Ukraine-U.S. Business Council briefs new U.S. ambassador
As he prepares to depart for Kyiv
Members of the Ukraine-United States Business Council gathered Wednesday, May 31, at the University Club in Washington, D.C. to brief William B. Taylor, Jr. about Ukraine`s business conditions and prospects, according to the Action Ukraine Report.
Mr. Taylor was confirmed by the Senate on Friday, May 26, expects to be sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine on June 5th and depart for Kyiv by the end of the week.
Council members, who represent a large percentage of U.S. trade and investment in Ukraine, told the ambassador about the fast growth of the Ukrainian market in consumer goods and services.
Others spoke of the huge potential they saw in agriculture, food processing, telecommunications, and energy, among other sectors. Several spoke of "the good story" they have to tell about their company`s experience in Ukraine.
Council President, Dr. Susanne Lotarski, introduced Mr. Taylor as someone who knew Ukraine well and had helped design and implement American assistance programs for Ukraine. Many Council members, she said, had seen and benefited from his strong advocacy for economic, commercial and legal reforms to develop the private sector and attract foreign investment.
Ambassador Taylor said that he felt the relationship between Ukraine and the United States has never been better than it is now. He asked the attendees about what business climate issues deserved his focus once he arrived in Kyiv.
Members agreed that stronger rule of law and reduction of corruption topped the list of business needs. While progress in intellectual property rights protection and the system of VAT refunds was noted, Council members saw a need for further improvements in both.
Members` hopes for Ukraine include adoption of a coherent energy plan and market-drive agricultural policy that includes private land ownership, government organizational reform, and transparent privatization and
Turning to U.S. programs, members of the Ukraine-United States Business Council expressed their hope that the new ambassador would urge the Ukrainian government to resolve quickly the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation`s (OPIC) outstanding insurance expropriation claim against Ukraine.
Resolution of this issue would reopen OPIC programs and could release, over the next few years, up to $500 million in OPIC-backed private equity investment programs to support Ukrainian businesses. The Ambassador said he had recently received a briefing from the President of OPIC on the outstanding issue and this would be one of his top priorities as he began his work in Kyiv.
Realistic risk ratings and more competitive export credit financing by the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) also ranked high for U.S. industrial and agricultural machinery exporters.
President Lotarski pointed out that the U.S. air carrier Delta will make its first non-stop flight from New York City to Kyiv, using a Boeing jet, on Thursday, June 1, with the inaugural landing in Kyiv early Friday afternoon. Business and travel between the two countries is expected to continue to expand rapidly. Ukraine no longer requires U.S. citizens to have visas for short business and tourism trips, Lotarski said.
In conclusion, Ambassador Taylor invited members of the Council to visit him at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv and to keep him informed about the development of the private business climate in Ukraine. They in turn offered him their support and wished him a successful tour in Ukraine.
Council members participating in the meeting included representatives of American Life Insurance Company, Archer Daniel Midland Company, Boeing, Cargill, Cape Point Capital, Case New Holland, the Eurasia Foundation, Procter & Gamble, SALANS, SigmaBleyzer, and Westinghouse. Guests from DutkoWorldwide, Jonathan Partners, The PBN Company, PFC Energy, United Technologies, the Departments of State and Commerce also attended.
The news was monitored by The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service, Morgan Williams, Editor.