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  • Ukraine’s Gas Bill Quadruples
  • UZ Pays a High Rate for Its Eurobond
  • Dollar Influx Forces Central Bank to Buy Dollars
  • Prices May Jump 25%
  • Half a Million More Cars Coming Streets Near You

 

The average price of imported natural gas paid by Ukraine quadrupled over the last year, reaching $334 per 1,000 cubic meters at the end of the June, the Economy Ministry reported. This autumn, increases in the price of gas will be passed on to Ukrainian households, with gas bills rising by as much as 40% on October 1, warned the heating and power industry association, Ukrteplokommunenergo. Russia’s Gazprom is restricting supply and forcing up prices in an effort to persuade the EU to commission Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline this autumn.

Ukrzaliznytsia has placed 5-year Eurobonds worth $300 million at 7.875% per annum, a banking source tells Interfax-Ukraine. This would be substantially higher than the 7% range analysts had expected. J.P. Morgan and Dragon Capital were advisors on the issue. Fitch Ratings assigned the issue a “B” rating and placed it on the Rating Watch list as ‘Negative.’  The funds raised are to be used to service the state railroad’s debt and to repay a loan from Sberbank.

Surging purchases of Ukrainian government bonds by international investors, high prices of Ukraine’s export commodities, and central bank dollar purchases contributed to Ukraine’s foreign reserves rising by almost 2% in June, to $28.4 billion. International investor share of government bonds increased by $450 million in June 2021. To keep the hryvnia from overvaluing, the National Bank of Ukraine earned $583 million in net dollar purchases in June, the central bank reports. On July 1, Ukraine’s gross reserves amounted to 4.3 months of imports, a level seen as comfortable.


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Concorde Capital’s Evgeniya Akhtyrko wrote: “An incredibly favorable situation at Ukraine’s ForEx market prompted the NBU to renew the purchase of foreign currency. An additional currency inflow at the market was generated by the purchase of UAH denominated local bonds by nonresident investors.”

In its first week, Ukraine’s farmland market has seen 322 transactions, Prime Minister Shmygal advised the Ukraine Reform Conference in Vilnius. “Myths about the mass sale of land and the export of Ukrainian black soil remain just myths,” he said. Currently limited to sales of 100 hectares or less between Ukrainians, the market is to grow after January 1, 2024. Then, Ukrainian companies will be allowed to purchase up to 10,000 hectares. Shmygal has predicted that the farmland market will generate $10 billion in new investment.

Prices of new apartments in Ukraine could increase by 25% this year, as predicted by the National Association of Realtors. During the first half of this year, hryvnia prices increased by 15-18%. In the resale market, apartments may increase by 12% this year. Yuriy Pita, Association President, tells UNIAN that these factors drive prices up: Ukraine’s 9.5% inflation rate; a 14% increase in construction costs for the first half of this year; and a 6% drop in construction work for January-May, compared to last year.

In the waning months of the Trump Administration, Erik Prince, an American private security entrepreneur, attempted to exert pressure on the Ukrainian government to accept his buyout offer for the Motor Sich aircraft engine factory in Zaporizhia, according to an article that was published in Time magazine. Headlined “Documents Reveal Erik Prince’s $10 Billion Plan to Make Weapons and Create a Private Army in Ukraine,” the report by Simon Shuster says Prince want to hire Ukrainian war veterans for a private military company, build an ammunitions factory in Ukraine and “consolidate Ukraine’s leading aviation and aerospace firms into a consortium that could compete with ‘the likes of Boeing and Airbus.’”

A full plan, dated June 2020 “includes a ‘roadmap’ for the creation of a ‘vertically integrated aviation defense consortium’ that could bring $10 billion in revenues and investment,” Time reports. The project lost momentum after Trump lost the election and Prince’s two main associates in Ukraine came under criminal investigation in New York. Prince’s sister, Betsy De Vos, stepped down as US Education Secretary. In December 2020, Chinese investors in Motor Sich filed a $3.5 billion claim against Ukraine to win control of the factory.

The websites of President Zelenskiy, the State Security Service and other institutions were hit by cyber attacks last Tuesday, the state service for special communication said. The outages last only a few hours. The Service did not say who was behind the attack. In the past, Kyiv has accused Russia of orchestrating cyber attacks.

