- World Bank Approves Loan to Link EU and Ukraine Power Systems
- Scatec Turns On 148 MW Solar Plant
- Russia ‘Blackmails’ EU With High Gas Prices
- New Flights Link Persian Gulf and Ukraine
- Kyiv Taxis and Parking Just Got More Expensive
On Wednesday, The World Bank approved a $212 million in low interest loans to help Ukraine synchronize its electricity system with the EU’s ENTSO-E power grid by 2024. The Bank reports that loans to Ukrhydroenergo will help pay for 197-megawatt short-duration battery energy storage systems combined with solar power plants at four hydroelectric dam sites on the Dnipro — Kyiv, Kaniv, Kremenchuk and Kamianske. In addition, a long-duration battery and solar power plant will be installed at Dnister Hydroelectric Plant.
“It will help Ukraine integrate its power system with the European power grid,” said Arup Banerji, World Bank Regional Director. “The project also helps Ukraine align with the European Green Deal.” With an installed capacity of 5.7 gigawatts, Ukrhydroenergo operates eight hydroelectric power plants on the Dnipro and two on the Dnister.
Today Norway’s Scatec starts commercial operation of its largest solar plant in Ukraine, the 148 MW Progressovka plant in Mykolaiv region, the company reports. “We are pleased to complete our fourth project in Ukraine, supporting the country’s transition towards green energy,” said Raymond Carlsen, Scatec CEO. Realized under Ukraine’s Feed-in-Tariff scheme, the plant has a design life of more than 30 years and is to provide enough electricity to power 76,000 households.
With EU gas prices at 13-year highs and Russian gas supplies to the EU down by almost a fifth, the head of Ukraine’s pipeline company tells the Financial Times that the EU should fight back against Russia’s ‘blackmail.” Sergiy Makogon, chief executive of Ukraine’s Gas Transmission System Operator, said he believed that Gazprom is deliberately holding back gas supplies from the EU to force approval of the controversial Russia-Germany Nord Stream 2 pipeline. “[The EU] should not follow this blackmail of Gazprom with prices,” he said.
“Europe can enter winter with very serious problems,” Makogon tells the FT. “If Gazprom asks to pump more in August? We’d only be happy to.” James Huckstepp, at S&P Global Platts, said that Gazprom’s conduct “could put their claim to being Europe’s most reliable supplier at risk.”
Naftogaz CEO Yuriy Vitrenko will appeal in court against the order by the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption to the Naftogaz Supervisory Board to terminate his contract. Last week, the Supervisory Board failed to vote for Vitrenko’s ouster, opting instead to postpone the issue. Vitrenko asked: “Why is the NAPC not going to court to terminate the contract, but playing politics, and in whose interests is this happening?”
Concorde Capital’s Alexander Paraschiy writes: “There is no political will in Ukraine to dismiss Vitrenko. As such, the board seems to be making another step to find common ground with Vitrenko. So far, the conflict between the CEO and the head of the supervisory board did not affect Naftogaz bond prices, leaving a good chance for the company to place a new bond this autumn.”
The Rada ratified four agreements between France and Ukraine totaling €1.3 billion. The transaction includes buying 130 electronic freight locomotives from Alstom and €140 million worth of drinking water projects for Kyiv and Luhansk. The projects are largely French-financed.
In a heat wave that could affect grain harvests, 10 temperature records were set in Kyiv in June. The average monthly air temperature in Kyiv city in June was 21.3 °C. This is 1.8 °C above the norm for June.
Ukraine started issuing internationally recognized Covid certificates through the Diya app. As of Thursday, 710,996 Ukrainians had received both vaccine doses, making them eligible for a certificate. Ukrainian Covid certificates are in the EU’s repository of Covid certificates and should be accepted in the EU, Roman Rodina, said the General Director of the Center for Public Health (Interfax-Ukraine).
The EU started issuing its own Covid certificates. Each country of the EU-27 can make up its own entry rules. For example, Austria requires that Ukrainians take a PCR test on arrival and undergo as least five days of quarantine.
Ukrzaliznytsia resumed international rail service to Slovakia, notably between Mukachevo and Košice. On June 1st, Ukraine resumed its rail service to Austria and Hungary.
