- Ukraine’s food exports to the EU grew by 37% last year, more than twice as fast as the 16.3% global growth of Ukraine’s food exports, Olga Trofimtseva, Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food for European Integration, tells the UBJ. Food sales to the EU amounted to $5.8 billion last year. In addition to big ticket staples -- cereals - $ 1.7 billion, cooking oil - $ 1.4 billion – processed exports experienced high growth. Poultry doubled to $134 million. Confectionery products almost doubled to $38 million. Flour products rose by one third to $96 million. Juices rose by one third to $71 million. And honey rose by one quarter to $99 million.
- Ukraine should expect a record apple harvest of over half a million tons, Andrew Yarmak, economist for the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, posts on Facebook. With the 2018-2019 apple harvest expected to grow by 11%, Ukraine will have 130,000 tons available for export. With Russia’s market largely closed, major markets for Ukraine’s apples will be the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
- Ukraine produced 1 million tons of eggs last year, placing it on the list of the world’s top 10 egg producers. Ukraine ranks 10th, after Turkey and Indonesia.
- About 2,000 households switched to solar power last year, taking advantage of a high ‘green’ tariff for sale of electricity to the grid. In a tariff guaranteed through 2030, household solar electricity sells for 18 euro cents the kWh. In the last three years, households have invested $65 million in solar systems, according to the State Agency for Energy Efficiency and Energy Saving.
- Interest rates may rise again this year if inflation does not come down, say members of the National Bank of Ukraine Monetary Policy Committee. Newly released minutes of the last meeting of the 6-member Committee read: “The majority of the MPC members concurred that the key policy rate might be raised in the near future if there are no strong indications of lowering inflationary pressure." At that meeting, on Jan. 24, the Committee raised Ukraine’s prime rate to 16%.
- An anti-corruption court bill should go before the Rada this week, Andriy Parubiy, parliament speaker, tells reporters. By the end of February, the Rada should vote on Yakiv Smoliy as central bank governor. Timothy Ash writes: “This is the bill which is non IMF compliant. As per the strategy with regards to pension reform, Poroshenko’s strategy seems to be to ram home his versions of various bills, which don’t address IMF concerns, and then hope the IMF caves in.”
- IMF spokesman in Washington William Murray says the bank stands by its position that the draft law on an anti-corruption court be brought “fully in line with Ukraine's commitments under the IMF program and the recommendations of the Venice Commission.” Murray also said an IMF team visit to Ukraine has not been scheduled. Concorde Capital’s Alexander Paraschiy writes: “All that's left for the financial community is to hope that increased pressure on Ukraine’s President from abroad, as well as the clear risk of Ukraine being denied borrowing from all IFIs, will force the President and parliament to approve the necessary legislation on the anti-corruption court in the soonest time frame.”
- If Kyiv can get back on track with the IMF, the exchange rate will end the year at 29.5 hryvnia to the dollar, Tomasz Fiala, CEO of Dragon Capital, predicts. With today’s rate of 27.7 hryvnia to the dollar, that would mean a 6% devaluation. Fiala said: "Without the IMF money, it can, of course, be worse, much worse."
- Foreigners without residence permits can now register as individual entrepreneurs, a major tax advantage, Olesksiy Honcharuk, head of the Better Regulation Delivery Office, writes on Facebook. UNIAN reports that almost 1.8 million individual entrepreneurs – many of them IT workers -- are registered in Ukraine. Referring to Ukraine’s growing IT sector, Honcharuk writes: “The fewer barriers, the more investment."
- In a promising economic sign for 2018, cargo handled in January by Ukraine’s 13 sea ports was up 11% over the same month last year, according to the Seaports Administration. Last year, cargo handled by the ports increased by only 1%. This January, exports were down 1%, but imports jumped by 70%. Overall, the ports handled 913 ships in January, 47% more than in January 2016.
- Betting on growth of consumer spending, Ukraine’s Foxtrot home appliance chain plans to open 10 new stores and to invest $5 million to renovate its 40 flagship stores, the company reports. With 158 stores in 90 cities across Ukraine, Foxtrot has 7 million Ukrainians – about one quarter of the adult population – enrolled in its ‘Fox Club’ loyalty program.
- About 425,400 cars with foreign license plates circulate in Ukraine, the State Fiscal Service reports. This represents about 5% of all cars in the country. It is three times the 138,944 new and used cars sold in the country last year. Almost one quarter of the foreign registered cars are from Poland. Most of the cars have violated their temporary stays as owners duck import taxes and paperwork.
- Bavaria, the heart of Germany’s car making industry, will open a political representational office in Kyiv this year, a German diplomat says. Two weeks ago, Stepan Kubiv, Ukraine’s minister of Economic Trade and Development, led a business delegation to Bavaria’s capital, Munich.
- The European Aviation Safety Agency is to review and, ideally, certify Uzhgorod International Airport, under a $75,000 contract with the Infrastructure Ministry. Unique among Ukraine’s 17 commercial airports, Uzhgorod uses Slovakian airspace for takeoffs and landings. Therefore, it needs EU certification. The airport’s sole runway, 2km of asphalt, stops 90 meters short of the international border. In July 2016, Uzhgorod, the nation’s westernmost airport, lost its sole scheduled flight, to Kyiv. Instead of a 1h15 min air hop to Kyiv, residents now choose between a 10h30 car drive or a 12h30 train ride to the capital. Lviv airport is a four drive north. Košice Airport, in Slovakia, is 100 km to the west.
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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