Used car imports surged 40% in the first half of this year, compared to January-June of last year, reports Ukravtoprom. Of the 195,500 used cars imported, the top three brands were: Volkswagen, Ford and Renault. Due to a lowering of import duties and reduced bureaucracy, used cars accounted for 80% of first time registrations in Ukraine during the first half of this year. With new car sales increasing by 30% to 48,400 during January-June, Ukraine is on track to import about 500,000 used and new cars this year.

Although Kyiv’s traffic ranks the third worst in Europe, Ukrainians love affair with cars only grows. In a survey of 10,000 drivers by OLX, 7% of respondents would car pool, 12% agree with bans on cars in city centers, and 73% say the solution is bigger roads and better intersections. As summarized by Ekonomichna Pravda, one third of respondents without car want to buy one, 69% of car owners use them every day, and only 2% let other family members use their car. According to the TomTom Traffic Index, Kyiv’s traffic congestion is only topped in Europe by Moscow and Istanbul.

Bogdan Motors, one of Ukraine’s last major vehicle makers, was declared bankrupt by the Commercial Court of Dnipro region, according to a ruling published last Tuesday. With plants in Lutsk and Cherkasy, Bogdan was famous for its yellow minibuses. With debts mounting to $245 million, the court ordered liquidation.

Kharkiv airport handled 5% more passengers last month than during June 2019, the pre-pandemic year. Strong international travel from Ukraine’s second largest city pushed the monthly total to 126,900, the airport reports. Domestic passengers dropped 44% yoy, to 10,500. International travel increased 14% yoy, to 116,400. The five most popular destinations included four Turkish cities: Antalya, Istanbul, Bodrum, Kyiv, and Dalaman. By comparison, traffic from Zaporizhia is up 42% over pre-pandemic levels, while Kyiv Boryspil is running at half 2019 levels.

Aiming for a 10-fold increase in Ukrainian cargo through Lithuania’s Baltic port of Klaipeda, Ukraine and Lithuania agreed to promote “a single railway route between the Black Sea and Baltic regions.” Starting in September, a regular, dedicated freight train it to carry containers and semi-trailers on the 1.5-day trip between Odesa and Klaipeda, Ukraine’s Infrastructure Ministry reports on Facebook. After a meeting in Klaipeda, the infrastructure minister of both countries said of the 1,500 km route between the two ports: “The agreement has the potential to make the Klaipeda port in Lithuania the northern gate of Ukraine to exit to Scandinavia, at the same time Odesa – the southern sea gate of Lithuania to the Black Sea region.”

 

 

  • Indonesia, Vietnam Top the List for Ukraine Free Trade Pacts
  • France’s Alstom To Sign €882 Contract to supply Locomotives to UZ
  • River Cargo Jumps 64%
  • Finance Minister Talks to IMF in DC
  • Domestic Air Travel Expands

 

Free trade talks with Indonesia and Vietnam are part of “a large-scale program of free trade agreements with partners around the world,” said Taras Kachka, Ukraine’s Trade Representative, at the Ukraine 30 International Politics Forum. Predicting that Ukraine will sign “dozens” of free trade pacts, he said: “We are actively working with North Africa. After all, this is a region where we will trade under any circumstances: the Black and Mediterranean seas, Europe, North Africa, the Middle East – natural markets for Ukraine.”

France’s Alstom plans to sign a €882 million contract with UZ to supply 130 electric locomotives for hauling freight, the company has reported. Last week, the Rada ratified a France-Ukraine agreement on supplying the locomotives, which are to have 35% local content. France is providing loans to cover 85% of the deal.

Vowing a “record increase in tariffs,” Infrastructure Minister Alexander Kubrakov plans to raise iron and coal rail freight rates to those of grains. For years, farmers have complained that Ukrzaliznytsia grain rates subsidize below market freight rates for iron, coal, cement, and fertilizer producers. Across the board, all rates would increase by 8% in September 2021. In January 2022, grain rates would increase again by another 6.5%, but the freight for the wider category would go up by 20.4%. This “rate convergence” would bring an extra $400 million to the state railroad fiscal coffers next year.

Concorde Capital’s Alexander Paraschiy notes the announcement comes as UZ markets this week a 5-year, $300 million Eurobond. He writes: “There is still a high chance that the final version of the resolution (if any) will imply a lower rates upgrade due to expected lobbying pressure from key railway customers (iron ore and coal companies, grain traders). However, any increase of freight rates will be beneficial for Ukrainian Railways.”

