Investors ready to support Dnipro river development

The EBRD and EIB intend to invest up to 50 million euro in the development of the Dnipro river as transport route. The institutions announced this yesterday at the conference ‘Dnipro as European Waterway’, hosted by the Netherlands embassy in Kyiv and the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine. During the conference, taking its participants to the river on the boat ‘Silver Wave’, Ukrainian government representatives, members of parliament, international water experts, business and the International Financial Institutions (IFI) discussed the potential of the Dnipro river for transport.

‘With a booming agricultural industry, there is great challenge for the Ukrainian transport and logistics network to facilitate its potential. Ukraine has a unique asset which could allow it to become a strategic part of the European economy: the mighty Dnipro river,’ the Dutch Ambassador Kees Klompenhouwer said opening the conference. To which Mrs. Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, added: “In addition to unloading roads and railways, the development of inland water transport will promote the ecologization of transportation by reducing road transport emissions. It is also one of the priorities of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU.”

In order to identify the prerequisites to develop the river Dnipro for transport, the Ministry and Dutch Embassy started the ‘Dnipro Development Initiative’ in September 2016, after the US Army Corps of Engineers did a study of the locks. The EIB, EBRD and EU delegation were quick to join, doing different prefeasibility studies that potential investors will need in order to consider investments. Also the World Bank’s transport program for Ukraine is contributing.

Deputy Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine Nadya Kaznacheeva, explained: “One of the projects was the study of the feasibility of implementing a public-private partnership in the port of Kherson and the development of the lower part of the Dnieper. The development of a pre-feasibility study, completed in late March 2017, was undertaken by international companies Royal Haskoning, Rebel Group and others with the support of the World Bank Group. Any development plan begins with an ambitious goal. Therefore, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Government of Ukraine have the goal: to create as soon as possible all necessary conditions for attracting private investors to the river and implementing the Dnipro River Development and other Inland Waterways Initiative “.

These studies are the stepping stone for investments in the river, that will boost the economy. In order to benefit in full and attract real investments, Ukraine needs to embrace the development of the river and make the necessary adjustments to the governance structure on the river.

“The priority tasks facing the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine are the adoption of the Law on Inland Water Transport, the introduction of norms and standards of the European Union on the rivers of Ukraine, dredging of rivers and sustainable financing for the maintenance of river infrastructure. These successive steps will allow Ukraine to increase the volume of freight, attract world investors to the development of the river infrastructure of Ukraine, which in turn will strengthen the country’s economy, “said Victor Dovhan, Deputy Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine.

According to the experts from The Netherlands and the European Union, the river is indispensable in a healthy multimodal transport network for Ukraine. To keep in pace with the agribusiness and facilitate economic growth, infrastructure and logistics need to be modernized. This is recognized by businesses that are already investing in the river, but also by the IFI’s. Both are ready to invest in the river, as soon as the government develops the right river management structure.

The way to get there rests on a very simple principle: freedom of navigation and creating a level playing field between modes of transport. By setting the governance conditions right, Ukraine can unleash the market forces that will enable the technical improvements of the river infrastructure that are long overdue. This does mean however, that Ukraine first needs to invest in the river itself,’ Dutch experts point out.

Eventually the Dnipro river can even become part of the Trans European Transport system, E40 Rhine-Danube-Black Sea, A7 Dnipro, Pripyat, Baltic Sea. This idea was supported by Mr. Daniel Jacques, of the European Commission in Brussels. With support of the EU’s neighborhood policy and the implementation of the Association Agreement, Ukraine’s biggest river can meet the international standards of navigation. The Dnipro as part of the European infrastructure, is then more than an idea. It is a dot on the horizon.

Source: mtu.gov.ua

South Korea plans to invest in 4G and 5G development in Ukraine

The Republic of Korea announced plans to invest in the development of digital infrastructure for 4G and 5G network capability in Ukraine. This was reported by the Press Service of the Ministry of Economic Development after the meeting of First Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine Stepan Kubiv with Korean Ambassador Li Yang Gu and representatives of the Korean Investment Corporation K-Growth.

“The volumes of mutual trade and investment in Ukraine by the Republic of Korea are not yet significant. It’s time to change this situation and develop effective cooperation, especially in the development of information infrastructure for 4G and 5G in Ukraine,” Kubiv said.

According to him, cooperation is one of the overriding priorities of the work of the government and the Ministry of Economic Development, and Korea is an acknowledged world leader in mentioned field.

