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Last July, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden addressed an audience of American and Ukrainian business and government leaders that had gathered at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to discuss the future of a country that was seeking a robust economic reform agenda despite a number of political challenges.
Eleven months later, Ukraine has undergone many changes. In the second Chamber-led U.S.-Ukraine Business Forum meeting last week with new Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, it was clear that Groysman and his cabinet are committed to reinvigorating their economic potential by applying solid political will and listening carefully to the growing input from international and domestic business leaders.
“The country is changing,” writes Valeriy Chaly, Ukraine’s Ambassador the United States, Ukraine “is building a system of strong democratic institutions to ensure the rule of law and free market.”
In last week’s meeting, Myron Brilliant, the Chamber’s executive vice president and head of International Affairs, led a delegation of U.S. business leaders in explaining how the American private sector can continue to assist in domestic reforms by offering “experience and help in developing a corporate governance regime for the 21st century.” The U.S. government also has provided essential leadership. Initiatives include a very substantial package of assistance from all G7 countries to restructure Ukraine’s energy sector, which is an essential condition for any further investment in the country.
Brilliant acknowledged that American business has noticed that Ukrainian reforms are picking up momentum, and that a number of bottlenecks to U.S. investment have been resolved. The discussion at the U.S.-Ukraine Business Forum was another step forward in building trust with the new government.
“If successful, the reforms, and especially the privatization, will create a whole new set of economic players in the Ukrainian economy,” Brilliant said. “Ukraine’s major challenge will be to reform corporate governance to make sure that new private companies find their place in transparent, legitimate global value chains.”
According to Chaly, one major focus in the next round of reforms for the new government is the privatization of state-owned enterprises (SOEs). He writes that this will be done in a “transparent and competitive manner in order to attract investors and carry out corporate governance reform of SOEs.”
The U.S. Chamber will continue to be the driver for U.S. private sector engagement as Ukraine continues to create new opportunities for investment. As Chaly points out, confidence in Ukraine from the United States and European Union is only strengthened by the “profound commitment for change driven by the people of Ukraine.” We look forward to seeing this commitment in person when we’re able to bring the next iteration of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Forum to Kiev.