Kuwait-Kyiv flights are to commence on July 13. Jazeera Airways will fly twice a week between the two capitals. Flynas, the discount Saudi carrier, starts flights tomorrow between Lviv and Riyadh. Flynas will also fly to Lviv from two other Saudi cities: Jeddah and Al-Qasim. Flynas started flying from Riyadh to Kyiv Boryspil on June 11. It is mulling flying to Odesa.
Improving taxi service at Kyiv Boryspil is a top priority for the new airport director, Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov writes on Facebook. Thursday, Oleksiy Dubrevsky was chosen as the new director of Ukraine’s busiest airport. Currently the director of Zaporozhia airport, Dubrevsky has worked for Lufthansa and at the airports of Donetsk and Ras al-Khaimah, in the United Arab Emirates. In addition to returning passenger numbers to pre-pandemic levels, the Minister also wants the new director to improve the quality of advertising in the airport arrivals area, writing: “Here the first impression of us as a country is formed – and we are not only online casinos.”
On July 16, Odesa is to inaugurate its new 2.8 km reinforced concrete runway, long enough to handle long haul, transcontinental jets. The day before, the airport will be closed all day July 15 to prepare for switching to the new runway. Delays in opening the runway gave the airport time to receive from Germany four telescopic bridges that will allow passengers to walk directly from jets to the terminal.
An international border checkpoint for passengers and cargo will be opened at Zhytomyr International Airport, the Cabinet of Ministers decided Wednesday. The airport terminal was recently renovated by Yanair, which maintains its two Boeings there. The new border control point is part of $110 million budgeted to upgrade half of Ukraine’s 16 regional airports this year.
Due to a lack of drivers, Uber is raising its rates in Kyiv this month by about 30%. Rivals Uklon and Bolt are expected to follow suit.
Kyiv tripled rates for street parking in the city center, the City Administration reports. Hourly rates now are UAH 35 ($1.28) in the center, and UAH 25 (91 cents) in areas adjacent to the city center. For non-payment, the fine now is $25 in the city center and $18 in adjacent areas.
A new sports channel, XSport+, launched Thursday in Ukraine. Commercial-free and dedicated almost entirely to Ukrainian sports, the channel is distributed by IPTV and OTT.
- Farmland Market Started
- A Cautious Start, With Big Potential
- Record Wheat Harvest Forecast
- China Could Triple Ukraine Grain Imports
- Dairy Down
- Apple Opens in Ukraine
From 1st of July, Ukrainians can sell their farmland, a right largely lost after the communist takeover one century ago. “Ukrainians will become the real masters of their land, because they will be able not only to own it, but also to dispose of it freely,” Prime Minister Shmygal wrote on Telegram. “There is not a single successful country where there is a moratorium on the introduction of a civilized land market.” Ukraine’s largest export industry, agriculture cultivates annually 32 million hectares, an area larger than Italy.
The market starts with limits – sales are only permitted between Ukrainians for areas less than 100 hectares. The Economy Ministry estimates that the average price of a hectare will be around $2,000. On January 1, 2024, the market will expand to Ukrainian-owned companies and the size limit will increase to 10,000 hectares. Allowing foreigners to buy Ukrainian farmland is only to be decided by a national referendum. At present, polls indicate that Ukrainians are opposed to the sale of land to foreigners.
From the start, farmers cultivating up to 500 hectares will be eligible for bank loans sponsored by a new fund, the Partial Credit Guarantee Fund for Agriculture. When farmland goes up for sale, tenants have the first right of refusal to buy. Landlords must notify tenants in writing of their intention to sell the land, indicating price and terms of sale. Sellers will have to pay 5% personal income tax and 1.5% military duty tax on the cost of the plot sold. Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food Roman Leshchenko posted on his Facebook page a list of actions and documents required for the sale of farmland.
Dobrozem, an online farmland sales platform and consultancy, was launched last week, announced the founders Alex Lissitsa, General Director of IMK agricultural holding, Dmytro Dubilet, a former executive at Monobank, the online bank. “The main idea of Dobrozem is to give people the opportunity to buy or sell land honestly and transparently,” Lissitsa writes on Facebook. “The process of buying / selling land in our country is quite complicated,” Dubilet writes on his Telegram channel. “It involves notaries, banks, appraisers, tenants with priority right of redemption. We have worked out this process in detail, and our support service will help sellers at all stages.”
The Rada passed in first reading a bill that would mandate that bioethanol’s compose 5% of gasoline sold in Ukraine by next May. In Brazil, most bioethanol’s come from sugar cane. In the US, they come from corn.
