• Reflecting Ukraine’s strong travel demand, Ukraine accounts for almost one quarter of the 70 new European routes that Wizz Air is opening over the next four months. Ukraine’s 16 new routes include: from Lviv to Gdansk, Katowice, Dortmund, and London Luton; from Kyiv Zhuliany to Tallinn and Lisbon; and from Kharkiv airport to Dortmund and Katowice.
• The number of foreigners visiting Ukraine increased by 7.4 percent last year, hitting 14.6 million, Ivan Liptuga, head of the National Tourism Organization, tells reporters. Foreign visitors have risen every year since 2015. While Moldova, Belarus and Russia remained the largest source of visitors, the fastest growing nations were Turkey and Israel.
• Lufthansa is delaying the launch of six additional Kyiv-Frankfurt flights from March to May. The German carrier blames the delay on negotiations to increase the quota ofKyiv-Frankfurt flights
• Oleh Havrylyshyn, eminent Canadian economist, says Ukraine needs to double its economic growth rates. "Given the current situation in Ukraine, its level of development and transition economy, Ukraine’s economy should increase by 5-7% annually," he tells Ukrinform. “To achieve this, greater progress is needed in the reforms." A visiting fellow at the University of Toronto, Havrylyshyn was deputy head of the IMF’s European Department.
• Poroshenko says he hopes the anti-corruption law will satisfy IMF and EU demands.After a first version was approved March 1, the Rada is working on a version for the second reading. A Western-approved law is essential to Ukraine winning $2 billion in financing from the IMF, the World Bank and the EU. Concorde Capital’s Alexander Paraschiy writes: “We still see the approval of a law meeting minimal requirements as our base-case scenario. But eventually, when forced to finally launch the court, we expect that power brokers will make the necessary adjustments to make the court fit their needs (and prevent it from threatening their power), regardless of the legislation that is approved by the IFIs.”
• The World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, or IFC, is negotiating to take a 25% stake in Ukrgasbank, Kirill Shevchenko, head of the state-owned bank, tells UNIAN. He said: “We expect a deal with IFC this year. All preconditions for the state to become a partner with the World Bank, have been created.” Of Ukraine’s state-owned banks, Ukrgasbank is the most prepared for privatization, but it is too early to talk of a date, Shevchenko said.
• Epicenter Agro is investing $80 million this year in renewing farm machinery and in reconstructing and expanding grain elevators. A subsidiary of Epicenter K, the construction hypermarket company, Epicenter Agro was formed in 2015. It farms winter wheat, sunflower, corn, and winter rapeseed on 110,000 hectares in Cherkasy, Khmelnitskiy, Kyiv and Ternopil regions. Pyotr Mikhailishin, Epicenter K general director, told reporters Tuesday: “The plan for this year is for the purchase of $170 million in imported goods. Last year, we exported $50 million in agricultural goods. There is a gap. We have to increase exports three times to hedge our financial risks.”
• The USDA predicts Ukraine will export 17.2 million tons of wheat and 20 million tons of corn during the current marketing year, which ends this June. Overall, the US Department of Agriculture forecastsUkraine will export 42.3 million tons of grain during this marketing year, nearly a 5% drop from the 2016/2017 level.
• China's Xinjiang Beiken Energy Engineering has started drilling its first well for Ukrgazvydobuvannia under a contract to drill 24 wells signed last autumn. The press service of Ukraine’s state gas producer reports the Chinese company is drilling in Poltava’s Yablunivske, intending to hit 5,000 meters. Beiken won a tender last fall to drill these wells. In a second tender, for 42 wells last December, Beiken won five of seven lots up for bid. Another Chinese company, Zhongman Petroleum and Natural Gas Group, won a sixth lot.
• Reassuring European customers, Gazprom’s head, Alexey Miller, says there is "no risk" for the transit of gas to Europe through Ukraine. Speaking one week after Russia’s state gas company said it was breaking a gas transit contract with Ukraine, he clarified at a meeting with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev: "The termination of contracts is not a very quick procedure. It may take a plus or minus one and a half or two years. But there are no risks for the transit of gas to Europe over the territory of Ukraine at this time."
• Japanese container line Ocean Network Express, or ONE, starts service next month to Odesa’s container terminal. The world's sixth largest by fleet capacity, ONE was established last year as a result of the merger of three leading Japanese container lines - MOL, NYK, and K Line.Two new Chinese companies, Yang Ming and Cosco Shipping Lines, started using Odesa’s container port. Israel’s ZIM is increasing its cargo. Igor Yarovenko, the port’s trade director, predicted in a press statement, that this new activity will compensate for the move next month to Yuzhny port byDenmark’s Maersk, the world’s largest shipper. During the first two months of this year, container traffic at Odesa hit 52,499 thousand TEU, a 16.5% increase over the same period last year.
• Saudi Arabia and Ukraine plan to start assembling light, multi-purpose versions of the An-132 cargo plane at a new technopark near Taif city, western Saudi Arabia. This technopark will include: an airplane factory with an airfield, an enterprise for manufacturing solar panels, and a solar power station. Construction of the Antonov-Taqnia plant is to take place next year and production is to start in 2021. After Antonov president Alexander Krivokon visited Saudi Arabia last week, the Kyiv-based company estimates Saudi demand will be 80 planes and Middle Eastern demand another 200. The An-132 includes engines from Pratt & Whitney Canada, avionics from CMC Electronics and Honeywell, and propellers from Britain’s Dowty.
• Austria’s President, Alexander Van der Bellen, is in Kyiv for a bilateral forum today. He came from Vienna with 40 representatives of Austrian companies, headed by Richard Schenz, vice president of Austria’s Federal Economic Chamber. Meetings are to be held today at the Fairmont Hotel in Kyiv and tomorrow in Lviv. Austria’s imports from Ukraine grew by 35%, to EUR 607 million, through November last year. In Ukraine, major Austrian companies include: Raiffeisen Bank Aval, insurance companies Vienna Insurance Group, UNIQA, GRAWE; ski manufacturers Fischer and Blizzard; and producers of Agrana fruit concentrates and Marzek Etiketten labels Shops here sell jewelry Frey Wille and crystal products Swarovski.
• Two hackers based in Chernivtsi, near Romania, defrauded DHL of EUR 1.5 million during a five year period, ending in 2016, according to Cyber department of the National Police of Ukraine. Using stolen personal data and bank accounts, the hackers obtained delivery service credits with DHL, which they later resold at discounts of 50 to 70%. Proceeds were transferred to accounts in Cyprus and Spain.