Ukraine Country Report Jan17 - January, 2017

February 8, 2017

Ukraine’s crisis is over as it had already emerged from recession in the third quarter of 2016. Nearly all the economics indicators like industrial production and retail sales were back in positive territory as 2016 came to an end. While welcome following the total collapse of the economy in 2015, this good news leaves Ukraine at the start of a very long road of investment and reform if it is going  to fulfill on its potential.

Politically the country is still in a difficult place. The IMF is now strictly holding the government to account on demanded reforms. The original IMF deal should have seen some $10bn of aid a year; the IMF actually sent $6.6bn in 2015 and less than half as much again in 2015. However, with the stabalised economy and some $15.4bn in reserves -- equivalent to over three months import cover needed to have a stable currency -- the economy functions without outside help.

There have been some outstanding success on the reform front. Banking and energy markets are the two stand out examples. But there has been next to no progress on the corruption front. President Petro Poroshenko has simply adopted the old oligarchic system with himself in charge as a more enlightened leader than previous presidents. While this is enough to ensure stability it is not enough to kick start the deep reforms and associated foreign investment that would allow Ukraine to flourish.

It will get there in the end, but everyone involved has scaled back their expectations. The country will continue to make slow progress until the 2018 elections that could bring a major change in direction.

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