- Backed by an R&D facility in Dnipro, Britain’s Skyrora plans to launch a suborbital test flight from Scotland before the end of this year. With offices in Edinburgh and Glasgow, Skyrora plans to launch small satellites from Scotland next year. Daniel Smith, Skyrora’s business development manager, tells Spacenews: “As a British company, it’s helpful [for us] to have access to Ukrainian knowledge…we outsource some design tasks to a team over there that has a mixture of real launch experience and young dynamic university graduates.”
- Nord Stream 2 AG has received permits to build the Ukraine bypass gas pipeline through the territorial waters of Germany and the land area near Greifswald, a total of 55 km. A Nord Stream 2 press release writes: “Procedures for obtaining permits in the other four countries along the pipeline route - Russia, Finland, Sweden and Denmark, are on schedule. Nord Stream 2 has met all the requirements and expects to receive permits before the start of construction in 2018.”
- Ukraine’s economy grew by 2.1% last year, slightly down from the 2.3% recorded in 2016, the National Bank of Ukraine reports. Growth tailed off in the third and fourth quarters due to irregular rains that depressed harvests, the central bank says. Two weeks ago, the bank raised its forecast for GDP growth this year to 3.4%, from 3.2%. Concorde Capital’s Evgeniya Akhtyrko writes: “In 2018, we see GDP growth accelerating to 3.5% yoy fueled by consumption, investments, and a low comparative [level] from industry and farming.”
- With corn export prices half of their 2011 peak, a recent bump in prices is not motivating some of Ukraine’s biggest corn growers to expand production, Bloomberg reports. Facing strong competition from Brazil, Ukrainian farmers also are hurt by a 14% harvest drop, caused by poor rains. For the next season, Mriya and Nibulon plan to reduce plantings by at least 17%. For this season, Ukraine’s corn exports are down 16%.
- Ukraine has adopted about 400 EU agricultural regulations since the free trade agreement provisionally went into effect three years ago. Mykola Tochytskyi, Ukraine’s representative to the EU, tells Ukrinform that a major task for coming years is to continue to align Ukraine’s sanitary and phytosanitary standards with those of the EU. During the first 1l months of 2017, Ukraine's exports of agricultural products to the EU jumped by 38%, to $5.2 billion.
- Business complaints to Ukraine’s Business Ombudsman Council jumped at the end of last year. In Q4 2017, the Council received 729 complaints - more than the total for the previous three quarters. "Nearly three quarters of the complaints received related to tax issues," the Council reports, alluding to tax inspections and openings of criminal proceedings. The crescendo of complaints may be partly due to business executives losing patience with tax authorities during the course of the year. In Q4, the Council opened a record 519 investigations. Of the 429 investigations it closed in Q4, almost two thirds ended with positive results for complainants.
- Household gas prices will not increase through the end of this heating season, usually mid-April, Prime Minister Groysman said Friday at a community meeting in Bohuslav, 140 km south of Kyiv. In 2017, Ukrainian households cut gas consumption by 6%. Timoth Ash writes: “Ok, so backtracking by Groysman, opening the way for gas price hikes before the start of the next heating season in October. What we are seeing is lots of efforts by the Poroshenko administration to give the IMF sweeteners - NBU governor, Nasirov firing, privatization bill, plus also suggestion of gas price hikes. Albeit the key still is the anti-corruption court.”
- After losing a Bangladeshi helicopter maintenance contract, Russian defense industry firms are sending potential customers threatening letters maintaining that only Russian companies “have the right to repair or modernize Soviet equipment,” Sergii Siliusarenko, CEO of Ukrinmash, a state-owned defense investment and export company, said Friday. Rejecting such ‘blackmail,’ Siliusarenko told Ukroboronprom: “Repair of aviation equipment — both helicopters and aircraft — constitutes significant income for Ukraine.” Ukroboronprom said that the helicopter repair facility contract “strengthened [Ukraine’s] positions and expanded possibilities for repairing military equipment of Soviet production on the markets of third countries.”
- A 16 MW solar power plant has been commissioned in Vesele, Zaporizhia, about 50 km north of the Black Sea coast. The owner, Solar Park Pidhorodnye, previously built two small solar plants with a total installed capacity of 1.6 MW in nearby Dnipropetrovsk.
- Poland is by far the country of choice for Ukrainian labor migrants, new statistics show. Of all residence permits received by Ukrainians in 2016, 87% were issued by Poland, according to Eurostat. And, of all the work permits issued by Poland during the first half of 2017, 95% were issued to Ukrainians, according to Poland’s Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Policy. The National Bank of Ukraine predicts that labor migration will continue this year.
- Starting April 19, Wizz Air’s London Luton – Kyiv Zhuliany flight will become daily. Also in the spring, flights from Zhuliany to Wizz Air’s Budapest hub will increase from three times a day to nearly four times a day. Wizz Air also is moving up the start of its Lviv-London flights to May. These moves come as Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan tells UBJ that he is “99% certain” that Wizz Air’s discount rival, Ryanair, will start flying to Ukraine in the first half of this year.
- Ukraine International Airlines is to increase its seat capacity by 16% this year according anna.aero’s analysis of schedules published by Ukraine’s national flag carrier. Despite the loss of Russia flights in 2015, UIA more than tripled its seats since 2012, to 7.9 million in 2017. Last year, UIA’s fastest growing market was Germany, with seats out of Boryspil to four Germany cities up by 47%.
- Domestic air traffic increased last year by 17.6% to 930,900 passengers, according to the State Aviation Service. With five airlines serving nine cities, Ukraine has a low level of domestic air traffic given its large size, comparable to France. This year, the Infrastructure Ministry is taking steps to promote new domestic flights and cheaper tickets.
- This year, 17 cruise ship calls are scheduled for Odesa, a marginal improvement over last year’s level of 13 port calls and 3,155 cruise tourists, Odesa seaport's press service tells UNIAN. In 2013, cruise ship visits peaked at 106. After Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, sanctions barred cruise ships from visiting Sevastopol and Yalta. Terrorist violence against tourists in Turkey also made Black Sea Turkish ports unappealing to some Western cruise passengers.
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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