President Poroshenko that a bill to create an anti-corruption court could be revised after international criticism, Satu Kahkonen, the lender’s Ukraine director, tells Reuters. Asked about 2018, she answered: “Looking forward, whether I‘m going to be optimistic or pessimistic, will depend very much on what is going to happen with the anti-corruption court and land reform…These are two reforms that actually do matter for investment and for investors to come in and for growth to really take off in Ukraine.” As for a market for farm land, she said: “The preparatory work for land reform has quietly moved forward and is very well-advanced.”

President Poroshenko says that after the Ukraine-Canada free trade pact went into effect six months ago, two-way trade jumped by 60%, Ukrinform reports. He was talking Thursday at a joint press conference with Julie Fayette, Governor General of Canada, who is in Ukraine on a two-day visit.

Construction companies in Kyiv sold 2,350 apartments last year, the worst performance in five years, ARPA Real Estate reports. At that level of sales, it would take 28 years to work through the city’s backlog of 66,000 unsold apartments, Liga.net calculates. Michael Artyukhov, managing director of ARPA says that five years ago apartments in new buildings were largely sold out during construction. In 2014, buildings were completed with 10% of apartments unsold. Today, that rate is 30%. With only 5% of buyers qualifying for bank mortgages, construction companies increasingly offer their own financing plans.

A major solar power station should be built in the Chornobyl zone -- but not at today’s advantageous ‘green tariff,’ says Alexander Dombrovsky, acting head of the Rada Committee for Fuel and Energy. A major incentive to solar investments, Ukraine’s ‘green tariff’ is among Europe’s highest. The government is talking to foreign investors about building solar power plants with capacities of up to 1.2 GW around Chornobyl. Dombrovsky told reporters Thursday the Rada should pass a law allowing for auctions of the power, which would set the price at “4-5 times lower than the current ‘green tariff.’”

Due to emigration, the number of Internet users in Ukraine declined by 600,000 in the second half of 2017, the Internet Association of Ukraine reports, citing a survey by Factum Group Ukraine. Internet use among Ukrainians over 15 remains unchanged – 64%. The report says: “At the same time, for the first time, there was a significant decrease in the absolute number of regular users in Ukraine - from 21.6 million in mid-2017 to 21 million by the end of the year. This decline is explained by the decrease in the total number of permanent residents of Ukraine, mainly due to migration abroad Ukraine at the age of 18-45 years.” Internet usage – on laptops and smartphones – ranges from half of adult residents of villages to three quarters of residents of big cities.

Expanding its commercial real estate investments, Dragon Capital seeks to buy a business center on Kyiv’s Velyka Vasilkivska, according to the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine. Interfax cites a real estate company that lists the business center for sale at $27 million. The listing says the 9-story office center has 7,900 square meters of leased space and a parking garage for 54 cars.

H & M, the world’s second-largest clothing retailer, has started advertising for personnel in advance of the opening later this year of their first Ukraine story, in Lavinia Mall, on Kyiv’s Ring Road, west of Podol. Second only to Spain’s Inditex, parent of Zara, H & M is based in Sweden and has about 4,500 stores in 62 countries.

Propelled by online shopping, Nova Poshta delivered 30% more packages in 2017 than in 2016. Of the 146 million parcels, orders from abroad accounted for 5 million, five times the level of 2016. E-commerce accounted for 33 million parcels, a 30% jump. To handle the volume, the courier service increased its fleet by 31%, to almost 1,500 trucks.

Reflecting Georgia’s importance as a Ukrainian export trade corridor to the Caucasus and Central Asia, Ukraine’s exports to Georgia were six times greater than imports during the first nine months of last year. With Ukrainians trucks often barred from transiting Russia, Ukraine shipped almost $300 million worth of goods to Georgia, but only imported $49 million, according to Ukrinform.

Trade between Germany and rose by 21.5% in 2017, Ukraine’s government reported after Prime Minister Groysman met with executives of leading Germany companies operating here. “Trade focus shifted towards goods of light industries and food industries," reported the press service of the Cabinet of Ministers.

About 2.4 tons of gold are in the Belopotik ore deposit in the Rakhiv district of Zakarpattia, reports the State Service of Geology and Mineral Resources. Located in the Carpathians, 20 km north of Romania, the deposit should be further studied in order to attract investment. Ukraine’s only major gold mine also is in Zakarpattia. Avelana Gold, an American company, has announced a $100 million plan to develop the Muzhievskoye mine.