Cargo on the Dnipro River increased by 64% yoy in the first half of this year, reports the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority. An earlier shipping season and the highway crackdown on overloaded trucks may be behind the increase. The locks on the Dnipro cascade opened March 10. Since then, 6,433 river cargo trips were made, double the number for the first half of last year. Of the 5.4 million tons, 69% were construction materials – largely sand and gravel. The next two categories were: grain – 1.1 million tons; and metals – 604,000 tons.

Ukrainian-American gas trader ERU Trading will boost its capacity to import gas from the EU to Ukraine with a new €10 million loan from the EBRD, the development bank reports. “By supporting a privately owned gas trader, we are promoting further liberalization of the energy market, greater competition and security of supply in Ukraine,” said Matteo Patrone, EBRD Managing Director for the region. “Private gas trade also promotes greater utilization and integration of the country’s transport and storage infrastructure with the EU gas market.” ERU is the largest private importer of natural gas to Ukraine from Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

Days ahead of President Zelenskiy’s planned visit to the White House, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken listed five key reforms needed for Ukraine. In a video address to the Ukraine reform conference in Vilnius, Blinken called for: transparent selection of judges; ensuring that leaders of governmental anti-corruption entities are selected in a “transparent, credible” manner; OECD-standard laws on corporate governance and reform of the SBU to bring corrupt top officials to justice.

Concorde Capital’s James Hydzik wrote: The conference is important for laying out the expectations of all partners before German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visit Washington. The level of coordination and laying clear of the current situation are the strongest indicators in a long time that Ukraine’s partners are developing a roadmap for Ukraine that includes energy, military and commercial integration, but also includes sometimes painful reforms.”

Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko is in Washington to negotiate a $700 million tranche with the IMF, Economy Minister Oleksiy Lyubchenko told reporters on the sidelines of the Ukraine 30 Forum. “Institutional changes, direct actions of the government” demanded by the IMF have been fulfilled, asserted Lyubchenko, who is also First Deputy Prime Minister. “We very much hope that this tranche will happen, because to give up cheap money is meaningless.” He said that if the tranche does not come, Ukraine will not suffer economic shocks. Last month, reserves climbed to $28.4 billion.

Through the end of next year, Ukraine plans to repair more than 600 km of roads leading to and from international checkpoints, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, Deputy Presidential Chief of Staff, said at the International Forum. Focusing on EU crossings – with Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania – the government wants to facilitate trade and to give EU visitors positive first impressions.

Aerogestion, a French airline consulting company based near Paris Orly airport, is advising Ukraine’s government on the establishment next year of a national airline, said Tymoshenko, the presidential aide. The airline’s fleet is to be composed of leased aircraft for EU and long haul flights and Ukrainian-made Antonov for domestic flights.

Rivne is to become the 12th domestic destination for Windrose Airlines flights from Kyiv Boryspil, Tymoshenko said. Currently, Rivne’s airport offers only vacation charters. Located midway between Kyiv and Lviv, the city is a four-hour drive from Kyiv. At the same time, Windrose probably will increase frequencies between Kyiv and Uzhgorod. “Aircraft to Uzhgorod are 90-100% full,” he said of Windrose’s new, 2-hour flight to the capital of Zakarpattia.

 

 

  • China Takes Big Step in Ukraine
  • Grain Exports to Rebound by 25%
  • UZ Joins the Eurobond Train
  • At Boryspil, Air Traffic Up, But Still Down

 

Three years in the making, an agreement signed last week in Beijing for China to finance and build bridges, highways and railways in Ukraine represents a big step up for China’s commitment to Ukraine, Chinese analysts tell the South China Morning Post. “Ukraine can only embrace China more since both the EU and NATO have not shown much interest in Ukraine joining for now,” said Li Lifan, a senior fellow at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. “China aims to have more high-quality overseas investment projects in this first year of the five-year plan, while Ukraine needs more infrastructure investment to support its economic development as well as the Chinese market to export its food.”

Ukraine is trying to find a balance between China, Russia and the United States,” Yang Jin, an expert on Russian affairs from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Hong Kong daily. “So now it’s seeking closer ties with China and that attracts attention from the US.” In the last two years, China has become Ukraine’s largest single nation trading partner.

