UWC Held Inaugural Economic Forum Defining Strategic Priorities in Support of Ukraine’s Economic Development
On August 25, 2017, the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) Inaugural Economic Forum “Supporting the Economic Development of Ukraine: Cooperation between Government and the diaspora” on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the UWC was held in Kyiv, Ukraine, bringing together key Ukrainian government officials, business representatives, and 125 delegates from 27 countries in the world to discuss Ukraine’s economy, export potential and investment environment.
The forum was organized by UWC’s Committee in Support of the Economic Development of Ukraine chaired by UWC Vice President Olena Koszarny in partnership with the American Chamber of Commerce and Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce.
UWC President Eugene Czolij delivered the opening address at the Forum which was held in conjunction with the UWC Annual General Meeting.
Ambassador of the United States to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and Ambassador of Canada to Ukraine Roman Waschuk delivered welcoming remarks in which they highlighted the tremendous economic potential of Ukraine and the heightened interest of foreign investors.
Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch particularly noted the following: “By joining forces with the diaspora, Ukraine can unlock new sources of investment capital and strengthen bonds that will help our countries prosper.”
Ambassador Roman Waschuk noted that the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement came into force on 1 August 2017 and said: “Canada’s and Ukraine’s exports both ways are up between 34% and 76%, we are already seeing progress as people are becoming more aware of the economic relationship and therefore more apt to take an interest in each other’s markets.”
First Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine Stepan Kubiv delivered greetings from the Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman, and in his keynote speech said the following: “In the world’s history there are few countries that struggled for their future in such challenging circumstances as Ukraine. Nevertheless, Ukrainian achievements are impressive – among them, the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, visa-free regime, the improvement in the ease of doing business ranking by 54 points from 2013, and export growth of almost 25% in the first half of 2017. Such significant changes are evidence to the world that it is time to consider Ukraine as an extremely promising destination for investments, and a most important and reliable partner. First and foremost, we invite foreign investors to cooperate in the innovation and high technology sectors.” He also added that in the seven months of 2017, retail sales grew by 8%; cargo and passenger turnover by 8.7% and 9.3% respectively, construction by 24.2%.
Opportunities to cooperate between the Government of Ukraine and the diaspora in supporting Ukraine’s economic development were discussed during two panel discussions: “Furthering Ukrainian export and trade representation in key markets”, moderated by UWC Vice President and Chair of the UWC Coordinating Committee in Support of Ukraine Paul Grod, and “Increasing foreign investment in Ukraine” moderated by UWC Vice President and Chair of the UWC Committee in Support of the Economic Development of Ukraine Olena Koszarny.
The following panelists shared their perspective regarding further cooperation in the economic development of Ukraine: First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Vadym Prystaiko, First Deputy Minister of Finance of Ukraine Oksana Markarova, Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine and Trade Representative of Ukraine Nataliya Mykolska, Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine Dmytro Shymkiv, Head of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Foreign Affairs Hanna Hopko, Chief Investment Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ukraine and Director of Ukraine Invest Daniel Bilak, Head of the Office of the National Investment Council of Ukraine under the President of Ukraine Yulia Kovaliv, Director of Export Promotion Office of Ukraine Maryana Kahanyak, UWC Secretary General and Chairman of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations Stefan Romaniw, UWC Treasurer and President of the Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce Zenon Potichny, President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine Andy Hunder, Founder and CEO of Ajax Systems Oleksandr Konotopskyi and Founder of Kodisoft Dmytro Kostyk.
Olena Koszarny stated “The Ukrainian diaspora has achieved momentous results in areas where we have shone our light and mobilized our communities – whether in cultural, linguistic, humanitarian and other spheres. Now is the time to mobilize our efforts and focus on the economy of Ukraine as economic prosperity is essential to national security and stability. UWC is proud to be supporting the well-being of the Ukrainian nation and its citizens by supporting Ukraine in attracting foreign direct investment, increasing trade opportunities and promoting the export of Ukrainian goods and services as these are all key drivers behind accelerating economic growth in Ukraine.”
This forum resulted in the development of seven strategic priorities to be submitted for approval by the UWC Annual General Meeting, specifically for the Ukrainian diaspora to:
- Contribute to increasing the volume of Ukrainian exports globally by promoting Ukrainian goods and services in the countries of residence of the Ukrainian diaspora.
- Assist Ukraine in attracting foreign direct investment by supporting the Government of Ukraine’s efforts to reform the country and create a positive business climate. Particular attention should be paid to addressing corruption given this is an impediment to investment.
- Support the expansion of trade opportunities for Ukrainian companies worldwide.
- Cooperate with the Government of Ukraine regarding its appointment of members of the diaspora as Honorary Consuls of Ukraine, who would focus their efforts on trade and economic issues in their home countries.
- Promote the establishment of Ukraine-focused business associations and chambers of commerce, similar to the successful models of the Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce and the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine.
- Seek out sources of technical assistance and export financing for Ukraine from countries in which the members of the UWC operate and make every effort to ensure this funding is accessible to Ukrainian projects, businesses and non-governmental organizations.
- Share its expertise and knowledge in support of the transformation of Ukrainian state-owned enterprises by submitting their candidacies for CEO positions as they are announced. “I would like to thank Chair of UWC’s Committee in Support of the Economic Development of Ukraine Olena Koszarny for leading this important committee and together with President of Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce Zenon Potichny and President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine Andy Hunder, for organizing this important event, and Horizon Capital for sponsoring it, and I also hope that this event will give new impetus to strengthening the support of Ukraine’s economic development,” stated UWC President Eugene Czolij.
Below are the links to the videos of the speeches of the UWC President, Ambassador of Canada to Ukraine, and Chair of UWC’s Committee in Support of the Economic Development of Ukraine.
The address of UWC President can be found HERE.
The Inaugural Economic Forum was held on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the UWC in conjunction with the UWC Annual General Meeting held on 25-26 August 2017 in Kyiv. The UWC is the international coordinating body for Ukrainian communities in the diaspora representing the interests of over 20 million Ukrainians. The UWC has a network of member organizations and ties with Ukrainians in 53 countries. Founded in 1967, the UWC was recognized in 2003 by the United Nations Economic and Social Council as a non-governmental organization with special consultative status.
In 2016, the UWC created the Committee in Support of the Economic Development of Ukraine led by UWC Vice President Olena Koszarny which coordinates the efforts of the Ukrainian diaspora in engaging the international community in support of reforms and furthering the economic development of Ukraine on the international level.
The forum was sponsored by Horizon Capital, a leading private equity firm in Ukraine.
In the photo from left: Z. Potichny, E. Czolij, O. Koszarny and A. Hunder