The issues of economic cooperation between Ukraine and China were discussed at the Round Table
On January 29, 2019, there was held a Round Table discussion “The situation and prospectives of the development of trade and economic relations between Ukraine and PRC in the context of cooperation between the business circles of both countries” devoted to the 27th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Ukraine and the People's Republic of China.
The meeting was organized by Ukrainian part of the Joint Ukrainian-Chinese Business Council, Ukrainian CCI, and Ukrainian Association of Sinologists.
The event was participated by the President of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce of Ukraine Hennadii Chyzhykov, Deputy Director of Asia-Pacific Division of Foreign Relations, CCI Vice President Valerii Korol, Deputy Chairperson of Ukrainian part of the Joint Ukrainian-Chinese Business Council, the Chairman of the Board of the Association of Ukrainian-Chinese Cooperation, the Ambassador Ihor Lytvyn, the President of Ukrainian Association of Sinologists Viktor Kiktenko, the representatives of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine, the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry of Ukraine, regional Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and numerous businesses. Also, there were present the First Secretary of the PRC Embassy to Ukraine for trade and economic issues Ms. Zhang Huazhong, the Executive Director of the Chinese Trade Association Ruslan Osypenko and the representatives of Chinese corporate members of the association.
The participants discussed strategic issues of cooperation between the two countries, the results of the work of Ukrainian authorities in China, the issue of attraction of direct investments, the work of Chinese banks and airlines in Ukraine, investment insurance, peculiarities of legislative and regulatory regulation.
«The potential of the strategic partnership between Ukraine and the PRC is very large, but it is far from being fully implemented. The core rules of cooperation with China are stability and consistency. The pace and scope of bilateral cooperation must be maintained, no pauses are allowed, because of this we lose a lot of opportunities. For many years, we have insisted on radical liberalization of the visa regime for the citizens of the People's Republic of China, first of all for group trips, we call for intensification of the work on expanding the variety of export of agricultural products to China, the development of partner relations between regions of Ukraine and the Chinese provinces and implementation of agreements and understandings reached», - said in his opening speech Ihor Lytvyn, Deputy Chairman of the Ukrainian part of the Joint Ukrainian-Chinese Business Council, Ambassador of Ukraine to China in 1999-2001.
In the 27 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Ukraine and the PRC, the trade turnover of $270 million has risen to $8.9 billion, but the agreed turnover of $10 billion has still not been achieved. We are also worried about a big Ukraine’s deficiency in bilateral trade. Another parameter, which in no way corresponds to the format of the strategic partnership between Ukraine and the People's Republic of China are direct Chinese investments: for 27 years the volume of direct Chinese investments to Ukraine reached only $30 million which is not much.
Ihor Lytvyh says that Ukrainian business society is interested in the development of effective work with China, and apparently we’ll have to participate more actively in that process, especially influence the government policy of Ukrainian-Chinese communication.
In her speech, Ms. Zhang Huazhong, the First Secretary of the PRC Embassy to Ukraine for trade and economic issues, said warm congratulations from the Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Ukraine Mr. Du Wei. Ms. Huazhong mentioned the meeting between the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and the Deputy Chairman of the People's Republic of China Wang Cieshan at the World Economic Forum in Davos, which was of great political importance.
The participants paid much attention to One Belt One Road Chinese global initiative which is being implemented now. At One Belt One Road international cooperation forum in May 2017, Ukraine was acknowledged as the integral part of the concept, both geographically and economically.
The President of Ukrainian Association of Sinologists Viktor Kiktenko called One Belt One Road a new model of inclusive development within the framework of the new doctrine of China's foreign policy, but the fact that Ukraine has still not practically joined it, in particular, is not a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, indicates a lack of support for the project by the Ukrainian authorities.
Andrii Honcharuk, Senior Researcher at the National Institute for Strategic Studies by the President of Ukraine, critically commented on the efficiency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine in the Chinese direction. He noted that during the recent 5 years there were no high-level visits to China, also, earlier planned investment and loan projects were blocked and not implemented. Ukrainian engagement in One Belt One Road is also poor according to him.
«One Belt One Road is not only economic project. Actually, it is a new model of Chinese foreign policy. And if Ukrainian authorities think that they will get the proper place in that only due the good geographical position, they are wrong. No, they won’t. And Chinese 0.17% share in Ukrainian foreign trade only confirms the neutral attitude. There are specific mechanisms for cooperation with China under this project, and the quality of participation and engagement is a marker of how each country builds its relationship with China. But we must understand that project may be implemented with or without Ukraine», Andrii Honcharuk said.
The discussion participants agree that the trips to China and communication with it become even more demanded. In 2019, Ukrainian businessmen and participants of the Joint Ukrainian-Chinese Business Council plan to take part in several large-scale Chinese industrial, export-import exhibitions, present educational and medical opportunities of Ukraine.
«About 30 thousand tourists travel annually from China to Ukraine, the same number of Ukrainians visit the PRC, while Chinese airlines do not have direct flights to Ukraine, and the Ukrainian airline UIA flies only to Beijing. Apparently, the flights are demanded but now you may get to the most Chinese big cities only by transit through other countries. We invite the Chinese side to consider the possibility of opening direct flights to Ukraine from China by Chinese airlines because they are preferred by Chinese travelers» said Olena Shapovalova, a member of the Ukrainian part of the Ukrainian-Chinese Business Council, commenting on the topic of tourist cooperation between Ukraine and China.
She additionally noted that many countries have a much better visa regime for Chinese citizens, especially for group trips; the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus have a visa-free regime for Chinese tourists and groups for up to 30 days, and in Ukrainian legislation that issue is still not regulated.
In its turn, China also liberates visa regime for foreigners, including for Ukrainians. For example, since 1 January 2019, Ukrainians may stay in 5 Chinese cities without visa for six days (144 hours). Such conditions are in the cities of Qingdao (Shandong Province), Xiamen (Fujian Province), Wuhan (Hubei Province), Chengdu (Sichuan Province), and Kunming (Yunnan Province). Ukrainians holding a valid international travel document, tickets for the next flight to third countries or districts, are not required to have a Chinese visa for staying in those cities for 144 hours.
A member of the Board of the Ukrainian Association of Sinologists, international journalist Oleksii Koval noted that in official documents, China views Ukraine as an industrial country that produces a product with high added value, rather than as a raw donor, so it is worthwhile introducing Chinese technologies that are more adaptable to production processes of Ukrainian enterprises. The China’s idea of a free trade zone between our states also expects support from Ukrainian Government, therefore, in the framework of this global initiative, there should be mutual interest.