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Monday, April 5, 2021
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Editor’s Note:  From Brooklyn, my son William told yesterday that Manhattan clubs are re-opening their doors. Admission? A QR with your vaccination code. Biden is vaccinating 3 million people a day.  All three of my adult sons in the US now are vaccinated. In my home county, Berkshires, Mass., the Boston Symphony Orchestra will resume its summer music festival. Theater and ballet festivals are planning summer schedules. Here in Ukraine, all that is needed is 40 million vaccines and anti-vax attitudes will ebb. Here are the summer choices. Fly Wizz Air to Krakow for the weekend? Of go in a BlaBlaCar crammed with cranky anti-vaxxers? Suck a beer like a booby on a park bench? Or dance the night away in a club with scantily clad members of the opposite sex? Attitudes will evolve. Just bring in the vaccines. The Rada is taking a good step to ease out all-talk, no-action Health Minister Stepanov.  With Best Regards Jim Brooke

Monday, April 5, 2021
Ukraine scores on the low end for coronavirus deaths, compared to its EU neighbors Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania,

according to the Worldometer running tally of infections and deaths. A BBC Eastern Europe coronavirus roundup shows Ukraine far behind in vaccinations. Poland, Czech and Slovakia are near the EU average — 16 jabs for every 100 people. Hungary is at 29.5. Ukraine is at 0.6. Yesterday, Zelenskiy gave his government one week to draw up a plan to vaccinate most adults by the end of this year.

Monday, April 5, 2021
Kyiv starts an open-ended ‘hard lockdown today, with mass transit restricted to ‘critical workers’ with special passes.

The lockdown – the third in one year – comes as the city registers 1,000 new infections a day. At the end of last week, Ukraine was registering a record 20,000 new infections daily and 5,000 new hospitalizations. Iryna Ozymok, of Western NIS, wrote Thursday in an Atlantic Council blog:  “With little sign of any vaccine breakthroughs on the horizon, Ukraine looks set for many more months of coronavirus lockdown restrictions.”

Monday, April 5, 2021
The National Security and Defense Council has purged 100 customs officials, frozen the assets of the nation’s “top 10” smugglers

and 68 of their companies, and is preparing laws to criminalize “inaccurate customs declarations,” the President said in his speech on Friday. Behind the drive is an estimate that smuggling costs the treasury $10 billion a year in lost import duties. “This is economic terrorism against Ukraine,” Zelenskiy said, referring to the lost revenue. “The fight against smuggling will be continued. Today it is the top 10, but it certainly not be the last.”

Monday, April 5, 2021
After a week of Russian troop movements and aggressive statements toward Ukraine, President Biden called President Zelenskiy Friday

and for a 45-minute discussion. Later, Zelenskiy said in a public address: “We enjoy the full and unwavering support of international partners, including Europe and the United States. Proof of that is the conversation I had today with President of the United States Joe Biden. We discussed the situation in Donbas in detail. President Biden assured me that Ukraine would never be left alone against Russian aggression.”

Monday, April 5, 2021
London-based VR Capital is investing €75 million to buy three wind power plants with a total design capacity of 49.5 MW in Odesa’s Bessarabia region.

 The seller, Metropoliya Group, is to continue technical support of the projects until they enter commercial operation next year, VR Capital said Thursday. In addition, VR’s Elementum Energy Ukraine is building a 100 MW wind farm in a different part of the Odesa region. Elementum owns 28 solar stations with a total capacity of 536 MW.

Monday, April 5, 2021
The World Bank is discussing a $200 million loan for improving IT higher education

, the Finance Ministry wrote on Facebook. The funds will be spent on computers and to tailoring university curricula to real world employer needs. The Digital Transformation Ministry has set a goal of doubling the number of Ukrainian IT specialists, to 500,000 by 2024.

Monday, April 5, 2021
The government’s ‘Big Construction’ program will invest in infrastructure for four industrial parks this year,

 Oleksiy Chernyshov, Minister for Community and Territorial Development, says according the government website. The announcement came at a meeting with Dragon Capital, which is building two industrial parks. The Ministry will spend almost $3 million this year on industrial parks, 10 times the amount spent in the last five years. By definition, an industrial park can contain factories, ports, warehouses.

Monday, April 5, 2021
“In the food & agriculture segment, higher prices have been offset by lower volumes, resulting in a 3.3% yoy total decrease in exports,”

 writes Oleksiy Blinov, Alfa’s research head. “Sunflower volume exports are up only 1.5% yoy in March, but the export price has more than doubled.” Similarly, higher grain export prices have compensated for a 23% yoy drop in grain export volumes.

Monday, April 5, 2021
High steel and iron ore prices account for most of the 27% yoy jump in Ukraine’s exports of goods in March,

wrote Alfa-Bank Ukraine. Steel export revenues were up 75% yoy and iron ore revenues were up 99% yoy. UkrMetalurgProm, the industry association, reported that in March the steel billet average export price was up 73% yoy and the rebar price was up 70%.

