Chinese container trains now arrive at Kyiv at the pace of one a week, reports Ukrzaliznytsia. Traveling 9,000 km from Nanchang in 15 days, the latest train arrived Saturday at Kyiv’s left bank Liski freight depot. Its 41 containers carried mineral fertilizers, lamps, bulbs, medical cargo and chemical components for filtering water. With three more container trains due to arrive this month, Ukrzaliznytsia is booking return freight of Ukrainian goods for China.
Ukraine exports of corn, wheat, and barley will drop around 9% yoy, to 51 million tons, in the current marketing season, predicts Grainmart, India’s first Grain Trading B2B online marketplace. Based near New Delhi, Grainmart draws on figures from the Ukrainian Grain Association.
“Has Vladimir Putin Poisoned His Pet Pipeline Project?” Diane Francis, an opponent of the gas line, asks in an Atlantic Council Ukraine blog.
A Chinese state company is discussing building a massive Black Sea grain terminal that could handle 5 million tons a year, the equivalent of 10% of Ukraine’s corn and wheat exports. Yesterday, representatives of China Road Construction Corporation International Investment met with executives of Pivdennyi port, Ukraine’s deepest and busiest port. The project would represent a big expansion for Pivdennyi, located 45 km east of Odesa. Last month, iron ore accounted for 86% of the 1.5 million tons of cargo
Ukraine seeks Chinese investment in industrial parks specializing in processing, storing and transshipping food, Olga Stefanishyna, deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, yesterday told China’s new ambassador to Ukraine, Fan Xianrong. Ukraine wants to increase food exports to China, and to use Chinese free ports to export to Pacific Basin countries, she said, reports the Cabinet of Ministers website. “To intensify cooperation,” her Ministry is establishing a working group with the Chinese embassy.
Through August, Ukraine’s seaports handled 5% more cargo than during the same period last year, reports the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority. The 106 million tons of cargo breaks down as follows : exports +5.4%, to 81 million tons; imports +1%, to 16 million tons; transit +4.6%, to 7.3 million tons; cabotage +31%, to 1.6 million tons. The two main export product were nearly even: grain – 30.7 million tons; and metal ore – 30.2 million tons. Pig iron exports jumped
Ukraine’s top five ports handled 91.5% of the nation’s cargo during the first eight months of this year, reports the Sea Ports Authority. Pivdennyi once again was the most dynamic, with its cargo levels growing by 25% yoy, to handle 42 million tons, or 40% of the nation’s total. This growth was at the expense of Ukraine’s next three busiest ports: Mykolaiv -10%, to 19.2 million tons; Odesa -7%, to 15.6 million tons; and Chornomorsk -1%, to 15.4 million tons.
Ukraine’s exports are recovering from last spring’s corona-recession. August exports were down only 1.6% yoy, “which in the context of a pandemic sounds like fantasy,” Taras Kachka, deputy minister of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture, writes on Facebook. “International trade is recovering at a much faster pace than after the 2008 crisis.” For the first eight months of the year, exports are down 6.6%, to $31 billion. With imports down by 12.4%, the trade deficit through August is $1.3 billion,
Two years after Saudi investors bought Ukraine’s troubled Mriya Agro Holding, a shipment of 60,000 tons of Ukrainian wheat is on its way to Saudi Arabia. In the first such shipment to Saudi Arabia in 12 years, a Panamax carrying Ukrainian grain from Chornomorsk arrives Sept. 17. In 2018, Saudi Agricultural Investment and Livestock Company, or Salic, bought Mriya and merged it with its existing Ukraine farms under an umbrella company, Ukrainian Continental Farmers Group. Georg von Nolcken, general director
Poisoned Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny has improved, doctors treating him in Berlin say. He is out of a medically-induced coma, is being weaned off a ventilator, and “is responding to verbal stimuli,” the doctors say at Charité, the Berlin hospital where he is being treated. Germany’s government has asked Russia’s government to explain why Navalny was poisoned with a military grade poison. Reaffirmed yesterday, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s position is that Kremlin noncompliance with an investigation could force Germany to
Germany May Not Even Need the Nord Stream Pipeline Right Now, headlines a Bloomberg analysis from Berlin. “Europe is flooded with gas and demand is likely to remain stable,” reads the energy market analysis. “With storage sites in Europe almost full, the European benchmark contract has more than halved since its peak in 2018.” With the rise of wind and solar and increasing energy efficiencies, Europe’s gas demand is to remain flat for the next five years, predicts the International
Ukraine’s natural gas imports jumped 67% yoy in August, as EU gas traders filled Ukraine’s gas storage reservoirs to a record 84% of capacity. Traders store their gas in Ukraine, waiting for the traditional autumn rise in prices as Europe prepares for winter. For its own use, Ukraine’s Naftogaz had 26 billion cubic meters in storage on Saturday, 39% more than one year earlier.
Mikheil Saakashvili was chosen yesterday to lead an 11-party opposition coalition in Georgia’s Oct. 31 parliamentary elections. If the coalition wins, the former Georgian president would become prime minister. If the coalition loses, Saakashvili presumably would return to his Kyiv job: chairman of Ukraine’s National Reform Council. Levan Varshalomidze, former governor of Batumi and a longtime ally of Saakashvili, also took a sabbatical last week from his Ukraine job, board chairman of UkraineInvest.
Traffic at Boryspil was down 60% yoy in August, to 656,029 passengers, reports the Center for Transportation Strategies. Traffic on charter flights was down by only 9%, indicating that Kyiv residents cling to their package tours to Egypt and Turkey. By contrast, traffic on regular flights – largely to the EU and North America – was down by 78%. Traffic is expected to be even worse in September because the government has closed Ukraine to most foreign visitors for the
With Navalny lying in an induced coma in Berlin’s Charité Hospital, a 10-minute walk from the Bundestag, the mood inside Germany’s parliament building has turned sharply against the Kremlin.
“The EU should jointly decide to stop Nord Stream,” tweeted Norbert Roettgen, Head of the Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs Committee and a candidate to head Merkel’s Christian Democratic party. “The only language that Putin understands is the language of natural gas.”
Nils Schmid, foreign policy spokesman for the SPD, a junior partner in the Merkel coalition, said: “We need to make it clear that all talk of a strategic partnership with Russia is now over.”
Christian Lindner, leader of the liberal FDP party, said: “A regime that organizes murders by poisoning is no partner for big cooperative projects — and that includes pipeline projects.”
Katrin Göring-Eckardt, leader of the Greens in parliament, said: “Nord Stream 2 is no longer something we, together with Russia, can press ahead with.”
While Germans wait for Merkel’s move, Bild, Germany’s best-selling newspaper, calls on the Chancellor to “stop Putin’s pipeline.”
We will challenge this decision,” Petr Krumphanzl, a Czech banker who is Board Chairman of PrivatBank, told Ukrinform. We will continue to seek justice for PrivatBank and Ukrainian taxpayers who are the bank’s ultimate shareholders.”
Alexander Danilyuk, Finance Minister at the time of the nationalization, warned on Facebook yesterday: “This is the beginning of the collapse of the results of the nationalization of PrivatBank.” He warned that if the lawsuits are not stopped, they could cost Ukraine’s government billions of dollars.
The Cabinet of Ministers has approved a strategy for steadily reducing the state share in Ukrainian banking, from 60% today, to below 25% in 2025. By the end of next year, all four state banks are to draw up road maps for the sale of public shares.
Now, Tim Ash and others are having second thoughts. He writes from London: “The reality is dawning that pressure to make management changes at the NBU was never really about monetary and exchange rate policy, but rather the durability of banking reform. The real battleground remains Privatbank. I think we got another hard lesson in that last night with the Surkis ruling.”
The Finance Ministry sold the Hryvnia equivalent of $102 million in bonds at this week’s auction – three times the borrowings of last week. The only bill that sold – a 13-month bond – went with a weighted average interest rate of 9.29%.
