- The U.S. sees Russia’s Ukraine bypass pipeline as a threat to Europe's energy security, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Saturday in Warsaw. Ukraine, Poland and Baltic states fear the planned Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany would increase Europe's dependence on Russian gas and deprive Ukraine of billions or dollars in gas transit fees. "Like Poland, the United States opposes the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. We see it as undermining Europe's overall energy security and stability," Tillerson said at a joint news conference with Poland’s foreign minister, Reuters reports. "Our opposition is driven by our mutual strategic interests.”
- Ukraine, Estonia and Georgia are the only former Soviet nations cited on a list of 14 leaders in block chain innovation by Dan Tapscott, Canadian author of ‘Blockchain Revolution.’ At Davos, Tapscott talked about the world’s key hubs for blockchain innovation. The other countries are: US, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Israel, Dubai, UK, France, Germany, Sweden and China.
- Executives from Black Iron, the Canadian iron ore exploration and development company, negotiated with officials in Krivyi Rih last week about conditions for starting their Shymanivske mining project. If approved, Shymanivske would be a $1.1 billion investment, the largest for a Canadian company in Ukraine.
- Nibulon plans to increase its river shipments of grain by 50% during the next marketing year, according to Oleksiy Vadatursky, CEO of the food logistics company. Aided by European loans, Nibulon is building 10 loading terminals on the banks of the Dnipro, Southern Bug and other navigable rivers. Vadatursky predicted: “We will take more than 125,000 truckloads off Ukrainian roads and save budget funds for road repairs."
- Due to Ukraine’s soft grain harvest this year, Russia will displace Ukraine as the world’s second largest grain producer after the US, according to the International Grain Council. Russia is to export 44 million tons, slightly more than Ukraine’s 41 million tons.
- Margarine output was up 24% through November, hitting 203.200 tons of the imitation butter spread. UkrAgroConsult reports. Modern margarine is made mainly of refined vegetable oils, of corn, sunflower and canola (rapeseed).
- Ukrainians came home from the World Economic Forum in Davos buoyed by positive receptions. Several events at the new Ukraine House were standing room only. President Poroshenko said that executives from more than 80 companies asked for meetings with him. He said: “This is a good indicator how popular Ukraine is among the investors and how confident they are about our success.” Poroshenko predicted that Ukraine would soon be ranked among the 50 easiest in the world for doing business. In the current ranking, maintained by the World Bank, Ukraine ranks 76 out of 190 countries.
- Envelopes with offers for 4G cell service will be opened on Wednesday, according to President Poroshenko. He said in Davos: “When I was elected president, Ukraine didn’t have 3G connection, because of corruption. Shortly, we will open the envelope for 4G connection. We have many companies ready to invest in that.”
- Prime Minister Groysman predicted on Friday that Ukraine could receive the next tranche of IMF aid by June. The day before, President Poroshenko predict the IMF money would be unblocked by April. If this tranche is approved, it is expected to be about $1billion.
- An IMF mission is expected in Kyiv in mid-February, Bohdan Danylyshyn, head of the Council of the National Bank of Ukraine told Channel 5 Friday night. He said the impact of Ukrainian officials’ meetings at Davos is that Ukraine is now seen as “active negotiator” with the IMF.
- The central bank’s decision last week to hike the prime interest rates to 16% from 14.5% may “lead to a set of negative consequences,” said Danylyshyn, of the National Bank’s Council. He warned of “the slowdown in GDP growth due to a decrease in demand for loans by enterprises in the real sector.”
- On Tuesday, Italy’s Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano is to inaugurate in Kyiv a Ukrainian-Italian business forum. at the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, at 33 Velyka Zhytomyrska Street.
- Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic met in Davos last week with President Petro Poroshenko. Ukrinform reports they discussed the launch of a “bilateral working group on the study of the unique experience of Croatia in the peaceful reintegration of the temporarily occupied territories.” Plenkovic also met with Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration. They agreed that a bilateral commission on trade and economic cooperation will meet in Zagreb April 16. She praised the work of Crosco, a Croatian company that has EUR 47 million in contracts to drill for oil in Poltava for Ukrgazvydobuvannia.
- Ukraine’s Windrose airline will double flight frequencies this summer to Pula and Split, Croatia’s two main destinations on the Adriatic Coast. Starting in June, there will be two flights a week to each city from Kyiv Boryspil, according to Avioradar, a Croatian news site.
- Latvia’s airline airBaltic will expand flights to Ukraine on March 25, offering six flights a week from Riga to Odesa and twice a day from Riga to Kyiv, reports Wolfgang Reuss, the airline’s senior vice president for network management. This expansion comes after airBaltic’s passenger flow to Ukraine increased 54% last year, to 113,564 passengers.
- Ukraine’s new ambassador to the Philippines, Olexander Nechytaylo, is asking authorities in Manila to extend visa free or visa on arrival to Ukrainians, The Manila Bulletin reports. To bolster his argument, Nechytaylo, who also is accredited to Malaysia, said that 15,000 Ukrainians visited Malaysia last year, a visa-free country for Ukrainians. By contrast, he said only 200 Ukrainians visited the Philippines last year. Ukraine’s foreign ministry to pushing to expand Ukrainians visa-free access to 20 more countries by 2020.
- As e-shopping grows, 41% of rail tickets last year were purchased online, up from 34% in 2016. From 22 million tickets bought on the internet in 2017, Ukrzaliznytsya expects the number to grow further this year.
- Detectives from Rosselkhoznadzor, Russia’ Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance, suspect that 25% of all cheese in the Russian market is from Ukraine. It is repacked in Belarus and then exported to Russia as produced in third countries, RBC news agency says, citing Julie Melano, spokeswoman for the Russian agency. Interviews with officials in four suspect countries -- San Marino, Macedonia, China, and Iran -- found that none of these countries had exported cheese to Russia. With Belarus supplying 84% of Russia’s imported cheese, Sergey Dankvert, head of Rosselkhoznadzor, concludes that Belarusians are “legalizing cheese,” also known as “cheese-laundering.” Russia banned the import of Ukrainian cheese in autumn 2014. Since then, it has had a hard time making its own.
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