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  • Ze Promises to Meet IMF Demands
  • Big Eurobonds by Christmas?
  • Reform Face Big Setback at State Arms Conglomerate
  • Turkey Blocks Russia in the Region
  • Aid for Roads and Rail Will Cut Isolation of Donbas
  • US Gives Aid to Protect Shipping in the Azov

The day after speaking with the IMF Managing Director in Washington, President Zelenskiy made a video call to the G-7 ambassadors in Kyiv and promised to deliver on the IMF’s checklist. By the end of December, he promises to restore criminal liability for officials who falsify their asset declarations, to keep Artem Sytnyk as head of the Anti-Graft Bureau, and to “resolve issues of the Constitutional Court.” The Rada returns on December 1st. It is not clear if the President has the votes to pass the necessary bills. IMF MD Kristalina Georgieva tweeted after her talk with Zelenskiy: “Full agreement on actions needed prior to program review.”

The EU is ready to provide €1.2 billion in aid to Ukraine – if Ukraine complies with a list of conditions similar to the IMF’s list. Matti Maasikas, head of the EU delegation to Ukraine, tweeted this message after meeting with Yuriy Aristov, head of the Rada Budget Committee. Maasikas said: “The fiscal challenges facing Ukraine are huge, and the EU is ready to provide macro-financial assistance under well known conditions.”

Concorde Capital’s Evgeniya Akhtyrko writes of Zelenskiy’s night call: The key question: is what was the purpose of the call? Considering that no IMF tranche will emerge in the nearest couple of months, and amid the high financing needs of Ukraine’s state budget till the end of 2020, we believe this was a cheer up call for Ukraine’s potential external lenders. Namely, we continue to expect the government will try to market a new Eurobond soon.”

Western joint production ventures with UkrOboronProm units will not be possible if the new Ministry of Strategic Industries succeeds in stopping reform of the nation’s arms industry, the UkrOboronProm’s reformist management warned in a public statement. “The Ministry has been systematically blocking the UkrOboronProm and defense industry reform for three months,” UkrOboronProm’s management wrote of the new Minister, Olehy Uruskiy, a 30-year veteran of Ukraine’s defense industry.

Separately, Mustafa Nayyem, UkrOboronProm’s Deputy Director-General, wrote on Facebook of what looks like another counter-revolution for Ukraine. Of the takeover by the new Ministry last summer, he wrote: “We agreed in the hope of finding partners and like-minded reformers. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Instead of partnership, we faced systemic protraction in the development of strategic documents, the blocking of our draft bill and the reform as a whole.”

This critique was echoed by Canadian-American arms expert Lada Roslycky who wrote in Vox Ukraine that the new Ministry of Strategic Industries is a “communist construct dating back to Soviet times.” With only seven employees, this ‘super ministry’ seems designed to block reform and exploit lucrative opportunities in a notoriously corrupt industry, critics charge.


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While Western companies stay on the sidelines, Turkish arms manufacturers build joint ventures with Ukraine for drones, surface-to-air missile systems, military communications, tank protection systems and corvettes, Can Kasapoglu wrote in The Jamestown Foundation a piece titled: “Turkey and Ukraine Boost Mutual Defense Ties”.Turkish-Ukrainian strategic ties look poised to bring about a new geopolitical reality in the Black Sea region,” Kasapoglu writes from Istanbul where he directs defense programs at the EDAM thinktank. Comparing Ukraine’s cooperation with Turkey to that of Israel and South Korea, he concludes: “Ukraine stands to become another important partner of this type, but with the additional political-military value of helping Turkey counter-balance Russia in the Black Sea.”

Azerbaijan’s victory in the 44-day war with Armenia thrusts Turkey into the spotlight as an increasingly muscular regional player, Taras Kuzio, a Kyiv-Mohyla Academy Professor, writing for the Royal United Services Institue for Defence and Security Studies. “Ukraine and Azerbaijan are longstanding pro-NATO and pro-Western former Soviet states in a contested region which Russia demands the West recognises as its exclusive sphere of influence,” he writes for the venerable London think tank. “While the Azerbaijani–Turkish alliance has passed an important test of endurance, Turkey’s development of a new strategic alliance with Ukraine is in its embryonic days.”

