The pandemic began more than a year ago. And for seven years Ukraine has remained a real, not a metaphorical outpost of Europe. War takes our people, eats up our economy, and ravages our Ukrainian territories. But this is a threat to the whole of Europe,” Zelenskiy criticized.
President Zelenskiy said on Monday. The next day, his Health Minister Maksym Stepanov said on Ukraina 24 TV: “If there is an appropriate amount of vaccines, we will be able to vaccinate up to 5 million people a month in a very quiet mode.” By the end of May, Ukraine is to receive 1.7 million doses — enough to vaccinate 3% of Ukraine’s adults. Of the 500,000 vaccines received five weeks ago, the Health Ministry has used only 212,900.
Ukraine should invest in achieving universal fluency in English among young people, Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, said yesterday at a “Ukraine 30” forum on culture, media and tourism. “The English language should be used from kindergarten to the end of secondary schools,” Danilov said. “When the youth is fluent in English, that’s the precondition for the independence of this country.” In Scandinavian countries, about 60% of people under 35 are fluent in English. In the Netherlands, rate is 45%. In Germany, it is 38%.
The sale of Ukrposhta’s iconic postwar headquarters at 22 Kreschatyk Street, Kyiv will take two years, Ihor Smilyanskyi, director of the state postal system, said in a video. With Kyiv’s commercial real estate market soft, he said, now is a good time to start the obstacle course of permissions, audits, assessments leading up to a ProZorro auction. A buyer should be prepared to invest almost $4 million to upgrade the Stalin-era landmark. While the 1,000 employees will move with the headquarters, the building will retain Branch 01001, Kyiv’s Main Post Office.
The Cabinet of Ministers last night banned travel on buses and trains to and from four regions listed as ‘red zones’ for coronavirus infections: Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Zakarpattia and Zhytomyr. Car travel is permitted. If the number of red zone regions rises to more than half – or 13 of the 24 – Ukraine may have to reimpose a national lockdown, Health Minister Maksym Stepanov warned in an interview with strana.ua. He also said that March and April will be difficult due to the coronavirus. In Zakarpattia, the hospitalization rate is approaching one out of 1,000 inhabitants.
Stepanov yesterday berated the vaccination program he leads. In the two weeks since 500,000 vaccines arrived from India, 20,000 people have been vaccinated and 190,000 are on waiting lists. “I’m not satisfied with these numbers,” Stepanov said, criticizing his own campaign. “We were supposed to be vaccinating 10,000 people a day by the end of last week. Today, I’m interfering.”
The Health Ministry yesterday approved the use in Ukraine, Sinovac, the Chinese manufactured COVID-19 vaccine. Next week, 1.9 million doses are due to arrive in Ukraine.
Inflation spiked up to 7.5% yoy in February, a jump from the 6.1% yoy increase in January, reported the State Statistics Service. Last month, the biggest factor was a 45% yoy increase in price of natural gas. The recent price hikes in world oil prices will be reflected in March inflation. Last week, the National Bank of Ukraine got a jump on the inflation rise, hiking the prime interest rate to 6.5%, from 6%. The central bank predicted that inflation will peak this summer, then recede to around 5% yoy by December 2021.
Adamant Capital last night wrote of the inflation spike: “One of the reasons for this may be the sharp YoY increase in the money supply. Despite the fact that the NBU has already increased the key rate by 50bps to 6.5%, we expect the CPI to accelerate further in March to 8.0% YoY. Our end-of-year projection remains at 7.0%.”
The Finance Ministry managed to keep lowering rates for short term government bonds at yesterday’s weekly auction, the Ministry reported on Facebook. The all-hryvnia auction yielded the equivalent of $168 million, less than half the volume of last week. According to numbers posted on the Ministry’s website, short term bonds settled at these rates: 6-month, down 17 basis points, to 9.03%; 1-year bonds, down 5 basis points, to 10.62%; 1.5 year bonds down 8 basis points, to 10.96%. Staying unchanged were: 2-year bonds at 11.8% and 3-year bonds at 12.05%.
