The Ukrainian ambassador in Austria, Oleksandr Scherba, talks about interesting business locations, tips for investors and habits to consider in business relationships.

What makes Ukraine special as a business location?
Ukraine has everything to be a successful investment place. Moreover, in the coming years it has a clear and distinct potential to become a new growth space for Europe as a whole. Ukraine offers the best agricultural soils in the world, a sophisticated industrial infrastructure (for instance, the country is a renowned producer of space carriers), a well-educated, hard-working population that feels culturally and historically bound to Europe, and a good climate. Additionally, it has great connections and proximity to the EU as well as rivers and sea ports. What it had been missing, was an effective government doing its job dutifully and – a framework of security for each and every investor. The idea behind all the reforms in the last years has been to give Ukraine this kind of a government and this kind of a framework. We think we are very close to this goal. And we think that the advantages of the Ukrainian market outweigh the still remaining risks. This makes it worthwhile to look twice at Ukraine as an investment destination.

Which region is currently developing best and why?
There happens a lot in almost any region of Ukraine at the moment. For investors, the western areas (oblast) of Ukraine would probably be the most interesting. First and foremost – Lviv, with Ukraine’s largest IT hub, a booming economy, with all the historic connections and its proximity to the EU, which is particularly valuable given today’s visa-free regime and the functioning free trade area. Chernivtsi and Ivano-Frankivsk also show very good figures – two more areas next to the EU border. Winnytsya, Mykolayv, Kherson and Odessa (located by the sea, agriculturally and industrially interesting) have a good reputation. And of course, last but not least, the capital Kyiv, the country’s most important economic centre, with the most affluent population and particularly well-developed infrastructure.

Commercial port in Odessa.

What should investors consider?
Please, don’t buy into this “You have to be corrupt to succeed in Ukraine” stereotype. If you come to Ukraine – play fair, don’t pay bribes. You are the one choosing the rules by which you play – in small and big things. Remember the Ukrainian proverb “today it bites you in the finger, tomorrow it will bite off your arm”. There are plenty ways in Ukraine to reach justice, without getting entangled in corruption – for instance, via the good services of the Ukrainian bilateral Ambassadors in Vienna, always ready to listen and help.

What habits should be known in business relationships?
First and foremost, as a foreigner, in order to become successful in Ukraine, you will need a good and reliable representative on the ground. Preferably, a Ukrainian with experience in business matters. Pay him or her a little more, don’t be stingy, show some respect. Use the pro-European drive of Ukraine’s young generation – eager to learn and to be recognised as European! Remember: Ukraine is the most euro-optimistic nation on our continent now. Ukrainians will see in you not only an investor or a boss, but also a part of the world they admire. Don’t discount it as excessive idealism, but see it as a part of Ukraine’s desire to become a better nation. They want to be successful more than anything in the world. So, use this positive ambition to your advantage for a common success. Remember: Ukraine is a part of the world where you, your money, your trust and dedication can make a huge difference. Even small steps feel here big and meaningful. I promise you: this will make your stay in Ukraine so much more rewarding and enjoyable!

What should one look for when traveling to Ukraine?
As a Kyivite I have to say: Kyiv is a must – preferably in May, with blossoming chestnuts. Kyiv’s historic landmarks can be as exciting as its inventive and sophisticated theme restaurants with all kinds of scrumptious food. Also, if you are a “foody” and a history-buff, then please, don’t forget about Lviv, Kamyanets, Tschernowitz – the friendly, beautiful and intriguing cities in Ukraine’s west. You will find them exciting – with an Austrian historic footprint to be found at every step, both in city culture and in the countryside traditions.

Panorama of the city of Lviv.