Turkish Airlines increased traffic its Ukrainian flights by 18% last year, double the airline’s worldwide growth of 9.3%. Carrying about 600,000 passengers, the airline made about 50 flights a week from six cities of Ukraine - Kiev, Odessa, Lviv, Zaporozhye, Kherson and Kharkov. Ukrainian competitors succeeded in forcing Turkish to drop flights from Dnipro in 2014 and Ivano Frankivsk in 2016. Turkish Airlines also operates three weekly cargo flights from Kiev.
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Old 22nd January 2018, 19:09
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Ukraine Business Journal

Turkey has given the final permits for Gazprom to build the 910 km Turkish Stream natural gas pipeline from Anapa, Russia, to Turkey’s northwestern coast. After commissioning, in two years, the $14 billion pipeline is expected to deprive Ukraine of $500 million a year in gas transit revenues.

Advertising increased by about one third last year, to $600 million, according to the All-Ukrainian Advertising Coalition. After last year’s rebound, the ad industry is expected to expand this year about half the pace, growing about 17%, to $700 million. Since 2016, ad spending has been flat for for radio and newspapers, has grown by 50% for TV, and has doubled for outdoor and digital.

Halfway through the grain marketing year, grain exports are down 9.5% compared to the same period last year. Ukraine has exported 22.8 million tons of grain since July, versus 25.2 million over the same period last year, the State Service for Food Protection, reports. However, the overall grain crop was down only 5.6% from 2016, a bumper year. The Agriculture and Food Policy forecasts that exporters will draw down stocks and that by the end of the marketing year, in June, grain exports will be down only 2%, to 41 million tons.

The IMF wants Ukraine to amend the bill on the high anti-corruption court and to rework the bill on pension reform, Gerry Rice, IMF spokesman tells reporters in Washington. An independent anti-corruption court is key for the IMF resuming loans to Ukraine. But Rice also cited the pension bill, saying it “also has some shortcomings that undermine incentives for people to work longer and their contribution to the system, and it doesn't fully ensure sustainable pension system.”

This week at Davos, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde is to meet with President Poroshenko to discuss the IMF program for Ukraine, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice says. Yakiv Smoliy, formally nominated on Thursday to serve as National Bank Governor, is to join the talks.

The debt clock dictates that Ukraine pass reforms and get on track with the IMF by May, says Ivan Miklos, the Slovak politician who heads the Group of Strategic Advisors for Support of Reforms in Ukraine. Speaking on Channel 5, this government advisor warned: “Ukraine will not be able to finance its obligations without a program of the Monetary Fund...It will be necessary that these prerequisites of the monetary fund be met in spring, that is before the end of May, so as not to create problems in financing.”

Ukraine faces a bleak year, if it does not get back on track with the IMF program, Sergey Fursa, a Dragon Capital, debt specialist, tells Novoye Vremye newsweekly. Without the IMF seal of approval and the required free market changes, he said: "External debt markets will immediately be closed. Economic growth will begin to fade. Reserves will melt. Do we try such a situation before the presidential election? Maybe. Will there be enough resources? No. There will be debts to pay, but there will be no new money.”

Ukraine should minimize public spending on the bank bailouts and maximize seizures of bank collateral from bad loans, the local representatives of the IMF, the World Bank and the EBRD recommend in a joint letter. With the nation struggling with $7.6 billion in bank bailouts, the three representatives called on Ukraine’s government to pursue collections of outstanding loans and to prosecute former shareholders of failed banks. Concorde Capital’s Zenon Zawada notes the letter was released on the same day as the Prosecutor General announced the possibility of criminal cases against the principal beneficiaries of PrivatBank, Ihor Kolomoyskiy and Gennadiy Bogolyubov. Zawada writes the letter was “intended to muster international support for the Ukrainian government in its attempt to make some order out of its collapsed banking sector.”

January’s fall of the hryvnia was caused by payments abroad and a decrease in exports, Prime Minister of Groysman said Sunday on ICTV. Saying the hryvnia “is freely regulated,” he said a similar phenomenon happened at the beginning of last year. Projecting confidence in the currency, he added: "But when everything starts working perfectly normally, when we start exporting, when the balance begins to be saved, the situation eases.”

Power company DTEK plans to build this year Ukraine’s first road section using coal ash and slag from coal-fired power plants. The section, in rural Lviv, will only be one kilometer long, but DTEK officials are optimistic about the technology. Coal ash is increasing used in building construction and to build roads, notably the Eisenhower Expressway in Chicago and the Øresund Bridge between Denmark and Sweden. Ukraine’s power plans generate about 7.5 million tons of ash and slag wastes per year, 6 million by DTEK.