UIA is scheduling a direct Kyiv Boryspil – New York JFK – Kyiv Boryspil flight next Wednesday. With a one-way fare of $482, the Boeing leaves Kyiv at noon on Sept. 9. After a 2-hour turnaround in New York, the plane takes off again for Ukraine, leaving at 5:45 pm New York time. Tickets can only be bought through the UIA site.
Political pressure is mounting on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to freeze or drop the Russia-Germany Nord Stream II pipeline project, according to Bloomberg and The Financial Times reports from Berlin. The game changer was a report by a German military laboratory Tuesday that said Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned Aug. 20 by Novichok, the same restricted use, military-grade nerve agent used by Russian agents in Britain in 2018.
At stake is a $9.5 billion, 1,222 km, trans-Baltic pipeline designed to take gas directly from Russia to Germany. Capable of carrying 55 billion cubic meters of gas a year, this is designed to end Russia’s dependence on Ukraine’s Gas Transportation System. From 2021 to 2024, Gazprom is contracted send 40 bcm year through Ukraine, earning Ukraine about $1.5 billion a year.
In Ukraine, Germany’s Ambassador Anka Feldhusen joined her G-7 counterparts yesterday to lobby Prime Minister Shmygal to defend PrivatBank against attempts to reverse the 2016 nationalization of the Ukraine’s largest bank. With EU and IMF support, $5.5 billion was injected into the bank in 2017, filling a hole left by what forensic auditors have called an orgy of insider lending and theft.
On Tuesday, a Kyiv court ruled that PrivatBank should pay $350 million – principal and interest – for deposits of six British companies owned by Ihor and Hryhoriy Surkis, two brothers who were business associates of PrivatBank’s former owners, Ihor Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Boholyubov. PrivatBank lawyers said yesterday they will appeal, arguing that the brothers were related parties to the mismanagement of the bank. The Surkis and other depositors have filed hundreds of lawsuits suing for $1.2 billion.
“One of the biggest transgressions in the history of the judicial power of Ukraine took place today,” Justice Minister Denis Malyuska wrote on Facebook. Noting that the judge’s name Vovk, also means ‘wolf’, he illustrated his complaint with a cartoon of a gray wolf happily carrying away a big bag of loot.
The Finance Ministry reported that Ukraine’s state-owned banks wrote off $1 billion worth of non-performing loans at the expense of reserves during the first half of this year. For state banks, non-performing loans account for 63% of their loan portfolios. As of July 1, there are 57,000 outstanding claims by state banks in courts to reclaim $1.4 billion in assets.
Almost overlooked in the furor of the Surkis case, Ukraine’s central bank met expectations yesterday and kept the prime lending rate at 6%. Dmitry Sologub, a deputy governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, predicted to reporters yesterday: “We expect the interest rate to remain at 6% by the end of the year.” Two months ago, when President Zelenskiy installed his candidate, Kyrylo Shevchenko, a central bank governor, many analysts thought the shakeup was made to lower interest rates this
The central bank “expects an IMF [review] mission in the near future and plans to receive more money from the IMF by the end of the year,” Shevchenko, the Bank Governor told reporters yesterday. Ash reacted: “Very optimistic in my view given backtracking on banking reform and anti-corruption agenda. I cannot see an IMF mission before local elections in October.”
Three months after the end of Kyiv’s full corona lockdown, daily metro ridership is about one million, down by one third from the pre-lockdown volume 1.5 million. Normally, the Kyiv’s subway system earns $10 million a month. Due to the spring lockdown and today’s week ridership, the Metro may run out of money to pay salaries next month, the transit system reports in an appeal to the Kyiv City Council for more money.
The biggest drops this year are on Ukraine’s southern route to Moldova and Romania. On this ‘trans-Balkan route,’ gas shipments are down 73%, to 2.3 bcm for the first eight months. The game changer was the Jan. 8 opening of Turkish Stream. This line brings Russian gas up from the south, skirting Ukraine.
Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority is the biggest shareholder in Glencore. Two weeks ago, QTerminals, Qatar’s multinational port operator, signed a concession agreement to run Mykolaiv’s Olvia port, 15 km down river from the Everi terminal. Qatar Investment Authority is not a shareholder in QTerminals.
Starting this month, up to €120 million in loan money for rural infrastructure, including irrigation, is available for small and medium farmers in southern Kherson region. The money is part of a larger, €400 million rural lending facility extended to the area by the European Investment Bank, reports Stefan Rosenow, team leader for the project. Separately, the EBRD is working with the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources to modernize irrigation systems of the lower Dniester in Odesa region.
Signaling the end of an era, the volume of Russian gas crossing Ukraine on the Soviet-era pipeline system is down 42% compared to the same January-August period last year. Under the Dec. 30 contract, Russia’s Gazprom committed to shipping 65 billion cubic meters across Ukraine, down from the 2019 level of 89.6 bcm. Gazprom is paying full freight, but it is only shipping 80% of booked capacity. Under the contract, Gazprom will ship even less starting next year — 40
As Europe’s pipelines become increasingly inter-connected, ERU Trading, an American company, sent a test gas shipment in July from Revithoussa, Greece’s LNG terminal, on the Aegean Sea, through Romania to Ukraine. Hailing the possibilities of “the new gas transmission corridor Greece-Romania-Ukraine,” Yaroslav Mudryy, managing partner of ERU Trading, said: “Traditionally, gas and oil are exported from the East to the West, but our partners are interested in a new, unconventional approach.”
As part of this newly liberalized market, 72 traders – a mix of European and Ukrainian companies – parked a total of 8.2 bcm of gas in Ukrainian reservoirs this summer, waiting for the annual rise in prices in the fall. With 65% of gas coming into western Ukraine this summer going into storage for further transit, Serhiy Makogon, general director of Ukraine’s Gas Transit System Operator, said: “This means that Ukraine is geopolitically and economically an interesting and profitable
Well prepared for the winter heating season, Naftogaz has stored 25.6 bcm of its own gas, 39% more than this time last year. By the Nov. 1 start of the heating season, Naftogaz may have a record 28 bcm in storage, 29% more than last year, Nafotgaz CEO Andriy Kobolev said Tuesday on Ukraina 24 TV. In last winter’s 4-month heating season, Ukraine consumed only 6 bcm.
President Zelenskiy has called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to congratulate him on the discovery of a large natural gas field in Turkish waters off the Black Sea coast. Erdogan estimates the field at 320 bcm. This is the equivalent of 10 years of Turkey’s gas imports and 30 years of Ukraine’s imports. After the Turkish drilling ship, Fatih, made the discovery last month, Erdogan promised to start developing the field immediately.
Turkey and Ukraine are creating “a strategic alliance” for defense production, Oleh Urusky, Ukraine’s Strategic Industries Minister, tells Ukrinform. In late August, Urusky led a group that toured Turkish defense factories, met with defense industry leaders and met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “We are actively moving towards a strategic alliance — aircraft construction, armor production, missile construction, electronic warfare, instrument making (opto-electronics) and engine building,” Urusky told Ukraine’s state-owned news agency. One project could be joint development of
Glencore, the agricultural commodities giant, has bought Everi, one of Ukraine’s largest vegetable oil export terminals. Built a decade ago in Mykolaiv, Everi was expanded in 2018 to have tanks capable of holding 160,000 tons and a pumping capacity of 1.5 million tons of oil into seagoing ships for export. From the Netherlands, Glencore Agriculture Limited CEO David Mattiske said of the purchase from Orexim: “This acquisition reinforces our long term commitment to the agriculture sector in Ukraine.”
Dry weather and drought, especially in southern Ukraine, will cut this year’s grain harvest by 7 million tons, or 9% below last year’s bumper harvest of 75 million tons, Prime Minister Shmygal told the Cabinet yesterday. The ongoing corn harvest is coming in 1 million tons short. With corn expected to fall to 35 million tons, the Ukrainian Grain Association forecasts the nation’s total grain and oilseeds harvest will be 95.6 million tons, the second largest in Ukraine’s history. Exports
Next year the government plans to channel “Big Construction” spending into “the creation of irrigation systems in the southern regions of Ukraine,” Prime Minister Shmygal told the Cabinet yesterday. “Such systems should increase yields and protect farmers from adverse weather conditions.” With temperatures rising in southern Ukraine, President Zelenskiy has called for rebuilding Soviet-era irrigation systems and creating new ones. The government estimates the drought cost Odesa farmers $235 million in lost crop receipts.
