• DTEK Advances To Goal of €1 billion Solar, Wind Investments in 2019
  • Glencore Position Itself for Dnipropetrovsk Iron Investment
  • US Backs Poland as Regional Hub for US LNG Gas Exports
  • More Worries about Kolomoiskyi and PrivatBank
  • Florida Investors Bet on Ukraine Sugar Revival
  • Corn Harvest Jumps 50% in 2018
  • India’s Cooks Save Ukraine’s Sunflower Oil Industry
  • ZAZ to Make South Korean Tractors?
  • Mariupol Gets New Mass Transit Fleet
  • Zaporizhia Opens $10 million Air Terminal in Summer
  • IT Industry Hiring 4,000 Software Engineers
  • Kernel Buys Nation’s Largest Private Grain Car Fleet
  • Southern Ukraine Farmers Start Planting
  • Ukrposhta International Parcel Business up 45%
  • Wizz Air Doubled Ukraine Passengers in 2018
  • Dragon Buys Another Warehouse As Vacancies Hit ‘Zero’
  • Kyiv Region To Gain a Cargo Airport: Bila Tserkva
  • Online Ads up 40%
  • airBaltic Doubles Kyiv-Riga Seats in Bid for Moscow Traffic
  • DTEK Opens Europe’s Second Largest Solar Plant in Nikopol
  • Ukraine’s First Solar Panel Plant Opens in Vinnytsia
  • EU’s Donald Tusk in Ukraine Through Wednesday
  • UZ to Spend $1 billion in 2019
  • Goods Deficit Grows, Services Surplus Grows
  • Ukrainians Using Facebook up 30% in 2018

DTEK Renewables is starting work on a €200, 240MW solar polar plant near Nikopol, only a few kilometers from a site where the company inaugurated a 200 MW solar station last month. Construction this summer is to create 1,000 jobs.

The new solar station is part of a plan by Rinat Akhmetov’s DTEK to invest €1 billion in renewables in Ukraine by the end of this year. Already Ukraine’s largest wind power producer, DTEK is building an additional 300 MW of wind power generating capacity at two sites on the coast of the Sea of Azov. To get Ukraine’s high feed in tariffs, renewable projects have to be commissioned by Dec. 31.

Philipp Leckebusch, DTEK Renewables new CEO, signed a contract with Siemens to build the new solar plant on the site of a former manganese mine, in Pokrov, Dnipropetrovsk. Leckebusch flew to China, to sign a contract with Risen Energy Co. for supply of 874,000 solar modules, or panels. Hailing the deal, Zhao Zelin, Risen’s vice president for sales, said: “Risen Energy plans to continuously drive the transformation of the Ukrainian energy market.” Leckebusch, a German, said the new plant, called Pokrovskaya, will produce enough power for 200,000 households.

Canada’s Black Iron Inc has signed a memorandum of understanding with Glencore, the Anglo-Swiss mining giant, to finance and develop Shymanivske iron ore deposite in Dnipropetrovsk. One of the world’s largest iron deposits, Shymanivske has an estimated 833 million tons of reserves, with ore grading at 32% iron. The nonbinding memorandum contemplates Glencore funding all or part of construction in return for iron. A first phase envisages $436 million investment to produce 4 million tons of iron a year. Black Iron’s CEO Matt Simpson says: “I am pleased to welcome Glencore as an external investor for the construction of the Shimanivske project, as well as their agreement to work with us to provide additional funding.”

After Wednesday’s announcement, the Canadian junior’s shares jumped on the Toronto Stock Exchange by over 35%, prompting news site to headline: “Black Iron’s shares skyrocket after inking MOU with Glencore on Ukraine iron ore project.” In Kyiv, Concorde Capital’s Dmytro Khoroshun writes: “If the Shymanivske project is realized, even after many years of uncertainties, it would be positive for Ukraine’s investment image, especially if one of the equity partners is Glencore. Nevertheless, we are cautious because one of the main reasons for the long uncertainty with Shymanivske was the situation on the iron ore market, and the iron ore price volatility is unlikely to go away.”

Washington sees Poland as a future hub for re-export of American liquefied natural gas to Ukraine and Eastern Europe, Georgette Mosbacher, US Ambassador to Poland, told a conference in Warsaw on LNG and the countries of the EU’s Eastern Partnership. She said next year the US will export 120 billion cubic meters a year, about 30% of world LNG. Poland is expanding its three-year-old LNG terminal at Świnoujście, on the German-Polish border. In four years, Poland plans to stop importing gas from Russia. Referring to Poland’s plan to “become a regional gas hub,” Mosbacher said: “I support this fantastic initiative of Poland and Ukraine.”