Monday, April 5, 2021
During the first quarter of Brexit, Ukraine’s exports to the UK increased by 38% yoy, with IT services emerging as the top sector,

said Vadym Prystiako, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Britain during the Ukrainian Prism discussion.At this rate, Britain will become one of our main trade partners by the end of this year,” he said. Noting that the Britain is now one of the top five consumers of Ukrainian services, he added: “IT is now greater than the traditional groups, such as metal, agricultural products, oil.” On December 16 2021, two weeks before Brexit went into effect, the Rada ratified a new Free Trade and Strategic Partnership between Ukraine and the UK.

Monday, April 5, 2021
Next week, a Ukrainian trade mission will visit South Africa, the second largest economy in Africa, after Nigeria,

Lyubov Abdravitova, Ukraine’s Ambassador to South Africa, announced at the Ukrainian Prism conference. Trade Representative Taras Kachka will lead the mission, which runs from April 13 to 18, 2021. The last high level Ukrainian visit, by a foreign minister to the region, took place 20 years ago.

Monday, April 5, 2021
With the world’s third largest natural gas reserves, after Russia and Iran, Qatar is looking at the Ukrainian market as a customer

 – either pipeline gas through LNG terminals in Croatia and Greece, or through eventual delivery of LNG through Turkey’s planned Istanbul Canal. Today the talks will touch on gas supply, joint investments in gas exploration in Ukraine and investment in infrastructure concession projects, Presidential Economic Advisor Tymofiy Milovanov told Ukrinform.

Monday, April 5, 2021
Food exports and investment in food processing, irrigation and port logistics will be the topics for discussion today

with Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and Prime Minister, Khalid bin Khalifa Al Thani, Agriculture Minister Roman Leshchenko told Ukrinform. In advance, talks have already taken place with Hassad Food, the agricultural investment arm of the Qatar Investment Authority. From its base in Doha, Hassan has invested $500 million in India for the production of rice and coffee and $500 million in Australia for the production of wheat and sheep.

Monday, April 5, 2021
Today President Zelenskiy will travel to Qatar, the gas-rich, agriculture-poor Gulf State.

 It will be Zelenskiy’s second trip to the Gulf in two months, following a visit in February to Qatar’s eastern neighbor, the United Arab Emirates. Referring to a country with an economy the size of Ukraine’s but with only 2.8 million people, Presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolia told Ukrinform that Qatar “is one of the richest and most influential countries on the planet.”

Tuesday, April 6, 2021
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Editor’s Note: In Joe Biden, Vladimir Putin meets his ‘starshyy’ – his senior. Biden was elected to the US Senate in the fall of 1972, when 20-year-old Putin was a second-year law student at Leningrad State University. For the next half century, Biden went on to watch Russia and to deal with the Kremlin — either on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee or as Vice President. This spring, Putin is using his old playbook – testing a new US President early in his term. But Putin is used to dealing with neophyte US presidents with limited Washington experience: George W. Bush was governor of Texas; Barrack Obama served only half a US senate term. Donald Trump was a businessman/entertainer. Biden comes in knowing more than where the wash rooms are in the White House. He knows Washington’s levers of power — and how to use them. Only 75 days after his inauguration, 3 million Americans are being vaccinated every day – 10 times the rate of Russia. In Ukraine, Putin is again playing brinkmanship. But the new US president and his team who know how to play the game. Of all the Russia-Ukraine-US quotes that came out last week, the most telling was to David Ignatius of The Washington Post from ‘a senior Biden official’: “We are not looking to reset our relations with Russia nor to escalate. Our goal is to impose costs for actions we consider unacceptable, while seeking stability, predictability, turning down the temperature…If they’re inclined to turn the temperature up, we’re ready for that.” With Best Regards Jim Brooke

Tuesday, April 6, 2021
UIA resumes regular flights in June from Kyiv Boryspil to Batumi, Delhi, Jeddah, Nice, and Rome,

 according to the airline’s new summer schedule. Frequencies increase to Istanbul, Tel Aviv, and London’s two main airports, Heathrow, and Gatwick. Missing are flights to North America. UIA says it is postponing its relaunch of flights to New York and Toronto in the ‘3rd quarter’ – sometime in the July 1-Sept. 30 period.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021
Kyiv’s new lockdown has caused massive traffic jams yesterday morning, leading to traffic gridlock in westbound lanes on the four bridges across the Dnipro,

delaying access to and from Kyiv Boryspil Airport. The Metro is to run during the 2-week lockdown, but access is limited to about 600,000 people working in ‘critical’ jobs. In addition to health care, these sectors include energy, chemical industry, transport, banking, telecommunications, food, and utilities. Employers are asked to shift to remote work as much as possible.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021
Ukraine’s restaurants and cafés lost almost 30% of their revenue last year, falling to about $500 million,

the analytical group Restaurant of Ukraine reported on Facebook. The number of restaurants, cafes and bars fell by 21%, to 14,786.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021
Lemtrans, owner of Ukraine’s largest private rail car fleet, is investing $15 million to create a logistics hub at Mostyska,

 Ukraine’s Lviv region border town with Poland. By the end of this year, this ‘Dry Port’ will allow shippers to switch container between trains on Soviet gauge tracks and trains on EU gauge tracks. Referring to the growth of freight train traffic from China, Lemtrans General Director Vladimir Mezentsev told Interfax-Ukraine: “Such a project can give an impetus to the development of the entire industry of freight rail transportation in Ukraine.”

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