Towards the end of 2016, Ukraine began working on the development of 5G communication. Local mobile operator LifeCell and manufacturing companies Ericsson and Huawei, which produce equipment for communication networks, announced the joint development of the fifth generation communication standards.

Source: uawire.org

Ukrainian Railways plans five-year investment program

Ukraine’s state-owned JSC Ukrzaliznytsia railways operator has presented its five-year development strategy for 2017-21, which includes investment of UAH 130 billion to UAH 150 billion, and the formation of five business sectors: freight transport and logistics, passenger transport, infrastructure, traction services, manufacturing and services, according to the Railway Gazette.

In the freight sector, Ukrzaliznytsia plans to invest in the creation of intermodal terminals and logistics services with a target of growing its share of the container market from 29% to 45% in 2021. The passenger division will form six regional commuter-operating businesses in 2018, and a company to manage stations. The planned traction services company would be tasked with purchasing 250 new locomotives and modernizing the current fleet, the Railway Gazette reported. Read also Ukrzaliznytsia invited to mend railway tracks in Poland The 2017-21 rolling stock investment plan is worth UAH 108 billion, including UAH 87 billion for the purchase of 262 locomotives (UAH 36 billion), 35,773 wagons (UAH 31 billion), 440 coaches (UAH 9 billion) and 46 diesel and electric multiple-units (UAH 11 billion). The remaining UAH 22 billion would be used for the modernization of 403 freight, 212 passenger and 283 shunting locos as well as 57,510 wagons, 696

The 2017-21 rolling stock investment plan is worth UAH 108 billion, including UAH 87 billion for the purchase of 262 locomotives (UAH 36 billion), 35,773 wagons (UAH 31 billion), 440 coaches (UAH 9 billion) and 46 diesel and electric multiple-units (UAH 11 billion). The remaining UAH 22 billion would be used for the modernization of 403 freight, 212 passenger and 283 shunting locos as well as 57,510 wagons, 696 coaches and 430 multiple units. This would mean that at least half of the Ukrzaliznytsia fleet would be new or modernized, in contrast to the current situation where three-quarters of the fleet are in need of modernization or replacement.

Source: unian.info

UVCA Publishes Overview of Ukrainian Investment Market

The Ukrainian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (UVCA) published the first overview of Ukrainian investment market displaying current players’ activity, sectors of interest, and portfolio.

The Investors Book identified 34 active investors, which deal with global companies from Ukraine (mostly IT sector). According to the Book, there are 29 funds operating in Ukraine, consisting of:
– 5 incubators and accelerators,
– 1 corporate fund,
– 17 venture capital funds, and
– 6 private equity funds.
Out of the total, 10 funds may participate in rounds A or B, 16 funds are ready to invest in seed startups, 7 funds would invest at the pre-seed stage.
Ukrainian investment funds have 20 portfolio companies on average. Funds are ready to invest from 50k to dozens of millions USD, depending on the fund type and project stage. Thirty-seven percent of the funds may invest from 100k to 1 million USD.

Have a look at the “Book” here

Established in mid-2014 and led by Olga Afanasyeva, CEO, UVCA currently unites 40 members – private equity and venture funds, accelerators, incubators, educational institutions, and non-government organizations that make significant impact on the development of Ukrainian investment market. The association promotes investment opportunities across the country for foreign investment funds, conducts market research, lobbies laws for improving investment and business climate, and implements Invest in Ukraine activities.

Source: finsmes.com

Why Investors Are Giving Ukraine a Second Chance

Ukraine today is open and transparent, but foreign investors are often taken aback by its challenges. While corruption and property rights are issues, any objective assessment must recognize the monumental strides the country has taken on these issues.

After three years of reforms, society is fatigued, and the mood is pessimistic. The current media narrative—that while some changes have taken place, reforms in the country have stalled—disregards the scale of achievements since 2014. Ukraine began building a truly democratic state only three years ago, after twenty-three years of failed kleptocratic leadership by its Soviet-era elites. The regime of former President Viktor Yanukovych’s industrial-scale plunder of the state treasury put Ukraine’s very survival in question after the Revolution of Dignity. Ukraine lost almost 30 percent of its GDP, 60 percent of the value of its currency, and 7 percent of its territory to an invading aggressor, with the treasury holding less than $15,000 in the country’s current account and barely enough gold reserves to cover one month’s worth of imports.