UIA will resume flying to Yerevan, Armenia on December 4th. Flights were suspended two months ago because of the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, about 250 km to the east of Yerevan. On November 10, a Moscow-brokered ceasefire stopped the fighting. Russian military peacekeepers and Turkish military observers are to monitor the ceasefire.

Rebuilding roads in Ukraine-controlled Donbas is the goal of a two new soft loans totaling €155 million, reported the Infrastructure Ministry. The World Bank is lending $65 million as part of its project: ‘Eastern Ukraine: Reunification, Restoration and Revival.’ The European Investment Bank is lending €100 million also largely for road repair and construction.

To further reduce the isolation of Luhansk and to protect the new roads, the Rada’s Transport Committee endorsed the construction of a rail line that would connect a 250 rail line in eastern Luhansk that is cut off from Ukraine’s rail system. Largely useless today, line runs south from the Russian border, near Lantrativka to Kondrashevskaya-Novaya and on to Russia-controlled Luhansk. Earlier this year, France offered to finance €100 million worth of railroad construction in Ukraine-controlled Luhansk.

Through October, Mariupol port has handled 5.1 million tons of cargo, up by almost 10% over the level for the first 10 months of last year. Taking advantage of rail freight incentives to use the port, shippers sent 26% more ferrous metals and 35% more grain, reported the Sea Port.

 

  • Government Bets on Weekend Lockdowns to Stop Rising Corona Rates
  • IMF Chief and Zelenskiy Talk on Phone, Online Review Mission to Start Next Month
  • Solid European Support for Ukraine Joining EU
  • Higher Education: A Growth Export for Ukraine.

Although Ukraine is recording record corona infections and deaths, the government believes weekend lockdowns will be enough to stop the nation’s rising infection rate. The nation is recording about 12,500 new infections a day. Without the Saturday-Sunday lockdown, the infection rate would jump by 50% to 20,000 new infections a day; Prime Minister Shmyhal told at a government meeting.

With shopping centers closed, ‘mobility’ dropped by about 25%, said Viktor Lyashko, the deputy Health Minister. He says a well-enforced lockdown at the weekend, could cut ‘mobility’ by 50% from normal levels. Even cutting mobility by 25% can cut transmission by two-thirds, Shmyhal said.

Last weekend, a string of big city mayors defied the lockdown. Whilst National Police who work for the Interior Minister, shut down and fined 2,400 establishments, many of them in cities boycotting the lockdown call. A Rada bill to stop the weekend lockdown failed to get enough votes. Starting last weekend, PM Shmyhal has asked banks to close many of their branches.

Speaking to Reuters, Health Minister Maksym Stepanov said that he believes Ukraine can get to the Christmas holidays without a total lockdown. However, he warns: “The winter, in my opinion, will be very severe in terms of morbidity and the number of seriously ill.” Due to better treatment, the death rate for Coronavirus patients in Ukraine has fallen to 1.8%, down from 2.9% in the spring.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva tweeted about Ukraine: “Constructive call with President Zelensky on IMF program implementation, Central Bank independence and anti-corruption efforts. Full agreement on actions needed prior to program review.” Ukrainian officials said the upshot of the call would be an online IMF review of Ukraine’s IMF standby agreement next month and disbursement of a second tranche in the first quarter of 2021.

President Zelenskiy said after the night call: “To date, all the structural beacons provided for the revision of the IMF program have been fulfilled.” Zelenskiy assured the head of the IMF that his government is countering moves by the Constitutional Court to abolish anti-corruption agencies designed with Western help since 2015. Zelenskiy tweeted: “Our teams enjoy strong trust & work closely to welcome the IMF mission ASAP.”

