Italy-Ukraine cooperation – the main insights from the discussion on collaboration and growth
The European Business Association and Global Business for Ukraine, in cooperation with Confindustria, hosted a B2B meeting between Italy and Ukraine representatives to provide a comprehensive overview of the current business landscape in Ukraine, highlighting the challenges, opportunities, and resilience of the business community. The main focus was on economic stability, investment climate, labor market dynamics, and potential growth areas.
Davide La Cecilia, Special Envoy of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for the Reconstruction Process of Ukraine, expressed his gratitude to European organizations and individuals for their support of Ukraine. He particularly noted Italy’s support in various fields, including military, humanitarian, financial, and economic assistance. La Cecilia also discussed Italy’s dedication to supporting the European Union’s efforts to restore and sustain Ukraine’s energy sustainability. He noted that Italy is committed to keeping Ukraine in the spotlight during its presidency of the G7 in 2024. Plans also include holding a conference on Ukraine’s recovery in 2025 and engaging the private sector to participate in the development of various sectors such as transportation, energy, infrastructure, healthcare, and industry. La Cecilia emphasized the importance of ongoing reforms to improve the business environment and called on Italian companies to partner with Ukrainian and international businesses in rebuilding Ukraine.
Laura Travaglini, International Affairs, Confindustria, noted the interest of Italian and Ukrainian companies in industries beyond traditional sectors such as textiles and furniture. She appealed to companies to act now to help rebuild Ukraine with advanced products and technologies, given the country’s investment opportunities. She also spoke about Confindustria’s role as a major private association in Italy and its tangible willingness to work on the reconstruction process of Ukraine, as demonstrated by the opening an office in Kyiv on last January. Travaglini encouraged Ukrainian companies to engage in a dialogue with Confindustria and emphasized their willingness to cooperate.
Sergiy Tsivkach, Executive Director of Ukraine Invest, spoke about the opportunities for attracting foreign investment to the country. These include partnerships with the state, concessions, support for small and medium-sized businesses, financial support, and investments in natural resources, energy, industry, and waste management. Despite the negative impact of the war, foreign direct investment had a positive impact on the economy in 2023, and private investment complemented state and international capital for Ukraine’s restructuring and economic transformation. Mr. Tsivkach also reviewed various investment incentives, including support for specific sectors, corporate income tax exemptions, land tax exemptions, and special investment agreements of up to 15 years. The Executive Director of Ukraine Invest emphasized the importance of cooperation with Ukrainian companies and the use of military and dual-use technologies.
Oliver Gierlichs, Managing Director & CFO of Bayer Ukraine, said that the company has been present on the Ukrainian market since 1992 and continues to invest in production despite the war. Thus, current investments amount to 35 million euros, the first phase of which will end in 2023. The second phase will be aimed at improving the plant’s sustainability and energy efficiency. Gierlichs said that now is the time for other companies to consider the business case for investment in Ukraine, noting the presence of manageable risk from the war and tax incentives. Gierlichs confidently asserted that now is the time to build a strong reputation, access to a professional workforce, and competitive prices for premises. Among the challenges, the Bayer CFO singled out logistics, especially for the pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. He emphasized the need to address financing and logistics issues for farmers to successfully sell Bayer products.
Anna Derevyanko, Executive Director of the European Business Association, presented an assessment of the resilience and adaptability of the business community in Ukraine. She noted that many companies are redirecting their financial resources to support the army in the tense conditions of military aggression, but most of them expect positive business performance in 2024 and forecast growth. The labor market is facing difficulties due to a shortage of personnel, but salaries for skilled workers are growing. Important tasks for the government include guaranteeing security in the country, maintaining macroeconomic stability, and solving problems with the departure of specialists. Successful investment stories that have facilitated cooperation with companies in the Ukrainian market were also highlighted, and it was noted that the defense sector has growth potential.
Andrii Matsyhin, General Director at Fujikura Automotive Ukraine LLC, spoke about the company’s story. The main success factors of Fujikura Automotive Ukraine are its ability to adapt to challenges and ensure continuous operation that can meet customer needs. The company also has a plan to protect the health and safety of its employees. Despite the costs and logistical challenges, the company has optimized operations and compensated for losses. Its flexible logistics solutions include the use of alternative routes and smaller trucks. Fujikura Automotive Ukraine also has contingency plans in place that include alternative options to overcome problems with one service provider.
Ivano Spadetto, COO at Tecnica Group, presented his company, which manufactures sports equipment. Sustainability, caring for the planet (investments to reduce the carbon footprint, eco-design, and product life cycle management), and investments in people are important to the company. The company is headquartered in Italy and has production sites in various countries, including Ukraine. Recently, the company invested 4 million euros in the Ukrainian plant, creating better conditions for employees and promoting digital transformation. Spadetto called for support for customs procedures, workplace safety, and digitalization and automation of production. He also expressed concern about the preservation of the labor force in Ukraine and called for improved working conditions and stability in the energy supply.
Our sincere thanks go to Davide La Cecilia, Special Envoy of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for the Reconstruction Process of Ukraine, Laura Travaglini, representative of the International Affairs Department of Confindustria, Sergiy Tsivkach, Executive Director of Ukraine Invest, Oliver Gierlichs, Managing Director & CFO Bayer Ukraine, Andrii Matsyhin, General Director at Fujikura Automotive Ukraine LLC, and Ivano Spadetto, COO at Tecnica Group, for the opportunity to learn more about the potential of cooperation between Ukraine and Italy, existing projects, and financing instruments. We would like to express special gratitude to Confindustria for its support and cooperation in the implementation of B2B networking.