Coffee House is the latest Russian food chain to fail in Kyiv the last two years. Since 2016, three quarters of the Coffee House outlets in Kyiv have closed, leaving only four. Similarly, Yakitoria closed its restaurants in 2016. In addition, Rosinter closed in Kyiv its Il Patio restaurants, then its TGI Friday’s.

Ukraine’s first 3D laboratory in Ukraine has opened at Kharkiv Polytechnic Institute to train specialists in the field of metrology and technical measurements for machine building and other industries, the Institute's press service reports. The lab is equipped with a 3D scanner, a 3D printer, a tool for 3D measurements and digitization, and a portable coordinate-measuring system for high-precision measurements at extremely long distances.

Exports to EU pulled up Ukraine’s overall exports through November, according to numbers posted by Natalia Mykolska on her Facebook page. Ukraine’s exports to the EU jumped by 30.4%, to $15.9 billion. Ukraine’s overall exports grew at a slower rate, by 20.6%, to $39.5 billion.

Exports to the US almost doubled last year, hitting $746 million through November. Other export increases were: up 19.5% to Turkey, to $2.2 billion and up 17.5% to China, to $2 billion.

The Czech Republic is doubling its work permits for Ukrainians, to 7,000 this year, Yevhen Perebyinis, Ukraine’s ambassador to Prague, tells Yevropeiska Pravda. With 4.3% GNP growth in 2017, employers in Eastern Europe’s fastest growing economy had complained that the government was taking six months to process work visas. Last year, Czech deported about 1,000 Ukrainians working there on Polish work permits were deported. At $33,00, Czech has a per capita income 20% higher than Poland’s and four times that of Ukraine.

A draft law allowing individuals to collect scrap metal could turn Ukraine into a nation without manhole covers and telephone wires, warn scrap metal collecting companies and their trade associations. The draft bill was submitted last week to the Rada committee on economic policy, Interfax reports.
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Old 23rd January 2018, 17:04
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France’s Powernext will work with Ukrtransgaz, the state gas pipeline and storage company, to create spot and futures exchange markets for gas trading in Ukraine, Ukrtransgaz reports. Based in Paris, Powernext is the main trading platform for natural gas in Europe. PEGAS, its pan-European gas trading platform, allows market participants to sell natural gas at 12 hubs in nine countries. Ukrtransgaz, with 12 underground gas storage facilities, the largest in Eastern Europe, wants to create a gas trading and storage hub in Ukraine.

With today the deadline for bidding on 4G mobile service tenders, Ukraine’s three major companies – Vodafone, Kyivstar and lifecell – already have submitted bids for six lots of 10MHz each. Minimum bids are $10 million per frequency. Friday is the deadline for applying for the more technically important 1,800 MHz range.

EBRD’s loans to Ukraine projects rebounded by 37% last year, hitting EUR 800 million, Sevki Acuner, the bank’s Ukraine Director tells Interfax. He said he hopes the new privatization process will boost the bank’s portfolio, bringing it back to the levels of 2014 and 2015 when loan totals exceeded EUR 1 billion. He said: “The law on privatization, passed in parliament last week, will allow attracting more large foreign investors."

From the US, WorldBusiness Capital announced an $8 million, 10-year commercial loan to Dnipro’s Bank Vostok. Guaranteed by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the loan will enable Bank Vostok to expand lending to local small and medium-sized enterprises involved in processing and export of food. From Hartford, Connecticut, Rob Monyak, the American bank’s executive vice president, said: “Bank Vostok’s client base is concentrated among exporters and suppliers to exporters. In this way, additional funding for Bank Vostok is a means to reach the enterprises that play a crucial role in generating hard currency and fostering economic growth in Ukraine.”

To slow labor migration, Ukraine is negotiating with the EU a broad program of loans and grants to small and medium-sized businesses, Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin told reporters Monday. With labor migration now affecting the entire nation, Klimkin said he is working with European Commission and the European Investment Bank to set up and fund “a broad microcredit and micro-grant program for small and medium-sized businesses in Ukraine. Only such a business will effectively preserve jobs."

Lending to households and to small and medium-sized enterprises will increase this year, and to "Credit Conditions Survey," a regular survey of banks conducted by the National Bank of Ukraine. National Bank of Ukraine told reporters According to the survey, 72% of banks expect an increase to increase their corporate loan portfolios. On household lending 67% of the polled banks expected increase, the highest percentage since the the survey was started, in 2015.

