Ukraine connects with Canada – past and present

| June 26, 2011 | 0 Comments
Lastivchyne Hnizdo, which looks like a medieval castle, is a tourist attraction which was actually built in the early 1900s. Meanwhile, agricultural products, such as sunflowers, are a driving force in Ukraine’s economy.

Lastivchyne Hnizdo, which looks like a medieval castle, is a tourist attraction which was actually built in the early 1900s. Meanwhile, agricultural products, such as sunflowers, are a driving force in Ukraine’s economy.

Ukraine and Canada have had a history of bilateral relations since Ukraine gained its independence in 1991. And long before that, there was the huge immigration from Ukraine to Canada, which started 120 years ago and led to the deep family and historic ties we have today, with more than one million people of Ukrainian origin living in Canada.
Canada was the first Western country to recognize independent Ukraine on Dec. 2, 1991. Since that time, relations between the two countries have actively developed, and reached a high point last October when Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited our country.
In recent years as well, Ukraine and Canada have made a real breakthrough in economic ties. A good example was the start of negotiations on a free-trade agreement, which was announced when Canada’s trade minister visited Ukraine in September 2009. Since that time, we have had several rounds of talks and hope to successfully complete this process in the near future.
Ukrainian statistics record an overall trade between Ukraine and Canada in 2010 of  $373.2 million in Canadian dollars. The value of exports from Ukraine to Canada was $174.4 million and imports from Canada were worth $198.7 million. A couple of years before the world economic crisis, the value of this trade almost doubled each year, and we are now gradually returning to this growth rate.
Last year, the top Ukrainian exports to Canada were anthracite, fertilizers such as urea, calcium and ammonium nitrate, ferro-alloys, iron and steel (in the form of tubes, pipes, bars and rods), skis, clothing, chemicals (especially paints), wood, tile and other ceramic products, vodka and beer, turbo jet engines and propellers. Canada exported aircraft, frozen fish and seafood, medicinal products, agricultural and drilling machinery and parts, ethyl alcohol, meat, heat exchange units and chipboard.
Ukraine has 46 million consumers (the largest market in Eastern Europe), a highly competitive, well-educated workforce located at the crossroads of East-West and North-South trade routes. The country has been a member of the World Trade Organization since May 2008.
Ukraine has a major ferrous metal industry, producing cast iron, steel and a wide range of metalware, including pipes. As of 2007, Ukraine was the world’s eighth largest steel producer. Chemicals and petrochemicals are another key industry, producing coke, mineral fertilizers, acids and soda. Manufactured goods include metallurgical equipment, diesel locomotives, tractors and automobiles. The country possesses a massive high-tech industrial base, including electronics, an arms industry and a space program, and is a major producer of grain, sugar, meat and milk products.
After a substantial decline during the world economic crisis, Ukraine’s GDP grew in 2010 by 4.2 percent and industrial output increased by 11 percent. This growth continues in 2011 — GDP in the first quarter of 2011 grew by more than 5 percent. Industrial output increased in January-February by 10.5 percent, compared to the same period of 2010, and exports grew by 46.8 percent. Forecasts are for GDP to grow in 2011 by 4.5 percent, industrial output by 6.5 percent, agricultural production by 2.9 percent and exports by 16.3 percent.
Foreign investors in Ukraine enjoy the same protections for investments and other business activities as domestic investors — there is no nationalization on the horizon. A foreign investor who pulls out has the right to recoup his investment and profits either in-kind or in the currency of the original investment. The government also guarantees foreign investors an unimpeded and prompt remittance abroad of their profits and other sums in foreign currency obtained legally as a result of foreign investments.
In order to facilitate relationships of foreign investors with state bodies and local authorities, the State Agency of Ukraine for Investments and National Projects Management has been established and you can also find useful information on the website of the State Agency of Ukraine for Investment and Development (see http://www.in.gov.ua/index.php?lang=en). In addition, there is a database of investment projects in Ukraine sorted by regions on the website of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade (http://www.me.gov.ua/control/en/publish/category/main?cat_id=50857).
In recent years, Canada and Ukraine renewed the practice of holding bilateral business forums. Let me invite everyone interested to participate in the next one, to take place in Ivano-Fraknivsk Oblast, at the beginning of September. I also invite everyone to visit Ukraine as a tourist and to have a look at its marvellous and diverse natural world and its ancient architecture.

Ihor Ostash is ambassador of Ukraine to Canada. Reach him at emb_ca@ukremb.ca or 613-230-2961 ext. 100.

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