• Kyiv’s office vacancy rate dropped sharply last year, from 19.3% to 13.2%, real estate consultancy JLL reports. Kyiv’s vacancy rate now is below Moscow’s 13.8% and Helsinki’s 14.1%. Last year, 200,000 square meters of office space was rented, 11% more than in 2016. Net absorption was 22% higher than in 2016 and the highest in a decade. Although office rents did not move last year, JLL predicts they will go up 3 to 5% this year. Rents will be pushed by increasing demand, and a low level of new supply. This year, 40,000 square meters will enter the market, 10% less than last year.
• Avangard, Ukraine’s largest egg producer, plans to double egg exports by 2023, Oleg Bakhmatyuk, the owner, tells Interfax-Ukraine. Over the last five years, the export portion of Avangard egg sales has grown from 18% to 40% today. Last year, the company added six more export destinations, including Hong Kong, more for a total more than 40.
• A Chinese company, Beijing Electric Power Automatic, is negotiating a joint venture with VEEM-Metallavtoprom to produce electric buses in Stryi, one hour south of Lviv. Representatives of the Ukrainian company have visited China and last week the Chinese visited Lviv. Using Chinese designs, the buses would be produced at an existing factory, Stryi Avto TDV, the news site zaxid.net reports.
• Smartphone usage by lifecell’s 8 million SIM card users hit 68% at the end of the year, the company reports. The Turkish-owned mobile operator, ranked three in Ukraine, saw its active subscriber base shrink by 13%. After recording a profit in 2016, it recorded a $19 million loss last year.
• Drones monitor about 10% of Ukraine’s farmland, DroneUA co-founder Valery Yakovenko estimated recently at AgriTech in Ukraine and the World. At the conference, Oleg Bakhmatyuk, owner of Ukrlandfarming, told Interfax that he is experimenting with drones on his agroholding’s land bank of 570,000 hectares. He said drone prices should go down, from $1,000 today, to $300 by 2023. When that happens, he said, drones will become common in farming.
• Calling for economic growth of 5%, Prime Minister Groysman told local TV that corrupt officials who block businesses are “enemies of the state.” Groysman, who has run businesses in his home city of Vinnytsia, said: "I regard all those who are trying to spoil business development opportunities the enemies of the state and of our success. We need to fight for proper business conditions….We must protect those who create jobs and invest in the economy.”
• After an IMF team spent last week here, Resident Representative Goesta Ljungman released a statement Monday: “It is now important that the authorities move expeditiously with parliamentary consideration of the draft law on the anticorruption court, while ensuring that the necessary amendments are adopted during the parliamentary process to make the approved law fully consistent with program commitments and the recommendations of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.”
• Timothy Ash writes: “I sense this anti-corruption legislation is the deal breaker for the IMF, and also for the Poroshenko Administration…It looks like the IMF program will remain off track for some time, and the Minister of Finance will have to decide whether it tries to come to market before then, to get some cash in the bank.”
• Finance Minister Oleksandr Danyliuk has filed a lawsuit against the State Fiscal Service in Kyiv over several tax issues. Earlier, Ukraine's Prosecutor General's Office closed its investigation into possible tax evasion by Danyliuk. Timothy Ash writes: “Hardly inspiring to hear of the reform minded finance minister, Danyliuk, engaged in a legal battle with his own State Fiscal Service. Old habits die hard there, as the Minister faces a rear guard action from vested interests resisting change.”
• Centrenergo, the state run power company, paid an average of $100 per ton for the 410,000 tons of anthracite coal it imported from the US last year, Oleg Kozemko, the company CEO, tells Reuters. After Ukraine decided to boycott coal from separatist-controlled mines, it signed a 700,000-ton supply deal with Xcoal of Pennsylvania. Kozemko said Centrenergo now is negotiating with Xcoal on supplies of bituminous coal, a poorer quality variety.
• About 65 Ukrainian producers attended Gulfood 2018, an event in Dubai billed as “the world's largest annual food trade show.” About half of the Ukrainians showed their products:“oil, flour, pasta, bread and flour products, sweets, cereals and legumes, seeds and nuts, grains, eggs, sauces and tomato paste, dairy and meat products, prepared foods and food additives,” reports the press service of Ukraine’s Economic Development and Trade Ministry. The other half came to find foreign partners and to learn about new markets, says Trade Representative Natalia Mykolska.
• Traffic accidents last year killed 3,432 people and injured 38,109. Aiming to cut fatalities in half by 2020, the Infrastructure Ministry is spending $75 million this year on a National Road Safety Program.
• Prykarpattia, a state-owned health resort in the Carpathian mountain town of Yaremche is to be auctioned off on March 12, with an asking price of $1.9 million. The buyer must reopen the resort within one year. A historic resort town, Yaremche is a one hour drive south of Ivano-Frankivsk.
• Ukraine’s new visa on arrival policy for India and China resulted in a 40% increase in tourists last year from these countries, Anton Taranenko, head of the Tourism for Kyiv City, posted on his Facebook page. He said: “These countries are our priority in attracting tourists for 2018.” To this end, Ukraine is starting an internet-based e-visa system. Also VHS Global visa centers in Delhi and Beijing can now issue Ukrainian visas for $65.
• Tourism to Odesa Region jumped by 43% last year, to 5.7 million people, Svitlana Shatalova, deputy head of Odesa regional administration, tells Ukrinform. To diversify tourism away from the Black Sea coast, Shatalova plans to establish a rural and ecological tourism center in Tarutyne, a district bordering Moldova, four hours by car from Odesa city.
• UIA has taken delivery of the first of four Boeing 777-200ERs that are to arrive by September. The long haul jets will be used on the airline’s existing routes from Kyiv to New York, Bangkok and Beijing and on its new routes to Toronto and New Delhi. The jets seat 361 passengers and offer wifi.
UBJ.am is reported by UBJ Editor in Chief James Brooke, a former New York Times foreign correspondent and Bloomberg Moscow bureau chief. For comments and story tips, Brooke is reachable at email@example.com