Deputy Finance Minister Yuriy Draganchuk told Korrespondent.net that there are no “formal preconditions for not giving us a tranche or sending a mission.” However, he added: “They look at the general situation in the country, which is not entirely positive now. The [Constitutional] Court does not represent our country in the best light and, indeed, may send some negative signal to the IMF. I hope that joint efforts will resolve the constitutional crisis.“

Veteran British financial observer Timothy Ash was skeptical, emailing clients: “[I] cannot see IMF disbursements until the new US administration takes office and puts new focus on Ukraine.” Predicting that Ukraine could float 10-year Eurobonds at 7% yields, he said: “I assume the Ministry of Finance will use the phone call with the IMF MD to come to market very soon with a new Eurobond deal – and likely before a new IMF mission hits the runway/zoom button.”

Dollar-denominated bonds accounted for 85% of revenue raised last Tuesday at the Finance Ministry’s weekly auction. A total of $76 million 1.2-year dollar bonds went for 3.77%, up 15 basis points from one week earlier, the Ministry posted on Facebook. Yields also rose slightly for the hryvnia bonds, which netted the equivalent of $13.3 million. The 1-year hryvnia bond was the most popular, going for an average yield of 10.5%. Despite the higher yields, the Ministry raised slightly less than one third the amount of the previous week.

The Finance Ministry is not considering issuing hryvnia government loan bonds to help pay off the $800 million debt owed to solar and wind producers of electricity, Deputy Finance Minister Yuriy Draganchuk told Korrespondent.net. “There will definitely not be government bonds,” he says of support for Ukrenergo. “There will be either state banks or international donors.” The American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine supports a bill in the Rada which would allow issuing of additional government bonds by raising the state budget deficit by $700 million. Since July, the EBRD and the European Investment Bank have discussed participating in a settlement. They have not made public any decision.

University education is a major export for Ukraine. Last year, 80,500 foreign students spent $570 million here for tuition alone, reports the Kyiv Post. Adding food, lodging, airfare, and services, this spending could total $1 billion a year. Indian nationals account for almost one quarter of the students. Other major source countries are: Azerbaijan, China, Egypt, Israel, Morocco, Nigeria, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

55% of people polled in France, Germany, Italy and Poland support Ukraine joining the European Union, according to an internet-based survey of 4.000 people polled at the end of September for the New Europe Center. The top obstacle to Ukraine joining the EU is corruption, according to 43% of respondents. This was up from 33% five years ago. The portion of respondents who associate Ukraine with war is 12%, down from 49% in 2015. About 38% of interviewees support Ukraine joining NATO.

Due to the Constitutional Court’s October 27 decision that filing fraudulent asset declarations should be not punished, the Ukraine’s new High Anti-Corruption Court said that it was forced throw out its own conviction of a judge last year. Anti-corruption activists predict that at least four other corruption rulings will be thrown own. Over the last 10 days, the Anti-Corruption Court dropped investigations against two more judges and against the mayor of Odesa, Gennadiy Trukhanov.

Concorde Capital’s Zenon Zawada writes: “This is yet another negative consequence of the scandalous October 27 ruling, which has been quite destructive, not only for Ukraine’s anti-corruption infrastructure but also its image among its Western sponsors… many critical convictions – intended a signal to deter others – will be lost forever.”

The Rada lacks the political will to approve bills that world restore the electronic declarations or deal with the Constitutional Court, a body determined to dismantle much of the Europe-oriented institutions adopted since the 2014 Revolution of Dignity, the parliament’s deputy speaker Olena Kondratiuk told ICTV ‘Freedom of Speech’ program. “Unfortunately, now there is no political will in the parliament to pass any bill concerning both the return to electronic declaration […] and the reconstruction of the Constitutional Court,” she said, predicting that any action will be deferred until Dec. 1.

“Now you’ve got to put people in jail,” Joe Biden recalls in his 2017 memoir saying to Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Then Vice President Biden made the exhortation in a speech to the US-Ukraine Business Forum on July 13, 2015.

