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Kyiv, Ukraine – As the Euro 2012 tournament reached its climax with Sunday’s final in Kiev, the Ukrainian hosts are being praised for their organisation and delivery of a first-class sporting event.
The Ukrainian government is now hoping to capitalise on the success of the tournament, reminding the global business community that it will find an efficient, reform-focused nation when it invests in Ukraine.
The government has cut red tape and deregulated the economy in the same five years it has taken to plan and stage Euro 2012. It has also adopted direct measures to make it easier for investors to enter the market.
“Where is used to take two to three years to enter the market here, it now takes six to nine months,” said the man driving the reforms, First Vice Prime Minister Valeriy Khoroshkovskyi. In fact, initial requests by investors are processed within 24 hours.
“The focus of this government is on scrapping outdated regulations and removing obstacles to investment, growth and jobs,” Khoroshkovskyi said.
The advances Ukraine has made aren’t going unnoticed. The prestigious European Cities and Regions of the Future Awards for 2012/2013 have rated nearly 20 Ukrainian cities and regions in Top Ten categories.
For the Cost of Doing Business category alone Ukraine grabbed six out of ten places.
Ukraine hopes to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union later this year – the first step towards EU membership.
But full membership will take time, and in the interim much is going on to improve the way Ukraine and the EU do business and cooperate in essential regulatory areas.
Over the past week, Khoroshkovskyi has begun the process of agreeing to a Customs Agreement with European Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud, Algirdas Šemeta.
This will facilitate a strategic framework for customs cooperation that will make a difference in areas such as simplified VAT refunds for companies that trade between Ukraine and the EU.
“Ukraine’s developing relationship with the European Union is not about us waiting for full membership,” Mr Khoroshkovskyi said.
“In the meantime there are many areas where we can simplify processes and regulations to provide economic benefits and to attract investment.”
A recent international road show targeting the global business community in four continents resulted in bi-lateral negotiations on investments with 62 companies, from Germany’s Commerzbank to U.S.-based energy firm Chevron. These companies are expected to tap into some 15 large-scale investment projects, each of them linked to a key industry in Ukraine, which are designed to be implemented through investment and private public partnerships, effectively introducing a new business model in the country.
Ukraine is expected to allocate $3.5 billion to these investment projects.
Ukraine has recently published an Investor Guide – a series of brochures that explain how to do business in the country in simple language.
The brochures cover topics including understanding the taxation system, real estate and construction, intellectual property rights, and insurance.