The Rada will soon vote on the final passage of the “Google” tax – a tax that would impose a 20% VAT tax on provision of Internet services by foreign companies to residents of Ukraine. The law, which could render $100 million in annual tax payments to Ukraine, would apply to such foreign tech giants as: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Wargaming Group, Bloomberg, Alibaba, and Booking.com. “These are large foreign international companies operating and earning money in Ukraine. They receive a lot of income, but do not pay taxes in our country, Oleksandr Tkachenko, Culture and Information Policy Minister, wrote on Telegram. “Ukrainian technology companies pay VAT when providing electronic services to Ukrainians. But foreign companies – no.”
Services that would be taxed include: sale of images or texts, e-books; sale of audio, video, games, gambling; providing paid access to electronic resources; provision of cloud technologies for data placement; supply of software and updates to it; and, providing advertising services on the Internet.
Last week’s US entry ban on Ihor Kolomoisky and his immediate family “is the beginning,” Iuliia Mendel, spokeswoman for President Zelenskiy, said in an interview posted yesterday on the YouTube channel of Olesya Batsman, editor-in-chief of Gordon. Last week in an article for Atlantic Council, Mendel wrote that Zelensky is prepared to take on the oligarchs “everywhere from the energy and banking sectors to politics and the media.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will address the fourth Ukrainian-German Economic Forum, an investment and trade conference that will take place on line on Friday, March 19. According to Ukraine’s Embassy in Germany, experts will discuss: discuss industrial development and digitalization, energy and renewable energy, food and agriculture, and logistics and infrastructure. Registration can be made here, on the site of one of the organizers, the German-Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce, or AHK Ukraine.
Kyiv plans to receive 5 to 7 container trains a month from China this year, which is double last year’s rate, reported Ukrzaliznytsia. The trains take about 15 days to travel from China and are unloaded at the Kiev-Lyski logistics terminal on the Left Bank.
Poland’s PCC Intermodal S.A. plans to triple container trains between Poland and Ukraine, to three per week this year, according to the company’s website. Starting last year, the company picks up and delivers containers from Mostiska, the Lviv region border city where the European and Russian gauge rails meet. Across Ukraine, container traffic grew last year by 11% yoy, to 425,000 containers.
Kyivpastrans has opened a tender for two new cars for the Funicular, a purchase expected to cost €6.5 million. As part of a wider Urban Public Transport initiative for 11 Ukrainian cities, the European Investment Bank is funding much of the funicular budget to replace two cars bought in 1984. Connecting Podil’s Poshtova Square and the upper town’s Mykhailivska Square, the Funicular carries about 10,000 passengers a day. It opened in 1905, three years after the Odesa Funicular.
Casino gambling licenses have been issued to five hotels, Danilo Hetmantsev, Head of the Rada’s Committee on Finance, Tax and Customs policy, said after a briefing Tuesday by Ivan Rudy, Head of the Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries. Hetmantsev said that half of the nearly $5 million in total licenses have been paid. Separately, the Commission posts on its website that it issued a license Tuesday to allow Parimatch to resume betting activities in Ukraine. A bookmaker license is $3.8 million.
Turkish Airlines’ lowcost unit, AnadoluJet, will start flights to Ukraine for the first time on March 30 2021 with a flight between Ankara and Kyiv Boryspil. Flying a Boeing 737-800, Anadolujet schedule includes four services a week. Pegasus Airlines, another Turkish lowcost airline, already operates on the Kyiv-Ankara route. Separately, Ukraine International Airlines commences a new route to Nevşehir, the regional capital in Central Anatolia on March 25. The direct flights from Kyiv Boryspil will improve tourist access to Cappadocia.
Last Tuesday, Turkey reopened restaurants for inside dining, ending a long ban. Ukrainian tourists can travel to Turkey without a visa if they have a negative coronavirus test result taken no earlier than 72 hours before departure. About 9% of Turkey’s population have received a first coronavirus vaccine shot.