Ukraine’s food exports to the United Arab Emirates hit almost $200 million last year, Olha Trofimtseva, Acting Agrarian Policy and Food Minister, said in Dubai at the Gulfood exhibition. The number of Ukrainian companies participating in the fair more than doubled this year, to 69, she tells Ukrinform. Ukraine largely exports sunflower oil, milk, honey, and eggs to the UAE. With a population of 9.5 million people and a per capita income of $42,000, the Emirates import almost all their food. After signing an agricultural cooperation deal, Trofimtseva said: “Ukraine intends to become a strategic partner of the UAE to ensure food security of this country.”

Next month, Ukraine will mount a pavilion for the first time at Asia’s leading food exhibition, FOODEX Japan, in Tokyo. The pavilion will display products of 13 manufacturers, reports Ukraine’s Agrarian Policy ministry.

In the last five years, the volume trade handled by Mariupol port dropped by almost two thirds, to 5.3 million tons. The number of countries receiving cargo from the Sea of Azov port dropped by more than half, to 24, reports the Center for Transportation Strategies. Metals accounted for 90% of last year’s exports, going to 21 nations. On the import side, the biggest shipper was the United States, sending coal, followed by Turkey. Because Russia built the Kerch Strait bridge too low, Port Director Oleksandr Oleinik says, Mariupol lost an annual contract to ship 1 million tons of pig iron to the US and to ship up to 500,000 tons to Southeast Asia.

EuroMoney Magazine speculates in a lengthy article about PrivatBank and Ukraine’s presidential elections that Ihor Kolomoiskyi’s post-election strategy might not be to retake control of the bank, but to have the government stop suing him to recover bank assets. “They couldn’t give Privat back to him,” author Lucy Fitzgeorge-Parker quotes ‘a senior banker’ saying. “There would be an international outcry. It would be tantamount to branding Ukraine as a rogue state.”

PrivatBank had to be nationalized in Dec. 2016, because it was insolvent, Kateryna Rozhkova, first deputy chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine, tells Novoe Vremya. “It was impossible to shut down, because then we would have crippled the entire financial system of the country,” she said. Since the government takeover, the central bank has won 22 lawsuits, stipulating the return of $43 million in mortgaged property. After the government intervention, a forensic audit by concluded that “PrivatBank was subjected to a large scale and coordinated fraud over at least a 10-year period ending December 2016, which resulted in the Bank suffering a loss of at least USD 5.5 billion.” The report stated that 95% of corporate lending had been to bank shareholders.

Betting that world sugar prices will rise, Florida-based Kopernik Global Investors LLC has bought 12,947 shares of Warsaw-listed Astarta Holding, raising its stake over 5%. Between February 2017 and August 2018, the price dropped in half. Since then, sugar prices recovered slightly, to 13 US cents a pound. Dragon Capital writes: “Kopernik’s latest share accumulation may reflect bottom-fishing demand in anticipation of a bounce in the sugar market. Astarta’s shares slid by 59% in USD terms in 2018, hitting the lowest level since 2015 on a drop in global and domestic sugar prices.”

Ukraine’s sugar beet plantings are to drop 20% this season, to 220,000 hectares, S&P Global Platts reports from London, citing “a source close to the National Association of Sugar Producers.” Sugar experts forecasts a similar drop in plantings in the EU and Russia. Platts notes that Germany’s Suedzucker, the world’s largest corporate sugar producer, said last month it is considering closing factories. In September, Tereos, France’s largest sugar producer, said it was planning to cut plantings to cut sugar beet production by 5%.

Ukraine’s corn harvest last year was up 50% y-o-y, to a record 35 million tons, reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service. The Service reports that 5% of the corn may have been left to rot in the fields because silos were full. On Wednesday, the State Statistics Service reported that the nation’s capacity for simultaneous storage of grain, beans and oil seeds grew last year by 7.3%, to 78.3 million tons. Of this amount, farms owned 58%.

Sunflower cooking oil exports could rise this year by 16% to 6.2 million tons, the USDA predicts. This follows a 15% rise in seed production last year, to 14 million tons. India emerges as the savior of Ukraine’s industry, Fiscal Service statistics show. Last year, India bought 45% of Ukraine’s total exports. Exports to the next 11 countries dropped.