Ukraine should not become a ‘Corn Republic,’ but should develop food processing and animal husbandry, says Gennadiy Bobov, owner of Panda, a farming group based in Kyiv region. “The simple sale of land will not lead to positive results and economic growth,” he said last week. “Land reform should benefit the agrarian complex.”
Good rains and expanded cultivation are expected to increase Ukraine’s wheat harvests by 21% yoy during the new July-June marketing year, forecasts Agritel, the consulting arm of Argus Media. The latest forecast is for 30.5 million tons, breaking the record set in 2019-2020.
China’s trade war with Australia could lead to a doubling and tripling of Ukraine’s grain exports to China, Mykola Gorbachov, President of the Ukrainian Grain Association, tells Argus Media after signing a binational deal in June. This year, Ukraine has nearly tripled its barley exports to China. Ukraine now accounts for two thirds of China’s barley imports. For October-April, Ukraine’s corn exports to China are 7.3 million tons, up by one third compared to all of last year.
To turn around Ukraine’s declining dairy production, the government should extend $200 million a year in support to the sector, Vadym Chaharovsky, head of Ukraine’s Union of Dairy Enterprises, told reporters. By contrast, he said, the EU’s dairy subsidies amount to €10 billion a year. Ukraine also should stop importing dairy products from Belarus. Five years ago, Belarus joined Russia’s embargo of Ukraine dairy products.
New markets opened this year for Ukraine’s dairy exports: Argentina, Japan, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Libya. Last year, Ukraine doubled imports of dairy products, to $304 million, while seeing exports fall by 17%, to $226.6 million.
This year, Ukraine’s milk production continued its steady fall, dropping by 5.2% through April, compared to the same first four months of 2020. Of the 2.52 million tons, dairy production was stable at 902,000 tons, but household production fell by 7.6%, to 1.6 million tons.
International investors with 23 projects totaling $1.35 billion have applied for ‘investment nannies’ with UkraineInvest, announced Serhiy Tsivach, the Executive Director of the investment promotion office (Interfax-Ukraine). The office has 14 employees working on the project, which is designed to cut red tape. This month, UkraineInvest plans to submit the first candidate projects to the Economy Ministry for approval.
In the Rada’s latest move to meet IMF requirements, Ukraine’s parliament approved legislation to strengthen the independence of the central bank and expand its regulatory powers. Government members are not entitled to attend Board meetings of the National Bank of Ukraine. The central bank wins more control over the activities, reputation and financial states of banks’ major owners, related parties and top managers. In 2015-2017, Ukraine closed about two thirds of Ukraine’s banks due to insolvency.
In the latest turmoil at the central bank, the nine top leaders of the licensing department quit en masse Wednesday, charging a lack of transparency and autonomy under the new governor who took over one year ago. “Today, the National Bank of Ukraine has deviated far from these standards,” Oleksandr Bevz, former director of the department, wrote on Facebook. “This threatens to roll back reforms in the banking sector and in regulation of the non-banking sector.” The bank, now run by Kyrylo Shevchenko, said on its website: “The licensing department has 107 employees and continues to operate as usual.”
Vahram Stepanyan, a veteran of reform programs in Hungary and Romania, is the new IMF resident representative in Ukraine. A native of Armenia, Stepanyan most recently served with the IMF in the United Arab Emirates. Goesta Ljungman, the IMF representative here for the last four years, is returning to Washington in a routine rotation.
Apple opened an official office in Ukraine, Digital Transformation Minister Mykhailo Fedorov writes on Telegram. Through a future network of official dealers, Apple will sell imported equipment and provide authorized service and parts.
- Rada Approves Two Laws to Revive $5 Billion IMF Deal
- Gazprom Prepares Gaz Squeeze for EU in July
- Most Affordable Housing Loans Go For Dachas
The Rada approved two laws that may clear the way for a resumption of IMF lending in September 2021.
The parliament has restored jail sentences for officials who lie on declarations of their assets and on assets of close relatives. Neglecting to list an asset worth over $150,000 could be punished by one year in jail.
The parliament also approved a law that will give international legal specialists veto power in a commission that will hire and fire judges. The US Embassy welcomed this approval as “an important step forward toward comprehensive judicial reform.”