Ukraine has 25 tons of gold in reserves, Oleh Churiy, deputy governor of theMonday. In dollars, reserves increased 21% last year, to $18.8 billion. Churiy said: “Gold and foreign exchange reserves in gold total about $1 billion: 25 tons of gold, which can be placed in a cube of 1x1x1 m.”

Ukraine’s total debt to the IMF is $12.1 billion, Oleg Churiy said at the same briefing. The National Bank of Ukraine owes the IMF $ 7.2 billion, and the Ministry of Finance owes the IMF $ 4.9 billion.

Oleh Churiy said Monday he does not expect major currency volatility, but the central bank has sold around $160 million since the start of 2018 to support the hryvnia, Reuters reports.

Ukraine could return to international bond markets by June and raising funds through Eurobond sales will not impair Ukraine's drive to reform, Finance Minister Oleksandr Danylyuk told Reuters in London on Monday. “We have plans for this year and investors are waiting for us," he said, adding it was "a possibility" this could happen before the end of June. Asked about the IMF’s criticism of a proposed anti-corruption court, he said: “"I hope we will get a document that will satisfy everyone.”

After the fireworks of last year’s visa-free regime, “European integration in 2018 will be ‘quiet,’ barely visible and incomprehensible to the general public, but not less important to the future of the country,” Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration writes in Mirror Weekly. Behind the scenes, government officials should implement the EU Association agreement by “harmonizing legislation in such areas as public procurement, sanitary and fitosanitary measures, financial, postal and courier services, maritime international transportation.”

Ukraine probably has natural gas reserves of 5.5 trillion cubic meters, enough for almost 200 years of consumption at last year’s level of 28.4 billion cubic meters. The estimate comes from a UNIAN interview with Andrei Tolkunov, geology head of Ukrgeofizika, the state geological and mineral exploration company. After years of marginal production growth, the government cut drilling and production royalties in half this month and invited more foreign companies to explore here.

Ukraine aims to be self-sufficient in natural gas by 2022, the government's press service said Monday, citing Prime Minister Groysman. To reach this goal, Ukraine will invest in energy efficiency and in greater production. Last year, Ukraine cut gas consumption by 6.3%compared to 2016, Ukrtransgaz reports.

Retail sales increased by 8.8% last year, according to the State Statistics Service. Last month, sales were up 16.1%, compared to December 2016. For the year, sales growth of 11% or high was recorded in six regions: Zakarpattia, Odesa, Lviv, Cherkasy, ​​Kyiv and Vinnytsia.

From Singapore, 20 Ukrainian food companies presented their products Monday in the island state, part of Ukraine’s first trade mission to Singapore and neighboring Malaysia. Attending were representatives of 50 Singapore companies, including the major supermarket chains serving this affluent nation of 5.6 million people. Dmytro Senyk, Ukraine’s ambassador to Singapore, said bilateral trade has doubled in two years. He said: "The potential is huge, given the unique role of this country as a logistical and commercial hub in Asia as well as an important member of ASEAN.” The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is a common market for 630 million people. Singapore alone has a GDP three times larger than Ukraine’s.
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Ukraine will import half of its gas this year from Russia’s Gazprom – but at a price 27.4% below the price of fall 2014, Andriy Kobolev, CEO of Naftogaz, said Tuesday on national TV, according to UNIAN. Under the Stockholm Arbitration decision of last month, the price was cut and the volume that Naftogaz is to buy over the next two years is 10% of earlier contracted volumes. Kobolev said that Russian gas will be cheaper than gas now coming from Europe.

Foreign lawyers will able to participate in a tender to help Ukraine seize $3.4 billion of Gazprom assets around the world, Sergei Shklyar, Deputy Justice Minister, told UNIAN Tuesday. The amount is a fine imposed by the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine on Gazprom for abusing its dominant market position and violating EU anti-trust laws. After Ukraine’s Supreme Economic Court ruled against the Russian gas company last May, Justice Minister Pavel Petrenko said that Gazprom did not have $3.4 billion worth of assets in Ukraine.

In May, work is to start on a joint Canadian-Ukrainian space port and launch vehicle, Steve Matier, CEO of Canada’s Maritime Launch Services, tells Interfax. After the first launch, tentatively in July, 2020, the center in Nova Scotia aims to launch each year eight Ukrainian rockets made at Dnipro’s Pivdenne (Yuzhnoye) Design Bureau. Matier said he has lined up about US$320 million in launch business from Canadian and international customers. Lindsay Construction, the largest construction firm in Atlantic Canada, will build the spaceport in Canso, an eastern Nova Scotia village overlooking the North Atlantic.

