A former European minister visiting Kyiv at the end of 2016 asked me to explain to him a phenomenon he had encountered after spending two days in Ukraine. “Half the people that I speak to,” he said, “talk of massive positive change that has taken place in Ukraine over the past three years. The other half complain that nothing has changed. Who is telling the truth?” I explained that the reality is probably somewhere in-between. We tend to hear the bad news much quicker – if it bleeds, it reads, - while good news takes longer to get across.
In a Financial Times article published on 8 December, I was quoted as saying that “tectonic shifts” are taking place in Ukraine, to the betterment of the business environment. “The reform we have seen in the past three years is more than Ukraine achieved in the previous quarter of a century. We are seeing real, tangible changes. Still on investors’ wish list are continuation of the IMF program; the ability to repatriate profits; transparent privatizations; a crackdown on illicit trade; and improved tax administration.”
The fight against corruption remains the number one issue for all business in Ukraine. We are looking towards 2017 with hope that we will see more of the third of our “3Ps” (prevent, publicize, and punish) on corruption becoming reality. This is something that we have been advocating throughout the outgoing year.
The past twelve months have served as a turning point for the Ukrainian economy. In 2016, Ukraine finally saw a change of trajectory in economic growth: following 5 years of GDP contraction and decline, Ukraine posted 1.4% GDP growth figures. This is a very encouraging signal. It should help to attract new investment to Ukraine.
Working for Ukraine since 1992
As we enter the New Year, 2017 will be a very special one for the members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine: we will be celebrating our silver jubilee 25th anniversary in Ukraine. The Chamber was founded in 1992 and has gone from strength to strength over the past quarter of a century. We will be recapping on the major successes that we achieved in Ukraine. Our team is full of inspiration and new ideas. We will be setting ourselves even more ambitious goals.
A large number of policy, networking and educational events are already scheduled for the first quarter of 2017. Continuing our dynamic cooperation with government officials and stakeholders, we count on support and professional involvement of our Members into Chamber activities so that reform-oriented measures can be taken for the benefit of the business community and Ukraine at large, with the goal of strengthening the sustainability of Ukraine’s economy.
Part of a unique European network
I am delighted that in 2017, Ukraine will now have a presence and more visibility among the American Chambers of Commerce in 44 countries throughout Europe and Eurasia. This is part of the Chamber’s B2U strategy, promoting Ukraine as an attractive destination for investors. I have been elected to serve as Treasurer of the American Chambers of Commerce in Europe, an umbrella organization representing the interests of more than 17,000 American and European companies employing 20 million workers – accounting for more than USD 1.1 trillion in investment on both sides of the Atlantic.
I invite you to celebrate our 25th anniversary together with us as we continue to fight for business in Ukraine.