A Japanese business delegation explores an Antonov An-225 Mriya, the largest cargo aircraft in the world, in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 15. Led by the Japan External Trade Organization, the delegation met with Minister of Economic Development and Trade Stepan Kubiv and representatives from the Ministries of Agrarian Policy and Food, Energy and Coal Industry, and Infrastructure, among others. Credit: UkraineInvest

But Ukraine turned things around. Within two years, the country had achieved macroeconomic, currency, and public debt stability; signed a free trade and Association Agreement with the European Union; decentralized power and funding to local governments; reformed its notoriously corrupt police force, public procurement system, and gas sector; and embarked on an overhaul of the financial and tax systems. And it continues to improve the business environment by scrapping outdated and job-killing regulations.

More has been done to reform the country in the past three years than in the previous twenty-three, resulting in 4.7 percent year-over-year economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2016. The International Monetary Fund recognized these achievements and signaled its confidence in the government’s course by releasing on April 3 the fourth installment of $1 billion under its four-year, $17.5 billion lending program.

Also on April 3, Prime Minister Volodymyr Groisman announced the next wave of far-reaching structural social and economic changes that will finally be felt by ordinary Ukrainians. They include the reform of the pension, health, and education systems, the creation of a market for agricultural land, and a new approach to privatizing state-owned enterprises.

Unfortunately, most Ukrainians have not yet felt the results of the initial changes, but investors have taken note. Ukraine’s western and central regions are now integrated into the European automobile supply chain through a large cluster of major international manufacturers profitably exporting auto parts to the EU, creating tens of thousands of jobs and investing hundreds of millions of euros into Ukraine’s economy. The country’s largest investor, ArcelorMittal, has announced a $400 million modernization of its steel works in eastern Ukraine this year, creating about 25,000 new jobs. UkraineInvest is currently supporting a number of global players in the agribusiness, infrastructure, innovation technology, energy, and energy efficiency sectors with planned investments this year.

While investors recognize the opportunities, they are also aware of the risks. The unprecedented social and economic transformation underway in Ukraine inevitably involves significant transaction costs. Although the EU’s Association Agreement assessment mission recently gave the government high marks for addressing the challenges of corruption, the country’s greatest challenge remains to strengthen the rule of law and transform the relics of the Soviet system that hinder business: the courts, the prokuratura, various security and law enforcement agencies, and numerous administrative bodies. While much remains to be done, a recent high-profile arrest shows that Ukraine’s new Western-backed anti-corruption institutions are beginning to succeed, and the current reform of the Supreme Court, involving civil society oversight, may facilitate the reform of the country’s judiciary as a whole.

The Groisman government understands that making transparency a permanent part of public administration is the key to eventually defeating corruption. The government’s earlier success with ProZorro, Ukraine’s internationally-acclaimed public procurement process, has been followed by the establishment of an online registration system for businesses and property, an e-declaration system outlining the assets of all public officials, and an automatic online VAT-refund registry.

Ukraine has a remarkable story to tell, but it needs more investment now. Experts have urged Ukraine’s international partners—the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the World Bank group, OPIC, and the European Investment Bank—to pledge $25 billion for a five-year infrastructure fund to spur investment in the public and private sectors. If these were buttressed by export credits from bilateral export credit and insurance agencies, such as the US Export-Import Bank and Hermes from Germany, the Ukrainian government could offer its citizens a brighter future faster. The Ukrainian people deserve nothing less.

Daniel Bilak is director of UkraineInvest and serves as the chief investment adviser to the Prime Minister of Ukraine.

Source: atlanticcouncil.org

EBRD Intends to Invest € 1 Billion in Ukraine in 2017

Şevki Acuner, Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) for Ukraine, hopes that the bank will expand its investments in projects in Ukraine up to EUR 1 billion this year.

“Over the previous two years, we invested EUR 2.2 billion in total, which is about EUR 1 billion per year, so I expect that this year we will achieve the same level of investment,” said the Director in his interview with Interfax-Ukraine Agency.

Mr. Acuner reminded that, in 2016, EBRD’s total investment in Ukraine came up to nearly EUR 600 million, which was caused by Ukraine’s political instability in early 2016.

According to the EBRD Director for Ukraine, the Bank has ambitious investment plans for 2017. In his opinion, the security situation in Donbas will not influence the investment volumes. Thus, he informed that the EBRD intended to invest in subway construction in Kharkiv, development of Ukrainian power lines and energy industry, as well as to finance a number of port industry related projects in Ukraine.