 

  • Western Reformers Purged from Defense Agencies
  • Hopes Face for Foreign JVs
  • Nova Poshta Hires 2,500 for Christmas and Beyond
  • Road Builders Hit 93% of Target
  • Open Skies Starts Early Next Year
  • Western Watchers See Ukraine At a Crossroads

With the third departure in six weeks, the purge of pro-Western reformers from Ukraine’s defense industry continued with last Monday’s abrupt firing of Volodomyr Usov, the head of Ukraine’s Space Agency. On Nov. 4, Oleksandr Los resigned as CEO of Antonov, ending four months on the job. On Oct. 6, Aivaras Abromavičius resigned as director general Ukroboronprom, the defense production conglomerate. All three men advocated ‘corporatization,’ or the creation of smaller, profitable companies to save an industry starved by lack of budget funds.

By creating transparently run companies, the directors hoped to open doors to join ventures with foreign, NATO-standard companies wary of getting tarred by corrupt practices at state defense manufacturers. Usov was fired four days after he signed the Artemis Accords, a US-led alliance of Western space programs which has the goal of landing “the first woman and the next man” on the Moon by 2024. “Congratulations to Ukraine!” the US Embassy tweeted apparently unaware the Usov was about to be fired. “On Nov 12, it became the 9th country to sign the Artemis Accords.” Russia harshly criticizes the program.

Behind the firings is Oleh Uruskiy, a Soviet-trained, three-decade veteran of Ukraine’s defense industry. Appointed First Deputy Prime Minister last summer, Uruskiy is creating a ‘mega-ministry’ – the Ministry for Strategic Industries. This ministry is to include Antonov, the space industries and the two rocketry giants, Pivdenne design bureau and Pidvenmash factory.

Critics say modernization is stopping and new structures are opaque. “With the choice of this manager, Volodomyr Zelenskiy really made a mistake,” Ivan Sergienko writes in Lenta.ua. “Uruskiy is not only incapable of dealing with a rocket construction project, but also, in principle, of carrying out elementary things to launch the work of the ministry… of the declared 330 employees of the ministry, at the moment there are only seven people working – the minister, his deputies and advisers…The ministry is needed to block real reforms in the defense industry.”

The Chinese investors in Motor Sich have hired three well known international law firms to pursue their claim against Ukraine for $3.5 billion in compensation for being blocked from taking over the aircraft engine manufacture. As reported by their Ukrainian partner, DCH, the firms are: WilmerHale, DLA Piper and Bird & Bird. Arzinger will act as an advisor on Ukrainian law in international arbitration. DLA Piper was in the headlines last week when it was announced that one of their Washington partners, Doug Emhoff, will leave the firm next month to avoid conflicts of interest. He is the husband of Kamala Harris, who is to be sworn in as Vice President on Jan. 20.

With e-commerce booming, Nova Poshta is hiring 2,500 drivers, couriers and sorters. Although the hiring is for the Christmas rush, Alexander Bulba, CEO of the delivery company, says: “After the high season, new employees can stay on a permanent basis.” So far this year, Nova Poshta has opened 1,300 new offices in Ukraine, increasing its network by 22%, to 7,145.

With the first snow falling, Ukravtodor announced that it reached 93% of its target of rebuilding 4,200 km of roads during the 2020 highway construction season. Next year, the state highways agency plans to oversee the repair or rebuilding of 6,800 km of roads, almost 75% more than the amount completed this year. Ukravtodor CEO Oleksandr Kubrakov reports three main sources of money for this year’s roadbuilding: $1 billion from the Road Fund; almost $1 billion from the Stockholm arbitration with Gazprom; and $540 million from international organizations, such as the World Bank and the European Investment Bank.

