2017 was a very special year for the members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine as we celebrated our silver jubilee or 25th anniversary in the country. The Chamber was founded in 1992 and has grown from strength to strength over the past quarter of a century, serving our members and the business community in Ukraine.
2017: A year of growth for Chamber members
2017 was a year of growth for the majority of our Members. The economy is picking up. We are seeing GDP growth around 2.2%. This is still a modest indicator, but nevertheless a positive change in the trajectory of the economy. We are anticipating continued growth in 2018.
In 2017, the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine signed up 73 new Members. Represented by 30 Committees and Working Groups, the Chamber organized 1.190 B2G and 100 B2B events, and achieved 72 Chamber-driven policy successes in different spheres. We established new mechanisms of cooperation with major law enforcement bodies – the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine, National Police of Ukraine, and Security Service of Ukraine – and actively participated in the National Reforms Council.
Understanding the crucial need to move the country forward, we have been tirelessly promoting Ukraine and reforms in the country worldwide through cooperation with the US Embassy and Washington-based institutions. This has included holding 23 high-level meetings with US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, 22 high-level meetings with US officials, and 53 joint events with the US Embassy, getting the voice of business across. We still have a lot to do in order to make Ukraine a place where investors want to come and set up business.
What is on the agenda for 2018?
What do we need to do to achieve economic growth in Ukraine? The answer is simple – it is, above all, Foreign Direct Investment. FDI is, without doubt, key to Ukraine’s sustainable economic growth and should be the basis for a rapid economic recovery. Attracting FDI should be one of the highest priorities for 2018.
The continuation of the IMF program in Ukraine is vital for investors already operating here and for potential investors eyeing Ukraine to make investments. The headquarters of international companies are closely monitoring what is happening in Ukraine. Sustainable economic growth is exactly what they are looking for. We are looking forward to the support of the IMF to achieve further economic growth. In this context, it is crucial to support the protection of investors’ rights through full-scale judicial reform to make investors feel safe here. Investors need to be sure that their contracts are enforced, and their assets and property will not be stolen from them.
For 2018, we see our mission in continuing to help the Government to push reforms forward, as we do not have the right to step back. Ukraine can implement a number of much-needed reforms, but if widespread corruption prevails, all our efforts are in vain. Quoting the words of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: “It serves no purpose for Ukraine to fight for its body in Donbas if it loses its soul to corruption. Anti-corruption institutions must be supported, resourced, and defended.” Eliminating corruption is the key to achieving stability, security, and prosperity for all Ukrainians.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine will continue to be a driver of positive changes with regard to doing business. We will continue to cooperate with the Government at the highest level to push reforms forward and do our best promoting Ukraine internationally as an attractive investment destination. We were, we are, and we will be fighting for the betterment of the business environment, because Ukraine’s future depends on this.