U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk Meet with American Executives to Discuss Private Sector Engagement in Ukraine

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Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk met with a group of American executives in Kyiv to hear directly from companies on the progress they have seen from Ukraine’s ambitious reform agenda. The U.S. businesses then had an opportunity to share their recommendations for additional measures needed to strengthen Ukraine’s business climate and improve trade and investment. The companies in attendance included Cargill, Citibank, DuPont, Honeywell, NCH Capital, and Westinghouse.

While Ukraine has made great strides in improving its business climate, tackling corruption, and strengthening corporate governance, there is still more work to be done. As America’s chief commercial diplomat, Secretary Pritzker has actively involved the U.S. private sector as commercial diplomats to advise on how Ukraine can create a competitive business climate.

The Obama Administration has consistently supported a vibrant Ukrainian economy that is led by the private sector. To ensure Ukraine has the support it needs to continue making progress on these reforms, Secretary Pritzker announced today that the Obama Administration, working with Congress, intends to move forward with a third, $1 billion loan guarantee for Ukraine in the coming months.

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you for such a warm introduction, Mr. Prime Minister. I am honored to be here with you and proud to be joined in Kyiv by six executives from some of America’s premier companies – Cargill, Citibank, DuPont, Honeywell, NCH Capital, and Westinghouse.

These business leaders took time from their very full calendars to travel to Kyiv because they believe, as I do that Ukraine’s people and government are making progress toward economic stability and growth; that Ukraine’s market possesses untapped potential for U.S. investment; and that the real, lasting reform in Ukraine will support the development of a vibrant, dynamic private sector and meaningful economic opportunity for the people of Ukraine.

Since my last visit here 13 months ago, your government and your citizens have stood firm in the face of enormous challenges. Your work to restructure Ukraine’s debt, to stand up a National Anti-Corruption Bureau, and to begin difficult but necessary reforms in your energy sector has required political courage and a long-term vision.

As part of the United States commitment to working with international partners to ensure Ukraine has the support it needs to continue making progress on reforms, today I am pleased to announce that the President, working with Congress, intends to move forward with a third, $1 billion loan guarantee for Ukraine in the coming months. This fulfills a U.S. commitment to consider providing a third $1 billion loan guarantee in late 2015 if conditions warrant.

Today, I have had the opportunity to discuss with President Poroshenko and Prime Minister Yatsenyuk how the United States and Ukraine can use a third $1 billion U.S. loan guarantee to support continued progress in advancing reforms- including reforms that will be important to unlock international investment in Ukraine, and lay the groundwork for a return to growth.

The U.S. loan guarantee will be conditioned on Ukraine’s progress on implementing its economic reform program, including adherence to the IMF’s program and concrete forward momentum in the ongoing fight against corruption.

To that end, earlier today, the Prime Minister hosted a roundtable with our U.S. executives to discuss specific measures to further improve Ukraine’s business climate. The President and Prime Minister asked for them to join me on this trip because the government of Ukraine knows, as we do, that sustained economic growth will be led by the private sector. This necessitates the government listening to issues and challenges facing private investors that are committed to helping build a brighter future for this wonderful country.

Our dialogue focused on measures Ukraine can take to more effectively fight corruption; to make its infrastructure more efficient and attractive for investors; to reduce excessive regulations; to raise the professionalism of its judiciary; to better protect intellectual property; and to improve its tax administration. Importantly, we are hearing details from American firms about the economic benefits that this government’s difficult reforms have yielded.

For example, Cargill, a leading U.S. company and long-time investor in Ukraine, expressed how important progress in the form of an electronic VAT system has been for their business in Ukraine. While there is certainly more work to be done with respect to paying arrears, we are hearing clearly from Cargill and other American firms that they are pleased with the progress under the electronic VAT system. We certainly encourage continued commitment to this electronic approach to addressing VAT challenges.

We also discussed how Ukraine can make it easier to do business in crucial sectors, including agriculture, energy and pharmaceuticals. And our message will remain clear: Ukraine faces a long road ahead to reach its full economic potential. But the Ukrainian people have the firm and unwavering partnership of President Obama, my Department, our entire Administration, and the American private sector.

Mr. Prime Minister: the magnitude of the changes you are trying to implement is unprecedented in Ukraine’s history. In America’s government and business community, we fully appreciate the difficulty of this task, and we applaud your efforts.

As you stated at the first-ever U.S.-Ukraine Business Forum in Washington in July, your work is far from finished. Reaching your goals of economic growth and prosperity will require continued strong cooperation and collaboration between you, President Poroshenko, the Rada, and the Ukrainian business community.

I believe you are up to the challenge, and I will reiterate: the United States stands ready to support you every step of the way – because we know reform is essential to Ukraine’s economic success and long-term prosperity. Indeed, reform requires the very qualities that spurred you to take to the Maidan in the first place: optimism about the future; the courage of your convictions; and a whole-hearted belief in Ukraine’s ability to build a democratic nation with a flourishing, open, market-based economy.

Thank you.

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce

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Robert Williams

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Robert Williams

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