In compliance with the requirements of the International Monetary Fund, Ukraine has split its previously combined fiscal service into separate tax and customs agencies. This is a step in the right direction, which should be followed by re-orienting the customs to serve businesses and promote cross-border trade.
The first steps of the long-awaited customs reform in Ukraine started in 2017 only to be cancelled at the beginning of 2018. Meanwhile, customs clearance in the country remains lengthy and complicated, which is reflected in Ukraine’s low positions in comparative international rankings.
Business in Ukraine is slowly recovering from the economic crisis that hit the country several years ago. Entrepreneurs have little trust to the government but plan to speed up their growth and want the authorities to provide fair and favorable conditions for businesses.
When Ukrainian SMEs are given a choice between two options – to obtain certain benefits for their sector from the government or to make sure that the government creates equal conditions for all enterprises – they choose the latter. This tendency manifested itself in the results of the national “Annual Business Climate Assessment” survey in Ukraine.
49% of Ukrainian SMEs said they were inspected by a government body in 2015. These inspections took up to 14 days per year for a business on average, which means that businesses spent around 2 weeks of their operation time on dealing with the officials.
In late 2015 – early 2016, when the ABCA survey was conducted, Ukrainian small and medium businesses mostly assessed business climate in the country as neutral or negative. Only 6% of the polled SMEs believed that business climate was favorable.
Ukrainian exporters say that inefficient and non-transparent VAT refunds system and high levels of bureaucracy are the biggest obstacles for export. The survey also reveals that smaller enterprises tend to be more burdened by complicated customs procedures and lack of transparency in the operation of tax agencies.
Businesses in Ukraine want the customs procedures to become less income-focused and instead, to be aimed at facilitating trade. As the 2015 survey of Ukrainian businesses by the Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting showed, changes in trade regulations and customs rules are needed to boost international trade.