April 13, 2023
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce, U.S. Department of Commerce
Juan Alberto Leautaud
Managing Director, Financial Markets Advisory Group, BlackRock
Global Head for Public Sector Banking, Citi
Chief Executive Officer, U.S. International Finance Corporation (DFC)
John G. Murphy
Senior Vice President for International Policy
Amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the country will need to secure aid from a broad range of partners to finance critical reconstruction projects. The United States and other members of the G7+ have pledged to allocate resources toward incentivizing investment from the private sector.
Financial leaders from the U.S. and Ukraine engaged in a panel discussion at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s U.S.-Ukraine Partnership Forum. Together, they shared strategies and practical mechanisms aimed at mobilizing private capital to foster a resilient, sustainable market.
Ukraine Can Secure Necessary Funding Through Partnerships with Other Countries
With all the panelists having a great deal of experience in finance at the crossroads of the public and private sectors, the discussion took a nuanced look at the multiagency support necessary to make a lasting impact.
“Russia started this war … so Russia is going to need to pay for it at some point. We will make sure that that occurs,” said Don Graves, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce. “Russia has to pay for what they've wrought, but it's gonna take a whole lot more resources, more dollars to get this done.”
“The World Bank [has worked] with the government of Ukraine [and has] identified about $411 billion of need. We have already made huge commitments supporting the war effort and stabilizing the country, ensuring that the people of Ukraine are not suffering any more than they already have been … [and] working with independent financial institutions,” Deputy Secretary Graves continued. “Working with our partners in other countries, certainly the G7 and the World Bank, [will] be critical parts of this.”
Derisking Private Investment Can Help Attract Private Capital
Part of Ukraine’s recovery plan hinges on global involvement in the country’s trade, investment, and economy. While investment in a war-torn country can cause concern to investors, the panelists discussed ways to mitigate risk and reach an agreement permissible to both parties.
“I don't really like the term derisk, because what you're doing is just trying to assign the risk to who's in the best position to take that risk,” noted Julie Monaco, the Global Head of Citi’s Public Sector Group. “The risk doesn't go away; it's just about who you give it to.”
In this vein, Monaco encouraged investors to “explore how to provide partial risk guarantees and collaboration with the private insurers for different layers of risk embedded in complex project finance.”
“I feel very confident that Ukraine is in a very different situation than other post-war situations, because of all the good work that’s been done and reforms that have happened during the war, [and] because of the business activity that we personally are seeing on the ground,” she emphasized.
With the Collaboration of the Private and Public Sectors, the Business Climate of Ukraine Remains Hopeful
Juan Alberto Leautaud, Managing Director of Real Assets & Infrastructure at BlackRock, discussed the general consensus of the investment and business climate of Ukraine in mid-2023.
“The glue in our view that holds [everything] together is a sufficiently thick layer of concession capital that can serve, not necessarily to de-risk, but to realign the risk-return equation to provide a price discovery for the risk elements,” Leautaud said. “To the extent that we can actually have that layer of concession capital, then we can mend those [ties] and enable those investments to move forward.”
“[Digitization in Ukraine] has actually been very successful despite everything that's going on,” he added. “We know that Ukraine does a very good job of supplying energy to the rest of the world. We know that agribusiness is a huge opportunity.”
When asked about specific investments, Leautaud noted the importance of collaboration between the private and public sectors.
“It’s going to take a bit of understanding [and] learning from the private sector [about] the best things we can do as a government partner to bring down costs [and] invest in those places that the private sector can’t get to,” Leautaud said. “[And] it’s going to take a little bit of working back and forth for us to get to a place where we can move as quickly as we can to rebuild the Ukrainian economy.”