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.
The Association Agreement (AA) between the EU and Ukraine is a complex document covering a wide range of issues from justice to energy, from free trade to sports. Therefore, its impact on the Ukrainian economy will also be multifaceted. For business, the AA means new opportunities, both domestic and abroad.
Two years have passed since Euromaidan won in Ukraine. We try to look at what changed over the last two years. We discuss macroeconomic situation, fiscal issues, financial sector, and trade. We also outline major reforms conducted over this period and outline shortly future reforms agenda.
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.
The fiscal position of the Government remains comparatively strong. The Government is expected to continue reforms implementation, which would also result in additional support by official international donors. Overall, real GDP is expected to grow by 1.7% in 2016.
Ukraine may find itself with new Government in the very near future. Frequent government changes do not help the country as there is little to ensure continuity in government policies. Budget planning is done on a single-year basis, senior civil servants are frequently replaced along with politically appointed Ministers.
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.
On January 1, 2016, provisional application of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) with the EU started, which lowers duties on the EU goods. Import duty surcharge (at 5-10%) was cancelled. Further we try to analyse impact of these events on international trade.
2015 was a year of many wins and losses for Ukraine. In the first half of the year, Ukraine faced a near-perfect storm of escalating military conflict, falling commodity prices and political instability. As a result already low export revenues went even further down and foreign currency reserves dropped to 5 billion dollars.