22:21 PM Sunday, January 21, 2018
UBJ AM June 10, 2017
Visa free travel to Europe starts today; new car sales jump by one third; IFC’s first big hryvnia loan
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by Andrew Sweeney

Switzerland introduces a visa-free regime for Ukrainian citizens today, June 11. Switzerland joins EU’s decision to grant visa free travel to Ukrainian citizens for a 90-day period within 180 days.

New car sales in Ukraine rose 33% in January-May 2017, totaling 29,500 units. In May, 6,500 new cars were sold, 47% more than in May 2016, according to Interfax-Ukraine.

On June 1, Air Astana relaunched direct flights -- three times a week -- between Kyiv Boryspil and Astana, capital of Kazakhstan (UNIAN/Vyacheslav Ratynskiy)

Ukraine’s solvent banks have seen record profit this year. According to Unian, solvent banks in January-April recorded UAH 9,418 billion ($362 million) of net profit against UAH 11,536 billion ($444 million) loss for the same period last year. Revenues of these banks increased by 10%, while expenses decreased by 28%.

Russia’s Alfa-Bank refuses to leave Ukraine, Russia 24 reports. The bank’s co-owner Petr Avon told the Russian TV channel that more than 80 vandalism attacks against Alfa branches in Ukraine in May, he hopes for the normalization of relations between Ukraine and Russia. Despite large investments, the bank is unprofitable in Ukraine.

In a sign of returning confidence in Ukraine’s currency, the World Bank’s International Financial Corporation, will issue its first loan in hryvnia, to French supermarket chain Auchan, Interfax-Ukraine reported. The IFC said it is extending an eight-year loan worth around UAH 400 million, or about $15 million, to support its long-term investment program in Ukraine.

Japan will provide $40 million to modernize Trypilska Thermal Power Plant, 50 km south of Kyiv on the right bank of the Dnipro, Ukrinform reported. President Petro Poroshenko said the funds will ensure the TPP becomes more ecological, efficient and reliable.

Ukraine’s state energy company Naftogaz is ready to negotiate with Russia’s Gazprom as long as talks are not held in Russia, Reuters reported. Both companies have lodged multi-million dollar claims against each other in a Swedish arbitration court in a bitter dispute which began after Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine started in 2014.

The World Bank says Ukraine needs to improve employee skills to improve its economy, Unian reports. In its report, the World Bank said Ukraine’s education system lacks relevance for the labor market and that training should focus on cognitive skills (such as literacy and numeracy); socio-emotional skills (such as being responsible and creative); and job-specific technical skills.

The Ukrainian government will allocate UAH 6.5 billion ($260 million) to support the country’s farmers, Interfax-Ukraine reported. Prime Minister Volodomyr Groysman is quoted as saying that UAH 1 billion ($40 million) will also be allocated to buy farm equipment in 2018.

The Ukrainian parliament has extended its duty on scrap metal exports by two years. According to Interfax-Ukraine, the duty of EUR 30 per ton of scrap metal will remain in place after domestic steelmakers saw their supply rise 30%.

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