Kyiv International Economic Forum: how was it?

Kyiv International Economic Forum

November 8-9, Kyiv International Economic Forum (KIEF) 2019 was held. It unites government, business, investors, foreign and domestic economic experts to discuss key issues of the global and Ukrainian economies and to find tools to solve them.

Since 2014, the Forum, initiated by the founder of the holding company UFuture Vasily Khmelnitsky, has been functioning as a permanent communication platform, whose goal is to increase the investment potential of Ukraine, improve the country’s image on the international arena and develop a strategy for dynamic growth of the Ukrainian economy. KIEF-2019 has become the largest event in the years of its existence. It was attended by over 2,000 participants and gathered 110 speakers from 30 countries.

KIEF-2019 key topic is dynamic changes in the economy under the influence of technology. Opportunities and challenges for humanity arising from the Fourth Industrial Revolution, digital transformation, expectations of the global financial and economic crisis and the impact of trade wars on the world economy, innovation in education, climate change, problems of Ukrainian energy are the main issues discussed by KIEF-2019.

Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine, in his opening speech ensured the judicial reform, equal opportunities and the rule of law for all the parties in Ukrainian market. He also stressed on the large potential of domestic enterprises and inventors and guaranteed the protection of every investor investing in Ukrainian economy and creating new workplaces.

The KIEF keynote speaker Jack Ma, the founder of the e-commerce giant Alibaba, attracted great attention of the audience. Speaking about the prospects of Ukrainian economy, Jack Ma noted that the Ukrainian government had to pay more attention to the private sector, especially small business, and support entrepreneurial initiative. Chinese entrepreneur and billionaire believes that Ukrainian authorities should concentrate on four key areas of activity – e-government, infrastructure, education and entrepreneurship. In addition, Jack Ma talked a lot about the history of his business, the psychology of entrepreneurs, the importance of education, the style of personnel management, the challenges and opportunities of artificial intelligence and the ways to achieve success.

Oleksiy Honcharuk, Prime Minister of Ukraine, in his speech at KIEF emphasized the action program of the government. The main points in it are privatization, land reform, digitalization, deregulation, strengthening protection of title, demonopolization, liberalization of labor and capital markets, and lower interest rates on loans. Honcharuk assured the Forum participants that none of the oligarchic groups influenced him, and his government would strive to reduce the role of oligarchic groups in Ukrainian economy.

The Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture Timothy Milovanov believes that in the coming years the annual GDP growth of Ukraine will stand for 3.3-3.5%, and inflation will fall to 5-5.3% per annum. The priority of the activities of his ministry, Milovanov considers the introduction of «industrial visa-free» with the EU countries, the liberalization of labor laws, privatization and land reform.

Yurii Pyvovarov, head of the KIEF organizing committee, is sure that Ukraine, in order to turn into a successful country on the world economic map, needs to solve not only its own problems, but also make its contribution to solving global problems. Among them are climate change, trade wars, global financial and economic crisis.

A prominent figure in the Forum was Robert Kupman, chief economist and director of the Department of Economic Research and Statistics of the WTO, who spoke on two discussion panels. According to Kupman, there is a high likelihood of a global economic crisis starting in 2020, the beginning of which will be a decline in the trade sector in the most developed countries of the world.

Vasily Khmelnitsky, founder of the holding company UFuture, presented five trends of the future. Among them are the development of the Internet of things, climate change, an increase in the number of megacities, the massive introduction of artificial intelligence, the formation of «Human 2.0». In addition, Khmelnitsky said that his team was ready to help the new government in matters of increasing investment in the economy and improving the image of Ukraine in the world.

Robert Govers, head of the International Place Branding Association, held a panel «Building the brand of Ukraine together!». To his mind, improving the image of Ukraine means not to be limited to short-term marketing strategies, but to work systematically in all directions – from the economy to local activities and presence on social networks.

Tomash Fiala told the audience about the activities of his investment company Dragon Capital. According to Fiala, since 2015, his company has attracted $ 500 million investment in Ukraine, and the average profit reaches 35%. Fiala advises investors to follow his example by investing in the Ukrainian economy.

Matteo Patrone, EBRD Director for Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, said that Ukraine is the second most important market for the EBRD after Turkey. The EBRD’s Ukrainian loan portfolio is $1.2 billion and the key areas of lending are energy and infrastructure.

Oleksiy Orzhel, Minister of Energy and Environmental Protection of Ukraine, during the panel «Energy Independence of Ukraine» said that the priority of his department was to conclude a long-term contract with Russia for the transit of natural gas through Ukraine. Other panel speakers, including top managers of the largest energy companies in Ukraine, announced the need to increase their own hydrocarbon production and ensured equal rules for all market participants, eradicating corruption schemes and politically motivated preferences.

KIEF-2019 ended with a networking party, during which the Forum participants had the opportunity to establish business relations in the professional field and discuss two days of the Forum with speakers. The next Forum will be held October 23-24, 2020.


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