MHP, Ukraine’s largest agricultural producer, is obtaining a €120 million loan from ING Bank NV. According to Interfax-Ukraine, the loan is guaranteed by Zernoproduct MHP, the company’s grain unit with assets valued at €192 million. Based in Myronivka, 100 km south of Kyiv, Myronivsky Hliboprodukt is the nation’s largest chicken producer.

Capital investments in farming hit $2 billion during the first three quarters of last year, Elena Kovaleva, deputy minister of Agrarian Policy and Food, tells reporters. A major portion went into two declining areas of animal husbandry – cattle breeding and pig production. About $500 million was invested in dairy processing and baby food production. Kovaleva called this investment volume “amazing.”

Zaporizhia Automobile Plant, or ZAZ, has started assembling a test batch of South Korea’s LS Mtron tractors. LS, South Korea’s largest tractor maker, has factories in Brazil and China. “The creation of a joint venture with the manufacturer is not being discussed yet,” Dmytro Skliarenko, spokesman for UkrAVTO, the ZAZ parent company, cautioned Interfax-Ukraine. ZAZ has signed a distribution agreement with LS and has presented LS tractors at agro fairs here. Priced between $38,000-70,000, the LS models under study would go head to head with MTZ Belarus tractors, imports popular among Ukraine’s small and medium farmers.

Despite Russia’s harassment of merchant ships in the Azov, Asket-Shipping increased its grain silo storage capacity in Berdyansk last year by 42%, to 100,000 tons, reports the Center for Transportation Strategies. Victoria Abreyeva, director of the Berdyansk branch, says of the export-oriented investments: “All our warehouses are equipped with truck weighing complexes and laboratory equipment.” Asket has export warehouses in the ports of Kherson, Mariupol, and Mykolayiv.

While the EU studies new road and rail aid to Ukraine’s Azov, two international financial institutions are loaning €25 million to Mariupol, the region’s largest city, for new buses, trams and trolleybuses. Located 30 km west of the front lines, Mariupol’s population has grown to 450,000, swollen by people leaving the separatist controlled section of Donetsk region. On Wednesday, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation signed a €12.5 million low interest loan for Mariupol to buy 64 large buses and to rebuild the Soviet-era bus depot. Similarly, last summer, the EBRD approved a €13 million loan to Mariupol to buy new trams and trolleybuses. Largely powered by overhead electric lines, city’s modern mass transit fleet also is designed to cut carbon monoxide. Largely because of Metinvest’s Iron & Steel Works on the city’s eastern edge, Mariupol has the worst air pollution of Ukraine’s 39 largest cities, according to a study last year by Kyiv’s Central Geophysical Observatory.

Zaporizhia, the closest airport to Ukraine’s isolated Azov coast, opens a $10 million steel and glass passenger terminal this summer. Last year, the airport handled 400,000 passengers, a post-Independence record. Flights were up 10% and passengers were up 15% to make Zaporizhia the sixth busiest in Ukraine. With two flights to Kyiv, on UIA and on Motor Sich, three quarters of traffic was international. Last year LOT Polish started flying to Warsaw. This year, SkyUp starts flying to Turkish and Egyptian resorts. This year, $35 million is being spent to upgrade the 223 km Mariupol-Zaporizhia road, cutting the drive time from the Azov to the airport to three hours. Road work is also trimming the Berdyansk-Zaporizhia airport drive time to three hours.

Wizz Air, the airline with the most flights to Lviv, is expanding its flights by 17% this spring, to 30 per week. After launching flights to Copenhagen on March 1, Wizz Air will fly from Lviv to 10 EU cities. Ryanair and UIA are tied as the airport’s second busiest airlines, five international destinations.

A survey of Ukraine’s top 50 IT companies indicates that job growth was 11.6% during the second half of last year, to 58,448 ‘specialists,’ largely software engineers. The industry started this year with 4,091 vacancies, according to the company poll, conducted twice a year for Looking ahead, 40% of 45 companies plan to hire 100 or more professionals by June. Only two companies say they do not plan to increase their payroll.

Confirming commercial real estate reports that IT companies account for nearly half of new office rentals in Kyiv, 43 of the top 50 IT companies have offices in the capital. Lviv has 21 major IT companies and Kharkiv has 20. Fourteen companies have more than 1,000 specialists. Two – EPAM and SoftServe – have more than 6,000.

Kernel, Ukraine’s largest grain shipper, is buying the nation’s largest private grain hopper fleet. Kernel is paying $49 million for RTK-Ukraine, which has almost 3,000 grain cars, about 15% of all grain cars in the nation. Last year, Kernel-Trade used 35,070 cars to move 2.2 million tons of grain to Black Sea ports, calculates the Center for Transportation Technologies.