Source: eurointegration.com.ua

Black Iron: Suspensions Lifted on the Shymanivske Project

TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – March 22, 2017) Black Iron Inc. (“Black Iron” or the “Company”) (TSX:BKI) is pleased to report that the Company has received written notice from the Dnepropetrvosk Ecology Department (the “Ecology Department”) that the suspensions on exploration activities imposed by the Ecology Department on the Company’s Shymanivske project in 2011 and 2012 have been lifted.

Matt Simpson, Chief Executive Officer of Black Iron, commented: “We have always believed that the basis for these suspensions were unfounded and we are glad to see Ukraine’s new government taking action to resolve such suspensions and support international investors. It is refreshing to see support from multiple levels of government to bring the Shymanivske project into production. In addition to the suspensions being lifted, the Kryvyi Rih City Council has held public hearings in support of initiating a process to lease to Black Iron surface rights for the land covering the Shymanivske project (see press release dated January 23, 2017). In the near term, the Company expects to receive a positive decision from the Kryvyi Rih City Council authorizing Black Iron to develop a detailed land allotment plan for the Shymanivske project, as required by Ukrainian law, prior to signing a lease agreement with the city of Kryvyi Rih for the Shymanivske project surface rights.”

With iron ore prices holding strongly at approximately US$90/T coupled with Ukraine’s heavily depreciated currency, Black Iron believes the pieces are coming into place to bring the Shymanivske project into production.

About Black Iron

Black Iron is an iron ore exploration and development company, advancing its 100% owned Shymanivske project located in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine. The Shymanivske project contains a NI 43-101 compliant resource estimated to be 645.8 Mt Measured and Indicated mineral resources, consisting of 355.1 Mt Measured mineral resources grading 32.0% total iron and 19.5% magnetic iron, and Indicated mineral resources of 290.7 Mt grading 31.1% total iron and 17.9% magnetic iron, using a cut-off grade of 10% magnetic iron. Additionally, the Shymanivske project contains 188.3 Mt of Inferred mineral resources grading 30.1% total iron and 18.4% magnetic iron. Full mineral resource details can be found in the NI 43-101 compliant technical report dated January 24, 2014 titled “Feasibility Study of the Shymanivske Iron Ore Deposit for Black Iron Inc.” under the Company’s profile on SEDAR at www.sedar.com. The Shymanivske project is surrounded by five other operating mines, including ArcelorMittal’s iron ore complex. Please visit the Company’s website at www.blackiron.com for more information.

The technical and scientific contents of this press release have been prepared under the supervision of and have been reviewed and approved by Matt Simpson, P.Eng, CEO of Black Iron, who is a Qualified Person as defined by NI 43-101.

Forward-Looking Information

This press release contains forward-looking information. Forward-looking information is based on what management believes to be reasonable assumptions, opinions and estimates of the date such statements are made based on information available to them at that time, including those factors discussed in the section entitled “Risk Factors” in the Company’s annual information form for the year ended December 31, 2016 or as may be identified in the Company’s public disclosure from time to time, as filed under the Company’s profile on SEDAR at www.sedar.com. Forward-looking information may include, but is not limited to, statements with respect to the Shymanivske project, the Company’s ability to obtain the requisite land rights for the Shymanivske project, the impact of Ecology Department lifting the suspensions on the Shymanivske project, the ability of the Company to bring the Shymanivske project into production and its impact on the Company and its shareholders, and future plans for the Company’s development. Generally, forward looking information can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “plans”, “expects” or “does not expect”, “is expected”, “budget”, “scheduled”, “estimates”, “forecasts”, “intends”, “anticipates” or “does not anticipate”, or “believes”, or variations of such words and phrases or state that certain actions, events or results “may”, “could”, “would”, “might” or “will be taken”, “occur” or “be achieved”. Forward-looking information is subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking information, including but not limited to: general business, economic, competitive, geopolitical and social uncertainties; the actual results of current exploration activities; other risks of the mining industry and the risks described in the annual information form of the Company. Although the Company has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking information, there may be other factors that cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. There can be no assurance that such information will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward looking information. The Company does not undertake to update any forward-looking information, except in accordance with applicable securities laws.