If both laws were deemed ‘IMF compliant,’ they would contribute to restarting in July the long dormant process of an IMF review and to the resumption of lending in September. Ukraine’s $5 billion IMF program stalled after a first tranche was disbursed one year ago. Compliance with an IMF program reassures foreign investors. Compliance would also change the dynamic of President Zelenskiy’s visit to the White House at the end of July.
Ukraine faces a foreign debt repayment of $3 billion in September. Ukraine could meet this deadline with a second IMF tranche and attendant disbursements from other international financial institutions. A separate IMF allocation of $2.7 billion, part of a worldwide distribution of $650 billion, is not expected until October or later.
President Zelenskiy stressed the importance of getting the IMF deal back on track when he was interviewed two weeks ago by AP, AFP and Reuters. “This is important primarily for our economic stability and investment climate,” he said in a transcript posted on the presidential website. “Because there are always other programs and investor attitudes tied to the IMF program. That is, the issue here is not so much money, but more a question of attitude, investment climate, and so on. Therefore, we will definitely do what we promised. I think there will be a tranche in early fall or fall.”
Timothy Ash writes from London: “If…these laws are now IMF compliant, then there is a hope still of getting the first review under the Stand-By Arrangement signed off before September and all the 2022 budget discussions.”
The Rada recently passed one economic bill that met with IMF skepticism. Starting September 1st, Ukrainians who have accumulated assets, but failed to pay taxes on them, can declare them voluntarily, pay a one-time fee and avoid punishment for tax evasion. For this one-year amnesty, the fee schedule is: 2.5% for government bonds, 5% for assets in Ukraine and 9% for assets held abroad. Goesta Ljungman, the IMF’s outgoing resident representative in Ukraine, told Interfax-Ukraine before the vote: “Tax amnesties often hurt tax collection in the long run because they discourage people from paying their future taxes by making them think there will be yet another future amnesty.”
With Europe facing a 25% cut in pipeline gas from Russia in July, Gazprom refused Ukraine’s offer to ship 50% more Russian gas to the EU in July. Two Russian pipelines – Nord Stream 1 and Yamal-Europe – are to undergo maintenance in July, reducing flows from Russia by 2.2 billion cubic meters. With these scheduled shutdowns in mind, Ukraine’s Gas Transmission System Operator offered to increase daily transit by 51%, to 188 million cubic meters.
News that Gazprom spurned Ukraine’s offer pushed Europe gas prices over $400/1,000 cubic meters, the highest level in over a decade. Facing high prices, Ukraine is delaying filling its storage reservoirs for this winter. Ukraine has 16 billion cubic meters in storage, 18% below the level of this time last year, Naftogaz reports. Interfax-Ukraine has warned: “The injection of gas into underground storage facilities is at a minimum, which leaves no doubt that Europe will meet the new winter with half-empty underground storage facilities.”
July will be the third month that Gazprom holds back on shipping more gas volumes through Ukraine. Analysts have concluded that Gazprom is working to raise European gas prices and to build support for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. A sizeable number of US congressional representatives seek to impose sanctions to prevent this Russia-Germany gas line from opening in the fall.
The Finance Ministry sold only $93 million worth government bonds – 22% the amount sold at last week’s auction. As reported on the Ministry’s Facebook page, yields were little changed for the five tenures of hryvnia bonds on offer. Yields ranged from 8.5% for three-month bonds to 12.73% for 6-year hryvnia bonds.
Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd AG, one of the world’s largest container shipping companies, is opening an office in Odesa, the company reports. “Ukraine is also an attractive export market for Hapag-Lloyd due to its wealth of various mineral resources and one of the world’s largest agricultural industries,” the Hamburg-based company said. Hapag-Lloyd has 241 container ships and employs 13,300 people in 395 offices in 131 countries.
Three quarters of the 495 loans extended under the government’s affordable mortgage program have gone for dachas, the Finance Ministry reports. In the first four months of the program, 14 authorized banks made a total of $15.5 million in loans – 78% to the ‘secondary’ market. Although the program is designed to help young families buy their first home, banks prefer to lend for weekend homes because borrowers can put their primary residences up for collateral. The interest rate is 7%. Ukraine’s prime rate is 7.5%. Banks are considering another $26 million in loans – 81% to the secondary market.
Ukraine’s new open skies agreement with the EU will result in cheaper tickets and more European routes for Ukraine, says Denis Kostrzhevsky, chairman of Kyiv Sikorsky airport. “It will lead to lower ticket prices and expansion of routes,” said Kostrzhevsky, whose airport is a hub for Wizz Air, Eastern Europe’s largest discount airline. “Just as the Ukrainian market opens to European airlines, the European market should open to Ukrainian ones.”
