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  • Bye-bye Brazil: Ukraine Now is Second Only to US in Grain Exports
  • May Rains, June Heat Make for Record Corn Crop
  • Road and Rail Links Reopen to Carpathians
  • UIA Plans Flights This Summer to 25 Foreign Cities
  • Buses Re-Start to Poland, Germany
  • 1,000 Speed Cameras on the Horizon

In the grain marketing year that ends Tuesday, Ukraine will have earned $9.6 billion in grain sales, second only to the US, Nikolai Gorbachev, head of the Ukrainian Grain Association, told reporters.  “We already left behind such large countries as Russia, Argentina, Brazil,” he said. Comparable numbers are: Argentina – $9.3 billion; and Russia – $7.9 billion.

Looking ahead, he said: “The main promising market for Ukraine will be Asia, especially China and Indonesia. A new generation is growing up there, which consumes less rice, but more wheat. In addition, there is a positive demographic situation.” In 2018, Ukraine displaced the US as the top supplier of corn to China.

This year, Ukraine will have a record corn harvest and its second largest wheat harvest in history, predicts the Grain Association. Closing in on the symbolic goal of a 100-million-ton harvest, this year’s harvest is to hit 97 million tons. Of this, 61% — or 59 million tons – will be exported to world markets.

The corn harvest is to hit 37 million tons, with 84% or 31 million tons, going out the Black Sea ports to feed the world. Similarly, Ukraine should have a strong wheat harvest – 27 million tons, compared to 28 million tons last year. This year, 18 million tons, or two thirds, will go out the door as exports.

The strong harvests come after a dry winter caused worries about drought. With harvests starting, the Grain Association reports: “The May rains corrected the spring drought and significantly improved soil moisture for both winter and spring crops, and the hot June weather promotes growth and grain ripening.”

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Most Ukrainian spring crops are in good or satisfactory condition thanks to return of warm weather in most of the country, APK-Inform agriculture consultancy reported, citing weather forecasters. Drought only affected parts of southern Ukraine, a region where harvesting of winter barley started two weeks ago. Similarly, UkrAgroConsult reports that June’s hot weather mixed with rains favorably affected the quality and quantity of crops ripening in the fields – barley, wheat, corn and sunflowers.

Due to good weather, the government’s forecast of a 68-million ton grain harvest may be revised upwards, says Economy Minister Igor Petrashko. Other official forecasts are: Oilseeds – sunflower, soybean and canola – 20 million tons; Potatoes – 20 million tons; Sugar beets – 9 million tons; and Vegetables – 9 million tons.

Low productivity sets the stage for growth in the 2020s. Ukraine’s average wheat yield is four tons per hectare – half of France’s yield of eight tons per hectare. For corn, Ukraine’s average yield is seven tons per hectare, well below the 12 tons per hectare recorded in the US state of Iowa. Ukraine’s aging population means that consumption will not rise. “The United States grows 350 million tons of corn and exports more than 50 million tons,” said Gorbachev. “Ukraine, this year, produced 35 million tons of corn and exported 30 million tons.”

With the return of rail service last Friday to the Ivano-Frankivsk mountain resort town of Yaremche, trains now run on key lines in the Carpathians. By Thursday night, road access was largely restored in the region. On Wednesday morning, following 48 hours of heavy rain, the numbers of flooded settlements were: 161 in Ivano-Frankivsk; 15 in Chernivtsi; and eight in Lviv. The government will spend $25 million on flood repairs, Prime Minister Shmygal wrote on Facebook.

UIA will fly this summer from Kyiv Boryspil to 25 foreign cities: Amsterdam, Athens, Baku, Barcelona, Batumi, Berlin, Chisinau, Dubai, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Lanarca, London, Madrid, Milan, Munich, Naples, Nice, Paris, Prague, Rome, Tbilisi, Tel Aviv, Toronto, Vienna and Yerevan. UIA will also fly from Odesa to Istanbul and Tel Aviv. Domestic flights will be carried out from Kyiv to Kherson, Lviv, and Odesa. UIA made no mention of restoring flights to New York.