Contact Information:

Black Iron Inc.
Matt Simpson
Chief Executive Officer
+1 (416) 309-2138

Ukraine’s IT boom could speed up EU integration

Ukraine has a literacy rate of 99.7 percent, which is higher than most EU states

June 2017 will mark the three-year anniversary of the association agreement between the European Union and Ukraine, and while the Eastern European state has taken major steps towards European integration, its progress has been slow.

With the signing of the EU agreement in 2014, it seemed as if Ukraine’s dream of Western integration would finally become a reality. This feeling materialised in 2015 as Ukraine took significant steps in its fight against corruption.

Last year, however, presented new challenges.

The failure to remove various corrupt government officials undermined progress. Furthermore, as anti-corruption efforts stalled, Odesa governor Mikheil Saakashvili, among others, resigned in frustration.

Events within the EU further stymied Ukraine’s progress towards European integration.

In April 2016, the Dutch overwhelmingly rejected closer EU ties with Ukraine. Matters became worse in June when the United Kingdom, one of Ukraine’s staunchest advocates in the EU, voted to leave the bloc.

Implementation of the agreement allowing visa-free travel to the EU has also been delayed. Given these developments, Ukrainian enthusiasm for Europe is slowly waning as many Ukrainians believe the EU may not deliver on its promises.

Critics of Ukraine argue that it is far from ready to join the EU, citing corruption as its major hurdle.

Furthermore, some EU members are concerned that Ukraine’s economy would be a drain on European resources.

This comes at a time when the EU faces the loss of the UK, one of its biggest financial contributors. Some critics argue that it will take at least 20-25 years for Ukraine to be admitted into the organization.

Ukraine continues to face these problems in 2017. It was ranked 131st in the world on the Corruption Perceptions Index, and the war in Donbas has escalated.

New case

While Ukraine’s future may seem bleak, the eastern European state has a new case to present to the EU.

Its educated populace and the IT sector may accelerate the membership process and boost national morale during this difficult period in its history.

Ukraine has a literacy rate of 99.7 percent, which is higher than most EU states. This statistic demonstrates that it can be a vital member of the international community.

The well-educated populace has also led to a booming IT sector, with venture investments in Ukrainian start-ups jumping 237 percent from 2014-2015.

There are currently over 100,000 skilled IT professionals in Ukraine, and the training and knowledge of Ukrainian software developers are on par with those of Silicon Valley. The IT sector accounted for 3 percent of Ukraine’s annual GDP, and has generated billions of dollars in exports.

The work of these Ukrainian developers has not gone unnoticed. Corporations such as Snapchat and Uber have performed well in Ukraine.

Moreover, GitLab co-founder Dmitriy Zaporozhets was listed in Forbes 30 Under 30 as one of the most successful people in the world in the enterprise technology sector.

In addition, international companies are outsourcing to numerous Ukrainian tech start-ups.

Firms such as Ecois.me and Petiole have gained international acclaim and were recognized for their contributions to the Ukrainian market.

Given their expertise, Ukrainian developers would be a valuable asset to the European community as they have demonstrated that they are very motivated, well-trained, and capable.

The recent rise in Ukraine’s tech industry has had a major impact on foreign investment. The tax burden in Ukraine is one of the lowest in Europe, and many investors have capitalised on this opportunity.

Investors

Private sector technology firms from Sweden have invested millions of dollars into the tech industry.

The strong performance of IT companies such as Sigma Software and Beetroot have encouraged others, like Danish company Clio Online, to enter the market.

As the IT sector continues to expand it is likely that private tech companies from other EU members will conduct business in Ukraine. This partnership could strengthen international cooperation between the EU and Ukraine.

The IT sector in Ukraine could also help reduce corruption. During the early 2000s Estonia invested heavily in the tech industry, even choosing to develop electronic services to oversee transactions online between government and citizens.

These programs established greater transparency and facilitated good governance. In the words of former Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves, “you can’t bribe a computer.”

Thanks largely to the effect of technology, the Baltic state is now ranked 23rd in the world on the Corruption Perceptions Index.

Using Estonia as a model, Ukraine’s IT sector could play a critical role in fighting corruption, thereby building confidence in Ukraine and easing the concerns of critics in the EU.

With demonstrated strength in the growing IT sector, Ukraine is showing that it can compete with the tech industries of any Western state, and data processing solutions can contribute to greater efficiency and investments across both the private and public sectors.

