Ukraine Business New Roundup

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Here are some of the most interesting headlines from the past week of news clips.

The Trump administration released on Thursday $250 million in military aid to Ukraine that had been held up. Democratic critics say the aid suspension was an attempt to pressure President Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joseph Biden for alleged conflict of interest in his Ukraine dealings as Vice President. The aid suspension became known two weeks ago when then-National Security Advisor John Bolton visited Ukraine. During his visit, he campaigned against Ukraine’s planned sale of Motor Sich aviation motor factory to China. On Tuesday, Trump fired Bolton over a wide range of policy differences.

Ukraine has stripped U.S.-based Trident Acquisitions of the right to explore and develop oil and gas in the Black Sea, prompting Trident to say Ukraine has lost out on $1 billion in new investment. In July, Trident beat two other companies in a tender to develop the Dolphin Block, in the northwest Black Sea. Critics say the two-month tender preparation period was too short and major multinationals were not sufficiently encouraged to participate. However, in July, reports circulated in Bucharest that ExxonMobil plans to pull out of its Romanian offshore project, near the Dolphin Block. In 2014-15, Shell and ExxonMobil pulled out of Ukraine.

From the Editor: Once again Ukrainian oil and gas development has been kicked down the road –because the ‘wrong’ group won the tender. The shoddy treatment of US-based Trident flies in the face of the new government’s promise to open up opportunities to foreign investors. Similarly, Shell’s former oil and gas concession in the East has been frozen for three years – once again because the ‘wrong’ group won the permit. To keep the ‘wrong’ people from producing gas, Ukraine’s leaders opt to import gas. Reality check: in the 1970s, the Ukrainian SSR was the largest gas-producing republic of the USSR. In the intervening half-century, Ukraine’s underground geology has not changed – just the people and policies above ground. Best regards, Jim Brooke`

From London, Valeria Hontareva, the former central bank chief who nationalized PrivatBank, says she is the target of a vendetta by Kolomoisky and may ask for political asylum in Britain. On Aug. 26, a hit and run driver ran over her foot in London, breaking bones. On Aug 27, a Kyiv court granted authorities permission to “forcibly” bring her to Kyiv for questioning. On Sept. 5, arsonists burned up a car belonging to her daughter-in-law, also named Valeria Hontareva. Speaking to Ukraine’s Liga news site on Monday, Hontareva, a research fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science, said: “If our country is going to treat its own reformer like dirt, to politically and physically persecute, then I’ll have no choice to but to ask for political asylum.”

As China’s imports more and more food from Ukraine, China is on track to displace Russia next year as Ukraine’s largest single nation trading partner. During the first half of this year, China displaced Russia to become the largest source of imports for Ukraine, accounting for 13.9%. During the half-year, China ranked a close third as a destination for Ukraine’s exports. The ranking was: Poland – 6.9%; Russia — 6.5%; and China – 6.4%.

Since the July 1 start of the grain marketing year, Ukraine has exported 10 million tons of grain – 47% more than in the same period last year. Ukraine has exported 6.1 million tons of wheat, 2.2 million tons of barley, and 1.7 million tons of corn, according to the State Service for Food Safety and Consumer Protection. In addition, 1.8 million tons of oilseeds have been exported – 50% more than this time last year. After good weather in June and July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture raised its forecast for Ukraine’s grain exports to 54 million tons – 8% more than last year.