Today, the National Bank of Ukraine is likely to keep the prime interest rate at the current level of 6%, indicate separate polls of economists and bankers by Reuters and Interfax Ukraine. With a 5.9% increase in the minimum wage approved Tuesday by the Rada, analysts predict annual inflation will double, to 4.9% in December. Many forecasts “point to a significant acceleration of inflation over the horizon of 6-9 months,” Oleksiy Blinov of Alfa-Bank Ukraine tells Reuters. “This indicates a
Concorde Capital’s Alexander Paraschiy writes: “The Antimonopoly Committee has been trying to avoid any decision on the Skyrizon / Motor Sich deal for about three years, and its latest move indicates it is trying to continue postponing the solution for as long as possible…such uncertainty might be harmful for Motor Sich’s future as a going concern.”
Concorde Capital’s Alexander Paraschiy writes Monday: “It looks like there is a high chance for Sytnyk to remain at his position till the end of his seven-year term, which expires in spring 2022.”
Bonanza for TV stations and billboard owners: The Central Election Commission announces that campaigns for mayors and city councils officially start this Saturday. With the coronavirus pandemic ruling out large gatherings, advertising is expected to play a central role in campaigning leading up the Oct. 25 vote.
Ryanair, Europe’s largest low cost carrier, has canceled almost all its flights to Ukraine for the second half of September, the airline’s booking system shows, reports Evropeiska Pravda. With 52 routes from Ukraine to EU cities, Ryanair is moving preemptively ahead of EU regulations that require full repayment for tickets for flight cancelled within two weeks of travel dates. Ryanair’s booking system shows only a handful of flights between Kyiv Boryspil and Cyprus, Spain and the UK. There are no
UIA, Ukraine’s largest carrier, has cancelled or reduced frequencies for a long list of flights. Signaling that it believes that the ban on most foreign visitors will last until the Oct. 25 local elections, UIA is cutting its flight program through Oct. 24. Compared to the planned schedule, UIA seem to cut about half of its seats in and out of Ukraine this fall.
Kyiv hotel owners and tour guides protested last Friday outside the Cabinet of Ministers saying the new one-month ban on most foreigners entering Ukraine is a heavy blow to tourism, an industry which has struggled since the first Covid lockdown in mid-March. One Kyiv hotel owner told the UBN that he knows of three business groups that cancelled their trips to Ukraine this month. Inside the government building, a senior official said that legitimate business people arriving at Boryspil this
Prime Minister Shmygal expects that within one month Ukraine’s Covid-19 cases will be 50% higher than today. “Today we have from 2,000 to 2,500 new cases of the disease every day,” he told 1+1 television channel yesterday. “By the end of September and early October, this figure will rise to 3,000 patients every day. This will load hospitals by more than 80%.” Government officials are talking about test trials for a vaccine in November and mass vaccinations in March. It
Ducking the issue: Ukraine’s Antimonopoly Committee has declined to consider an application by Kharkiv’s DCH Group to purchase Motor Sich shares from China’s Skyrizon to run the Zaporizhia aircraft engine factory as a Chinese-Ukraine joint venture. The decision was made public yesterday, five days after US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo called President Zelenskiy and warned about “malign” Chinese investment. DCH, which also makes tractors, complained that the Committee’s requested information “not related to the core business” of the jet
Kyiv’s Antonov is negotiating joint production with Turkey of its short range An-178 military cargo jets, reports Turkey’s Daily Sabah, a pro-government daily. Oleksandr Los, Antonov’s new CEO, visited Turkey last month for talks. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tells CNN Türk that both governments “want to start more daring projects. Projects where Turkish and Ukrainian technologies are used together. These will be competitive projects in the global sense.”
Turkey’s new import tariffs on 115 goods are spurring Turkey and Ukraine to restart talks for a Free Trade Agreement. The two economy ministers, Ruhsar Pekcan for Turkey, and Igor Petrashko, for Ukraine talked week. Taras Kachka, deputy economy minister, writes on Facebook that he will travel to Ankara in coming days to advance talks. Two weeks ago, Turkey hiked tariffs by 15 to 20% for the goods that are non-EU.
In a key anti-corruption case watched by the IMF, Artem Sytnyk insists he is still director of the National Anticorruption Bureau, NABU. Last Thursday, days after NABU released audio recordings where judges appeared to discuss corruption plots involving including rulings Constitutional Court rulings, the Court ruled that President Poroshenko violated the Constitution five years ago, when he appointed Sytnyk as NABU director. Although President Zelenskiy now calls Sytnyk ‘acting director,’ legal experts say Sytnyk can only be removed by a Rada
The Constitutional Court acted in response to a petition by 51 MPs, many of the same pro-Kremlin or pro-Kolomoiskiy Rada members, who successfully asked the Court to open five proceedings aimed at Ukrainian anti-corruption legislation, Tetiana Shevchuk, legal counsel at Ukraine’s Anti-Corruption Action Center, writes in a new Atlantic Council essay: “Pro-Kremlin MPs and Oligarchs Wage Lawfare on Ukraine’s Reform Agenda.” She writes of the Court decision on NABU’d director: “Anti-corruption activists fear the decision could now pave the way
Former Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk joins the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center as a distinguished fellow, the Washington-based organization tweets. The youngest prime minister in Ukraine’s history, Honcharuk, then aged 35, led the government during the first six months of President Zelenskiy’s five-year term. Zelenskiy dropped Honcharuk on March 4 as part of a wider purge of the cabinet.
Kurt Volker, who served until last September as the State Department’s Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, joined BGS Rail yesterday as an independent board member of the Kyiv-based car leasing company. Volker also will advise the chairman and board of directors of BGS’ parent company, Avia Solutions Group, a company of Lithuanian origins. In Ukraine, BGS, or Baltic Ground Services, has 3,000 wagons for transporting coal, iron ore and grain. Volker said in an Avia press release: “By working with
Starting Tuesday, Ukrainians can only enter Belarus with a foreign passport, reminds Ukraine’s Border Guard Service. A similar rule went into effect six months ago for travel to Russia. The government is trying to phase out the domestic passport paper booklets, which are easy to counterfeit.
Japanese-owned tech company Rakuten Viber has closed its office last week in Minsk. San Francisco-based Rakuten CEO Djamel Agaoua cited violence against employees in Minsk. Kharkiv and other Ukrainian IT centers are recruiting Belarusian developers to move to Ukraine.
So far this year, one million cases of cyber threats — website attacks, DDoS attacks, phishing and malicious software – have been recorded by the National Coordination Center for Cybersecurity, a unit of the Defense Council. To respond to threats and prevent attacks, the Center is stepping up cooperation with private sector companies. Last month, it signed cooperation agreements with three dozen private foreign and Ukrainian companies.
The Zelenskiy government is tripling the number of state companies protected from privatization – to 659. The Cabinet of Ministers approved the new list Wednesday. It will now go to the Rada. Last year, the Rada abolished a similar list of over 1,000 companied exempt from privatization.
In Tbilisi, Thea Tsulukiani, Georgia’s Justice Minister since 2012, promised to prepare a jail cell for the former president. In 2018, Saakashvili was convicted in absentia in two trials on charges stemming from his decade in office, from 2004 to 2013. The sentences handed down by Tbilisi City Court total nine years. Saakashvili and his supporters say the trials were politically motivated.
Zelenskiy also asks European leaders to spell out the steps for Ukraine to join the EU. “I asked many European leaders this question – what do you want Ukrainians to do, step by step, to become an EU member?” he said in the interview posted Tuesday. Calling on Ukraine to speed up adoption of EU norms, he said: “We just have to become the country that Europe really would want.”
