Ukrainian pension overhaul was approved by 288 lawmakers in 450-seat Rada. The new law raises the $2 daily minimum and eases pressure on the $5 billion pension deficit. With 12 million pensioners almost equal to the number officially employed, Ukraine spends more on pensions as a percentage of GDP than almost any other country. Pension reform was a requirement for Ukraine to qualify for IMF’s next loan tranche of $1.9 billion. Timoth Ash writes: “But still unclear if this is IMF compliant. Last week the IMF sent a letter to the Ukrainian authorities highlighting seven areas of concern.”
• Ukraine’s 2% economic growth this year is too low to raise living standards hit by the 16 percent drop during 2014-15 crisis, Faruk Khan, World Bank’s chief economist in Kiev, told reporters Tuesday. The country needs to lift moratorium on farm land sale, strengthen anti-corruption efforts, make progress in selling state assets by 2018. Without these free market changes, he said, Ukraine “is risking into falling in low-growth trap.”
• The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, or EBRD, is to shut five of its seven offices in Russia next year, as the bank freezes new lending there after the 2014 Ukraine crisis, Reuters reports. The Moscow and St Petersburg branches will stay open to monitor outstanding loans. Russia’s loss is Ukraine’s gain as EBRD lending increases here and the development bank is the largest lender to Ukraine.
• Through July, Ukrainian exports to the U.S. grew 2.2 times year-over-year, amounting to $471 million, according to Stepan Kubiv, Minister of Economic Development and Trade. The ministry is creating a working group to increase trade and investment with the United States and will organize trade missions for Ukrainian and American business in 2018, Natalia Mykolska, the Deputy Minister, said at a meeting of the Ukrainian-American Council on Trade and Investment
• President Poroshenko, who is working to create free trade agreements with all of Ukraine’s neighbors, but Russia, has signed a decree creating an agency to implement an FTA with GUUAM member states. They are Georgia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Armenia and Moldova.
• South Korea’s Busan Port Authority is to study Ukraine’s Black Sea ports with the goal of speeding up operations and transshipment.One of the world’s most modern ports, Busan handled almost 50,000 containers a day last year. The agreement with Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority may lead to contracts with South Korean companies to modernize operations at Odesa and other ports.
• Ukraine will be able to export duty free 60% more wheat, corn and barely to the EU under new rules that started Sunday, according to calculations by UkrAgroConsult.
• At the end of October, starch manufacturer VPP Vimal will open a new plant on the outskirts of Chernihiv, The plant will produce starch that meets EU standards. It will employ 50 people, processing 1,200 tons of potatoes a day, according to Potato Business news site.
• Ukraine, a food exporter but an energy importer, is preparing a draft law to establish a guaranteed market of bioethanol and biodiesel. This would mandate minimum shares of bio components in fuel sales: 3.4% (in energy terms) of bioethanol from July 1, 2018 and 4.8% from July 1, 2019; and 2.7% of biodiesel from July 1, 2018.
• Through September, Ukrainian coal miners dug up 11.5% less ordinary coal, year over year. Coking coal production decreased by 22.9%, the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry told Interfax. The biggest drop was in the Donetsk region where, March 15, DTEK announced the loss of control over all its businesses in the secessionist area, in particular Sverdlovanthracite, Rovenkyantratsit. and Komsomolets Donbassa.
• A Kyiv court ruled Friday to unblock the accounts of all the subsidiaries of Ukraine’s leading sugar producer Astarta. The accounts of three subsidiaries were frozen in late August as part of a criminal investigation by the Prosecutor General’s Office that was later closed. Concorde Capital’s Alexander Paraschiy writes: “Astarta has emerged from this criminal case stronger and with better immunity to further similar pressure by the government.”
• Speaking in the Carpathians, President Petro Poroshenko says that forest protection authorities should work to build eco-tourism. Addressing a forestry reform meeting in Ivano Frankivsk, he said of park areas: “Employment in these territories is extremely low…in such circumstances, instead of trying to cut down a forest, taking part of the reserve and leaving a desert, we should help organize ecological tourism. This will create jobs.”
• Easing visas conditions would boost medical tourism to Ukraine by 10%, says Violetta Yanyshevska, President of the Ukrainian Association of Medical Tourism. Last year, 55,000 people – largely from Israel, Italy, Spain, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Georgia and Azerbaijan – came to Ukraine for services that include dental work, plastic surgery, cell therapy, cardiovascular surgeries and treatment of eye problems.
• Ukraine International Travel Market starts today and runs through Sunday at Kiev’s International Exhibition Center, Brovarsky. The event offers stands from 28 countries. Beyond the EU, there are: Azerbaijan, Brazil, Georgia, India, China, Peru, Maldives, Mexico, USA, Ecuador and Vietnam. Promoting national tourism is a "Fair of tourist destinations of Ukraine," focuses on regional folklore, works of art, historical monuments, and food.
• The Kiev International Investment Forum will be held tomorrow and Friday at the Parkovy Congress and Exhibition Center in Kyiv. This year, organizers expect 1,500 attendees, forcing the forum to move from its traditional home in the Hilton Kyiv.
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