Kernel intended to buy only 500 new cars this year. Tuesday’s bold move comes after grain car rentals charged by Ukrzaliznytsia increased 5-fold in recent months, to $38 a day. Reflecting tightening demand, the state railroad’s pilot program to auction grain car rentals on ProZorro is producing daily rates of $64. Kernel’s hopper fleet purchase comes as the company plans to commission this year its second TransGrainTerminal at Chernomorsk port, with an annual capacity of 4 million tons of grain. This year, Kernel aims to increase grain exports by 60%, to 6.2 million tons, a company record.

Taking advantage of unseasonably warm weather, farmers in southern Ukraine have started spring sowing – one month earlier than last year, ProAgro reports. In Kherson, farmers are sowing spring barley. Separately, the Agrarian Policy Ministry reports that the supply of spring seeds, 684,000 tons, meets “100% of the demand.” This year, farmers are expected to fill 27.7 million hectares, virtually the same area as last year.

As growing exports strain Ukraine’s rail system, SCM’s Metinvest is leasing two GE C30-7A locomotives once operated by Conrail, the US freight giant. Rebuilt by a Czech company, CZ Loko, the locomotives are leased from Operail, Estonia’s state-owned rail freight company, reports Since Ukrainian law does not allow private locomotives on public tracks, the locomotives will be used internally by the Ukrainian mining and metals giant. The results of this year’s elections will determine whether the Rada allows Ukrzaliznytsia to go ahead with a pilot project for private freight trains.

Nine new oil and gas exploration and production blocks are now posted online by the State Geology Service for a third round of electronic auctions, the Service reports. Five are in Ivano-Frankivsk region and four straddle Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk regions. This year, 10 auctions of oil and gas sites are to be held on the ProZorro.Sale electronic platform. The first 10 blocks are to be auctioned March 6, three months after site details were announced. A second auction, of nine blocks, will be held at the end of April.

Back to the 1970s…in the 2020s. By 2023, Ukraine should once again be self-sufficient in gas production, a status Soviet Ukraine enjoyed 50 years ago. Praising this year’s oil and gas auctions and production sharing agreements, Prime Minister Groysman told the Freedom of Speech TV show: “We are beginning to untangle a very complicated and closed system – access to Ukrainian subsoil.”

Ukrposhta handled 34 million international parcels last year, up 45% y-o-y, the Center for Transportation Technologies writes, analyzing the state postal company’s statistics. With e-commerce driving the parcel business, the top sources of shipments were: China, the Netherlands, Israel, and the US. Last year, Ukrposhta started partnerships with Hongkong Post and Alibaba’s delivery platform, Cainiao Smart Logistics Network Ltd. This year, Ukrposhta plans to increase parcel deliveries by 27%.

Wizz Air doubled passengers on its Ukraine routes last year to 1.5 million passengers, making it the largest low cost operator in Ukraine. With flights starting in May from Kyiv Sikorsky to Athens and Thessaloniki, Wizz Air reports that it will offer 45 routes to 13 EU countries from three Ukrainian cities – Lviv, Kharkiv and Kyiv.

Dragon Capital has bought a cold storage warehouse complex on western Kyiv’s Ring Road, raising the investment company’s warehouse holdings to 300,000 square meters. With the purchase of the Arktika warehouse, “logistics space will constitute 48% of our total commercial property portfolio,” says Volodymyr Tymochko, Dragon’s managing director for private equity. “Ongoing growth in demand for warehouses, fueled by the expansion of offline and online retailers, is making this particular real estate segment attractive for investment.” Last week at Dragon’s annual investor conference, Tomas Fiala, Dragon’s CEO, said: “In logistics and retail — not only in Kyiv, but across the country — vacancies are close to zero, which we last saw in 2007–2008.”

After opening five stores on Kyiv’s right bank last year,, Ukraine’s largest online store, now finds it cannot find warehouse space. “Ukraine is growing fast enough – this is good – but the problem is that the infrastructure is not keeping up with such growth,” Vladislav Chechetkin, co-owner of Rozetka, tells Interfax-Ukraine. “The vacancy of the warehouses is zero. Therefore, if you want a warehouse on the right bank, this means that you have to find (land), get approval, permission to build … is a significant time lag.” Two years ago, Rozetka bought a warehouse on Kyiv’s left bank. Although that space is full, the retailer plans to open a sixth Kyiv store this year, on the left bank.