Travelers arriving in Ukraine will no longer have to self-isolate for two weeks if they take PCR test for coronavirus after arrival and get a negative result, the Cabinet decided. UIA has set up a coronavirus test laboratory at Boryspil.

Germany’s Flixbus re-started bus service from Kyiv to Krakow, Budapest, Vienna and 10 German cities. Buses from Odesa to Prague start next Friday. Last Monday, competitor Ecolines started buses from Kyiv to Wroclaw, Poland. Passengers must wear masks throughout the journeys.

On Monday, Hungary opened all its road checkpoints with Ukraine, Peter Szijjarto, Hungary’s Foreign Minister, said at a press conference in Kyiv. While Hungarians can enter Ukraine without restrictions, Ukrainians face travel restrictions inside Hungary.

Police plan to increase the number of speed cameras 20-fold, from 50 today to 1,000 in 2022. The system can handle 6,000 cameras, spelling the end to carefree speeding in Ukraine, Anton Gerashchenko, deputy internal affairs minister, tells Biz.Liga. The government wants to increase speeding fines 7-fold, to $130. Gerashchenko wants Ukraine to follow the lead of Finland and Switzerland, where fines are calculated as a percentage of the driver’s income.

Starting Wednesday, police plan to crack down on running red lights and driving in bus lanes. Also starting July 1, Ukrainians will be criminal liable for drunk driving. Penalties will range from $640 to $1,280 and loss of license for three years.

Work is progressing on rebuilding the 505 km Kyiv-Odesa M-05 highway, Oleksandr Kubrakov, head of Ukravtodor, said Wednesday at the inauguration of a 25 km rebuilt section on the Kyiv-Cherkasy border. Next month, work is to start on the 40 km section south of Bila Tserkva. By the end of next year, three quarters of the highway to be re-built, eliminating left hand turns, adding two interchanges, building modern rest areas and installing Weight-in-Motion machines to catch overweight grain trucks. Part of the work is being financed by the EBRD and the European Investment Bank.

 

  • Floods Cut off Carpathians
  • Too Much Rain, Not Too Much Logging, says Forest Agency
  • Dragon Buys 11th Warehouse
  • Office Real Estate Takes a Hit
  • EU May Open Up to Ukrainian Workers, not Tourists

The heaviest rains in over a decade have cut much of Western Ukraine’s road and rail links to the Carpathians. River floods and mudslides have destroyed 90 bridges, 110 km of roads and long sections of river embankments. Ukravtodor, the state highway agency, reports that 130 more bridges are damaged and 427 km of roads are damaged.

More than 200 towns and villages were flooded in Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv and Chernivtsi regions. After receiving almost one month’s worth of rain in 48 hours – last Tuesday and Wednesday – the Prut, the Dnestr and the Tisa rivers flooded. “The situation is critical,” Prime Minister Shmyhal said after flying over the area. He promised $20 million in government aid.

Commercial logging has dropped by 20% over the last five years in the Carpathians and is not to blame for the floods, says Andriy Zablotsky, head of the State Forest Resources Agency. Logging last year was 3.3 million cubic meters. He asserts that illegal logging in the Carpathians, fell last year to 3,600 cubic meters, down from 12,000 cubic meters in 2016. Saying “the forest is not a dam for flood prevention and water retention,” he said 2.8 billion cubic meters of rain fell on Ivano-Frankivsk region this week, 10 times more than the forest’s retention capacity.

Britain’s Earthsight NGO charges in a report that Swedish furniture retailer IKEA made folding chairs from 4,000 truckloads of beech wood illegally logged last year in Ukraine’s Carpathian Mountains during a 10-week “silent period” when lynx and brown bears try to mate. In response, VGSM, successor company to Swedwood Ukraine, said it has not supplied wood for IKEA’s Terje chairs in a decade and that it is legally permitted to log during the April to mid-June mating period in Zakarpattia’s Velyky Bychkiv forest. In Stockholm, IKEA tells Reuters it will review its wood supply chain in Ukraine.

With the government’s “Big Constructionprogram in full swing, Ukravtodor is working on 224 road sections, totaling 3,000 km in 23 regions. With a budget this year of $3.4 billion, the road construction plan envisages rebuilding 4,200 km by the October close of the construction season.