This suggests that Ukraine is not as far behind as critics suggest, and that skeptics in the EU should not be so hasty in dismissing a potential engine of growth on the continent.

Author: Mark Temnycky is a Ukrainian-American pursuing a masters in public administration and international relations at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs in Syracuse University, New York, in the US

Source: Euobserver

Ukraine and Canada: a history of settlement and a future for investment

I have been in Ukraine since October 2014; I arrived soon after the Revolution of Dignity began. 

The revolution created both a strong desire for reform and a call for social justice, but at the same time it also led to the occupation of Crimea and the beginning of the Russian-backed aggression of Donbas. As a result, Ukraine has needed to deal with a very broad range of challenges, and all at the same time. This has meant that despite the efforts of many ambitious and smart people, reforms haven’t moved as quickly as many Ukrainians had hoped. Nevertheless, more has been done in these past three years than in the previous twenty-four years. It’s certainly encouraging and we’re beginning to see the results now. 

On the economic side, we can see the growth going ahead in bounds. Ukraine did not have a viable army in 2014; certainly not one that was combat worthy. Civil society and the population stepped in to remedy much of that, and the state has been catching up. It plays more a role as a deterrent, which we hope will make a peaceful solution more viable.

Obviously, many issues remain outstanding both with Russia, for example, as well as the international court and the challenge that was launched at the beginning of March in the Hague is evidence of that. Ukraine’s relationship with the EU continues to be redefined and Canada has been a strong partner throughout.

Our economic relations are fairly modest. In terms of exports from Canada, 2016 was a record year and the best since 1991, reaching 265 million Canadian dollars. According to our statistics, Ukraine’s exports to Canada were 107 million Canadian dollars. We are confident that more can be done now, with our Canada-Ukraine free-trade agreement.

The International Trade Centre in Geneva did a study, and Canada ended up in the top ten underserved markets when it comes to Ukraine, in terms of not fully using the existing potential. Because of that we believe that both the attention and the publicity surrounding the free-trade agreement, as well as the provisions of the document itself, will help remedy that. In order to help that process along, we’ve launched a Canada-Ukraine Trade Investment Support Project with the Conference Board of Canada and the Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce which aims to help build Ukraine’s capacity to use these opportunities.

I think the other key element, which is not yet covered by the current version of our free-trade agreement, is trade in services but we are open to negotiating this over the next couple of years. When it comes to Canada, certainly sales of software and computer services probably are, by all accounts, greater than goods’ exports at this point, both in terms of product development, outsourcing and maintenance. There is a lot of activity, and sales into Canada. Certainly, I would say over 100 million Canadian dollars a year, if not 150 million. 

Thanks to the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada there’s a widespread awareness of Ukrainians, and by extension, Ukraine. It’s not something you need to explain to most Canadians. That makes Canada a little different from many other countries, and it means there are already people there with cultural empathy and openness to the market.

On the other hand, it also comes with some disadvantages. Some of these people, with personal links to Ukraine, tried to do business in the early years, of the 90s. Many of those business ventures did not work in the Wild West atmosphere that existed at the time and the bad memories of some of those smaller-scale (and larger-scale) problems persist. So, we need to overcome those. In the past year and a half we’ve seen the arrival of major Canadian players, such as Fairfax Financial, investing in Ukraine. We’re seeing bigger players with deeper pockets who are willing to take on board the Ukrainian risk in order to also take advantage of the Ukrainian opportunities.

I am of Ukrainian origin myself. I was born in Toronto and I lost some of my illusions about Eastern Europe there. I try to encourage people in Canada, from whatever background, to take a realistic view of the market.

Does Ukraine have an image problem? I think there’s no doubt that there are perception issues out there. In territorial terms, the military conflict concerns approximately about seven per cent of the country, if we include both Crimea and the Donbas, and three per cent, if just the Donbas. Certainly, one of the things that I remind my Canadian country people about is that it is 1,300 km from the western border to the line of contact in the conflict zone, and that’s a very long distance, indeed.

ABOUT ROMAN WASCHUK

Roman Waschuk is Ambassador of Canada to Ukraine. He began his career with the Department of External Affairs in 1987. First posted as second secretary (political) in Moscow, he subsequently served as counsellor (political) in Kyiv and counsellor (political) and minister-counsellor (political/economic) in Berlin. He also served as Ambassador to Serbia, with concurrent accreditation to Macedonia and Montenegro. He graduated from the University of Toronto (MA in History).

Source