The standoff between Belarus’ long-running ruler and mass opposition may soon cripple the finances of Ukraine’s northern neighbor and fourth largest trading partner. In the last week, the Belarusian ruble weakened by 8.5%, falling to 2.67 to the dollar. Belarus’ foreign currency reserves are down to $4.3 billion –“sufficient to cover just 1.4 months of imports, while three months is considered the minimum,” economist Anders Aslund writes in a new Atlantic Council piece: “Belarus Crisis: Can Lukashenka Survive a Collapsing
Strikes are affecting three of four key state companies — fertilizer makers Belaruskali and Grodno Azot and oil refineries Naftan and Mozyr. They account for two thirds of Belarus’ exports to the West. “A prolonged strike at any of these four state-owned companies would collapse Belarusian export revenues and the Belarusian ruble, bringing Lukashenko to his knees,” writes Aslund, a Swedish-American economist with three decades experience in the ex-USSR. “If the currency collapses, the real strife will start.”
Ukraine is Belarus’ second largest trading partner, after Russia, Dmitry Chervyakov, a consultant with Berlin Economics, tells the Kyiv Post. Last year, Belarus exported $4.1 billion in goods to Ukraine and imported $1.7 billion. Ukraine bought four million tons of diesel and bitumen from Belarus for $2.4 billion and fertilizers for $300 million, largely from Belaruskali, the potash producer. Many of Belarus’ imports from Ukraine are transshipped to Russia to skirt bilateral Russia-Ukraine trade bans.
Lithuania is preparing to route Ukraine-bound trucks through eastern Poland if traffic disruptions start in Belarus, Yaroslav Narkevich, Lithuania’s Minister of Transport and Communications, tells Russian Railways Partner site. “We intend to discuss with Poland the option of returning our carriers through Poland, bypassing Belarus,” he said. “So far there is no need to redirect the flow of trucks, but we are ready for this.” On Aug. 5, four days before the disputed Belarus presidential election, Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers
Ukraine has “tightened control” at Ukraine-Belarus border crossings in wake of Lukashenko’s charges that Ukraine is trying to destabilize his regime. “We have tightened control at the border with Belarus, since the situation in this country is quite turbulent,” Border Guard spokesman Andriy Demchenko told RBK-Ukraine.
In an open letter signed by more than 2,500 Belarusian IT CEOs, investors and developers, democratic normalcy is essential for the future of the industry in Belarus. Otherwise, they warn: “In the near future, we will begin to observe a massive outflow of specialists abroad, the opening of offices in neighboring countries, a slowdown in the growth of the IT sector, a decrease in investment in Belarusian IT companies, and a decrease in tax revenues.”
The day before he was to fly to Ukraine, a former US Army Green Beret captain was arrested and accused Friday of spying for Russia for the last 15 years. Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins, aged 45, had repeated meeting with Russia’s G.RU., or military intelligence, according to the Alexandria, Virginia grand jury indictment posted by The New York Times. By 2010, the Washington Post reports, Debbins had left the Army and was working for a Ukrainian steel manufacturer in Minnesota.
Last spring, Debbins taught a webinar for Ukrainian-American Concordia University. He was billed as an instructor for Cyber Intelligence Initiative of Washington’s Institute for World Politics. The course was titled: “How to Approach Enterprise Cybersecurity!” In a congratulatory YouTube video, he urges graduates to have “a hacker’s mindset.”
Russia’s Gamaredon hacking group has prepared “a large coordinated attack on government agencies and critical infrastructure” by sending out email attachments infected with malware, Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council warned last week. The goal may be to disrupt the Oct. 25 local elections. Phony emails were made to look like messages from Ukraine’s State Security Service. Council Secretary Oleksiy Danylov warns: “Cyberthreats from the Russian Federation are extremely dangerous for both Ukraine and European countries.”
Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, a major free market force in the Zelenskiy government, announced yesterday that he is returning home to Georgia, reports Georgia Online. “I know that we can live much cooler, much better, and every Georgian can be rich, and we can do it together!” he says in a video. “I’m coming back!”
Appointed three months ago to serve as chairman of Ukraine’s National Reform Council, Saakashvili felt the push of anti-reformers in the Zelenskiy government and the lure of Oct. 31 parliamentary elections in Georgia. Responding to negative reactions, Saakashvili posted on Facebook: “Some of my Ukrainian friends mourn my ‘farewell’ to Ukraine. I want to tell them: heads up! We will fight both in Georgia and in Ukraine! We will win there and there!”
President Zelenskiy believes the current one-month-old ceasefire in the Donbas can be extended into a lasting peace by the end of this year. “I want to believe that it will be this year,” he tells Eurovnews’ Sasha Vakulina in a lengthy video interview. “I really want to believe it, and I DO believe, I do.”
Travel companies plan to protest today the ban on incoming foreign travelers. The 1-month ban goes into effect tonight at midnight. Chornobyl tour operators, organizers of medical tourism, the Business Travel Association and owners foreigner friendly night clubs, such as Skybar, Closer and River Port, plan to gather outside the Cabinet of Ministers. Using the hashtag #OpenUkraineNow to coordinate the protest, the Association of Incoming Tour Operators says that after temperature controls started two months ago at airports, there are
Kyiv Boryspil, Ukraine’s busiest airport, is installing this week a $37,000 temperature screening system that allows border guards to identify passengers with fever systems as they walk past a stationary camera. “It enables instant, non-contact temperature measurement of passengers from a distance,” the State Border Service said of the EU-donated equipment.
Noting that foreigners currently account for 60% of UIA’s passengers, UIA said yesterday it is cancelling flights in September between Kyiv and Athens, Barcelona, Berlina, Chisinau, Delhi, Geneva and Madrid. It will reduce frequencies between Kyiv and Brussels, Dusseldorf, Dubai, Istanbul, Paris and Tel Aviv. UIA CEO Yevhen Dykhne says the government ban “will have a negative impact on the aviation industry of Ukraine, which in the absence of any other state support in the crisis caused by the global
Adamant Capital writes: “Although Ukraine is currently displaying the highest amount of new cases on record, it seems unlikely that restrictions similar to those that have been introduced at the start of the pandemic are going to be reinstalled any time soon…the 2Q20 real GDP figure (-11.4% YoY) has demonstrated quite clearly the cost of an even relatively light lockdown and suggests that repeating the same scenario may be politically unaffordable unless the health crisis becomes dire.”
Passenger transport volume was down 41% yoy in July, reports ICU. In cities, transport was at 70-80% of last year’s levels. But rail was 38% of 2019 levels and air was only 18% of July 2019.
Retail turnover was up 8.5% yoy in July. However, wholesale trade fell by 6% yoy after the surge by 12% yoy in June, according to ICU.
The Finance Ministry placed UAH 816 million ($29.8 million) in 3-month local currency bonds at 7% and $31 million in 12-month hard currency bonds at 3.5%.
Concorde Capital’s Evgeniya Akhtyrko writes of Tuesday’s weekly auction: “The local bond market is in its traditional summer vacation lethargy. However, there is no guarantee that the next month will bring much of a revival to the market. The government is likely to have difficulty in its attempts to increase UAH auction receipts while keeping interest rates at the current level, as most market players apparently find them too low.
Ukraine pays one of the highest electricity prices in Europe, according to the EU — €46.9 per MWh, while the European average was €33.5 per MWh. Countries paying the most are: Greece at €50 per MWh, Malta at €45 per MWh, Bulgaria €42 per MWh, Romania at €41 per MWh, Hungary and Poland €41 per MWh. The lowest are: Norway at €15 per MWh and Sweden at €17 per MWh.
Industrial output is down 4.8% yoy in July, according to the State Statistics Service. This represents a slight improvement from the 5.6% yoy drop recorded in June.
Food production is up 4.6% yoy in July, according to the State Statistics Service.
Ukrbud’s unfinished construction problems are “basically resolved,” said Interior Minister Arsen Avakov. “The issue of Ukrbud is practically resolved, and I thank the city authorities and our colleagues for that, we worked here, found investors… And the issue of Ukrbud is practically removed from the agenda, and I believe that the last houses will be adopted soon.”
