US Companies Want Further Ukrainian Reforms Before Investing

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Ukraine’s business climate is improving, but US companies would like to see additional reforms and results from those already in place before deciding to invest in the country, President and CEO of the US-Ukraine Business Council Morgan Williams told Sputnik.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The Ukrainian economy has deteriorated since an armed conflict between government forces and militias in the country's southeast escalated in April 2014.

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Foreign direct investment in Ukraine reached a record low of negative $430 million following the Maidan revolution in early 2014. Since then, economic regulations have been relaxed to allow foreign companies to obtain controlling stakes in Ukrainian companies.

“The business climate in Ukraine is moving forward. From investors' point of view, they would like to see it move forward faster and with more bottom-line results,” Williams said on Tuesday.

“A lot of investors are kind of waiting to see more results of reforms before they put a lot more money in,” he explained. “Some businesses are coming, but a lot of them are going to wait for some more changes.”

Williams said he expects to see an uptick in US business investment in Ukraine in 2017, “but it’s not going to be what we need or would like for Ukraine.”

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The No. 1 priority that the US business community would like Ukraine’s government to pursue is “significant improvement in the judicial system,” he emphasized.

“They are tired of being victims of corrupt judges and corrupt prosecutors,” Williams stated. “They want to see privatization of state assets; they want to see leaner, more responsive bureaucracy; and they want to make sure that there is going to be what they’d consider a more friendly place to do business so they can take more risks.”

Williams, whose organization is based in Washington, DC, pointed out that a large number of US companies are already doing business in Ukraine, including some that have been there for 20 years.

“The ones that are there are very optimistic and look forward to staying there for a long time,” he added. “So everybody is staying there, everybody is positioning themselves for the future. In light of all the situations that they face, it's a pretty optimistic situation.”

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