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8:39 AM Thursday, October 19, 2017
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UBJ AM Oct. 9, 2017
Turkey’s Erdoğan's visits Kyiv today; Bukovel to be sold? Fencing with IMF on gas prices; Astarta nearly doubling land bank; Ukraine-Moldova trade up 30%
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Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visits Kyiv on Monday, his fourth visit to Ukraine in 14 years. After ‘passport-free’ tourism started last summer, two-way tourism now is growing by double digits. Erdoğan has declared an ambitious goal of increasing two-way, cross Black Sea trade five fold, to $20 billion in 2023. Last year, trade volume was $3.8 billion -- $1.25 billion in exports from Turkey and $2.55 billion in exports from Ukraine.

Bukovel, Ukraine’s largest ski resort, and Dnipro-Arena stadium, a 10-year-old venue that seats 31,000 fans, are to be sold to recover debts owed to newly nationalized PrivatBank, Kateryna Rozhkova, Acting Deputy Governor at National Bank of Ukraine, told Vesti Radio. Also for sale: the office building in Kyiv's Podol that houses 1+1 TV.

Key Naftogaz reforms are unlikely to be implemented despite the government’s promises, two former members of its independent supervisory board told Reuters. Last month, Paul Warwick and Marcus Richards, resigned from the board, alleging government obstruction of efforts to modernize the state-owned gas company. After their resignations, Prime Minister Groysman promised that Naftogaz reforms, including the “unbundling” of production, transport and sales, would not be derailed.

Ukraine will make new gas pricing proposals to the IMF this week that would leave gas prices unchanged until July, a source told Reuters Friday. The new formula would avoid a 15 percent increase in household gas prices that could stoke social unrest prior to the 2019 elections. The move suggests political rather than fiscal calculations drive Kyiv’s policy-making. Sustainable gas pricing is a condition Ukraine must meet to qualify for a long-delayed next loan tranche under its $17.5 billion program from the International Monetary Fund.

Astarta, Ukraine’s leading sugar producer, has started a four-year expansion program to nearly double its land bank to 400,000 hectares by 2020, the company’s operations director Zeljko Erceg told Interfax. Astarta, which is publicly traded on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, also is building three 100,000 metric ton silos in the Poltava region, about 350 km east of Kyiv. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is loaning Astarta $25 million, which will cover about one third of the expansion.

The EBRD wants to invest EUR1 billion each year in Ukraine, Francis Malige, regional managing director, told Ukrainian reporters last week. He said: “Last year we were a bit below that, we were at EUR 600 million -- and we’re not happy.” A new law on corporate governance may allow the development bank to take minority stakes in state banks, like PrivatBank. A new law on privatization could allow the EBRD to take minority stakes in state companies, before, or in the process of privatization. He said: “We can come in the time of privatization with a strategic investor and invest alongside. So, say, 60% is for sale. The strategic investor buys 51% and we buy 9%.”

Crypto currencies are the subject of a bill registered Friday at the Rada, according to the parliament’s website. The National Bank of Ukraine, a skeptic on the currencies, moderated an interagency discussion on their use in September.

Ukraine-Moldova trade is up 30% this year, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Groysman said Friday while on a visit to Chisinau. Ukraine and Moldova recently built modern border crossings in the south and are completing a new bridge in the north, with Vinnystia region. Groysman, a Vinnytsia native, said: "Our task is to make our countries closer in infrastructure via the merger of roads, railways, air routes. We need to relax the rules of crossing the borders and customs rules."

Through August, Ukraine’s food exports increased 24.5% to a record $11.5 billion, Olga Trofimtseva, Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food, told Delo.ua. While India, Egypt and China were among the top five importers, imports by the EU increased 37 percent. In dollar terms, the biggest growth crops are: sunflower and cottonseed oil – up 26%; corn – up 20%; and wheat – up 13%.

Honey exports jumped by 57 percent through July, hitting $35.3 million according to Ukraine’s Export Promotion Center. Reflecting an increase in EU quotas, the fastest growing destination was Europe. Over 50 percent of Ukraine’s honey exports go to Europe and 39 percent go to North America.

French farm operator AgroGeneration says that the summer drought in eastern Ukraine will affect its sunflower seed harvest and could push its overall production down this year, despite a bumper wheat crop, Reuters reports. The Paris-listed firm, which farms just over 100,000 hectares in Ukraine, has observed a "significant" hit to yields in sunseed already harvested in the east, Vice Chairman Pierre Danon told Reuters.

Ukraine’s effort to win more foreign university students is paying off as 8,000 Indians now study in Ukraine, according to statistics released Friday when Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin visited New Delhi. His Indian counterpart, SushmaSwaraj, “urged simplification of visa process for Indian students and others going to Ukraine.” Ukraine International Airlines is start flight to Kyiv-New Delhi next summer. Both countries agreed on joint film production in Ukraine. India has the world’s largest film industry, producing 1,602 feature films in 2012.

Ukrainians visiting Egypt through September are up 120% over the same period last year. By the end of this year, about 600,000 Ukrainians are to visit Egypt, according to Hisham El Demery, head of Egypt’s National Tourism Organization.

Zhytomyr is to be Europe’s first city to switch entirely to LED street lights, according to a report in Ecotown.com.ua. According Mayor Sergey Sukhomlyn, Zhytomyr last year increased the number of energy saving street lights to 5,200. Now, he plans a big jump: to all the lights, or 8,600.

In a macabre statistic that may reflect increased economic activity, road accidents during the first nine months are up by 9 percent, hitting 102,800. Through the end of September, 1,996 people were killed and 21,900 others were injured.

Michael Polsky, an immigrant from Ukraine, has donated $50 million to the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. A graduate of Kyiv Polytechnic University and later the Booth School, Polsky is the founder CEO of Invenergy, a Chicago-based clean energy company.


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