- A Dutch court ordered a provisional freeze on Rinat Akhmetov’s Netherlands-based companies in connection with a long-running $820 million lawsuit, Reuters reports. The Dutch court freezes Metinvest, Ukraine’s largest steel company, and DTEK, Ukraine’s largest private power and coal producer. Last month, a Cypriot court ordered a worldwide freeze against Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man, and his Systems Capital Management as part of a dispute over SCM’s 2013 purchase of Ukrtelecom. SCM is appealing that freeze.
- Inflation last year was 13.7% -- 10% higher than the 2016 level of 12.4%, the State Statistics Service reports. Some of he fastest growing areas were: house repairs -- 47.5%; fruits -- 34.5%; meat -- 29.4%; vegetables -- 24.7%; and milk -- 23,1%. Bucking the trend, the price of sugar dropped by 7.4%.
- Egg exports increased 75% last year, to 89,000 tons, according to the State Fiscal Service. In dollar terms, sales were up 51%, to $69 million. The top three buyers were in the Middle East: United Arab Emirates -- $42 million; Iraq -- $12 million; and Qatar -- $5 million.
- As labor migration to Poland cuts into all industries, Zaporizhstal, Ukraine’s fourth largest steelmaker, is investing $1.2 million this year in improving “the working life” of its 2,000 employees. This will range from renovating worker housing to installing modern showers, toilets, lockers, and ventilation in work areas. With Poland, Czech and Slovakia recruiting workers across Ukraine, employers complain that retaining employees is now a top challenge.
- Azerbaijan accounted for 85% of oil imports to Ukraine last year, followed by Iran -- 8.5%; and Kazakhstan – 4%. Last March, Ukrtransnafta restored operation of the 400km oil pipeline from Odesa to Kremenchuk, the site of Ukraine’s only major refinery. Last year, $377 million worth of Azeri Light was refined at Kremenchuk. In dollar terms, Ukraine’s overall oil imports hit $442 million last year, 2.5 times over 2016.
- Coal production dropped 15% last year, hitting 35 million tons, the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry reports. Due to the embargo on coal from the secessionist areas, Ukraine more than doubled its spending on coal imports last year, with half of imports coming from Russia
- Ukraine spends 4% of GDP each year to service its public debt, which amounts to 80% of GDP, Pavlo Kukhta, deputy head of the government’s Strategic Group of Advisers , writes on Facebook. He writes that a 40% debt-to-GDP ratio is safe for developing economies. EU accession requirements set a limit of 60% debt-to-GDP.
- Kyiv Metro reversed passenger declines and provided almost half a billion rides last year, the subway system’s press service posted on Facebook. The 3-line system carried 498.4 million passengers, 2.8% more than in 2016. The most heavily used line was the oldest, the east-west Red line. 21.4 million people used Lisova station, the line’s east bank terminus. The Blue line came in second. Its most heavily used station was Minska, near the northern end, which carried 17 million. The Green line had the lightest ridership. Last November, two Chinese companies signed contracts to build a fourth arcing line that would connect all three lines, alleviating the flow of many riders to the three transfer stations in the city center.
- Extending a popular holiday experiment, Kyiv city now provides password-free wifi to these popular tourist areas in the city center: Andriyivsky Descent, Kontraktova Square, Mykhailivska Street, Sofiivska Square, Poshtova Square and Shevchenko Park.
- Half of the EU’s imported skis and snowboards came from Ukraine in 2016, Eurostat reports. Of 1.5 million imported skis and boards, 731,400 came from Ukraine. China followed with 28% of market share. Ukraine’s largest ski producer is Austria’s Fischer-Mukachevo, in Zakarpattia. It produces 180 models of cross-country skis and 130 models of mountain skis. In addition to Fischer, the factory produces for Scott Usa, Stöckli, Tecno Pro, Hagan, Rossignol, Alpina, Splitkein, and Tecno. About 1,500 people work at Fischer-Mukachevo, which is located 45 minutes by truck from Hungarian and Slovakian border crossings.
- With the exception of the Baltics, Ukraine now has the highest degree of travel freedom of the 15 former Soviet republics, according to an annual global survey of travel freedom, the Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index. Countries are ranked according to the total number of countries they can visit visa-free. Ukraine’s visa-free deal with the EU allowed it to jump from 58th position to 44th position. Russia lags behind in 48th place.
- Israel’s El Al airline is phasing out its four-year-old UP concept for low cost flights from Tel Aviv to Kyiv and other popular European capitals. Starting in October, El Al will restore business class to its Kyiv flights and divide economy into three fares – Lite, Classic and Flex.
- Kyiv’s Zhuliany was Ukraine’s fastest growing major airport in 2017 with passenger traffic jumping 64.3%, to 1.8 million. In absolute numbers, Kyiv Boryspil was the national champion with traffic up 17.6% to 10.5 million passengers. As earlier reported, passenger traffic at Lviv was up 46.3% to 1.1 million. At Kharkiv, traffic was up 34.4% to 806,000. At Zhuliany, flights clearly flew packed. While passenger numbers were up 64.3%, the number of flights was up only 27.3%. With 95% of the traffic international, the top destinations were: Minsk, Dubai, Budapest, Ankara, Antalya, Sharm-el-Sheikh, Warsaw, and Rome.
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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