While the vote-counting in Ukraine continues, it is already clear that President Volodymyr Zelensky has secured the power over legislative and, consequently, executive branches of the government. His political force, the Servant of the People party, has won a landslide victory in the snap parliamentary elections.
Ukraine has been going through ambitious structural reforms aimed to strengthen its democratic institutions and human rights protection, impose rule of law, and develop modern market-oriented economy. Customs reform is among key reforms in Ukrainian policy agenda in 2019.
The voting day in Ukrainian presidential elections passed rather calmly, and observers have not reported major electoral fraud, stating that basic standards of free elections were safeguarded. Hopefully the same will apply to the second round on April 21, 2019.
According to the Ukrstat, Ukraine exported USD 20.2 bn to the EU, surpassing the previous peak registered in 2008, i.e. before the hardships of two economic crises and the occupation of the part of Ukraine’s territory.
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.
In September 2017, the Ukrainian Parliament adopted changes to the Law on Education that established Ukrainian language as the single language of school education. The Law aims to fight discrimination of national minorities in Ukraine creating the possibilities to study Ukrainian language at national minority schools.
Ukraine is seen as a country where political corruption have become a natural component of social relationships. A consensus has even emerged that it will be impossible for Ukraine to be successful without eradicating widespread corruption. Fighting corruption is a multi-dimensional process.
If Ukraine loses the chance to receive assistance from the IMF and other international donors in 2018, the government will be hard-pressed to execute planned fiscal expenditures in 2018. The fiscal indicators will be also revised for 2019 to lower real GDP growth and higher inflation.
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.