• Federica Mogherini, the EU’s de facto foreign minister, calls Ukraine’s rising exports to the EU “the main driver of economic growth in the country.” Ukraine’s exports to the EU increased by 21% last year, 10 times as fast as the 2.1% growth of Ukraine’s GDP. Talking to UNIAN before flying to Kyiv on Sunday, Mogherini said the EU-Ukraine free trade pact “was a great success.” Today, she meets President Poroshenko and Prime Minister Groysman for what is largely a security related visit.
• Siemens AG and Ukrzaliznytsya are discussing joint production of locomotives in Ukraine, the Center for Transport Strategies reports. Earlier, Yevhen Kravtsov, head of Ukrainian Railways, only said he was interested in buying Siemens locomotives. Last week, he traveled to Berlin and met with executives of Siemens and Deutsche Bahn.
• Ukraine wants to have its steel exempted from the new U.S. 25% tariff on steel imports. "We believe that Ukrainian products, for which the US market is traditional, are not a threat to US national security," Ukraine's trade representative Natalia Mikolskaya writes on Facebook. “We are in constant dialogue with the US government and in contact with Ukrainian producers on this issue." At present, exemptions only apply to U.S’s two NAFTA trading partners, Mexico and Canada.
• Ukrainians soon will be able to import diesel cars from Germany at a steep discount, predicts Novini Zakarpattia, a news site edited in Uzhgorod, Ukraine’s only car making city. The site calculates that 12.3 million diesel cars – 82% of all the diesel cars on the road in Germany today – will be illegal under strict new anti-pollution rules that come into effect by Jan. 1, 2020. In February, Ukraine’s imports of used cars equaled those of new cars. This comes after tariffs were lowered and paperwork was simplified to import cars.
• In a drive to hold down household gas bills, Prime Minister Groysman is setting a goal of cutting gas consumption by one third over the next five years. Over the last four years, Ukraine cut its gas consumption by one quarter, partly due to loss of heavy industry, partly to due to investments in energy efficiency. Now the target is annual consumption of 13 billion cubic meters in 2022, about half the 24 billion consumed in 2014. To retrofit Soviet-era housing, the government has extended ‘warm loans’ to 400,000 households to install insulation, modern windows and efficient water boilers.
• An EU grant of €10m will improve energy efficiency at state universities in Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Kyiv, Lviv, Poltava, Sumy and Vinnytsia. The money comes from the European Investment Bank and the multi-donor Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environment Partnership. Fund Manager Anders Lund called the project “one step toward increased energy security in Ukraine.”
• The Ukraine-Russia gas standoff was defused last week, when Ukraine returned to buying all its gas from Europe. The confrontation revealed an x-ray of contemporary gas flows. Currently, the Balkans and Bulgaria are most dependent on Russian gas flowing through Ukraine. Austria and Slovakia also use a lot of this gas, but due to interlinked pipelines, they do not depend on Ukraine’s pipe. Germany relies on Russia for 40% of its gas, but most of that comes from North Stream or through Belarus and Poland. Jörg Forbrig of the German Marshall Fund tells Deutsche Welle: "The pipeline that runs through Ukraine plays a marginal role, at least for German consumers and the German market.”
• “New Russia-Ukraine natural gas dispute: a lot of noise for nothing?” is the headline of an analysis in Platts, the oil and gas news site. “The critical question is: what is likely to happen next?” asks senior writer Stuart Elliott. “In a nutshell, the answer is: a lot of noise, but probably nothing to impact European gas markets.” Turning to Ukraine and Russia, he writes: “According to the final Stockholm ruling, Naftogaz is owed $2.6 billion by Gazprom. Will it see the money any time soon? Almost certainly not… These appeal processes could also drag on for years, so Naftogaz is unlikely to see any cash in the near term.”
• Foreign and defense ministers from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania met last week with their U.S. counterparts in Washington to encourage the US to block the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, RFE/RL reports. The Baltic nations fear the bypass pipeline will free Russia to attack Ukraine and Poland without having to pay an economic price. At present, Russian gas travels to Germany through several pipelines in Ukraine, Belarus, Poland and under the Baltic.
• A Space Agency of Ukraine team is to visit Australia this year to pitch construction of a binational spaceport in the Kimberly region, adjacent to Royal Australian Air Force Base Curtin, Mykola Kulinich, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Australia, tells The West Australian. Located midway between Perth and the Equator, “the facility could become Asia’s major launch site, servicing commercial launches for Australia’s regional partners such as Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Indonesia,” writes Nick Evans in the Perth-based newspaper. “Construction of launch pads, hangars and support facilities could be funded through private investment, as well as contributions from Australia’s neighbors and allies.”
• Mondelez Ukraine, formerly Kraft Foods Ukraine, saw a 5.5-fold rise in net profit in 2017, to UAH 310.2 million. Mondelez International group is of one of the world’s largest producers of chocolate goods, cookies, sweets, and chewing gum. In Ukraine, the company owns Trostianets confectionery factory in Sumy and Chips Lux in Kyiv region.
• Latvia and Ukraine are working to nearly double their trade turnover to $800 million, Prime Minister Groysman writes on Facebook. Fresh from a visit to Riga on March 2, he writes: “We are working on projects of joint ventures to enter the markets of third countries.” Last year, bilateral trade increase 27%, to $460 million.
• Football Club Shakhtar is formally moving from Donetsk city to Mariupol, a registration change that will bring the Sea of Azov port an extra $7.5 million in taxes, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko, tells Interfax. He says: “While Shakhtar cannot play at the Donbas Arena…it will help develop the football and sports infrastructure of Mariupol.”
• An Austria-Ukraine economic forum will be held Wednesday at the Fairmont Hotel with the participation of Austria’s President Alexander Van der Bellen. In the morning, there will be B2B meetings with members of an Austrian business delegation. In the afternoon, Van der Bellen and Richard Schenz, vice president of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, will speak. Until World War 1 about 20% of present date Ukraine was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Today, Austria is a major investor, especially in Western Ukraine. Austrian Airlines maintains daily direct flights to Vienna from Kyiv Boryspil and Lviv. UIA flies to Vienna from Boryspil.
Have a question about UBJ.am?UBJ.am Editor James Brooke talks tomorrow – Tuesday – at 7 pm at America House. The topic is “Covering Ukraine: An American Journalist in Kyiv.” There will be plenty of time for questions. America House is on Mykoly Pymonenka St. No. 6. That is a 10-minute walk from Lukianivska Metro station on the Green Line. Bring your passport to get in!