This fall, Kyiv region gains a cargo airport with the opening of international passport and customs controls at Bila Tserkva Airport, Infrastructure Minister Volodomyr Omelyan announced Monday. Belotserkovsky Cargo Aviation Complex, a new municipal enterprise, plans to handle cargo at the airport, one hour by truck from Kyiv’s circle highway. The airport’s new international status also will allow expansion of its existing jet maintenance and repair business. After Kyiv’s Boryspil was unable suspended air cargo deliveries during the Christmas period, Omelyan decided to fast track the opening of Bila Tserkva and to push Boryspil to start construction this spring on a new air cargo terminal.

Ukraine has passed the halfway marker in implementing the massive EU-Ukraine Association Agreement of 2017, according to Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, deputy prime minister for European Integration. This year’s priority sectors for harmonizing laws and rules are: judiciary, energy, customs, and the digital market. Of the overall task of shifting Ukraine from Russian and Soviet standards, the work is 52% done, she told a Kyiv conference reviewing the Agreement. Hugues Mingarelli, EU ambassador, said: “There are areas where progress has been very, very limited: customs, taxation, transport, intellectual property rights.”

Over 15,000 Ukrainian companies have qualified to export to the EU. This business battalion expanded Ukraine’s EU exports by two thirds since the Maidan – from 25% in 2014 to 42% last year. According to the EU-Ukraine conference, the main buyers are Ukraine’s exports are: Poland – 17%; Italy – 14%; Germany – 10%; Hungary – 8%; and the Netherlands – 8%.

Soy oil, long overshadowed by Ukraine’s sunflower giant, achieved record exports last year — 215,000 tons, reports the Agrarian Economics Institute. By contrast, sunflower oil exports were 26 times greater — 5.6 million tons. Last fall, both crops had record harvests: soy up 13% to 4.4 million tons, and sunflower seeds up 12% to 13.6 million tons. Vegetable oils and seeds accounted for one third of Ukraine’s 2018 farm exports, reports the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food.

Canada’s Fairfax Financial Holdings has bought France’s AXA Insurance (Kiev) for $16 million. In Ukraine’s insurance market since 2007, AXA has 780 employees and 1,220 agents in Ukraine. At the end of last year, the company collected $68 million in insurance premiums. Toronto-based Fairfax has $65 billion in total assets and an investment portfolio of $39 billion.

Ukraine’s online advertising grew by 40% last year, to $125 million, reports the Ukrainian Internet Association. In-stream video totaled 42% of spending, banners for 37%, in-page video for 9%, ‘non-standard solutions’ for 7%, and sponsorships for 5%. Social media and instant messaging platforms accounted for 34.5% of the ad spend, up from 26% in 2017.

Next month, airBaltic will double its weekly airplane seats — to 5,760 — between Kyiv Boryspil and Riga, the largest airport in the Baltics. By shifting from Bombardier regional turboprops to Boeing 737 jets and increasing frequencies to three a day, airBaltic takes aim at the lucrative Ukraine-Russia transfer traffic developed by Belarus’ Belavia. Last year, Belavia increased its flights between Minsk and Kyiv by 10%, becoming Ukraine’s second largest foreign carrier, after Turkish Airlines. In a codeshare with Aeroflot, airBaltic offers up to eight flights a day from Riga to Moscow. This is Riga airport’s second busiest route, after London. On April 1, airBaltic starts service from Lviv to Riga. On March 2, Wizz Air starts flights from Kyiv Sikorsky to Riga.

DTEK Renewables has opened the second largest solar power station in Europe, the 200 MW Solar Farm-1, in the Nikopol district of the Dnipropetrovsk region. The contractor was China Machinery Engineering Corporation. The National Regulatory Commission has awarded the project the relevant green feed in tariff — €15.03 per MWh until 2030. The solar plant should power 100,000 households, about three times the population of Nikopol city. The largest solar plant in Europe is Cestas Solar Park, a 300 MW station in the Gironde region of southwest France.

In neighboring Kirovohrad region, DTEK plans to build three solar plants for a total of 190 MW by the end of next year. According to regional officials, DTEK plans to start building this year the 60 MW Morozivka station in Oleksandriia district. About 40 km to the west, in Dykivka, DTEK plans to start building next year Solar Farm 8 – two stations with a total capacity of 130 MW. Ultimately owned by Rinat Akhmetov, DTEK Renewables is already Ukraine’s largest producer of wind energy.