Ukraine shuts its borders to foreign travelers for one month, starting tomorrow night at midnight. The major exceptions are: foreigners with Ukraine residence permits, diplomats, travelers in transit, students enrolling in universities, truck drivers and airline crews. The ban is designed to slow the spread of coronavirus, Prime Minister Shmyhal said yesterday after the weekly Cabinet of Ministers meeting. Starting Tuesday, the government bans discos, nightclubs and concerts in ‘green’ zones.
Ukraine’s Health Ministry has expanded its list of ‘red zone’ coronavirus countries to 65, adding Albania and Montenegro. Red zone countries have a 14-day infection rate higher than Ukraine’s level of 55/100,000 population. Travelers arriving from a red zone country must have full health insurance and undergo self-isolation until they test negative for the virus. The bilingual list can be found here.
With Ukraine’s schools scheduled to open on Tuesday, President Zelenskiy warned families to take precautions, noting that his 7-year-old son, Kyrylo, was hospitalized last month for coronavirus complications, along with his mother, Olena Zelenska. “No one is afraid of it until it reaches your family,” the president said. “I will speak plainly — this coronavirus is a real plague. There is no other word for it. My wife was affected, and so was my son.”
Law enforcement authorities in Chernivtsi, one of the country’s hardest hit red zones, decide to suspend the operation public transport, according to Ukrinform citing Deputy Mayor of Chernivtsi Dmytro. “Despite the decision taken by the city council, the police stopped and suspended public transport in Chernivtsi.”
Volodymyr Zhmak will be the new CEO of Ukrainian Railways, the nation’s largest employer and a major economic player, the Cabinet of Ministers announced yesterday. Zhmak was previously a member of the Supervisory Board of the Boryspil Airport and has served as Deputy Chairman of the Odessa Regional State Administration. He also worked as an advisor to the president of Kyivstar, the Ukrainian mobile telephone company.
Alfa-Bank Ukraine writes: “Retail trade provides a strong positive surprise in July. The sector accelerated to a growth of 8.5% y-o-y, already close to its pre-COVID trajectory. For comparison, we expected acceleration only to 3-4%…most of the unexpected boost was concentrated in the City of Kyiv, while many other regions indeed experienced less striking recovery in July…many residents of the capital stayed at home instead of spending abroad…This speculation is also supported by the fact that Odesa and Mykolaiv regions…were
Prime Minister Denis Shmygal pledges $328 million more for Ukraine’s “5-7-9% affordable loan program” to prop up small businesses, the head of government announced on Facebook. He writes: “Small business owners need affordable resources to support their own business during the crisis. At the same time, there are new opportunities, so UAH 1 billion was spent on investment needs. We expect that this year we will have 7, 9 and even more billion hryvnias issued in the form of affordable
President Zelenskiy pledges support for Yuzhmash, the state-owned machine-building company that manufactures products for defense, aviation, agriculture, thermal power, and space industries. Visiting his native Dnipropetrovsk region, the President said: “We are ready to do everything possible to make Yuzhmash a Ukrainian brand and return the attention of various Western investors interested in its products.”
Construction on Dnipro airport’s new 3,000 meter runway will start next month, President Zelenskiy said yesterday on a visit to the city. Reviewing the tender schedule, he said: “I am sure that by the end of September we will see work on the airport.” Alexander Bondarenko, head of Dnipropetrovsk regional administration, added that DCH, the Kharkiv-based group, also will start work next month at the airport, building a new terminal.
NBU board chairman Bohdan Danylyshyn says he thinks the disbursement of two tranches from the IMF in 2020 is unrealistic, Ukrinform reports. “Obviously, the baseline scenario of receiving two tranches by the end of this year – in September and December – is unrealistic. We can most likely expect the receipt of one tranche in the fourth quarter of 2020,” he says.
At the same time, Danylyshyn says “cooperation with the IMF will continue. Support from international partners remains one of the most important factors of macrofinancial stability in Ukraine. The planned revision of the program with the IMF, in my opinion, should be accompanied by a revision of the conceptual framework for cooperation and its focus on support for the national interests of Ukraine, not just international investors.”
The exact terms of the pandemic-relief loan have not yet been revealed, but previous EU liquidity programs were offered at 2% annual interest or lower to European Neighborhood Policy countries.
The €450 million in EIB financing covers:
Construction of a new northern motorway bypass in Lviv region. The bypass is expected to serve 20,000 vehicles a day and will connect Kyiv’s Chop international highway and the Lviv – Lutsk national road. It will connect Lviv to Rava Ruska, Lviv to Krakovets and Lviv to Shegyni international highway on the route from Ukraine to Poland.
Upgrade of a 314 km section of the M05 highway on the Kyiv-Odessa route. This is the main connection between Kyiv and the Black Sea ports and serves 10,000 to 25,000 vehicles daily.
Ukreximbank combined three instruments at once – a refinancing loan, an interest rate swap and purchase of securities. Metzger said: “This is the first market transaction of this magnitude.”
The Rada approves state guarantees on $183 million of loans made to small and medium-sized enterprises, according to the government. Should borrowers default, the government will be obligated to repay up to 80% of the principal on loans made to entrepreneurs by state-owned banks.
The central bank plans to regulate the debt collection market, the bank reports on Facebook. The National Bank of Ukraine says it received hundreds of complaints about shady debt collectors using unethical methods, including force. First Deputy Governor Kateryna Rozhkova says the central bank will create a public register of authorized collection companies.
The Cabinet of Ministers calls for some quarantine measures to be extended until November 1, according to the office of the president. Over 108,000 people in Ukraine are known to be infected with Covid-19. The most affected regions today are Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv and Ternopil.
“But quarantine must remain adaptive and un-burdensome for entrepreneurs,” Zelenskiy stressed. “Small and medium-sized businesses should be able to properly maneuver in the new conditions.”
The Rada ratifies a memorandum of understanding between Ukraine and the EU for €1.2 billion of pandemic-related financial assistance, according to the results of yesterday’s extraordinary session. The agreement is to be the largest tranche of EU funds directly disbursed to Ukraine, according to Prime Minister Shmygal.
The money is conditioned on the government’s pledge to ensure competitive selections for key positions, including the heads of Ukraine’s tax and customs agencies. Other conditions include dissolving the existing State Fiscal Service and creating a new agency to investigate economic and financial crimes.
Back in May, the European Parliament and Council decided to extend macro-financial credit assistance to European Neighborhood Policy countries. The ENP countries are Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, Occupied Palestinian Territory, Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine.
The Rada signs off on a European Investment Bank program worth €450 million to help Ukraine’s big road building program, according to the government. The Bank says: “The financing will increase safety and help modernize parts of the network included in the extended Trans-European Network for Transport (TEN-T), which links the country internationally and to the EU in particular.”
Ukreximbank signed an agreement with the State Roads Agency to purchase local currency bonds worth UAH 2.87 billion at 9.99%, the press service of the bank reports on Facebook. The state-owned bank raised funds for the purchase in the form of a refinancing loan from the National Bank of Ukraine, which was with a 3-year tenor and 6% interest rate. “Using a new instrument for the market, introduced by the NBU to stimulate investment and long-term lending, on August 19,
Capital investments are down by 345% ($2.56 billion) in the first half of 2020, compared to the same period last year, reports Liga Busines,s citing the State Statistics Service. Investment in agriculture decreased by 45.5%, in heavy industries by 32%, in construction by 23%, in trade by 32.5%, in transport by 54.4%. Investments in courier services were up 39% and telecoms by 10%.
The Rada authorizes the Ministry of Finance to issue more domestic local currency bonds (OVDPs) for the additional capitalization of the State Mortgage Agency to expand mortgage lending, reports Liga.net.