Dragon Capital has bought its 11th logistics facility in Ukraine, a pharmaceutical warehouse complex, 10 km west of Kyiv’s Ring Road. The price was not disclosed for the 13,800 square meter Falbi complex bought at auction for the settlement of nonperforming loan from Ukreximbank. “Today, warehousing space accounts for almost half of our commercial real estate portfolio,” Tomas Fiala, CEO of Dragon Capital, said of a portfolio with a total area of 335,000 sq. m. The Falbi complex is located in Svyatopetrivske, 13 km south of the Zhytomyr highway.

Commercial real estate “has suffered the greatest blow from the pandemic,” the National Bank of Ukraine says in its latest Report on Financial Stability. Shopping center rents are 13% below the level of last June. Hardest hit is the office segment where vacancies have more than doubled, the volume of new offerings have dropped by 85%, and landlords started offering 20% discounts to new tenants.

The IMF has sharply downgraded its forecast for global economy’s economic fall this year – to 4.9%, from 3% in April. A fall of 4.9% can be compared to the disappearance of Germany’s economy, which accounts for 4.6% of global GDP. The IMF makes these new forecasts: US – 8%; Germany – 7.8%. India – 4.5%. and China +1%. “Good news about the [coronavirus] vaccine and treatment options, and additional political support can lead to a faster recovery in economic activity,” the IMF says. “But…further waves of infection can reverse the growth.”

When the EU reopens Wednesday for limited tourism, Ukraine may not be on the  “green list” of approved countries, reports eurointegration.com.ua. Approved countries have infection rates below the EU’s rate of 16 cases per 100,000 people, recorded during the past two weeks. Ukraine’s current rate is 26.6 per 100,000 – and rising.

Concorde Capital’s Zenon Zawada writes: “Statistics are not apparent on how many Ukrainians will have access to the E.U. as of July 1 based on legitimate work visas, and how many have employment by accessing the E.U. with tourist visas. But we estimate the tourist visa share at no less than 50%.”

Labor remittances, Ukraine’s second largest foreign exchange earner after food exports, dropped 11.2% yoy in April, reports the National Bank of Ukraine. Last year’s remittances of at least $12 billion represent almost 10% of GDP and are about six times foreign direct investment, according to a new European Commission report, The Impact of Labor Migration on the Ukrainian Economy.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry has posted an interactive, updatable online map that shows where in the world Ukrainians can and cannot go in the age of coronavirus. Pass your cursor over a country and a Ukrainian language list of restrictions and conditions appears. Although designed for Ukrainian nationals, some country restrictions may apply to residents of Ukraine or to anyone boarding a plane in Ukraine.

On the Move: Naftogaz has appointed Willem Koppuls, a 25-year veteran of Eastern European gas markets, as Director of the state energy company’s new Commerce Division. Koppuls, a native of Holland, has worked in Ukraine and the region for Gaz de France, EDF, GDF SUEZ, ENGIE, reports Naftogaz. In April, Andriy Favorov director of integrated gas business at Naftogaz was let go and his division was split into Commerce and Exploration and Production. In May, Sanzhar Zharkeshov, from Kazakhstan, was appointed head of Exploration and Development.

 

  • Retail Sales Rebound
  • 15% of Ukrainians Work Outside the Country
  • Abu Dhabi Studies Privatizations
  • Canada’s Black Iron Gets Top Level Nanny
  • Lockdown X-Ray: Cargo, Travel, Industrial Production
  • Indoor Dining Returns to Kyiv
  • SkyUp Relaunched Friday Domestic Flight Network

As Ukrainians embraced e-commerce, retail sales jumped 15% in May, compared to April. May sales were down 3% yoy. For the January-May period, retail sales were up 3%, reports the State Statistics Service. By comparison, retail sales grew last year by 10.5% yoy.

The top retail growth regions for the first five months were: Kyiv city up 11.6%; Zaporizhia up by 10.5%; and Kirovograd up by 8.8%. After Kyiv city, the top three regional markets for January-May were: Dnipropetrovsk – UAH 32.66 billion; Kyiv – UAH 27.83 billion; and Odesa – UAH 24.60 billion.

