Ukraine: Doing business & staying in touch

Doing business in Ukraine

Kiev is the business hub of Ukraine, though it’s not a particularly formal place to do business. Suits and ties are usually worn by men for business meetings. The exchange of business cards is extremely common and visitors are advised to bring company cards. Russian and English are the two main business languages here.

Office hours

Mon-Fri 0900-1700/1800. Lunch tends to be at least one and a half hours.

Economy

Ukraine has large areas of very fertile land, which give it the reputation as the 'bread basket' of the former Soviet Union. Grain, sugar beet and vegetables are the main crops and there is extensive livestock farming. The country also boasts large mineral resources, particularly coal in the huge Donbass fields, as well as iron ore, manganese and titanium.

There are a few reserves of gas and oil, but Ukraine has to import more than three-quarters of its requirements of these products from elsewhere, mainly from the Russian Federation. In recent years Ukraine has seen its gas and oil supply temporarily cut off by Russian energy giant Gazprom in protest at non-payment of bills.

Today, the Ukrainian economy is fairly robust: annual GDP growth is now 8% (2010), while inflation remains problematically high at 9.8% (2010). Officially, unemployment has risen to 8.4% of the workforce (2010), and a large 'grey' economy has evolved, which some estimates put at half the size of the legitimate economy.

Ukraine gained membership of the World Trade Organization in 2008. Several of Ukraine's neighbours are now EU members. Ukraine itself is far from a condition in which it might be accepted for EU membership, but this is bound to have a major impact on the country's economic policy-making.

GDP

US$306.3 billion (2010 estimate).

Main exports

Ferrous and nonferrous metals, fuel and petroleum products, chemicals, machinery and transport equipment, and food products.

Main imports

Energy, agricultural machinery and equipment, cars, chemicals.

Main trading partners

Russian Federation, Germany, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Italy and USA.

Keeping in Touch in Ukraine

Telephone

You can buy telephone cards of UAH20, 50 or 100 for public payphones in post offices and at kiosks. Many post offices have international phone booths where calls can be made after paying a deposit. International phone cards are also available in the larger cities, but by far the cheapest connections are those found at internet cafés.

Mobile phone

Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies. Ukraine’s mobile phone coverage is good and local SIM cards (Kyivstar or UMC) are available.

Internet

Internet cafés are available in all cities and towns. Connections are usually reasonable. Some hotels offer Wi-Fi connectivity.

Post

Services are erratic. Letters to Western Europe can take two weeks or more. The main post office in Kiev is located at Khreshchatik 22 and is open 24 hours. You can make telephone calls and send faxes here.

Post office hours

Generally 0800-1700.

Media

A free media is one of the very tangible benefits of the Orange Revolution. Until 2004 there was very limited press freedom, with independent journalists being intimidated, and, in one famous case, murdered, when not toeing the government line. Following the election of Viktor Yushchenko as president in 2005, a free press has flourished, although media watchdogs claim that attacks on journalists have increased since the 2010 election of Viktor Yanukovych.

The most widely read newspapers include the daily Fakty i Kommentarii, Segodnya, Ukryina Moloda and Den.English-language newspapers include the daily Kyiv Post and the weekly Zerkalo Nedeli. The state-run National TV Company of Ukraine operates UT1, UT2 and UT3 channels, and the state-run radio broadcaster National Radio Company of Ukraine operates three networks. A number of commercial television and radio stations are also available.

Edited by Jane Duru
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