Yulia Tymoshenko, leader of Ukraine’s Fatherland party, is in serious condition after being hospitalized for Covid-19, r her press secretary Marina Soroka writes on Facebook. “Unfortunately, there is no good news now. Yulia’s condition remains difficult…Since last night, she has been receiving an intensive therapy course, according to the COVID treatment protocol.” She said Tymoshenko’s temperature hit to 39 degrees (102F). Segodnya Ukraine reports Tymoshenko is connected to a ventilator.
The government is in the process of developing regulations to ban citizens from “red zone” countries from entering Ukraine for 30 days, said the president. Globally, nearly 25 million people are confirmed to be infected with Covid-19, with the real number likely to be higher due to undertesting.
Zelenskiy suggests Ukraine should open up for Belarusians, given the increasing instability and continuing protests against President Lukashenko. “How can we ban Belarusians from entering, especially given the extremely tense domestic political situation in them? I think that it is necessary to reasonably prescribe easier conditions for Belarusians to enter us. This is a very delicate topic – everything must be taken into account.”
UIA will operate two Kyiv-New York-Kyiv flights – one next Monday and the other on Sept. 9. The jets leave Kyiv Boryspil in the morning, turnaround at New York’s JFK, and then take off again for Ukraine at 5:45 pm. The one-way fare is $482. Americans and residents of the United States have to undergo Covid tests on arrival in Boryspil and start 2-week self-isolation, until tests come back negative. Tickets can only be bought through the UIA website: https://www.flyuia.com/ua/en/home.
From the Editor: Alert reader Petro Rondiak, Board Manager of Winner Group, the new car importer, points out that that the latest numbers on car imports show that new car imports were up 15.9% yoy in July — and down only 2.2% for the first seven months of this year, compared to last year. Ukravtoprom, the automobile trade association, reports that used car imports were down 41% yoy for the first half of this year. For the first half of
Ukraine received in June a first $2.1 billion tranche of what is to be a $5 billion loan program.
Prime Minister Shmygal says he expects Ukraine will receive the second tranche by the end of this year. Some economic analysts say the IMF switched to observation mode after President Zelenskiy unexpectedly switched the central bank leadership within a month of getting the first IMF tranche.
International reserves reached a new high this month at $28.8 billion, according to the National Bank of Ukraine. Boosted by the IMF tranche, this is the highest level in eight years.
The government promises “a national program to support shipbuilding, cheaper credit resources,” Arakhamia said. Later on Friday, Oleh Uruskyi, Minister for Strategic Industries visited the Okean shipyard in Mykolaiv, reported the company website.
With the minimum monthly wage set to rise to $182 (UAH 5,000) next Tuesday, Zelenskiy says the budget can “definitely support” the hike. On July 1, the minimum wage is to increase by 30%, to UAH 6,500, currently $237. Ukraine’s median monthly wage is $768.
Grain sales were down 18% yoy in July, reports UNIAN citing the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture. Due to bad weather, much of the harvest is late.
Interpipe, Ukraine’s largest pipe and wheel producer, will redeem at par 97 million of its 2024 notes this week, according to the company.
Energy traders imported 345,000 megawatts of electricity in the first quarter of 2020, reports NERC. The imported electricity was from Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Belarus.
New car imports are down 36% y-o-y, reports Ukrinform citing Ukravtoprom. The average value of an imported new car is $19,300. Japanese vehicles are the most popular.
Passenger transport is down 56.2% y-o-y, reports the State Statistics Service. Rail was down 58.2%. Motor transport was down by 44.3%.
The IMF has yet to set a date for the review of the Standby Agreement, a review that was to be in September. IMF Ukraine representative Goesta Ljungman tells Hromadske that while “discussions on the implementation of the parameters and indicators of the liquidity program are ongoing, the The IMF has yet to set a date for the review of the Standby Agreement, a review that was to be in September. IMF Ukraine representative Goesta Ljungman tells Hromadske that while
Mykolaiv’s shipbuilding industry is to be revived with a government program designed to create 25,000 new jobs, President Zelenskiy and David Arakhamia, leader of the Servant of the People Rada, promised on a visit Friday to a city that was the Soviet center for shipbuilding in the Black Sea. “We want to restore the former glory of the city of shipbuilders,” Arakhamia said, referring to Mykolaiv whose modern history dates back to the creation of a Russian Navy shipyard in
Business education for combat veterans and soft loans for veteran-owned startups are government priorities, President Zelenskiy said during an International Volunteer and Veterans Forum in Kyiv. “It’s both military skills and the rules by which all successful companies exist,” he said. “One cannot ignore the experience of other countries, where many veterans are the founders of large, serious, powerful, well-known companies.”
Steelmaker ArcelorMittal has transferred 50 million tons of slag to the government for the national road construction program, reports Interfax-Ukraine, citing the company. Earlier this year, Arcelor pushed the government to change regulations to allow construction of concrete roads with slag. Increasingly common across Europe, the use of crushed slag for road construction helps companies cut disposal costs. In turn it cuts costs for building concrete roads. So far this year, 100,000 cubic meters have been used to build roads in
IKEA Ukraine plans to offer 5,000 items in its first physical store in Kyiv, says Florian Melle, Ukraine director of Ikea. He said: “A city-format store will open in Kyiv without a food department and restaurant, but we strive to launch them as soon as possible.” Earlier this year, IKEA started operating an online store that proved so successful that the company struggled to keep up with orders. Ikea’s first physical store in Ukraine is to open in Kyiv’s Blockbuster
There have been no combat losses in the eastern regions for the past 29 days, Zelenskiy said during his Independence Day speech. “A year ago, I talked about how every morning starts with an SMS message from the General Staff of Ukraine. SMS about the number of wounded and dead for the past day on the front line. The numbers are different, but only one message makes the morning good: wounded – zero, dead – zero. Today, for the 29th
Ukraine’s exports to South Korea grew by 89% to $252 million in the first half of 2020, reports the State Statistics Service.
The Cabinet of Ministers canceled a 1992 agreement with the Russia regarding mutual trade representatives, according to the government. “To stop the agreement between the government of Ukraine and the government of the Russian Federation on the mutual establishment of trade missions, concluded in Moscow on October 22, 1992,” the website says.
The central bank simplifies the banking charter process. The NBU website: “The regulator has reduced the number of documents that must be submitted by banks for approval by managers. Now the process of preparing the appropriate package of documents will be easier and will save time that banks spend on the approval of managers.”
Monetary policy targets an annual inflation rate of 5%, reports Ukrinform, citing the NBU.
Oschadbank plans to auction off non-performing loan portfolios starting in autumn 2020, reports Interfax Ukraine. In the first half of this year this state bank wrote off $800 million in non performing loans. This reduced the non-performing loans in its credit portolio from 55% of total assets at the start of the year, to 48% today. The bank’s NPL targest are: 37% in 2021; 11% in 2022; 7% in 2023.
Naftogaz will develop its assets in Egypt instead of selling them, reports the company’s press service. Last December, , the state company announced plans to sell off two oil and gas fields near Alam El Shawish to raise $100 million. Naftogaz Chief Andrei Kobolyev said the SBU opposed the deal. Sergiy Pereloma, first deputy head of Naftogaz “The Management Board and Supervisory Board of Naftogaz have set a clear task for us – the development of assets in Egypt.”
NV magazine publishes its top 100 “most influential” people in Ukraine. The top 5 in chronological order are: President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, tycoon Rinat Akhmetov, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, Presidential Head Andriy Yermak, pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk.
Kharkiv tries to poach IT specialists from Belarus by offering relocation perks, reports Interfax-Ukraine. “Kharkiv IT-community sincerely empathizes with Belarussian colleagues who are forced to be in unstable conditions and psychological pressure. Kharkiv IT-Cluster understands that in such conditions it is difficult not only for IT-business to maintain stability, but also to live and work,” the organization said.
Unemployment is up 67% y-o-y since the beginning of quarantine measures, reports UNIAN citing the State Employment Service. Between March and August 2020, about 432,000 more Ukrainians were officially registered as unemployed. Given the large size of Ukraine’s shadow economy, the real number is likely to be higher.
