Lecture to the British Parliament: corruption and business in Ukraine

Author : Andriy Hunder

Source : 112 Ukraine

Ukraine offers a large market, which is gradually shifting towards Europe. Local experts are considered to be sufficiently educated and qualified to do business
14:08, 29 February 2016

Last Monday I had the honor to give a lecture on Ukraine in the walls of the British Parliament. The two-year series of lectures of the British-Ukrainian Society in the political and cultural spheres provides an opportunity to hear performances by British and Ukrainian politicians, diplomats and experts from various industries, whose activities are directly related to Ukraine. I was invited to tell the British audience about combating corruption in Ukraine, the most significant achievements of the state in the past few years, as well as investment and business opportunities.

Recently, reporters are increasingly interested: "When, finally, real investments will come in Ukraine?". Promises are promises, but has anyone passed from words to action? And although now we cannot call the trend of mass, some investors have come to the Ukrainian market. One example is the British company Vodafone, which launched a massive advertising campaign and become a leading player in the field of mobile communications. The famous British businessperson Richard Branson on Ukrainian breakfast in Davos, said that he had long eyeing the country, and even planned to go to the local market with the brand Virgin. Allseeds Black Sea Company has invested in the development of the port "South" of US $ 200 million". World-renowned Uber launches its activity in Ukraine. And these are only a few examples of the interest of investors.

Ukraine offers investors a large market, which is gradually shifting towards Europe. Local experts considered to be sufficiently educated and qualified to do business. There are several examples of successful technology startups that were founded by Ukrainians and later became global brands, created tens of thousands of new jobs. In addition, it is worth noting the low level of competition in many sectors of the economy. For example, infrastructure. The sector requires significant investment, it is interesting from a commercial point of view.

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In 2015, the year we saw the first signs of stabilization of the macro. Among the most important achievements: the restructuring of external debt, the increase in foreign exchange reserves. I hope that this year's GDP growth of 1-1.5% is recorded in Ukraine. If we assume that now the economy is at the bottom (and in my opinion, it is), then the next 5-10 years will be a period of development and gradual progress. The assets will go up.

January 28, Kyiv hosted the first international conference "Ukraine in Focus: Strategic meeting of global export credit agencies and multilateral financial institutions". The event was organized by the Forum of leading international financial institutions (FLIFI), Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine, as well as the representative of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine. The conference brought together representatives of the export credit agencies from 19 countries of the world. Some of them have stated their intention to continue to invest in the Ukrainian economy. Alina Havrysh, a representative of FMO (Netherlands), noted the success of investments in the Ukrainian agribusiness. According to her, Ukraine is among the top 10 countries in which Agency to invest. For the Czech export credit agency EGAP there are some important sectors of the Ukrainian economy: infrastructure, technology for mining, renewable energy, agribusiness. The representative of Korea Seoungho Yoo finds electric power industry the most interesting, and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), in addition to traditional agricultural industry and energy, focused attention on the attractiveness of the financial services segment.

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So what exactly should be done to improve investment climate in the country? 82% of members of the American Chamber of Commerce are convinced that the answer is to fight corruption. The annual survey of corruption perception, organized by the Chamber, this time showed that in the conduct of business in Ukraine 88% of respondents experienced corruption. At the same time, 51% of respondents are optimistic about the fight against the odious social disease in 2016, the year, and 65% believe that it is possible to achieve success without engaging in corruption.

The foundation for an effective fight against corruption was laid in 2015. Among the major achievements are the launch of 3G, the creation of the National Police (today it effectively operates in 10 cities of Ukraine), the basis of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, the appointment of anti-corruption prosecutor and detectives, start of ProZorro and eData (electronic systems that provide public control over public procurement and budget expenditure ). I am convinced that the efforts of public authorities in the fight against corruption must be supported by an active civil society and the position of the business environment. Corporate programs that provide clear statements of the algorithm of corruption can be quite effective, guaranteeing the anonymity and security of informants. The U.S. and UK are attracted to the company's liability for corruption offenses, even if economic activity is physically carried out abroad. There are relevant laws. In the U.S., the law "On corruption abroad" has been developed and adopted by the FCPA. Similarly, there is the law on bribery in the UK.

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Commenting on the statement of Aivaras Abromavičius of resignation from the post of Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine, I can say that during 2015 the ministry was one of the most open and progressive in terms of public authority reform. Ministry failed to implement many initiatives that have had a positive impact on the business environment. We believe that the reform should be entrusted to professional technocratic government that enjoys the confidence of the business community, civil society and the international community. Only clear concerted actions of the Ukrainian authorities can help Ukraine avoid further destabilization and lay the foundation for a complete system reform.

February 7, Financial Times called on the Ukrainian authorities to act coherently and decisively, "In the end, the pro-European elite should abandon the long-term enmity, greed and the search for his own benefit, that characterized the post-Soviet Ukraine should join efforts to build a qualitatively new system, which will contribute to the welfare of every Ukrainian. Rejection of convergence plays into the hands of the Russian government, which seeks to Ukraine back in its sphere of influence in his address to the Ukrainian parliament, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said: "This may be the last chance for Ukraine. The last chance for independent happy future".

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