The FAO’s global food price index has increased by 40% yoy, reaching the highest level in a decade, The Washington Post reports in a story headlined: “Surging global food prices put staple meals out of reach, from Nigerian jollof rice to Russian pasta and Argentine steak.” “A variety of factors are to blame, including a surge in orders from China, fluctuating oil prices, a sliding U.S. dollar, and looming above all: the pandemic,” the Post reports, citing the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. “But experts say that in the face of growing populations, globalization and climate change, higher prices may not be a blip.”

After a 21% drop in grain exports last year, Ukraine now expects a 25% rebound in the grain exports for the marketing year that started last week. With exports expected to reach 56 million tons over the coming year, Ukraine will return to the record year of 2019/2020, when 56.7 million tons were exported, predicted the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food.

Last summer’s drought, provoked declines of Ukraine’s top three grain exports: corn, down 24%, to 23 million tons; wheat, down 19% to 16.4 million tons; barley, down 17%, to 4.2 million tons. Food is Ukraine’s top export.

Ukraine’s seaports handled 16.7% less cargo in the first half of this year than during the same period last year. Of the 66 million tons, ore accounted for 19 million tons – down 16% – and grain was 17 million tons – down 27.6%. Overall export cargo was 50.4 million tons – down 16.4%. Despite the volume drops, high commodity prices pushed Ukraine’s export earnings up 30%, to $30 billion, according to the State Customs Service.

Ukraine’s GDP may grow by 8% in the second quarter, a partial rebound from last year’s disastrous Q2 when the economy contracted by 11%. A Reuters poll of analysts indicated that the economy will grow by 3.7% this year, largely making up for last year’s contraction of 4%. During the first quarter of this year, Ukraine’s economy contracted by 2.2%, compared to the same period last year, reports the State Statistics Service.

The Finance Ministry sold the equivalent of $113 million of hryvnia bonds in an auction of five different tenures. The sale raised 24% more than last week’s auction. Yields were little changed and ranged from 10.99% for 1-year bonds to 12.59% for 5-year bonds.

Ukrzaliznytsia started investor calls for the placement of new 5-year Eurobonds to raise $300 million, Interfax-Ukraine has reported. Last month, S&P changed the outlook for Ukrzaliznytsia’s credit rating from negative to positive in connection with a debt rescheduling deal with Sberbank. With the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, UZ saw its 2019 UAH 2.99 billion net profit move to a UAH 11.9 net loss in 2020. J.P. Morgan and Dragon Capital are the advisors on this week’s bond issue.

Concorde Capital’s Alexander Paraschiy wrote: “The placement is a well-expected event that is essential for Ukrainian Railways to resolve its liquidity issues and secure financing for its on-going CapEx program. We see a high chance for the placement’s success, with the placement rate to be between 6.8% and 7.2%.”

Noting that the Infrastructure Ministry proposed to raise some cargo rates, Konstantin Fastovets of Adamant Capital wrote: “We do not see a problem with finding buyers for the 5-year issue as long as the offered yield stands a c. 6.5% or above.”

In a test use of the Prozorro.Sales electronic auction system, UZ lease rates of commercial spaces in rail stations rose by 47%, says Ivan Yuryk, acting CEO of the state railroad. UZ leased space in Dnipro Main, Zaporizhia-1 and Khmelnitsky. Areas leased will be used for ATM machines, payment terminals, vending machines, and coffee machines. Overall UZ plans to lease space at 24 stations, with the goal to earn $3.7 million a year in rent.

according to the municipal website Irpin, the booming western Kyiv suburb, is drawing up a plan to build a monorail to take commuters to Kyiv Ring Road and the nearest Metro station, said Volodomyr Karplyuk, the head of the city’s investment council. “The expansion of the road network does not solve the problem,” Karplyuk said. “No matter how many roads are built, new cars will enter these roads, and there will be traffic jams again.”

To provide alternatives to increasing long road commutes, UZ is running modernized electric trains from Bucha to Irpin and on to Bilychi, near the Ring Road. Endowed with parks and affordable apartments, the neighboring suburbs of Bucha and Irpin are two of the fastest growing communities in Ukraine.