Roads were paved in all 24 regions this year. Six were leaders: Kharkiv — 262 km; Zakarpattia – 248 km; Zaporizhia — 220 km; Sumy -197 km; Khmelnytskyi –194 km; Cherkasy 163 km; and Lviv 155 km. Next year, Ukravtodor plans to rebuild 150 bridges. Two big ticket projects start next year: Kyiv’s $3 billion ring road; and construction of a new $430 million bridge over the Dnipro, in Kremenchuk.

The number of foreigners entering Ukraine has plunged by 75% so far this year. Through September, 2.7 million foreigners visited Ukraine, down from 10.7 million during the first nine months of last year, according to the State Border Guard Service. Spending by foreign tourists is estimated to finish this year at 80% below last year’s level of $1.6 billion, forecasts the National Bank of Ukraine. Spending by Ukrainians for foreign travel is down by 55% yoy, to $3.3 billion through September.

The EU plans to sign an ‘open skies’ agreement with Ukraine in the first quarter of next yearKatarína Mathernová, the European Commission’s deputy director-general for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations. First initialed in 2013, the deal was held up over the Britain-Spain standoff over Gibraltar airport. After Britain leaves the EU at the end of next month, the agreement can be signed.

Notable and Quotable:

“It’s not a coincidence the Constitutional Court decided to demolish anti-corruption reform right in the middle of an American election,” Daria Kaleniuk, executive director of the Anti-Corruption Action Center, tells Dan Peleschuk for a Slate article, „Don’t Forget About Ukraine.” The goal, she adds, is to “make Ukraine truly look like a failed state.”

Oligarchs are further coopting Rada members, judges, and others to undermine the President’s agenda,” Kristina A. Kvien, US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires in Kyiv, said at the Ukraine Reform Conference, as reported by UNIAN. “Their primary goal is their own personal enrichment achieved by any means possible, including bribery, coercion, and even joining with outside forces that wish to see Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration fail ultimately.”

As US vice president, Biden was at the forefront of an anti-corruption reform agenda that aimed to facilitate Ukraine’s integration into the Euro-Atlantic community,” Peter Dickinson writes in an Atlantic Council blog, “What can Ukraine expect from a Biden presidency?”  “Some hope Biden will now revive these efforts and help undermine an attempted counter-revolution that is currently gaining momentum in Kyiv with support from Ukraine’s pro-Russian political forces and the country’s oligarchs.”

 

  • Ambassadors: Solar and Wind Debts Tarnish Ukraine’s Investment Image
  • Despite Debt and Rate Cuts, New Solar Projects Start Across the Nation
  • Ukraine’s GDP Rebounded in Q3
  • $110 Million for 10 Regional Airports Next Year

Ukraine’s big debt to foreign investors in wind and solar energy threatens future foreign investment in other areas, the Ambassadors of 11 OECD countries warned Prime Minister Shmyhal in a letter. Saying they represents companies and banks that invested more than €2 billion in renewables in Ukraine, the Ambassadors said the government now is “in breach” of the “voluntary” agreement reached last July with producers.

To attract investors, and indeed to keep existing investors, Ukraine needs a stable and predictable business climate that builds confidence in Ukraine as an attractive investment destination,” reads the one-page letter signed by the Ambassadors of Britain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, and Turkey. “The extent to which Ukraine honors its commitments… will be noted by investors far beyond the renewable energy sector.”

With the overdue electricity bill estimated at $800 million, the Ambassadors said the government has not yet moved to use budget money to pay for 20% of the bill and to pay the rest through hryvnia bonds. Under pressure from bankers, about 50 renewable producers have sued to get their money from the Guaranteed Buyer State Enterprise, reports Censor.Net. On Nov. 4, the week after the local elections, the Rada approved on first reading a bill that would give state guarantees to Ukrenergo to allow it sell bonds.

Worldwide, production of electricity from renewable sources is to grow by 7% this year and capacity is to grow by 10% next year, International Energy Agency reports in its new forecast, “Renewables 2020.” “Renewable energy will become the largest source of electricity generation in the world in 2025, ending the dominance of coal as the main source of electricity generation for five decades,” says Fatih Birol, the Turkish economist who is executive director of the Agency.