Drivers paid almost $10 million in speeding fines during the first year of traffic cameras in Ukraine, reports OpenDataBot. Today, the cameras record about 112,000 violations every month, about one quarter the level of June 2020. While the number of accidents in Kyiv and Kyiv Region has changed little, the number of fatal accidents is down by almost 12%. In June 2020, 48 traffic cameras were installed, largely around Kyiv and Kyiv Region. By the 2024, the end of President Zelenskiy’s term, the goal is 1,500 across Ukraine.
- EU Approves Open Skies With Ukraine
- President Zelenskiy Signs Google Tax, Law on Overweight Trucks
- UZ Seeks $1.5 billion from Budget for Upgrades
- UZ Stiffs Big US Investor
The 27-nation EU Council approved an open skies airline agreement with Ukraine. Scheduled to be signed this fall, the deal will “promote trade, tourism, investment and economic and social development,” the Council said. The accord, “neighborhood aviation agreement”, will require Ukraine to “adopt EU aviation standards and implement EU aviation rules,” the Council added. The agreement will be effective from this summer.
With the accord a decade in the making, President Zelenskiy hailed the approval, writing on Twitter: “The agreement will allow our citizens to get cheaper tickets & expand the geography of travel. Its signing will be another step towards entering the single European space.”
President Zelenskiy signed the ‘Google tax’ law – legislation that requires international IT companies to pay Ukraine’s 20% VAT tax on services provided to Ukrainians. Following the examples of the EU and Australia, the Rada designed the bill to collect taxes from such large companies as Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, TikTok, and YouTube. Exemption from the tax will be companies with Ukraine revenues below $36,000 and companies dedicated to education.
Data risk of the government’s Diia app is mitigated by the fact that the increasingly popular ‘government-in-a-smartphone’ app does not store data, but only displays encrypted information from other government registries, Ian Bateson writes on Rest of the World site about Ukraine’s effort to cut government paperwork. “Diia has also passed two penetration tests, organized with the assistance of the Estonian e-Governance Academy and the American aid agency USAID, which simulated a cyberattack on the system,” he writes. “In December 2020, USAID funded a competition to test the security of Diia with a $34,500 prize for discovering critical vulnerabilities, the embassy said. None were found.”
Zelenskiy signed a law that authorizes automatic recordings of overweight trucks and empowers Ukrtransbezpeka, the highway safety agency, to collect fines in court. With the country in the midst of a multi-year, multi-billion dollar road building campaign, the new law is design to crack down on overweight trucks. On hot summer days, overweight grain trucks damage asphalt roads.
Swiss-based Kistler Group says it will install 250 Weight-in-Motion, or WIM, stations in Ukraine by 2025 to reduce road damage by overweight trucks, reports ITS International, a UK-based transportation news site. Tomas Pospisek, Kistler’s regional manager for Traffic Solutions, says the company has installed WIM units in Hungary and the Czech Republic. Last year, spot checks by Ukravtodor found that about one third of trucks on Ukraine’s road are overweight.
Over the last three years, 48 WIM units have been installed on Ukraine’s highways. Each unit costs about $500,000. Canada’s International Road Dynamics has partnered with Intercomp, a US company, to win contracts to install 10 units, reports ITS.
Ukzaliznytsia wants the government to spend $1.5 billion over the next three years to renew cars for passenger trains, UZ CEO Ivan Yuryk tells the railroad’s press office. Referring to UZ’s plan to buy 670 passenger cars, 43 suburban electric trains and five high-speed InterCity trains, he says: “Supporting the railway, in particular the unprofitable passenger routes, at the expense of the State Budget is a worldwide practice that enables the railway to develop and provide quality passenger transportation services.”
In a first step, UZ signed an agreement to buy 100 new passenger cars from Kriukiv Railway Car Manufacturing Plant, in Kremenchuk, Yuryk announced to the UZ press service. He said this is the first time in the history of independent Ukraine that budget money is being used to buy railway cars. In April, the Cabinet of Ministers allocated $150 million to be spent on the purchase of modern rolling stock. The new passenger cars will include: wheelchair accessible compartments, air conditioning, vacuum toilets, energy saving lighting and electric sockets.
