Opinion

ACC PRESIDENT ANDY HUNDER: Road to recovery - why now is a good time to invest in the New Ukraine

Key business community leader argues that those who enter Ukrainian market as it sets out on road to recovery will reap rewards every inch of the way

ACC PRESIDENT ANDY HUNDER: Road to recovery - why now is a good time to invest in the New Ukraine
Photo: Courtesy
Andy Hunder is the President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine
Saturday, 05 December 2015 13:41

“Money is made by discounting the obvious and betting on the unexpected.” This is the advice of one of the world’s top 30 wealthiest people, the 7th richest American on the planet. Last month, this business magnate revealed an investment in Ukraine and announced the launch of the Ukrainian Redevelopment Fund. Billionaire philanthropist George Soros announced on 18 November the acquisition of a stake in Ciklum, a leading Ukrainian software development company. George Soros made this step because he believes in Ukraine’s bright future and in the prospects of the country’s IT sector.

As Ukraine’s economy has, arguably, hit rock bottom and with a transformation period of reforms critically needed, the country becomes more attractive for the international business community. George Soros hopes that his investment will also serve as an example for other investors and Ukraine will soon attract more international capital.

“The worse a situation becomes, the less it takes to turn it around and the bigger the upside”, Soros has said before.

Ukraine is in desperate need of profound and rapid reforms. We at the AmCham in Ukraine are in constant and continuous dialogue with government officials highlighting the need and urgency for change and drastic anti-corruption measures.

As a President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine, I meet potential investors on a regular basis. They are actively researching available opportunities, observing regulatory changes, and analyzing current situation in Ukraine. Those who invest in the country when it hits rock-bottom will reap tangible financial rewards with every inch of economic improvement.

The DCFTA (Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Aagreement) with the EU will come into force on 1 January 2016. The agreement is a major opportunity for Ukrainian businesses to enter the markets of the European Union and another reason for investors to enter the Ukrainian market. I have recently had the pleasure in meeting several interested investors during Investor’s Day in Lviv, held on 19 November. Many are excited about the prospects of the country’s manufacturing industry. Johanes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations, who also attended the event, expressed his firm belief in the potential of Ukraine and in Lviv in particular.

To attract foreign investments, Ukraine has to tackle one of the biggest problems it currently faces – ubiquitous corruption. I regularly attend conferences and workshops designed to eradicate this public enemy. On 9 November, I spoke at the “Securing Ukraine’s Future: Winning the Fight against Corruption” conference at the Atlantic Council in Washington DC on a distinguished panel of experts including Ukraine’s most renowned rock star Slava Vakharchuk, CitiBank Ukraine CEO Steve Fisher and EBA Executive Director Anna Derevyanko. We were all united in one strong message against corruption.

Progress is being made. As November marks Thanksgiving Day, this year the American Chamber of Commerce was delighted to present our 2015 Thanksgiving Awards to people and organizations that have been making real change in Ukraine: among those awarded were Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko – for delivering fiscal and financial stability and Ukraine's foreign debt restructuring; ProZorro – for establishing a transparent and effective public procurement and anticorruption mechanism; Eka Zguladze – for successful reform of the National Police in Ukraine; EBRD – for boosting investment into Ukrainian economy, as well as Ukraine’s top mobile phone operators Life:), Kyivstar and Vodafone – for launching Ukraine's 3G GSM network service.

When asked why George Soros is investing in Ukraine and why he is choosing to do so now, the billionaire replied: “It’s an investment in what I call the ‘New Ukraine’ – Ukrainians who are young, well educated, and eager for their country to break from the past and to build an open society."

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