Backed by the new, low prime rate, the Finance Ministry was able to place short term hryvnia government bonds at record lows yesterday: 7.24% for three-month securities and 7.71% for six-month securities. Two weeks ago, the central bank cut Ukraine’s prime rate from 8% to 6%. In Tuesday’s weekly bond auction, 2-year bonds sold for yields at 10.5% and 3-year-bonds at 10.6%. The biggest drops were on two maturities not sold last week – 1-year bonds dropped by 100 basis points and 9-month bonds dropped by 80 basis points.  Placements of the six issues raised the hryvnia equivalent of $234 million, the Finance Ministry writes on Facebook.

About 15% of Ukrainian wage earners are labor immigrants, working overwhelmingly in the EU, reports a new European Commission study, The Impact of Labor Migration on the Ukrainian Economy. With 85% of Ukraine’s labor migrants now working in the EU, labor remittances accounted last year for 10% of Ukraine’s GDP. During the 2010-2019 decade, labor migration tripled to 3.2 million people, according to the 26-page report written by Jerzy Pienkowski, a European Commission staffer.

Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund is setting up a ‘liaison’ with Ukraine’s State Property Fund to potentially participate in the privatizations of seven major state companies: Centrenergo, United Mining and Chemical Company and several regional power companies. Regional representatives of Mubadala Investment Company, which controls $230 billion in assets, met in Kyiv with Ukrainian diplomats and Dmitry Sennichenko, chairman of the State Property Fund. “This is a good signal that powerful world players see the great potential of Ukraine and want to invest,” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said. “The participation of large investment funds makes the process of large privatization more competitive.”

In the first high profile appointment of an ‘investment nanny,’ Ihor Zhovkva, deputy head of the President’s Office has taken on the job of pushing forward the potentially $1 billion iron mining project of Canada’s Black Iron in President Zelenskiy’s home city of Kryvyi Rih. “[This] formal role [was] created by Ukraine’s government to support foreign investors, to personally ensure all items requiring Ukraine government support to implement Black Iron’s project are addressed,” Black Iron CEO Matt Simpson writes from Toronto on the company website. In an interview posted on the site of Toronto’s Globe and Mail,  President Zelenskiy calls for more Canadian foreign direct investment in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s industrial production fell 11.7% in May yoy, less than April’s record yoy drop of 16.2%. The State Statistics Service reports May’s biggest drop was coal extraction – down 44.5%. The only significant increase was pharmaceutical products – up 8.8%. From January to May, industrial production is down 8.7% compared to the first five months of 2019. Electricity generation dropped by 11.2%; manufacturing by 10%; and mining by 6.6%. Last year, industrial production decreased by 1.8% compared to 2018.

Cargo transported by freight companies during January-May fell by 16.5% yoy, to 229 million tons. Rail cargo was down 9.4%, to 120 million tons. Truck cargo was down 23%, to 71 million tons. River cargo was down 10%, to 1.7 million tons. Pipeline cargo was down 25%, to 37 million tons. Air cargo was down 4%, to 30,000 tons. Due to the increasing number of flights to and from China, air cargo as measured in ton-kilometers, was up 9% yoy, to 134 million ton-kilometers.

Travel dropped in half during the first five months of this year, to 20 billion passenger kilometers. Rail passengers totaled 28 million, down 56% yoy, reports the State Statistics Service. Road passengers were down 45%, to 420 million. Air passengers were down 56%, to 2 million passengers. Last year, travel was up 3% over 2018.

Of Ukraine’s 24 regions, 14 do not meet conditions to ease their coronavirus restrictions, according to the Health Ministry. They are:  Volyn, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Zhytomyr, Zakarpattia, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kyiv, Luhansk, Lviv, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Rivne, Ternopil, and Chernivtsi. Since March 13, 1,035 people in Ukraine have died of coronavirus complications.