During the first half of this year, Ukrzaliznytsia has sold 143,000 tons of scrap metal earning $44 million. The sales are through electronic auctions on Prozorro.Sales and proceeds go to renovating train cars and locomotives, says Yuryk.
UZ losses extended into the first quarter of this year, suffering a $62 million loss for Q1, the railroad reported last week. Passenger traffic peaked at 4.5 million, which was only 63% the level of Q1 last year. Cargo rates, especially for iron, are kept below comparative rates in Poland. Although UZ belongs to the state, it paid about $208 million in land taxes and fees in Q1. Before the pandemic, UZ recorded $109 million in net profit. The collapse in passenger traffic pushed the railroad into a $435 million net loss last year. The company expects to return to a more profitable outcome later this year.
The nation’s largest employer, UZ cut its staff by 3% last year, to 243,387. The company pays an average monthly wage of $409 – 18% below the national average. UZ’s level of debt is $1.5 billion which is owed to financial institutions including the EBRD, Oschadbank, Ukrgasbank, Sberbank and Alfa-Bank. At a government forum on June 15, Zelenskiy said of UZ: “They are completely bankrupt.” The President said he is tasking Oleksiy Kubrakov, the new Infrastructure Minister, to bring the railroad out of bankruptcy.
A major US investor in Ukraine, Richard A. Deitz, says UZ is ignoring Supreme Court rulings to avoid negotiating a settlement of a $300 million debt. “UZ has used every trick and procedural loophole to delay and draw out each and every court process,” Deitz, president of VR Capital Group Ltd., said June 15 in a 3,500-word testimony before a Rada commission of inquiry on UZ. In February 2019, Deitz’ hedge fund paid $123.5 million for a package of UZ debt with a face value of $300 million acquired at public auction from Prominvestbank, then a Russia-controlled bank.
VR offered a discount of $111 million to UZ, Deitz told the Rada and, later, the UBN in an interview. “UZ refused to even engage in negotiations over restructuring,” Deitz told the Rada of his experience over the last 2 ½ years. “Many of our letters received no response at all, and the Supervisory Board has never replied to a single letter we have sent them.”
“We have received final rulings for many of our claims from the Supreme Court,” Deitz told the Rada. “However, UZ seems to feel that it is above the law and not bound by the Supreme Court.” After 20 years and $1 billion invested in Ukraine, Deitz concluded that UZ’s “actions call into question the fundamental commitment to the rule of law in Ukraine and whether Ukraine is an ‘investable’ country.”
- Istanbul Canal to Open Black Sea to LNG
- US to Germany: Price of Nord Stream 2 is Hydrogen For Ukraine
- World Bank Loans $350 Million to Ukraine
- China to Ukraine: Be Nice or No Vaccines
- All Brits, Indians and Russians Test for COVID on Arrival
- Antonov’s Mriya Used for NATO Withdrawal from Afghanistan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan launched the construction of the Istanbul Canal, a $15 billion, 6-year project that is to replace the Bosporus. Designed to carry ships of the same size that transit the Suez Canal, the 45 km canal would open the Black Sea for the first time to liquefied natural gas cargoes from Persian Gulf. Turkish officials have said the future canal will not be subject to the 1936 Montreux Convention, which limits the number and tonnage of war ships entering the Black Sea through the Bosporus.
Turkey and Ukraine agreed to cooperate on building LNG terminals in the Black Sea, reports Yaroslav Demchenkov, Ukraine’s deputy minister of Energy for European Integration. Turkey is developing massive new gas discoveries on its western Black Sea coast, but there are no Turkey-Ukraine pipelines across the Black Sea. Demchenkov said: “Cooperation with the Republic of Turkey in terms of LNG supplies is a priority for us.”
US and Germany are working to draw up a deal to shore up Ukraine’s energy sector to blunt the impact of Nord Stream 2, Bloomberg reports from Berlin and Washington. Elements could include: building up a hydrogen production industry in Ukraine; requiring Russia to keep minimum gas flows across Ukraine through the 2020s; and Germany supporting the “Three Seas Initiative” to build up central European pipelines connecting LNG terminals in Poland and Croatia. The package would be largely finalized in time for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Washington on July 15 and President Zelenskiy’s visit several days later.
Ukraine’s exports of goods to the EU grew by 60% in the five years since Ukraine joined the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area pact with the EU, Prime Minister Shmygal writes on Facebook. This year, Ukraine’s exports to the EU may hit €20 billion. Last year, the EU took 41% of Ukraine’s exports of goods and services.
