AGMM: Business results in 2020 and plans for 2021
Yesterday, November 19, the European Business Association held the 21st Annual General Membership Meeting. This landmark event unites Ukrainian and international business leaders to summarize the work of the Association throughout the year.
“2020 turned out to be extremely unpredictable for all of us. It has triggered the changes and pushed us to rethink many processes, revise priorities, and learn a lot of new things,” said Anna Derevyanko, EBA Executive Director in her welcoming speech. – We are extremely grateful to all our companies for their support and active participation in the work of the Association as our strength lays in cooperation. Also, as a summary of the experience gained in 2020, I would like to highlight a few trends prevailing in the business world today.
The first is to change health priorities because now all efforts of both companies and the state are aimed at maintaining and protecting the health of their employees and citizens. To achieve these goals, sometimes economic interests have to be pushed into the background. The second is the growing role of emotional and mental health, given the abrupt total transition online and the stressful external conditions associated with the pandemic. The third is the desire to learn, this year more than 15 thousand participants took part in educational projects of the Association. And the fourth, but no less important trend is the increased demand for the protection of business interests. Throughout the quarantine, our team has worked hard to provide support and responses to the many requests from companies, and we will continue to make every effort, given the difficult conditions in which we all find ourselves. “
Tomas Fiala, CEO of Dragon Capital & President of the European Business Association thanked the team of the Association and members of the Board for joint efforts in improving the business climate and commented on recent developments in the country. “During last year’s annual meeting, the EBA community expressed support for the administration of President Volodymyr Zelensky and praised the progress of reforms at that time. However, over the past six months, there was an accumulation of alarming negative signals for the business, as the administration’s policy has gone against the announced course of reforms. We are seeing a rollback in anti-corruption activities, judiciary reforms, international cooperation. Meanwhile, reformers are removed from public office, the influence of oligarchs and pro-Russian forces are growing, added up to increased budget deficit and public debt. Therefore, we would like to appeal to the President to return to the promised policy that would lead Ukraine on the path of reform and sustainable development, “said Tomas Fiala.
At the same time, Mr. Fiala also pointed out some positive aspects. He said the economic downturn due to the pandemic was one of the smallest in the region, and the economy is currently only 2.9% below the pre-pandemic level. At the same time, Ukraine has gone through this difficult period without a financial and banking crisis. The recent intensification of negotiations with the International Monetary Fund is also a positive signal.
We were also pleased to receive greetings from Denys Shmyhal, Prime Minister of Ukraine, who joined the EBA Annual Membership Meeting online. Mr. Shmyhal thanked the entire business community of the Association, which supports the country by paying taxes and creating socially secure jobs. He also expressed hope that business will experience not only difficulties during this unprecedented period but also the impact of the reform steps taken by the Government. The Government still aims at ensuring Ukraine’s inclusion in the TOP-30 of Doing Business ranking. Therefore, the state is actively engaged in solving issues related to affordable loans, energy security, export support, privatization, customs reform, and digitalization of public services.
Mr. Shmyhal also spoke about the prospects for further strengthening of restrictive measures – the Government does not rule out the possibility of such a scenario in case the load on the medical system becomes critical. Instead, the Prime Minister said that the Government continues to develop possible support measures for business, which will help to pass this period with the least losses and even give a boost to the economy to recover and further develop.
We were extremely pleased to see Matti Maasikas, Ambassador of the European Union in Ukraine, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine, among the participants of the meeting. Mr. Ambassador noted that the rule of law and stable institutions are first needed for the further development of Ukraine. Recent decisions of the Constitutional Court have once again underscored the urgent need to reform the judiciary. And the first step towards this may be the adoption of a presidential draft law registered in the Parliament. Also, in the opinion of Mr. Maasikas, it is worth giving credit of trust and time to the new anti-corruption institutions so that they work and show results. Also, next year will be a review of the achievements and conditions of the Free Trade Agreement. Although this year, there was a negative dynamic in Ukrainian trade with the EU, Mr. Maasikas is sure about a positive trend in the 5-year perspective.
The Annual General Membership Meeting was joined by international experts and diplomats – Goesta Ljungman, IMF Resident Representative in Ukraine; Kristina A. Kvien, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i.of the United States of America to Ukraine; Melinda Simmons, Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Ukraine Embassy of the United Kingdom in Ukraine; Andrew Mateni, Senior Economist, Goldman Sachs International; Jeremy D. Rosner, Managing Partner, GQR. As well as Ukrainian high-ranking officials – Kyrylo Shevchenko, Head of the National Bank of Ukraine; Serhiy Marchenko, Minister of Finance of Ukraine, Mikheil Saakashvili, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the National Reform Council.
We truly thank the host of our event Svyatoslav Hrynchuk (TSN, 1 + 1 Media), all speakers, as well as participants who watched us online or join the virtual event on the zMeet platform. Thank you for your active participation, for close cooperation with the European Business Association, for the fact that together with our voices sound stronger and more confident as the voice of business!
Watch the full broadcast of the event via the links:
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