LONDON, ENGLAND — The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) organized a high level meeting in Kiev, Ukraine on May 20 to deepen its partnership with Ukraine’s government and agribusinesses to boost investment and exports, while reinforcing the role and competitiveness of the private sector.

Agribusiness was the only sector in Ukraine to register growth last year. Such growth can continue despite the country’s economic difficulties, if the business climate is improved, red tape is slashed and its agriculture strategy 2015-20 is implemented with key private sector companies and investors, EBRD said.

Chaired by Ukraine’s Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine Oleksii Pavlenko, EBRD Director for Agribusiness Gilles Mettetal, and EBRD Director for UkraineSevki Acuner, the meeting brought together more than 20 leading agribusiness companies, six sector associations, Ukraine’s Minister of Infrastructure, its deputy Minister of Finance, members of Parliament, the National Bank of Ukraine, FAO, and the IFC.

Agribusiness chief executive officers and heads of associations highlighted the need to maintain a predictable tax regime, move away from export restrictions and price regulations, and eliminate unnecessary barriers to imports of foreign technology and agricultural inputs.

Access to credit and working capital was identified as vital in the current economic downturn.

Crop receipt programs piloted and supported by the EBRD, IFC and FAO can make a difference for both small and larger farmers, it was agreed. Innovative financing to cooperatives should be explored as another channel to deepen EBRD’s engagement in the country.

The EBRD and Ukraine’s Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food will work together on an agreement to deepen their cooperation on the basis of private sector priorities, challenges and solutions identified at the meeting, it was announced. This can be a first step to a public-private partnership for strategic export commodities.

For example, Ukraine’s grain sector alone needs at least $5 billion for modern storage and $1.2 billion for grain railway wagons by 2023. Private sector participants confirmed their readiness to partner with the government and invest in infrastructure development, alongside government investments in river and port logistics.
At an EBRD-led consultation with major local and international companies prior to this meeting, over 20 CEOs indicated their willingness to invest up to €2.5 billion in Ukraine’s agriculture over the next three years, subject to effective assistance from the authorities in tackling identified obstacles to investment.

To implement the agreement, the EBRD and FAO are planning to provide more regular support to facilitate public-private consultations through a mechanism that supports agribusiness companies and the government in the implementation of key reforms in the context of Ukraine’s agriculture strategy.

“The public and private sectors need to forge a real partnership to implement the needed reforms and boost investment and exports, for the benefit of the agribusiness sector and the country as a whole,” said Gilles Mettetal, the EBRD’s director for Agribusiness.