Agricultural production in the first half of 2020 dipped 11.2% y-o-y, according to the State Statistics Service. Production by industrial scale-enterprises was down by 15.3% while small-scale producers by 4.2%.
The World Bank praised Ukraine’s coronavirus response, says Deputy Health Minister Svitlana Shatalova. “On August 17, during a meeting between Health Minister Maksym Stepanov and World Bank Country Director for Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine Arup Banerji, the World Bank highly appreciated the work of the Health Ministry of Ukraine in the very difficult conditions of the pandemic and in the conditions of extremely tight deadlines,” Shatalova said.
Qatar’s QTerminals yesterday signed the concession agreement for the Olvia port in Mykolaiv region, reports Interfax Ukraine. Infrastructure Minister Vladislav Krykliy announced: “QTerminals is to invest about [$124 million] in the development of Olvia port and preserve jobs. The $3 million annual concession payment will be 16 times the port’s profit last year. .” QTerminals operates Hamad, the largest commercial port of Qatar, valued at $7 billion.
“The successful signing of pilot concessions for the ports of Olvia and Kherson proved that the public-private partnership model can effectively attract private investment in Ukrainian infrastructure,” commented IFC Ukraine chief Jason Pellmar. “Both projects will serve as models for future concessions in various sectors of the Ukrainian economy. This work is fully consistent with our key mission – improve the competitiveness of Ukraine and accelerate its economic growth.”
China strengthens its position as Ukraine’s top trading partner, with $6.6 billion in bilateral trade in the first half of 2020, according to the State Statistics Service. For perspective, bilateral trade between Ukraine and the United States amounted to just $382 million during the same period. China, Russia and Poland are Ukraine’s main export destinations. Ukraine’s top sources of imports are China, Germany and Russia.
Ukraine’s central bank has established “flexible” guidelines for the restructuring of debt assumed by green energy producers. The National Bank of Ukraine website writes: “The NBU has provided for a possibility for the banks to apply restructuring instruments irrespective of the status of the borrower’s existing leverage.” Kyrylo Shevchenko, the new central bank governor, previously ran UkrGasBank, the nation’s largest lender to solar and wind projects.
Epicenter K, a local home improvement chain, is introducing a new browsing format for shoppers. “It is sometimes difficult for a buyer to imagine a complete picture of the future interior according to a single sample, therefore we present expositions in the Ceramics Center “in almost the same way as at international exhibitions,” said Julia Korsun, head of the Ceramic Tile department at Epicenter K.
A radical simplification of customs is the goal of legal package drawn up this summer by Mikheil Saakashvili’s National Reforms Council. This fall, the Rada is expected to pass the changes, including elevating the head of Customs to Deputy Finance Minister rank.
Concorde Capital’s Zenon Zawada writes: “Customs is notoriously difficult to deal with, having created enormous lines at border crossings for as long as can be remembered. Saakashvili’s customs proposals have enormous potential for positive change.”
Concorde Capital’s Zenon Zawada writes: “The situation is getting worse, with the authorities remaining remarkably silent (out of concern for losing poll ratings ahead of the October elections). Hospitals will be overwhelmed if new infections continue surfacing in the daily range of 2,000.”
SAS resumed flights yesterday between Oslo and Boryspil. Last October, flights resumed after an 8-year break. But this new service lasted only five months, until corona controls forced suspension of the route in March.
Wizz started flights last weekend between Italy and Lviv. The discount airline now flies between Lviv and Rome Ciampino and between Lviv and Milan Malpensa.
SkyUp, Ukraine’s discount airline, starts flights Oct. 25 between Belgrade and Kyiv Boryspil. In Southeast Europe, the carrier currently operates regular flights to Albania’s Tirana, and Bulgaria’s Burgas.
Norwegian and Austrian investors plan to invest $1 billion in Zaporizhia to build one of Europe’s largest data centers and a hydrogen production plant, next to the Dnipro hydroelectric power plant. H2 LLC signed a memorandum of understanding yesterday with Ukrhydroenergo and Energoatom, Mykhailo Fedorov, Digital Transformation Minister, told reporters in Zaporizhia. Two weeks ago in Kyiv, the principals on the project, Andriy Zhovner, Director of H2 LLC, and Walter Komarek, CEO of Yom Capital Ltd., discussed the project with
In Dnipropetrovsk region, River Wind Ukraine plans to build wind and solar power plants with a total capacity of 4 GW on Kakhovka Reservoir, the regional government reports. Billed as Ukraine’s ‘first hybrid renewable energy park,’ the project calls for covering 10% of the reservoir’s 2,155 square kilometers with floating solar panels placed among 155 to 172 wind turbine towers. Financed in part by German investors, the park is to create hydrogen for export to Germany. Project manager Viktor Dinysyuk
Germany’s Nordex will supply 34 wind turbines for the first phase of the Franco-Norwegian wind farm on Lake Syvash, reports Novii Vizit, a regional Kherson news site. The turbine model — N131 / 3900 – is designed by the kind of weak but steady winds found in the shallow lagoons of Syvash, on Crimea’s northern border. Power China is the contractor of the project, a joint venture between Norway’s NBT and France’s Total Eren.
Witkowitz, a Czech manufacturer of machine-building equipment, plans to invest €50 million in Dnipro’s in Yuzhny Machine Building Plant. Based in the coal and steel region of Moravia-Silesia, Witkowitz plans to invest in reconstructing diesel locomotive train engines and in producing hydrogen engines.
In the government’s latest musical chairs, Andriy Pavlovsky is the new acting head of Customs – the third to hold the post in a year. The outgoing head of Customs, Igor Muratov, was fired for the same reason his predecessor lost the post in April – failure to bring in desired tax revenue for the government. With imports down by 20%, Customs is $1.3 billion below target.
Ukraine reported a record 1,967 new Covid-19 cases yesterday morning, says Health Minister Maksym Stepanov. “Covid is gaining momentum,” warns the Minister. “We have seen this tendency for the last month. We crossed the line very quickly with 1,000 ill per day. Now we are approaching 2,000 ill.” In Kyiv, 215 residents, including 13 children, contracted coronavirus in the latest 24-hour reporting period. Mayor Klitschko writes on Facebook: “The number of Covid-19 patients in Kyiv has increased steeply.”
With the EU showing no sign of lowering its corona barriers to Ukrainians, UIA is cancelling its flights this fall to 11 EU cities and to Tbilisi, Georgia. The EU cities are: Budapest, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Helsinki, Larnaca, Naples, Stockholm, Venice, Vienna, Warsaw and Zurich.
The Cabinet of Ministers is allocating $4 million in an effort to finally complete the long overdue and long over budget Odesa runway project, Prime Minister Shmygal said yesterday. Separately, in a long term effort to provide reliable air service to Zakarpattia, budget money also will be allocated to design an airport for Mukachevo. Located on site of an old Soviet air base, the Mukachevo airport would replace the Uzhgorod airport, which borders on Slovakia.
Sweden’s Embracer Group is paying $36 million to acquire Ukraine’s 4A Games. Founded by three Ukrainian developers in Kyiv in 2006, 4A Games has grown to have 150 employees between Kyiv and the company’s current headquarters in Malta. With Embracer, 4A will continue to develop its Metro which take place in post-apocalyptic Russia devastated by a nuclear war. If 4A meets defined performance targets, Embracer commits to paying the 4A principals a maximum of $35 million within five years.
How Ukrainian startups can attract investment from European venture capital firms will be the theme Sept. 2 of a webinar hosted on Zoom by Adam Smith Conferences. With the participation of leading Europeans and Ukrainians in the field, the discussion will revolve around how to “create better incubator and accelerator resources and create a culture of angel investment in Ukraine.” Speakers include: Victoria Tigipko, managing partner at TA Ventures; Kirill Bigai, CEO & Co-founder of Preply.com; and David Gilgur, Founding
Borys Paton, the Ukrainian engineer who chaired the National Academy of Sciences for 58 years, has died in Kyiv at 101. Paton became director of the Yevhen Paton Institute of Electric Welding in 1953, the year his father, Yevhen, inaugurated Kyiv’s Paton Bridge. The world’s first all-welded bridge, Paton bridge is the oldest and longest of Kyiv’s five road bridges across the Dnipro.
