Renewable energy projects are to draw almost half a billion dollars in new investment this year, according to Yuriy Shafarenko, renewable energy director at the State Agency on Energy Efficiency. This would be a 25-30% growth over last year’s level of $370 million. His agency announced Tuesday a EUR6 million renewable energy project fund, supported largely by Finland and the Nordic Environmental Finance Corporation.
A consortium of Canadian companies plans to build solar power plants in the Kyiv-controlled half of Luhansk Region, stabilizing power supplies on Ukraine’s de facto eastern edge. Representatives of Canadian companies S2E Technologies, DAI, GoldLeaf EGF, and Capital Hill Group visited Kyiv and Luhansk this week, Anna Gopko, head of the Rada Foreign Affairs Committee, writes on her Facebook page.
Ukraine will increase production of natural gas by 5-7% this year, predicts Roman Opimakh, executive director of the Ukrainian Gas Producers Association. Last year, production increased by 4%. Stimulating more drilling, Opimakh told reporters Tuesday, is a new 50% cut in production royalties and a new law to cut bureaucratic red tape. Ukraine met 72% of its own gas needs in 2017. Prime Minister Groysman has set a goal for 100% self sufficiency by 2020.
Italferr, the engineering arm of Italian State Railways, is to study the feasibility of building high speed railways on the heavily trafficked Lviv-Kyiv-Odesa triangle. Ricardo Maria Monti, president of the Italferr, made the announcement Tuesday during a joint press conference with Transportation Minister Volodymyr Omelyan. The Ukrainian minister said: “This is a mega-project, the implementation of which will not only change the railway sector, but also positively affect the economic condition of a number of regions.”
Ukraine is starting a 5-year, $11 billion program to build 1,000 km of highways and to repair 9,100 km more, the Cabinet of Ministers reports. The goal is to dramatically upgrade road links among the 24 regional capitals. This public works program should provide 55,000 jobs. About half of financing comes from the state budget, and about half from international financial institutions.
Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko expects the Rada to pass a bill setting up a special anti-corruption court by March. An independent court is essential for Ukraine to revive its loan program with the IMF. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, the minister said: “I am convinced that, without exception, all the recommendations presented by the Venice Commission will be taken into account.”
Privatbank, Ukraine’s largest bank, will be reshaped this year as management of the newly nationalized bank seeks to improves its finances. Bank branches will be cut by 7% to 2,061. The bank’s ATM network will grow by 3%, to 7,800. Point of sale terminals will grow by 13%, to 170,000.
Non-performing loans account for 71% of the loan portfolios of Ukraine’s four major state banks, the central bank reports. At Privatbank, the ratio is 87%; Oschadbank is 64%; Ukreximbank is 60% and Ukrgazbank is 22%. At the four subsidiaries of Russian state banks -- Sberbank, VTB and Vneshekonombank – NPLs account for 69% loan portfolios. Concorde Capital’s Alexander Paraschiy writes: “Ukraine’s banking system, excluding the state-controlled banks of Ukraine and Russia, looks relatively healthy. But the problem is that the “excluded” banks account for 62% of the Ukrainian banking system’s total assets and 59% of its deposit base.”
All future timber sales are to be through open, electronic auctions, according to the State Agency for Forest Resources. The agency reports that its enterprises cut 15.9 million cubic meters of wood last year, 2.5% less than in 2016. Working largely in the Carpathians, the companies planted 35,000 hectares, 10% more than planned. The agency says that illegal logging last year accounted for 26,000 cubic meters of wood, worth about $5.5 million.
Soybean exports to the EU have almost doubled over the last year, World Grain news site reports. Today, about one third of Ukraine’s soy crop goes to Europe. Over the last three years, Ukraine’s soy crop increased by 52%, to 4.2 million tons, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
Kormotech, Ukraine’s largest pet food producer, increased sales last year by 17%, to 31,500 tons. With about one third of Ukraine’s market, the Lviv region company plans to increase exports this year to France, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Romania – and to start exporting to Chile.
Three Ukrainian startups won 2017 Golden Kitty Awards, a prize decided by international online voting. Petcube Bites won the Product Hunt Golden Kitty Awards in the nomination "WTF Product of the Year". Designed for pet owners at work, this gizmo allows pet owners to watch, talk, play, and feed treats to their shut in dogs or cats. PatentBot, which automates trademarks applications, won in the category Bot of the Year. Setapp, which is a single subscription with a wide collection of apps for macOS, became the Consumer Product of the Year.
“Will we have enough Ukrainians to work for us? Poland's central bank head wonders” headlines a Reuters report from Warsaw. Adam Glapinski, governor of Poland’s central bank, worries that labor shortages cloud the future of a country with an aging population, labor migration, and an economy growing by 4.5%. Of Poland’s 38 million citizens, only 16 million work. By some estimates, Ukrainians already account for 8% of Poland’s work force. Reuters writes: “With the EU visa regime easing for Ukraine, there is a concern that fewer of them will make Poland their work destination.”
Polish exports to Ukraine increased by 26.5% through November, Poland’s Puls Biznesu business news site reports. Radoslav Jarema, director of a Polish company, Akcent International, says that Ukraine and Romania are now considered the most promising export markets for Poland.
Ukrainian passenger jets were more crowded last year as flight growth did not pace passenger growth. Passengers carried by Ukrainian airlines companies jumped by 27.5% - to 10.6 million. But commercial flights increased by only 17%, to 93,000. Passenger traffic in 2017 was 30% over the pre-crisis year of 2013, the State Aviation Service reports. With budget travel on the rise, the number of passengers on charter flights increased 49%, to 3.8 million people. The fastest growing airline passenger counts were at: Windrose, up 2.5 times; Atlas Jet Ukraine, up 74%; Bravo up 50%; Azur, up 17%; and Ukraine International Airlines, up 16.5%. The airport growth champions were: Kiev Zhuliany, up 64%; Lviv, up 46%; Kharkiv, up 35%; Zaporizhie, up 26.5%; and Odesa up 19%.
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As Kyiv’s economic conferences start this fall, China, the world’s second largest economy, is missing from agendas. With a $12 trillion economy, eight times Russia’s, China is emerging quietly as Ukraine’s top economic partner of the future.