With coronavirus hospitalizations spiking to the highest level since the pandemic appeared in Ukraine one year ago, Ukrzalysnitsia is temporarily ceasing passenger train service to the three most effected regions: Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernivtsi and Zhytomyr. Ticket sales for the Ivano-Frankivsk service stopped one week ago. Sales of tickets for the passenger service to Chernivtsi and Zhytomyr stop on Sunday.
Yesterday morning, the Health Minister Maksym Stepanov reported that 3,486 people were hospitalized with Coronavirus in the previous 24 hours. During the same period, 7,235 new cases were registered, and 185 deaths recorded. Earlier on Tuesday, the infection toll was 5,336. In a campaign to soften opposition to vaccinations, Stepanov, his deputy Viktor Liashko, and President Zelenskiy were publicly vaccinated this week. In public opinion polls, 40-50% of people interviewed say they will refuse to be vaccinated.
By November, all Ukrainians will have had the opportunity to be vaccinated, Stepanov said Monday on ICTV’s Freedom of Speech talk show. Starting next week, the daily vaccination rate is to hit 10,000. “By summer, it would be 5-6 million a month,” he told reporters yesterday. So far Ukraine has received from India 500,000 doses of the Swedish-British AstraZeneca vaccine. Ukraine has also ordered 17 million more doses from India. Stepanov said yesterday he fears the 1.9 million Sinovac doses will not arrive from China this Saturday as per the contractural agreement.
Ukrainians can sign up for vaccinations through the Diia website, or by calling the Health Ministry’s hotline: 0 800 60 20 19. Although international donors are paying for a large portion of the vaccines through the COVAX program, expatriates and any other foreign nationals will only be able to get vaccinated by paying for it. The Health Ministry predicts vaccines will become commercially available in Ukraine by this summer.
Cargo handled by Ukraine’s ports was down 24% yoy in January-February, to 20.6 million tons, reported the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority. Exports dropped by 23%, to 16.1 million tons. Imports dropped by 28%, to 3 million tons. The big winter drop was a 38% fall in grain exports, to 5.6 million tons.
High grain prices may partly cancel out falls in volume shipments. In the eight months since the grain marketing year started July 1, grain exports fell 22%, reported the Economy Ministry. Corn is down 30%, to 13.8 million tons. Wheat is down 17%, to 13.7 million tons. Barley is down 2%, to 4 million tons.
Yet Black Sea grain prices are at seven-year high: corn at $260-267 a ton, wheat at $281-288 a ton, and barley at $256-$263 a ton, reported Reuters. In the last marketing year, Ukraine exported 57 million tons of grain. This year, the government predicts exports could decline to 45.4 million tons – a 20% drop. Dragon Capital wrote: “The recent surge in global grain prices should at least partially offset weaker volume exports.”
Kernel, the world’s largest sunflower oil producer, is halfway through a $169 million project to build cogeneration heat and power plants at its six oil seed crushing plants. The company already receives half of its energy from renewable sources.
MHP Agroholding, Ukraine’s largest chicken producer plans to open 2,000 Myasomarket stores across Ukraine in the next three years. Part of a shift from a ‘raw materials’ producer to a higher value ‘culinary company’. MHP will franchise the meat market stores, 2,000 shawarma DönerMarket outlets, a network of ‘Secrets of the Chef gastro-studios’ and an R&D department. Olena Kosyuk, Head of Research & Development and spouse of the Company Chairman Yuriy Kosyuk, said: “We will be able to develop new products for ourselves and other companies. Study the tastes of different consumer segments. Hold tastings, gather focus groups, test packaging materials and much more.”
Mexico’s Grupo Bimbo is considering building a bakery in Fastiv, Kyiv region to bake buns for McDonald’s. Three years ago, the multinational’s Ukraine unit, Bimbo QSR Ukraine, bought East Bolt Ukraine bakery in Dnipro to bake buns for the fast food chain. This morning the project is to be outline at UkraineInvest’s “Industrial Relocation” conference, in Fastiv’s Palace of Culture, a one hour drive south of Kyiv’s Ring Road.