Kyiv Boryspil airport handled 3.4 million passengers during the first half of this year. While this is 35% more than in the first half of 2020, it is still half the 6.7 million people who travelled through the airport in the first half of 2019, the last pre-pandemic year. Charter flights account for a large number of this summer’s travelers.

Zaporizhia’s newly rebuilt airport handled 66,730 passengers last month – 42% more than in June 2019. With construction at Dnipro airport to stretch into 2023, Zaporizhia is vying to position itself as the main airport for Ukraine’s southeast. This summer, the most popular destinations are: Antalya, Bodrum, Istanbul, Kyiv, and Tivat, Montenegro.

 

 

  • Foreign Trade Increases, Boosted by World Commodity Prices
  • Russia Bypasses Ukraine to Send Gas to Hungary
  • Smilyanskyi Sets Ambitious 5-Year Plan for Ukrposhta
  • Lviv Airport Reconnects to the World

 

Ukraine’s foreign trade in goods increased by almost 30% for the first half of this year, compared to the same January-June period last year said Taras Kachka, Ukraine’s Trade Representative writes on Facebook. Compared to the first half of 2019, the last ‘normal’ year, trade is up 22% and the trade deficit is down 60%, to $1.25 billion.

Highlights contrasting the two six-month periods are:

  • Exports to the EU reached $12.3 billion, 20% higher than 2019.
  • Exports to China reached $4.28 billion, nearly three times the level of 2019.
  • Trade with Turkey changed from a deficit last year of $80 million to a surplus this year of $460 million
  • Exports of industrial goods are up 18%, to $2.4 billion.
  • Exports of furniture are up 56%, to $510 million.

Ukraine’s current account surplus grew to $723 million in May, up from $443 million in April, reports the National Bank of Ukraine. Behind the growth was a surge in export earnings from:  mineral products +188% yoy; ferrous metals + 95%; food exports + 29%; chemicals +57%; machinery + 30%.

Concorde Capital’s Evgeniya Akhtyrko writes: The boom in Ukraine’s external trade continues. The export receipts are ballooning amid an incredibly favorable global price situation for iron ore and ferrous metals. The growth of Ukraine’s other export items is also strong, and this is not only the result of the low comparative base of the previous year.“

The number of trains on the main China-Europe crossing in Kazakhstan rose by 41% in the first half of 2021, compared to the same six months last year, reports Xinhua. So far this year, 3,033 freight trains passed through the Alashankou-Dostyk border crossing. The volume of goods increased by 56%, to 2.3 million tons. Increasingly, the trains return east filled with cars, timber and mineral ores. Ukrzaliznytsia is now working to increase its share of this transit trade, targeting trains destined for Austria, Hungary and the Balkans.

Ukraine’s exports to Russia plummeted by 78% from 2013 to 2019, Tymofiy Milovanov, Presidential Economic Advisor said at the Ukraine 30 International Politics forum. During that period, Ukraine’s exports to the EU increased by 24%. “We have increased exports to the European Union and reduced them to Russia,” he said. “But in general we have not yet been able to compensate for those losses from exports to Russia at the expense of the EU. But I am sure that it will happen.”

Gazprom did not book extra capacities offered by Ukraine and Poland to ship Russian gas to the EU during the next ‘gas year’, which starts on October 1, 2021. By declining to book for more gas, Russia’s monopoly gas exporter may be betting that high prices will pressure EU authorities to commission Nord Stream 2 this fall.

The price of gas reached a historic high last week on the Ukrainian Energy Exchange – $563 for 1,000 cubic meters. The Exchange cites a myriad of reasons for high prices: low stocks; insufficient supplies from Russia; supply disruptions from Norway; LNG cargoes diverted to Asia and the record cost of EU carbon emissions quotas. The price at the Netherlands TTF hub was $441/1,000 cubic meters, a 13 year high.

Starting from October 1st, Russian gas will flow to Hungary via Turkey and Serbia, bypassing Ukraine. On Sunday, Serbian company Srbijagas and Hungarian FGSZ connected sections of the TurkStream pipeline.  The pipeline starts in Russia and crosses the Black Sea. For $65 million, FGSZ is building a 15 km interconnector, which will have a capacity of 6 billion cubic meters a year.