SkyUp, Ukraine’s largest discount carrier, resumes scheduled domestic service Friday, with flights from Kyiv to Kharkiv, Lviv, Odesa, and Zaporizhia. One week later, the airline starts intraregional flights – Kharkiv-Lviv; Kharkiv-Odesa; Lviv-Odesa: and Lviv-Kherson. All tickets start at $18.50, with no bags.

Transit travel through Ukraine is allowed without placement under self-isolation. The Cabinet of Ministers adopted the rule change in deference to the business model of Ukraine International Airlines. In recent years about half of UIA’s international passengers traveled through Kyiv Boryspil in transit.

Lithuania may open this week to visitors from Ukraine, Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said. Poland’s PKP Intercity resumed international rail service on Monday. Passenger rail ties between Ukraine and Poland are expected to restart after July 1. Resumption of rail service with Russia, a high Covid-19 infection country, “is not on the agenda yet,” Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Vasily Bodnar tells Liga.net.

 

  • Ukraine: Gas Station for EU
  • From Krk to Chop, Persian Gulf Gas for Ukraine?
  • Political Moves Threaten Ukraine’s $7 billion Gas Transmission Deal with Gazprom
  • Retail Returns to Pre-Crisis Levels
  • Seven Airlines Now Fly International Routes from Kyiv

“Ukraine Becomes Unlikely Beneficiary of Natural Gas Glut” headlines a Bloomberg story about the Naftogaz’ business of storing gas for the EU. Compared to this time last year, the volume of EU gas stored in Ukraine’s underground reservoirs has tripled, to 2.8 billion cubic meters, and the number of companies renting space has jumped, from seven to 54. With Europe expected to run out of storage space by early September, Ukraine now has 13 bcm of empty storage, about 13% of Europe’s capacity. The cost of storing gas in Ukraine – €3.16 per megawatt-hour – can be half the cost of storing in the EU.

Ukraine’s natural gas reserves in storage increased last week to 19.2 bcm, 48% higher than this time last year. Ukraine’s underground storage system consists of 12 depleted fields, largely in the west, but also in Sumy, Kharkiv and Luhansk oblasts. Ukrtransgaz reports the system is 62% full.

Persian Gulf gas could come to Ukraine next year through a floating LNG terminal that Croatia is building off the island of Krk, in the northern Adriatic. With a throughput of 2.6 bcm a year, the terminal will connect early next year with Central Europe’s gas pipeline network. Krk is 850 km southwest of Chop, Zakarpattia’s main border crossing with Hungary. Sergey Makogon, general director of Ukraine’s gas transmission system operating system, writes on Facebook: “Great news. Another LNG terminal will start operating near Ukraine. Ukrainian traders will be able to start purchasing and deliveries through Hungary.”

By July 1, Gazprom will return $1.5 billion to Poland’s oil and gas company PGNiG to compensate for overpayments made since 2014, reports PGNiG. On March 30, Poland PGNiG won a lawsuit in Stockholm’s Arbitration Court. Gazprom appealed earlier this month, but has agreed to pay pending the final decision, PGNiG says. The Yamal contract, signed by Poland and Russia in 1996, has a ‘take or pay’ clause where Poland must buy 8.7 bcm through 2022. Poland successfully argued that Gazprom charged prices inflated above the regional averages.

Without a Ukraine-style ‘ship-or-pay’ gas transmission contract with Gazprom, Poland is forced to accept rock bottom transmission fees for use of the Polish section of Russia’s Yamal–Europe pipeline, The Financial Times writes in an editorial: “Poland counts the cost of turning down Russian gas taps.” The FT writes of Gazprom’s use of EuRoPol gas line: “For the third quarter of 2020 it will be paying for a Polish transit tariff that is 2.5 times less than for Ukrainian transit.”

Ukraine’s 5-year $7 billion gas transit contract with Russia could be threatened by a move to undermine the independence of Ukraine’s gas transmission operator at a time when EU certification is underway. Aura Sabadus warns in an Atlantic Council blog that political moves by pro-Russia Rada members could give Gazprom the opening to walk away from the ‘take or ship’ contract, which is proving costly to Russia’s state energy company. Sabadus writes: “Since the beginning of the year, Russia transited an average of 133mcm/day, which means that it has been using only three quarters of the total booked capacity, but paying for the full 178mcm/day at a time when European hub prices fell to record lows, shrinking Gazprom’s profits.”