Ukraine’s first solar panel production plant starts work this week in Vinnytsia. Using Chinese technology, the Kness factory starts production at an annual panel capacity of 200 MW. By the end of this year, capacity is be 400 MW, says plant director Oleh Dovboschuk. Located on a once abandoned industrial site, the €5 million plant now employs 120 workers. Currently, Vinnytsia region has 250 MW of solar power and plans to add 60 MW more by the end of this year. Through 2025, Ukraine grants a 5% premium on feed in tariffs for solar projects using 30-49% domestically made equipment. For equipment with 50% or more local content, the bonus is 10%.

The Rada is expected to vote next month on a bill that would replace high renewable energy feed in tariffs with energy auctions. Matteo Pattrone, the new EBRD representative in Ukraine, warns excessively high feed in tariffs have provoked some governments to retroactively change the rates, hurting EBRD financed projects. A supporter of auctions, he tells the Kyiv Post: “It’s better to have sustainable compensation regime than one that is too good to be true.” To jump start foreign investment, Ukraine adopted in 2015 some of Europe’s highest feed in tariffs for renewable energy.

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, visits Ukraine through Feb. 20, spending Monday and Tuesday in Kyiv and Wednesday in Lviv. His visit comes as EU foreign ministers meet today in Brussels to discuss sanctions against Russia for the Azov Sea attack and new road and railroad aid to cut the isolation of southeast Ukraine.

With the state railroad due to pay $150 million on a Eurobond next month, the Cabinet of Ministers has re-authorized Ukrzaliznytsia to issue up to $500 million in Eurobonds at interest rates up to 11% a year, slightly higher than the level authorized last September. Last December, a Eurobond launch planned was postponed in an adverse environment marked by delay in reaching the IMF accord and nervousness around the one month imposition of martial law. Today, the lead managers are JP Morgan and Dragon Capital. Separately, Evhen Kravtsov, chairman of the railroad, said Friday that Ukrzaliznytsia cut its hrvynia debt last year by 10%, to the dollar equivalent of $1.1 billion.

Ukrzalyznitsia plans to spend nearly $1 billion on capital expenditures this year – one third more than last year. Spending is to go for 3,650 new freight cars, the repair of 7,000 freight cars and the purchase of 15 locomotives from GE. Rail chair Kravtsov says an EBRD loan guarantees renovation of almost 6,000 freight cars through the end of next year.

“How much will these injections help solve the main problem of the railway – shortage of locomotives?” Aleksandr Krivoruchko, head of the Freight Car Owners Association, writes in Obozrevatel. “In the first 10 months of 2018, Ukrzaliznytsia fulfilled only 51% of its annual plan for repair of locomotives: repairing 95 units, while the investment plan provided for a complete overhaul of 187 locomotives….This “drop in the ocean” does not solve anything. Out of 1,758 freight locomotives listed in UZ’s inventory, only 945 are in operation – 54% (!) And the minimum need for UZ in new locomotives is 310 units for a period up to 2025.”

Germany’s Chancellor Merkel balanced her support of the Nord Stream 2 Russia-Germany gas line with support of Ukraine’s continued role as a gas transit country to Europe. “Ukraine must remain a transit country,” she said Saturday at the Munich Security Conference. She said Europe has a geostrategic interest in diversity of sources of energy supplies.

President Trump has signed bills that increase aid to Ukraine to nearly $700 million, Ukraine’s Embassy in Washington writes on Facebook. Last week, USAID launched an $85 million program by TetraTech, a U.S.-based engineering firm, to help implement free market changes and incentives to promote natural gas production, energy conservation, and renewable energy investment.

Ukraine’s deficit in foreign trade of goods and services slightly more than doubled last year, hitting $5.8 billion, reports the State Statistics Service. Exports of goods and services in 2018 grew by 8.6%, to $57 billion, while imports rose by 14.3%, to $63 billion, the statistics service said. Last year, the deficit in foreign trade in goods increased by 54.5%, to $10 billion. By contrast, the surplus in foreign trade in services – largely IT – increased by 15.5% to $6 billion.

The number of Ukrainians using Facebook increased by 30% last year, to 13 million, according to a survey by Agency PlusOne. Since May 2017, when Ukraine banned the use of Russia-based social media networks, the number of Ukrainians using Facebook, a US-based network, increased by 57%. About half of all Ukrainians aged 13 (the minimum age) to 45 use Facebook: 68% of the 18-24 year group; 62% of the 25-35 year group; 48% of the 36 to 45 year group. Users are skewed by gender: 59% female; 41% male. About two thirds access Facebook exclusively through their smartphones. Only 9% percent only through their computers.


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