In Ukraine, a surge of renewable projects pushed production of electricity from solar, wind, biomass up by 120% through August yoy, to 7.7 gigawatts, reports the Energy Ministry. Renewables share of national energy production increased to 8.1%, from 3.4% one year earlier. Electricity from nuclear power plants was unchanged – 53%. But electricity from coal-fired plans dropped to 32.4%, from 37% one year earlier.

Despite the overdue power bill and cuts in solar rates of 10-15%, new solar projects continue to be commissioned across Ukraine:

In Kyiv, DTEK Grids has connected its first industrial size solar plant atop an apartment building. Built by the Avrora Term Company the array atop a building in Troieshchyna has 1,200 solar panels and output of 330kW. Ivan Geliukh, DTEK Grids CEO, says that this year the company is connecting 75 industrial solar power plants for a total capacity of 566 MW.

In Izmail, on the Danube, UDP Renewables puts into operation this month two stages of Gudzovka-Solar, a €21 million, 24.4 MW investment. Mykola Tymoshchuk, CEO of UFuture, investor in UDP, says: “Despite the turbulent period in the industry and in the world at large, UFuture is systematically implementing its strategic plans and investments in Ukraine’s renewable energy.”

In Zhytomyr region, Naftogaz starts producing and selling electricity this month from its new 33.3 MW plant at Chudniv. Implemented by Naftogaz-Energoservice, the project is to be followed by more solar stations next year, says Serhiy Pereloma, first deputy board chairman of Naftogaz.

In Sumy region, Germany’s Nord Areal Energy GmbH has started construction of a 6 MW solar plant in Trostyanets. About 100km to the northwest in Bilopillya, the same German company plans to build a major wind farm, reports Panorama, a Sumy region news site.

Germany is offering to €20 million to a new, international fund to convert six single industry Ukrainian coal mining towns to new uses, Peter Altmaier, Germany’s minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, said last month after talks last month with Olha Buslavets, Ukraine’s minister for Energy and Environmental Protection. Choosing one town in the West and another in the East, planners believe Velykomostivska in Lviv has potential as a tourism center and a Donetsk mine known as “5/6″ has potential as a technological cluster.

Ukraine’s economy rebounded in the third quarter, increasing by 8.5% compared to the disastrous second quarter, reports the State Statistics Service. In the second quarter, the economy plunged 11.4%, compared to the same period in 2019. But in July-August-September, the economy was down only 3.5% compared to the same period in 2019. Illustrating the vagaries of forecasts, the National Bank of Ukraine predicted last month that the economy was down by 6.2% in the third quarter.

Adoption of a transparently regulated taxi market in Ukraine would bring the business out of the shadows, allowing companies to help drivers buy or lease better cars, Georgy Sokolyansky, Uber’s development director for Central and Eastern Europe told an online discussion on the taxi market. Estimating that 90-95% of drivers are in the ‘shadows,’ he said legalization would ultimately create “100,000 jobs in Ukraine.”

About $110 million will be invested next year in 10 regional airports, largely for runway and navigational improvements, according to Kirill Khomyakovhead of Ukrinfraproekt, the State Agency for Infrastructure Projects. According to an Agency map posted by the Center for Transportation Strategies. the airports are: Kherson, Cherkassy, ​​Rivne, Vinnitsa, Uzhgorod, Ivano-Frankovsk, Chernivtsi, Poltava, Odesa and Dnipro. During the recent local election campaign, President Zelenskiy also promised to rebuild the runway at Sumy’s airport.