“Ukraine’s worst move yet” Alan Riley writes in a second Atlantic Council blog warning about the dismissal of Walter Boltz, the Austrian board chair of the Ukrainian transmission operator. “The sacking is extremely dangerous and has enormous ramifications for Ukraine’s entire reform drive,” writes Riley, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center. If EU rules are violated, he warns: “Gazprom may pull the transit contract and with it the guaranteed fees that Ukraine needs.”

In May, Ukraine’s “main retail sectors” largely returned to pre-crisis levels of February, reports PrivatBank, the nation’s largest bank. Drawing on data from bank card use, ‘non-cash turnover’ in grocery stores in May was 23% above February. Electronics and household appliances was down 43% in April, then returned to normal in May. Similarly, gas station spending returned to normal in May. The bank concludes: “In May 2020, the trade turnover in the main retail sectors reached the pre-crisis level.”

The central bank stoped calculating the Ukrainian Interbank Rate Index, or UIIR, and replaces it with a new indicator of the value of resources in the interbank credit market. Using a more advanced calculation method, the National Bank of Ukraine will come out with a new daily index: the Ukrainian OverNight Index Average, or UONIA.

To blunt the ongoing spread of coronavirus, the government plans to check at least 10,000 restaurants and to tighten up compliance with rules on wearing masks in buses, trains and subways. The President’s office says inspections and fines are tripling. Tougher measures are up to the governors of the eight regions – largely in the west – where the infection rate is considered excessively high: Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv, Rivne Ternopil, Volyn, Zakarpattia, and Zhytomyr.

Concorde Capital’s Zenon Zawada writes of the quarantine: “The government has made clear it no longer wants to pay the political cost of extending it, especially when rival politicians have been capitalizing on public impatience and hostility ahead of the October local elections.”

SkyUp, Ukraine’s discount airline, plans to resume international flights on July 1 with flights from to Georgia and Albania from Kyiv Boryspil. Belavia, Czech, KLM, Lufthansa, Ryanair, UIA and Windrose have started flying limited routes from Kyiv Boryspil. Wizz Air is flying from Kyiv Sikorsky.

Ukraine’s European identity appears to be strengthening, according to a nationwide poll completed two weeks ago by Active Group, a Kyiv-based sociological research company. Almost one quarter of respondents said they had traveled to the EU in the last three years under the visa-free regime. Asked if they considered themselves European, 57% said yes, and 38% said no.

 

  • Kyiv Tops IT Startup List
  • Foreign Holdings of Ukraine Gov’t Bonds Down 15%
  • NABU Defends High Port Fees
  • Corona 3-Month Death Toll Tops 1,000
  • Most Airports Open, Traffic Low

Kyiv is named the best start-up ecosystem in emerging Europe in a report conducted by Startup Blink, a start-up research center. Of 1,000 cities across the globe, Kyiv was named as the 32nd best ecosystem in the world, eighth best in Europe and first in emerging Europe. Startup Blink rates cities according to the number of start-ups, how well they drive innovation, and the business environment.

For Kyiv, the report cites the quality of developers as the main factor contributing to the strength of start-ups. Michael Buryk, host of the Made in Ukraine Tech Startup Edition podcast, tells Emerging Europe: “Ukraine has the largest IT labor pool in Europe with more than 16,000 IT and 130,000 engineering graduates annually.”

Ukraine: Land of the Future? In Emerging Europe’s annual survey of the economic potential of cities in the region, Ukraine scored high: Lviv – 2nd place; Kyiv, Kharkiv and Chisinau – 3rd place; Dnipro – 5th place; and Odesa – 6th place. Tblisi, Georgia came in first.

Ukraine’s GDP fell during the first quarter by 1.3%, slightly better than the preliminary estimate released last month of a 1.5% fall, reports the State Statistics Service. The Q1 fall came after disappointing growth in the fourth quarter of 2.9%.

Foreign holdings of Ukraine government hryvnia bonds have decreased by 15% since the start of this year, to the equivalent of $3.75 billion, reports the National Bank of Ukraine. Last year, foreign holdings increased 18-fold, to $4.3 billion on Dec. 31.