Looking ahead, the government is working on accomplishing five ‘visa-free’ relationships with the EU, by the end of President Zelenskiy’s term, in 2024. Shmygal writes. For industry, the goal is to align Ukrainian standards with EU ones, allowing managers to get EU certificates in Ukraine. For aviation, the goal is to sign the long-delayed open skies agreement with the EU. For energy, the goal is to separate from the electricity systems of Russia and Belarus and to join Europe’s transmission system – ENTSO-E. For customs, the government expects to join next year the EU convention on joint transit and data sharing. In the digital realm, Ukraine is joining the EU market.
Ukraine has signed a $350 million loan agreement with the World Bank that aims to help mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and support economic recovery, Prime Minister Shmygal said. The money also will help implement a fair development of the farmland market, continue reform of the natural gas sector, and strengthen the credit market. Since Ukraine joined the World Bank in 1992, the Bank has committed $14 billion for more than 80 projects and programs.
China threatened to withhold delivery of Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines to Ukraine until the Zelenskiy government withdrew its support for more scrutiny of human rights in Xinjiang, the AP reported from Geneva. Ukraine was one of 40 countries supporting the investigation. On Thursday, Ukraine’s name had been removed. China is Ukraine’s largest single nation trading partner. China’s Foreign Ministry reacted angrily to the AP report, saying: “China’s provision of vaccines and anti-epidemic materials to other countries is not meant to gain benefits from other countries and there isn’t any geopolitical purpose nor any political conditions attached.”
A record 97,130 Ukrainians were vaccinated Friday, the Health Ministry reported. Since the February start of the vaccination campaign, 550,966 people have been fully vaccinated – a status that allows them to visit many EU countries. In July, Ukraine is to receive 7.7 million vaccine doses – largely China’s CoronaVac. On Thursday in Kharkiv, a laboratory for developing and producing Covid-19 tests opened on the campus of Oleksandr Yaroslavsky’s Ecopolis Kharkiv Tractor Plant.
Starting Friday, all citizens of Britain, India, Russia and Portugal are to be tested at Ukraine’s border checkpoints for the new Delta coronavirus strain. Kyiv Boryspil and Kyiv Sikorsky airports perform the needed antigen tests for $25. Results are ready within 30 minutes. Foreigners who fail the test will be denied entry. Ukrainians who fail the test will be escorted by police to a specialized covid hospital. Chief Sanitary Doctor Ihor Kuzin outlines the new rules in a Health Ministry release. Beyond these four countries, Health Ministry rules allow entry to foreign travelers who have a certificate showing completed a full course of Covid vaccination.
Thanks to Kyiv Boryspil’s decisive shift to charter flights, Ukraine’s largest airport has broken into the ranks of Europe’s 15 busiest airports for the first time, reports Airports Council International Europe. Tracking the January-April passenger traffic at 341 of Europe’s busiest airports, the Council put Boryspil in 14th place – ahead of airports for such cities as Munich, Rome, Vienna and Warsaw. Charter passenger traffic doubled at Boryspil for the first five months of this year. Vladimir Zhmak, the airport director, said Boryspil has restored 60% of its flights, compared to 2019. For the airports of the 41-nation Eurocontrol organization, the comparative figure is 39%.
Boryspil airport recorded a monthly profit of $1.5 million in May, its first profit since the coronavirus pandemic hit European air travel in March of last year, Zhmak, the airport director, said. Despite the travel crisis, Boryspil recently started to receive regular flights from two new carriers – Cyprus Airways in May, and Flynas, a Saudi discount airline, in June. For the second half of this year, Zhmak predicted: “We expect Eurowings, Wizzair Abu Dhabi and several other new carriers.”
Antonov Airlines’ An-225 Mriya, the world’s largest cargo plane, took part in the NATO drawdown from Afghanistan last week, carrying three British Royal Air Force Puma helicopters from Kabul to Karachi, Pakistan, and on to RAF station Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, the RAF reports. In six years in Afghanistan, this non-combat transport unit carried 126,000 passengers and moved 660,000 kilos of cargo. On taking off from Brize Norton, the Mriya’s six engines caused such a powerful back wash that it blew down a wooden perimeter fence. Antonov’s weak Ukraine branding was revealed when a British plane spotter could be heard calling out to arriving police: “You will have to be sending the Russians a bill.”
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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