- China’s TBEA International could start construction this year of Eastern Europe’s largest wind farm in Mykolaiv, officials report from the region. Plans call for generating 500 mw of electricity from 100 windmills erected across three villages near the Tylihul River Estuary, about midway between Odesa and Mykolaiv. The project update came from Sergey Tanasov, Berezanka district head, who met Dec. 28 with Chinese officials of TBEA. A power equipment manufacturer with transmission projects around the world, TBEA is based in Xinjiang, China’s westernmost region and the platform for many Chinese projects in Ukraine and the Caucasus.
- German companies created 2,000 new jobs in Ukraine last year, Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said at a joint press conference in Kyiv last week with visiting German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel. Klimkin estimated that Germany’s auto parts industry has created more than 30,000 jobs in Ukraine.
- On news of Kyiv dropping a tax investigation, shares of Regal Petroleum spiked Friday, settling Monday to near double last week’s levels on the London AIM. Regal reported that tax authorities returned "the vast majority" of documents seized two months ago, and that the company is free to do business. The London-based company announced that it ended 2017 producing 2,800 barrels of oil equivalent per day in Ukraine, 65% higher than at the end of 2016. With the tax threat lifted, Regal is mobilizing 3D equipment at its VAS gas and condensate field, planning to ‘spud’ a new well next month.
- Britain’s Ambassador to Ukraine Judith Gough warns that without an effective fight against corruption, new investments will not come here. In an interview with Novoye Vremya, she says: "Many famous British companies - Land Rover, JCB, Marks & Spencer and many others - are present here. They constantly tell me that their development here is hampered by corruption, a huge amount of regulations and high tax rates.”
- Used car sales nearly tripled last year to 59,026 cars, according to AUTO-Consulting. The top five favorites were: Renault, Volkswagen, Skoda, Opel and Nissan. In the mix of used cars, ‘fresh’ cars imported from Europe dominated, depressing prices of locally used cars. If light commercial vehicles are added to the mix, sales of used imported vehicles for the first time nearly equaled sales of new imported vehicles.
- Electric car sales more than doubled last year, to 2,697 cars, Ukrautoprom, the industry association reports. Used cars accounted for 85% of sales. Of all imports, the Nissan Leaf was the most popular car, accounting for 82% of total sales. Electric sales are expected to grow again this year, aided by suspension of import duties, a step designed to cut prices by 20%.
- Krukovka Carriages, the nation’s largest train car manufacturer, nearly doubled sales last year, hitting $3.6 billion, according to the company’s website. Located in Kremenchuk, Poltava, the company produced over 2,000 freight cars. Production is expected to further increase this year as Ukrzaliznytsia, the state railroad races to improve grain delivery service to the Black Sea ports.
- Investment in titanium mining and processing in Zhytomyr is to more than double this year, to $7 million, this year, according to United Mining-Chemical Company, manager of mines in Irshansk. Located 150 km west of Kyiv, Irshansk is the core of Ukraine’s titanium industry and a major producer of ilmenite, a source of titanium dioxide, which is used in paints, plastics, paper, sunscreens, food and cosmetics.
- Revenue earned from Ukraine’s exports of ferrous metals, largely steel, rose by 20%, to US$8.7 billion, according to the State Fiscal Service. This increase came despite a 12% drop in steel production last year.
- Ukraine nearly doubled spending for coal imports in 2017, taking half from Russia, the State Fiscal Service reports. Ukraine imported 20 million tons of coal in 2017, a 27% increase over 2016. But the dollar cost ballooned 87% to $2.7 billion. Import demand surged after the government opted last spring to stop importing coal from secessionist controlled mines in the Donbas.
- President Poroshenko blames the coal cut off for depressing 2017 GDP growth from 3% to 2%. In an essay for Novoye Vremya, he wrote: “Such rates are categorically unsatisfactory for the stable development of the economy and the restoration of the standard of living. That is why we are looking for non-standard, non-trivial and liberal solutions to improve the investment climate, accelerate economic growth, create new jobs.”
- Poverty in Ukraine fell to 12% of the population last year, Viktoria Zakhozha, deputy director of Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, tells Dzerkalo Tyzhnia, or Mirror Weekly. Tracking poverty over the last two decades, she said that in 1998, 52% of poll respondents said they were almost starving. From that low point, poverty eased, hitting 11% in 2008. The global economic crisis pushed it up to 21%. Then, it dropped, hitting 9% in 2013. With Russia’s war on Ukraine, it spiked again, plateauing at 17% in 2014-2016.
- Ukraine's foreign exchange reserves increased by 21% in 2017, to about $18.8 billion, the National Bank of Ukraine reports. Reserves can now cover 3.6 months of imports. In 2016, foreign exchange reserves increased by 17% to about $15.5 billion.
- Ukraine’s central bank will hold its key interest rate at the next policy meeting, on Jan. 25, due to signs of slowing inflation, a Reuters monthly analyst poll showed on Thursday. Seven out of 10 analysts expect rates to stay unchanged, one expected a rate cut. Two forecast a hike to 15.0 or 15.5 percent from the current 14.5 percent. The analysts forecast inflation at 13.7 percent in December and at 8.8 percent by the end of 2018.
- Funding for the Information Policy Ministry triples this year to $30 million. The Ministry produces TV and radio programs for the government, pays for such foreign broadcasting as UATV, and works for “the protection of the national information space.”
- Ukraine is reorienting its vodka exports from Russia to Poland, Latvia and Germany, Pro Consulting says in a new report. Before Russia’s 2014 military attack on Ukraine, two thirds of Ukraine’s vodka exports went to Russia. Now most go west.
- Russians account for two thirds of foreigners registered with the Ukraine’s new biometric controls at border posts. In the first week, about 15,000 Russians were registered out of a total of 22,500 foreigners entering Ukraine, Oleh Slobodyan, Ukraine State Border Guard service spokesman, tells 112 TV. Fingerprints and digital photos are taken of visitors from 70 countries.
- Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan predicts that Europe’s largest airline will start flights to Ukraine this year. "Ryanair will be in Ukraine this year,” he told Expreso TV. Hinting at an announcement within weeks, he said European discount airlines offer two-way benefits. "Ukrainians are ready to fly,” he said. “Moreover, foreigners are ready to fly to Ukraine -- if prices are low, and our country is open, which is essential for the development of business and tourist contacts."
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UBJ a.m. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org