Swedish retailer H&M plans to open its first store outside of Kyiv in Kharkiv in May. With the 2,100 square meter store in the new Nikolskiy shopping mall, H&M will have six stores in Ukraine after 18 months ago of its initial entry to the market. H&M Ukraine CEO Dominik Fantachino said: “We see a high interest in the H&M brand in the regions.”
With Kyiv traffic conjestion increasing, Ukravtodor agreed yesterday to complete the construction by the end of 2021 of the long-stalled New Darnytskyi Bridge. In what could be a $40 million project, Ukravtodor will complete the Left Bank exits from 1 km long road-rail bridge. At present, the 6-lane bridge funnels east-bound traffic directly to Darnitskiy Highway. Exit ramps to the Dnipro Embankment highway will allow exiting traffic to flow north and south. The bridge, which is owned by Ukrzaliznytisa, was designed almost 20 years ago to carry 60,000 cars a day. After the bridge opened a decade ago to trains and limited road traffic, UZ stopped construction.
Airlines are betting on Ukraine’s enduring love affair with Italy. Starting in late May, SkyUp will expand its Kyiv flight network to nine Italian cities: Bari, Bergamo, Bologna, Catania, Lamezia Terme, Naples, Rome and Rimini. In June, Lumiwings, a Greek company, plans to start flights between Odesa and two Italian cities – Forli and Perugia. At the end of April, UIA starts daily flights from Kyiv to Milan, Rome and Venice.
A sign of summer travel: people who want to visit Italy’s Sardinia island will have to present a coronavirus vaccination certificate, Governor Christian Solinas tells L’Unione newspaper, according to ANSA. Prior to boarding a plane or ferry, travelers will have to show a certificate of having received the two shots – and having tested negative.
UIA restores flights from Kyiv to New York, Toronto, Delhi, Cairo and London-Heathrow, according to a new summer schedule that starts in time for the May holidays. The new schedule also restores a host of EU cities and increases frequencies to existing EU destinations.
The start date of vaccinations against Covid-19 in Ukraine is slipping by 2-3 weeks, Andriy Slavutsky, head of UNICEF health programs said yesterday at a vaccination training event. Due to paperwork delays, “the Pfizer should arrive in late February or early March,” he said. Moldova also hopes to start vaccinating in early March, By contrast, Ukraine’s EU neighbors –Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania – already have vaccinated 5-6% of their populations, according to the Financial Times vaccine tracker. Russia has vaccinated 2.7%. Belarus started vaccinating last month with the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine.
Ukraine hopes to sign its long-delayed Open Skies agreement with the EU in 10 days, when Charles Michel, president of the European Council, visits Kyiv, Prime Minister Shmyhal tells Ukrinform. Fresh from a 2-day visit to Brussels, Shmyhal says: “At a face-to-face meeting, [EU Foreign Minister Josep] Borrell confirmed there were no issues with Ukraine.”
Miss flying? For $95, UIA offers on Sunday, March 7 a “Flight over Kyiv”. This 70-minute excursion features a view of Chornobyl nuclear plant from 900 meters and an overflight of Antonov’s airport at Gostomel, home of the world’s largest airplane, the An-225 Mriya. Off duty UIA pilots will mingle in the passenger cabin of the 100-seat Embraer 195, answering questions about flying over Kyiv. (Two on duty pilots are to stay in the cockpit). UIA proposes some sample questions: “Is it possible to fly without engines? What is turbulence and is it worth it to be afraid?”
Dnipro airport, Ukraine’s largest airport construction project of the year, will be rebuilt by Kyiv’s Altis-Construction LLC. With a $141 million bid for the three-year project, Altis beat six other companies in an open tender by the Infrastructure Ministry. The government has budgeted $50 million this year, almost 60% of all government airport work for the year. Altis is to build a new, 3.2 km runway, long enough for Boeing 777s. Separately, Oleksandr Yaroslavsky’s DCH group is building a new terminal. While work continues, Dnipro airport will keep operating, using the old Soviet-era terminal and concrete runway.
