Business in Ukraine already? Westerners want to believe it

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal (Photo: Getty Images)

Paris — Contract signings are hard to imagine under the bombardment of Ukraine, but Ukrainian and Western leaders are already pushing for private investment to begin rebuilding a country ravaged by nearly a year of war.

“It is not only political support that will make it possible to rebuild Ukraine,” said French President Emmanuel Macron, in the preamble to a Franco-Ukrainian conference in favor of rebuilding the country, Tuesday at the French Ministry of l ‘Economy. .

“Companies will implement their solutions to help recovery,” added the Head of State, and “without waiting for the end of the war”.

As a result of the new deadly Russian strikes in the city of Kherson, a delegation of Ukrainian leaders, including Prime Minister Denys Chmygal, traveled to Paris on the occasion of this conference where some 700 French companies were invited.

The purpose of this event, which comes just after an international conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that raised more than a billion euros, is clear: to allow “any French SME or ETI (mid-sized company , Editor’s note ) to be aware of the sites and to be able to contribute and participate in the calls for tenders,” said the Élysée on Friday.

The list of invited groups ranges from CAC40 behemoths such as Alstom, Engie, or TotalEnergies, to more modest-sized companies in architecture, asbestos removal, telephony, IT… with a particular emphasis on energy, health, agri-food, digital and infrastructure.

The reconstruction of Ukraine is pushed by Ukraine, according to which “the war does not mean that it is prohibited to invest”, noted the Minister of Commerce, Yulia Svyrydenko.

Private investment will be “one of the engines of reconstruction,” the leader said, in an interview with AFP. “Business leaders start by reviewing projects from the initial stage, which should now begin with audit and research.”

France denied that they want to take advantage of the reconstruction to advance its pawns in the good market that will open after the war: “this mobilization was requested by the Ukrainian government and by President Zelensky”, confirmed the Minister of Economy Bruno The Mayor during a press conference on Tuesday.

great needs

The needs are enormous in a country where the cost of the war since its outbreak was estimated by the World Bank at 350 billion dollars in September. This amount will increase significantly to a new figure expected in early 2023, its manager for Europe Anna Bjerde announced.

“The public sector cannot in any way cope with this situation alone, the private sector will be absolutely essential”, added to AFP the representative of the institution, one of the subsidiaries specialized in private sector loans. , the International Signed Finance Corporation (IFC), a partnership in Ukraine.

According to Anna Bjerde, the west, north and even the eastern parts of the country can start to rebuild. But companies should benefit from “insurance” to exercise, because “the perception of risk in Ukraine is very high”.

This concern is widely felt among French companies invited to Paris on Tuesday. Some of them told AFP that they were “simple participants”, “observers”, not “not positioned at all” in the Ukrainian market, or “in minimal presence” at the event organized at the ministry. economy.

“We discussed insurance today to cover military risks in Ukraine, and we will continue this discussion,” Denys Chmygal said on Tuesday, saying he hoped the companies that moved would “return” to the country.

In addition to collaborations on some urgent needs such as energy networks, some projects are starting to emerge around the world. On Monday, the Swiss giant Nestlé announced an investment of 40.5 million euros in a new factory in the west, claiming to be “the first multinational” to launch new investments in the country.

Rasmussen Global, the consulting firm of former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, announced on Monday the creation of a Ukrainian branch that “will focus on helping international companies understand the situation in Ukraine and make investment decisions .

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