 

  • As EU Seeks Shorter Supply Lines, EBRD to Loan €200 million to Develop Ukraine Mining
  • Thanks to IT and China, Ukraine Has Trade Surplus
  • Kyiv Metro Ridership Drops 38%

The EBRD is ready to loan Ukraine €200 million to conduct a nationwide inventory of mineral deposits and to prepare promising deposits for mining through transparent auctions of licenses, Prime Minister Shmyhal said after online talks with Maroš Šefčovič, the European Commission’s vice president for Inter-institutional Relations and Foresight. After the coronavirus pandemic shook confidence in long distance supply chains, the EU launched last month the European Raw Materials Alliance. Last year, Šefčovič, a Slovakian diplomat, helped broker the new gas transit deal between Russia’s Gazprom and Ukraine’s Naftogaz.

As Europe’s largest nation, mineral-rich Ukraine could play a key role in ensuring EU security of supply. Citing the possibility of building a battery plant in Ukraine for electric cars and buses, Shmyhal said: “We are considering opportunities to develop approaches jointly with the EU to use Ukraine’s potential in the extraction industry to help the EU and together build globally competitive value-added production chains in Europe.”

Shmyhal told the Rada on Nov. 6 that proper development of mining could generate $400 billion in economic activity over the next decade. Ukraine has road and rail links with its four EU neighbors – Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania.

Amber, gold, kaolin, and manganese are among the 11 mineral and groundwater deposits that go up for electronic auction Dec. 23, reports the State Service of Geology and Subsoil. The next auction will offer about 50 more sites, according to Roman Opimakh, head of the agency, known as Gosgeonadr. In the first year since electronic auctions became mandatory, the price of licenses increased 15-fold, earning the state about $28 million, Opimakh says.

With imports falling faster than exports, Ukraine recorded a $531 million trade surplus for January-September, compared to a $4.2 billion deficit during the same nine months last year.

For services, IT helped save the day as Ukraine’s balance of trade in this area showed a $4.4 billion surplus, reports the State Statistics Service. Compared to the first three quarters of last year, exports of services dropped by 12% to $8.15 billion, while imports fell by 26.5% to $3.7 billion.

For goods, China saved the day by increasing its purchases of Ukrainian goods by 86%, to $4.8 billion, and cutting its imports by 12%, to $5.8 billion. Overall, Ukraine’s deficit of foreign trade in goods fell to $2.9 billion, less than half the level for the first three quarters of last year, $7.2 billion. So far, Ukraine’s exports of goods are down 5.6%, to $35 billion. Imports of goods are down 14%, to $38 billion.

Alexander Lukashenko, the self-appointed President of Belarus threatened on Friday to cut off trade with Ukraine, reports BElTA, the state news agency. “You watch out because we could shut the border for goods coming from the Ukrainian territory,” he said, addressing Ukraine, which counts Belarus as its fourth largest trading partner nation. “And then you won’t be able to supply products to our market, you won’t even be able to process Ukrainian products in Belarus before supplying them to other markets, primarily the Eurasian one,” he said, referring to Ukraine’s transfer trade with Russia. Since declaring himself the winner last August of elections widely dismissed as fraudulent, Lukashenko has kept power through “A Reign of Terror,” The New York Times reported from Minsk.

In the five months since the Kyiv Metro reopened in late May, ridership is down by 38% yoy, to 132.8 million passengers, the subway system reports. The busiest stations are on the Red Line – Vokzalna and the two terminuses, Lisova and Akademmistechko. The Metro operates normally during the weekend quarantine. Facemasks are mandatory.

In Kyiv, about 1,000 new infections are reported daily by Mayor Klitschko. In the eight months since the first case was recorded in Ukraine, almost 1,000 people have died of coronavirus complications in Kyiv. Klitschko and the Mayor of Kharkiv, Gennady Kernes, both were infected before the Oct. 25 local elections. They both won on the first round.

At present, patients occupy about 60% of the 52,000 beds in the nation’s coronavirus wards. Although more beds are being added, only 38% of the 52,000 beds are equipped with oxygen. The day before he tested positive, Health Minister Stepanov warned reporters: “If we fail to comply with rules, we may get 100% bed occupancy in a month.”

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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