In a move that could undermine confidence the government hryvnia bonds, Servant of the People lawmaker Oleksandr Dubinsky calls this market a ‘pyramid scheme.’ In a submission to the Rada’s Finance Committee, the ruling party lawmaker proposes an alternative: an asset repurchase program. Ivan Verstyuk, business editor of NV, warns: “By talking about a ‘pyramid.’ Dubinsky and his comrades scare away foreign investors, no less than Igor Kolomoisky with his statements about the need for default.”

The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine has charged former Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan with illegally lowering port fees by 20%, allegedly costing the state $1.2 million. Omelyan says the Dec. 2017 was taken with Cabinet approval to try to make Ukraine’s ports more competitive.

Anna Derevyanko, executive director of the European Business Association, protests, saying: “If the change agents are being prosecuted and punished for their initiative and decisions, the question arises — whether others will be ready to take responsibility and initiate quality changes to implement real reforms in the country.”

The American Chamber of Commerce cites a study by VoxUkraine, that says a 50% cut in port fees generates losses of $48.4 million, but also provides additional tax revenues of $ 167.7 million.

With Ukraine’s 3-month coronavirus death toll topping 1,000, health authorities are expected to impose tighter restrictions in Kyiv and other regions that have high infection rates. On Saturday, President Zelenskiy promised tighter controls over restaurants and buses, subways and commuter trains. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov reports that 28% of 2,500 inspections of public transport resulted in fines totaling $75,000.

Prime Minister Shmyhal complained: Unfortunately, local authorities, who are called upon to tighten quarantine bans, in some cases simply decided to turn a blind eye to threats. Dear colleagues from regions: I understand that your minds are already occupied with elections, but in this way, you could only earn political points at the cost of people’s lives.”

Coronavirus hospitals are filling up in some regions. The Health Ministry reports these occupancies: Zakarpattia – 57%; Chernivtsi – 51; Vinnytsia – 42%;  and Kyiv – 39.2%.

Ukraine has recorded 1,002 corona deaths since March 13.  By comparison, 102,900 people died in Ukraine from January through April.  Poland with almost the same population as Ukraine has recorded 1,356 corona deaths. The US has nine times the population as Ukraine, but 122 times as many deaths – 122,000.

Ukrainians will be able to fly freely to Turkey starting Wed. July 1, Infrastructure Minister Vladyslav Krykliy writes on Facebook after meeting with Yagmur Ahmet Guldere, Turkey’s Ambassador to Ukraine. Travelers from Ukraine will not have to be tested in advance for Covid-19 and will not be subject to self-isolation on arrival. Azur Air Ukraine, Pegasus Airlines, SkyUp, Turkish Airlines, and Windrose, plan to start flights this week.

UIA has installed a laboratory at Boryspil airport to perform PCR on staff and travelers for coronavirus. It takes three hours to get a result from a PCR throat swap test. Tunisia and Montenegro will allow Ukrainians to visit this summer if they have negative PCR tests taken within two days of departure.

Starting July 1, Poland will allow airlines to operate flights with all passenger seats filled. In June, airlines were only allowed to fill half the seats on planes. On July 1, LOT and Wizz Air relaunch their flights between Ukraine and Poland.

For foreigners wanting to travel into Ukraine, there are two basic requirements: medical insurance that covers Covid-19 treatment and the ability to self-isolate for two weeks after arrival. Self-isolation involves staying in a hotel or apartment for two weeks without straying further than a two km radius. Monitored through the Diy Vdoma smartphone app, this is obligatory for residents of ‘red zone’ countries – US, UK, Canada, Russia, Belarus and about half of the EU, including France, Italy and Spain. The list of red and green zone countries can be found here. It is to be updated today.

Ukraine re-opened all its land crossings with the EU and Moldova. Ten crossings are open with Belarus and Russia. The status of all of Ukraine’s border checkpoints can be checked on this interactive map maintained by the State Border Guard Service. More details on entering and leaving Ukraine are in this Kyiv Post report.

 

 

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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