In a survey of 172 hotels across Ukraine, 23% predict business will return this year to 2019 levels and 57% predict a full return in 2022, reports the Ukrainian Hotel & Resort Association. Horwath HTL Hungary. Last year, two thirds of hotels cut room rates and hotel staff. More than 60% of hotel managers said their revenues shrank by more than 40%. To increase revenue, one quarter rented rooms as temporary offices and one third invested in digital marketing. Revenues grew at seven hotels – all rural retreats.
In January, hotel occupancies were: Lviv – 35%; Kharkiv – 31%; Kyiv – 23%; and Odessa – 19%. The average room rate in Kyiv was $57, according to Hotel Matrix, a web-based analytics program connected to 150 hotels nationwide.
Due to controls surrounding coronavirus, the world tourism industry lost $935 billion during the first 10 months of 2020, reports United Nations World Tourism Organization. To allow safe travel, the EU and Israel are working to introduce ‘vaccination passports.’
Despite corona controls, Ukraine’s Border Service registered 11.2 million exits by Ukrainians last year, potentially one quarter of the nation’s adult population. Top destinations were: Poland – 4 million; Hungary – 1.6 million; Russia – 1 million; Turkey — 965,000; Egypt – 730,000, Romania – 626,000; and Belarus – 496,000.
Ukraine received 3.4 million visits by foreigners. The top countries were Ukraine’s land neighbors: Moldova – 933,000; Belarus – 463,500; Russia – 390,000; Poland – 272,000; Romania – 229,000; and Hungary – 217,000. By air, the top countries were: Turkey – 149,000; Germany — 74,000; Israel – 57,000; and the United States – 42,000.
The number of Kyivstar subscribers who traveled abroad during the Dec. 24-Jan. 10 holiday season was down 81% yoy, reports Ilya Polshakov, New Business Director for Kyivstar, Ukraine’s largest mobile phone company. According to the company, the top five destinations were: Egypt, Turkey, Poland, Moldova and Romania. Dropped from the 2019 top five were two EU countries largely closed this winter to Ukrainian tourists: Germany and the Czech Republic and Germany. Polshakov studied the domestic and international travel patterns of 300,000 Kyivstar SIM card holders during the holiday period.
One year after coronavirus controls shut down air travel, the Infrastructure Ministry wants to give $18 million in tax and airport rent relief to the four Ukrainian airlines that carried evacuation flights last year. With jets flying largely empty one-way, a total of 170 evacuation flights were carried out by: Azur Air Ukraine, SkyUp, UIA and Windrose. are involved in.
On March 28, Mykolaiv airport wins back its lone scheduled flight, a Windrose Airlines flight to Kyiv. On March 1, Windrose resumes its charter flights from Mykolaiv to Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.
For summer travel, Pegasus Airlines will launch six routes from Ukrainian cities to Turkish resort towns. With flights starting as early as April, the Turkish discount airline will fly from Kyiv Boryspil to Bodrum, Dalaman and Izmir. Pegasus also will fly to Bodrum from Kharkiv, Lviv and Zaporizhia.
SkyUp, Ukraine’s largest discount airline, started last year with double the fleet – all Boeing 737s – but carried only 1.2 million passengers, half its forecast. Despite a bad year, the airline retained most of its staff and is holding to its 5-year plan: add 5 to 7 new jets, open new bases and win 50% of Ukraine’s air passenger market.
This spring, SkyUp starts service from Kyiv Boryspil to two Polish cities popular with Ukrainian workers: Katowice and Lodz. At the end of May, as the tourism season starts, SkyUp plans to start service from Kyiv to Hannover, Marseille, Malta and Nuremburg. Adding new cities and new countries in June, the airline announces: “We are preparing to start flying from Kyiv and the regions to Poland, Germany, Denmark, Jordan, Sweden, Serbia and the Netherlands.”