Concorde Capital’s Alexander Paraschiy writes of the new loans: “The conditions under Cargill’s private loan look close to market rates, taking into account that Ukraine’s public six-year debt (EUR-denominated Eurobond maturing in June 2026) trades currently at 6.61% YTM. The loan will allow Ukraine to partially compensate the large foreign currency debt outlays of August-September, which amount to about $3 billion.”
The Finance Ministry raised the equivalent of $91 million in its weekly government bond auction yesterday – one quarter the $366 million raised one week earlier. Highlights were: 6-month hryvnia bonds placed at 7.82%; 2-year hryvnia bonds placed at 10.14%; and 8-month dollar bonds placed at 3.39%.
Pre-election populism at the Rada. President Zelenskiy vetoed a bill that would extend through the end of next year the moratorium on foreclosures for foreign currency mortgage loans. Why? The way the Rada sponsors worded the bill last month, it would have banned foreclosures under any loan agreement. As written, the bill would have brought “chaos into Ukraine’s entire financial system,” writes Concorde’s Paraschiy.
Banda, a leading Ukrainian ad agency, is opening an office in California, its first office outside of Kyiv. Yaroslav Serdyuk, the agency’s co-founder and strategy director, writes on Facebook from California: “We already have four ongoing projects in the U.S.: designing a brand identity for a promotional campaign of a Hollywood film, brand creation for two investment funds, and we are also preparing to launch a new campaign for a cannabis brand.”
The founders of Nova Poshta are investing in Fedoriv Agency’s Kooperativ co-working space at 23 Sichovykh Striltsiv, Kyiv. The investors, Viacheslav Klimov and Volodymyr Popereshniuk, plan to convert the ad agency’s existing space in Arena City into a working hub with places for 100 people.
Schools will open as scheduled Sept. 1, Health Minister Maksym Stepanov promises. Online learning will be mandatory only in the nation’s ‘Red Zones.’ Currently these are three towns and five districts – less than 1% of Ukraine’s 37 million people. In one ‘Red Zone’ city, Lviv region’s Sambir, the town council refused to tighten restrictions after local business owners protested outside the council building.
With local elections coming in two months, politicians have no appetite for a return to the severe lockdown of last spring. Concorde Capital’s Zenon Zawada writes: “The Zelenskiy administration has largely remained silent on the surge in infections. Moreover, no significant quarantine and lockdown restrictions have been introduced. Only in Kyiv and two regions are hospital bed occupancy rates exceeding 50%, indicating that the situation is relatively stable despite the surge.”
Returning to the air after coronavirus travel curbs, UIA had to “start practically from scratch,” to rebuild business, airline president Yevgeny Dykhne writes on Facebook. From mid-June to mid-August, Ukraine’s flag carrier carried 113,345 passengers on 1,238 flights. Last year, the airline carried 4 million passengers.
Ferrexpo Poltava Mining marked this month half a billion tons of iron ore concentrate produced since the mine opened 50 years ago. “The first ton of concentrate was produced in 1970, and after 50 years of operation, PGOK produced the 500-millionth one,” said Viktor Lotous, Board Chairman of Poltava GOK. Over the last 20 years, $3 billion has been invested in Poltava Mining, he said. With demand high in China, the mine and processing plant shipped a record 1.1 million
Ukraine is to raise up to €250m in two loans from Cargill Financial Services, the Cabinet of Ministers reported Monday. The loans are to be: three years at 5.95% and five years at 6.85%. One year ago, the Finance Ministry conducted a similar operation, borrowing from Cargill at slightly lower rates: €100 million for two years at 5.15% and €150 for five years at 6.25%.
Due to the corona-recession, state budget revenues are $1.4 billion below plan for the first half of this year, Valery Patskan, chairman of the Accounting Chamber, writes on Facebook. About 37% of the drop is due to a fall in customs duties due a 20% drop in imports during the first half.
Watching “the sharp aggravation of the situation in the Republic of Belarus,” President Zelenskiy said after a security council meeting Monday night: “The events in this country could significantly affect Ukraine.” But hours earlier, as labor slowdowns spread through Belarus’ two oil refineries, the Cabinet of Ministers reintroduced special duties on imports from Russia of: liquefied gas (3%), diesel (4%), and most types of coal (65%). The duties expire Dec. 31.
France’s MSL public relations company is opening an office in Kyiv, strengthening parent company Publicis Groupe’s presence in Ukraine. The new office will be led by Olena Sukhanova, a 9-year veteran of Ukrainian marketing agency Tabasco. Last year, MSLGROUP was the only European company in the top10 of the Holmes Report 250 Global Ranking of PR Firms.
With Ukraine reporting record levels of new Covid-19 infections – about 1,600 a day for the last week – Kyiv is mildly tightening restrictions this week. Everyone is to carry an ID on the street. Masks are to be worn in ‘indoor public spaces’ and on all public transport. Trams, trolleybuses, buses and minibuses carry only seated passengers. But the metro allows standees. Kyiv tightened restrictions after Covid-19 cases occupied 52% of reserved hospital beds. In the five months of the
Orthodox Jewish pilgrims are asked to refrain from visiting Uman next month to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, “due to the threatening epidemiological situation,” according to a joint statement by Israel and Ukraine. In a normal year, 30,000-50,000 Orthodox make the pilgrimage. This year, it would be Sept. 18-20. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said that last month the government reached a similar agreement with Ukraine’s Orthodox churches to refrain from the traditional July 28 mass processions celebrating the Christianization of Kyivan Rus.
Marta Kolomayets, American director of the Fulbright Program in Ukraine for seven years, died Sunday at the age of 61 after a long illness. As the local head of Fulbright, she helped more than 300 Ukrainians pursue Masters and Doctorate degrees at US universities. The daughter of Ukrainian emigres, Kolomayets first visited the Ukrainian SSR in 1985, but was kicked out for filming interviews with Soviet dissidents. She returned in 1990s, opening the Kyiv bureau of the Ukrainian Weekly, the
Ukraine also gets about one third of its diesel and gasoline from Belarus. But the strikes and slowdowns will only result in a ‘hiccup’ for Ukrainian prices, Kuyun predicts. “First, we have been living with a huge surplus of diesel fuel and gasoline for half a year. Traders sell it to zero at best, the market is so overwhelmed. Second, the Ukrainian market is open for supplies from all sides.”
Belarus Eurobonds handed investors a loss of 5.1% this month, the worst performance in emerging markets, according to a Bloomberg Barclays index. Since the 2031 bonds were issued on June 25, the yield is up by one percentage point.
Concorde Capital’s Alexander Paraschiy calculates that the purchase was at 90% of par and writes: “This is also a good signal for the holders of GDP warrants, as it indicates MinFin is anticipating large payments under the warrants in the mid-term.”
Timothy Ash writes: “Now most official forecasts have a 4% plus growth for 2021.With the changes at the [central bank], the Zelenskiy administration is going for a pro-growth agenda, which might mean lower rates, cheaper currency, perhaps looser fiscal – note minimum wage hikes.
Reminder: UIA is offering two direct Kyiv-New York-Kyiv flights – next Monday Aug. 24, and the following Monday, Aug. 31. No additional New York flights are scheduled. Tickets only are available through the UIA site: https://www.flyuia.com/ua/en/home.
For Ukraine, the biggest impact of strikes spreading across Belarus may be a shortage of asphalt for President Zelenskiy’s $3 billion drive to pave 4,000 km of highways this year. Ukraine imports half of its asphalt in heated, liquid form from Belarus. “Objectively, there is nothing to replace Belarusian volumes — and this is half of the market,” Serhiy Kuyun, director of the A-95 Consulting Group, writes on his Facebook page. “Russian supplies are closed, and Ukrainian traders are just mastering