Moving to defend the hryvnia, the National Bank of Ukraine sold at auction $47.3 million on Tuesday at a rate of up to 28.86 UAH for the dollar. Timothy Ash writes: “NBU stepping up intervention – saying: ‘enough is enough’, in terms of UAH weakness. Ironically, UAH weakness more likely puts pressure on Poroshenko to do the right thing on the IMF/reform and anti-corruption front.”

Square meters of housing construction increased by 23% last year, Henadiy Zubko, Minister of Regional Development, Construction and Utilities Services, told reporters Tuesday. Citing a cut in bureaucratic tape, he said permit refusals were 2%, far below the 50% of a few years ago. He said Ukraine approved 13 new construction standards designed to harmonize with European standards.

IT workers will more than double by 2025, to 242,000, the IT Ukraine Association forecasts. With this expanded workforce, Ukraine’s IT exports will also more than double, hitting $8.4 billion in 2025. Of today’s 116,000 IT workers, 72% are men, the average age is 30, and the average salary is $1,600, high by Ukrainian standards. Of the nation’s 16 IT clusters, the top five, ranked by number of workers, are: Kyiv, Dnipro, Lviv and Kharkiv, with Odesa.

Industrial production in Ukraine was flat last year, breaking a 2.4% recovery in 2016, the State Statistics Service reports. The 2016 growth ended four years of declines, notably 13% in 2015 and 10.1% in 2014. Last year, the processing industry grew by 4%, but that was offset by a 5.8% fall in mining and a 6.5% fall in gas and electricity. By year’s end, industrial production had contracted by 0.1%.

With a new privatization law to go into effect shortly, the State Property Fund released Tuesday a 23-page list of 400 “small” state-owned properties that will go up for auction this year. “Children's camps, cinemas, offices, dining rooms, shops, garages, common property complexes and even ships,” Vitaly Trubarov, acting head of the Fund, wrote on Facebook. “Almost 400 objects that can work and generate income, both to new efficient owners, and to the state in the form of jobs and taxes.” The list is in Ukrainian and Russians are not allowed to bid.

Ukrainian-American entrepreneur and engineer Igor Pasternak is creating a American-Ukrainian Industrial Investment Fund. Pasternak, CEO of Worldwide Aeros Corp, a California airship manufacturer, writes on his Facebook page the fund’s priority will be "joint projects and developments in the Ukrainian defense and space sector."

OLX, Ukraine’s top online trading post, reports that the average purchase increased 7% last year, to 1,300 hryvnia, currently $45. The site hosted 11.9 million ads last year. The most popular search queries were: bicycle, sofa, dress, jacket, motorbike, apartment and various bands of mobile phones.

GetmanCar, Ukraine’s first car sharing company, now is working in Kyiv, reports Taras Getmansky, the founder and CEO. The service has 100 cars, largely Skoda Fabia and Daewoo Ravon R2, both compact urban cars. Seeing room for growth, he said: "Kyiv needs about 3 to 4,000 car-sharing cars for the whole city.” Hourly rental rates at UAH59 or $2. Getmansky says he plans to expand to Ukraine’s other major cities.

Kyiv’s Metro subway is holding a tender for a 7km, 3-station extension of the Green Line, northwest from Syrets station to the Vynohradar neighborhood. Participants should register by Feb. 19 for a tender that will be held March 7. The estimated cost is $225 million.

UIA increased its passenger traffic last year by 16.4%, well below the 27.6% increase in traffic flow recorded last year at all of Ukraine’s airports. By far the nation’s largest carrier, Ukraine International Airlines carried almost 7 million passengers, or 42 percent of Ukraine’s total. UIA’s strategy of turning Kyiv’s Boryspil into an international hub proved successful as the share of transit passengers on UIA flights hit 54%. With most of UIA flights operating out of Boryspil, 89% percent of UIA passengers went through the airport, the nation’s largest.

Ukraine is negotiating visa free – or easy visa – regimes with 20 more countries, Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin told reporters Tuesday. Noting that Ukrainians have visa free access to 85 countries, he said: "We are currently conducting negotiations for either full liberalization or visa facilitation with more than 20 countries. We hope to achieve decisive progress with them over the next two years."

Marriott will open its first Aloft brand hotel in Ukraine, in Kyiv, on May 1, just in time for the May 26 UEFA Champions League Final at the Olimpiyskiy National Sports Complex. With 310 rooms, the new hotel will located two blocks from the football stadium, at Esplanadna 17, behind Gulliver business center.
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