Welcome to the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council

1st Annual International Forum on the Economic Development of Ukraine

Maria Yunko, Voice of America (VOA), Washington, D.C., Fri, Oct 16, 2009 
WASHINGTON, D.C. - On Thursday, the 1st Annual International Forum on the Economic Development of Ukraine, organized by the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council, was held in the nation’s capital. Leading American experts on Ukraine, representatives of business circles and economists discussed the effects of the global crisis on Ukraine's economy and ways to overcome them. The Ukrainian delegation was headed by Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine Hryhoriy Nemyria and Minister of Economy Bohdan Danylyshyn.
Among the main reasons why the crisis has been so painful for Ukraine experts cited the Ukrainian currency being tied to the dollar, the unreliability of the banking sector and investment market, and ineffectiveness of the legal system. Hryhoriy Nemyria also noted the lack of coordination between the branches of the Ukrainian government and the failure to implement intensive reforms:
“The Constitutional conflict, because of the far from being perfect Constitution, really aggravated the crisis. At the time of the crisis what needed is coordinated, quick actions, ability to adopt efficient decisions in short period of time and to ensure that proper coordination as far as implementation is accepted. And it was not the case.”
Experts have repeatedly stressed the need for reforms, including the energy sector, which is crucial for sustainable development and energy security not only in Ukraine but also its European neighbors. Ariel Cohen, Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation’s Kathryn and Shelby Cullom David Institute for International Studies, said:
“If Ukraine sorts out its energy sector now, this will not only improve its economic performance, but also greatly address its security challenges in the future. Ukraine is very important for Europe as a transit country and as a large manufacturing economy, and clearly how the economy functions is important for its political and social stability.”
Western partners involved in investment and trade want the Ukrainian government to create a healthy, transparent, predictable and stable business climate, which requires legislative reform. Participants expressed hope that the next president can restore the confidence of foreign investors.
American experts again assured Ukraine of America’s support and desire for the U.S. government to deepen its dialogue with the Ukrainian government. White House Trade Representative Chris Wilson said:
“I think it is very important for Ukraine to understand that the U.S. is there for Ukraine as a friend. I think that the Vice-President`s visit in July sent very strong signal in that regard. And as a result of that signal we are looking now for ways to strengthen now existing mechanisms and we are looking for other ways to strengthen existing mechanisms of cooperation and dialogue between our governments.”      
Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor said that the U.S. Government has traditionally and continues to recognize the importance of the success of Ukraine to the U.S. national security and European security.
Former head of the World Bank in Ukraine, economist Edilberto Segura said that Western aid is particularly important for overcoming the crisis:
“Ukraine will not be able to survive the next six months reasonably well if, basically, financial support from the international institutions will not come. Clearly, support is very high priority. But I think that fiscal and monetary policy must be very prudent, because otherwise confidence will be not reestablished.”
Western experts hope that after the presidential elections Ukrainian politicians will have the will to introduce necessary reforms.

LINK: http://www.voanews.com/ukrainian/2009-10-16-voa5.cfm.  English translation by the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC), www.usubc.org.