Ukraine’s pipeline operator estimates that TurkStream will cost Ukraine $450 million a year in lost transmission fees during this decade as Russian gas bypasses the “Union” and “Brotherhood” pipelines that cross Ukraine. Last year, almost all Russian gas deliveries to Bulgaria and Greece bypassed Ukraine.

With the start of Europe’s heating season 100 days away, gas stocks are expected to only reach 70% of the norm by mid-October. Europe’s underground storage facilities were 48% full, well below the 64% average for July 4. Even though gas is being pumped into Ukraine’s storage fields at one third the level of this time last year, Serhiy Pereloma, the General Director of Ukrtransgaz, has predicted that Ukraine will start its heating season with 19-20 billion cubic meters. This is comfortably above the target level of 17 billion cubic meters.

Today President Zelenskiy flies to Vilnius for the 4th Ukraine Reform Conference, the first to be held in two years, due to the Covid pandemic. Gathering political leaders, business leaders, and international donors, the two-day conference is designed to give international impetus to free market, pro-EU economic changes in Ukraine. Previous conferences were held in London, Copenhagen and Toronto. Zelenskiy will hold talks with Lithuania’s President, Gitanas Nauseda, and European Council President, Charles Michel.

Ihor Smilyanskyi, CEO of Ukrposhta, is setting ambitious goals for the next two years of his management of the national postal service. He posts on Facebook that his 5-year development strategy is: to create a postal bank that will be one of Ukraine’s five largest banks; to grow Ukrposhta into a company with $1 billion in revenues by 2026; to digitize the entire system and build a network of sorting centers near big city ring roads; to launch 2,000 mobile branches, ensuring that banking services reach the entire nation; and to attract a strategic international investor to buy at least 25% of the company. Last week, Ukrposhta’s Supervisory Board unanimously voted to extend Smilyanskyi’s contract for another two years.

Small’ privatizations – the sale of state assets that litter Ukraine 30 years after the collapse of communism – netted the government $61 million during the first half of this year. This is four times the amount of the same January-June period last year, the State Property Fund writes on Facebook. Increasingly popular, the sales are online, are open to bidders from across the nation and are designed to put to productive use long dormant properties, largely real estate.

Lviv airport has come to life with new flights to Baku, Frankfurt, Riga, Tel Aviv and Vienna. Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines have launched night flights from the airport to Frankfurt and Vienna. UIA resumed flights to Tel Aviv. AirBaltic resumed flights to Riga. SkyUp has started service to Baku. Due to corona controls, the flight is restricted to Azeris or foreigners with residence permits.

Austrian Airlines has started flying three times a week between Vienna and Zaporizhia.

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi started flying between Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and Kyiv Boryspil. Late next month, the flight will be three times a week. The flight is on an Airbus A321neo, necessitating landings at Boryspil and foregoing Wizz Air’s hub at Kyiv Sikorsky.

 

 

  • North and South, Ukraine Focuses on Borders
  • Gazprom Squeezes EU, Ted Cruz Squeezes Gazprom
  • China Signs Deal for More Infrastructure Contracts
  • New Car Sales up 30%
  • EU Opens Up for Vaccinated Ukrainians

 

Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus’ self-proclaimed president, declared that he is closing Belarus’ border with Ukraine, one of its largest trading partners. Alleging “a huge inflow of weapons” from Ukraine, Lukashenko said at an Independence Day event: “I instructed the border troops to completely close the border with Ukraine.” Spanning 1,084 km and five regions of northern Ukraine, the border has 13 crossing points. Ukraine’s State Border Service, reported: “There are no signs at the checkpoints indicating that the border has been closed.”

On one southern border, the Avtostrada Group has won a tender to build a $125 million bridge over the Dnister River, speeding road traffic between Moldova and Vinnytsia region, Serhiy Borzov, head of Vinnytsia region, writes on Facebook. Coinciding with the renovation of a 116 km access road from the north, the 1.3 km bridge is designed to open a short cut for trucks and passenger cars from Kyiv to Moldova and Romania. Scheduled for completion at the end of next year, the bridge is to be capable of carrying 5,000 vehicles a day.

Gazprom is holding off sending more gas through Ukraine to the EU this summer, forcing up prices and “sending a clear sign it is waiting for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to be commissioned,” Reuters reports from Moscow. “One could see this as a strategy to push Nord Stream 2 to completion,” Nick Campbell, the director of Inspired Energy consultancy, told Reuters. Serhiy Makogon, head of Ukraine’s gas pipelines operator, said: “The Kremlin is sending a clear message: It’s no use waiting for an increase in gas supplies volume without Nord Stream 2 commissioning.”

With Gazprom closing its Yamal-Europe pipeline for a week of repairs, Europe’s price of gas has climbed steadily reaching $450/thousand cubic meters. EU gas storage facilities are only 47.5% full – the lowest level in history and 15 points below the average of the last five years. With no price relief in sight, Nord Stream 1 closes on July 13 for 10 days of repairs. In previous years, Gazprom compensated for scheduled pipeline maintenance by sending more gas across Ukraine.

US Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, is holding up all State Department nominees to pressure the Biden Administration to impose tougher sanctions on the Russia-Germany Nord Stream 2 pipeline, NBC News reports from Washington. Caught in the logjam are 13 posts, including two undersecretaries, three assistant secretaries, and ‘half a dozen’ Ambassadors. President Biden, a Democrat, is seeking a compromise with Germany that would lessen the financial damage and the security risk to Ukraine, a major transit country for Russian gas.

Chinese companies are to participate in more road, bridge and rail transit projects in Ukraine. That is the goal of a bilateral agreement signed last week by Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao and Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov. Chinese companies have won about $2 billion on construction contracts in Ukraine the each of the last two years, reports Global Times, a unit of Beijing’s People’s Daily.

On the stalled Chinese investment in the Motor Sich aircraft engine factory, the Global Times quotes Song Kui, the President of the Contemporary China-Russia Regional Economy Research Institute, saying: “If Kiev can recognize the situation and get rid of the country’s dependence on the West, the prospects for China-Ukraine cooperation are good.”

Driven by Chinese demand, world iron ore prices have reached 15 year highs, and Ukraine responded by increasing its iron ore production by 8% to 10.8 million tons, during the first half of this year, compared to the same January-June period last year, reports Ukrmetalurgprom, the metals industry association. Similarly, Ukraine’s steel production rose by 7.5%, to 10.9 million tons. Rolled steel rose by 6.6%, to 9.6 million tons. Last year, production of these three categories was up by 1-2%.

New car sales increased by 30% during the first half of this year, compared to the same January-June period last year, reports Ukravtoprom, the vehicle industry association. Last year, despite the Covid-induced recession, car sales dropped only 3%, compared to 2019. Of the 48,400 new cars sold this year through June, the leading brands were: Toyota, Renault, KIA, Skoda and Hyundai.

Growth of electric cars are lagging, increasing by only 12%, from January through May, compared to the same period last year, reports Ukravtoprom. Last year, 7,095 electric cars were sold in Ukraine. Used cars account for about 90% of electric cars sold here. The top models are Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model 3 and Audi E-Tron.

The EU is opening up for the minority of Ukrainians who have completed the two-shot Covid vaccination cycle. At last count this would be 766,718 people – about 2.5% of Ukrainian adults. While the rules change frequently, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, and Romania now accept Ukrainian tourists who have been vaccinated with EU-approved vaccines: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & JohnsonGeorgia, Hungary and Moldova accept Ukraine’s new vaccination certificate, a document that also includes vaccination with Chinese-made vaccines.

In tourism dependent southern Europe – Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Slovenia and Turkey, and Slovenia – Ukrainians are allowed entry with a negative PCR-test taken no more than 72-hours before entry. With Ukraine’s new Covid cases down to 377, the lowest level in a year, Albania and Montenegro do not requires tests of tourists arriving from Ukraine. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry posts updates of changing rules on this website: tripadvisor.mfa.gov.ua.

This month, Ukraine will receive millions of doses of American-made Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, according to Health Minister Viktor Lyashko. For the first time, the Moderna vaccine comes to Ukraine – 2 million doses. In addition, several million Pfizer doses are to arrive this month, according to Ihor Kuzin, Chief Sanitary Doctor. Mass vaccination centers have opened throughout the country. The one in Kyiv is at the International Exhibition Center, near Livoberezhna metro station. Reservations should be made through Diia, an app only available to Ukrainian citizens.

The original English version is from our partner UBN – Ukraine Business News. For more information and news archive, go to: www.ubn.news.

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