Ukraine increasingly important economic partner for Czech Republic, says Foreign Minister

Illustrative photo: Robert Linder / freeimages

One of the important points on Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček’s agenda during his two-day visit to Ukraine has been the strengthening of economic relations. While bilateral trade sank significantly in the immediate period following the 2014 revolution, it has been growing steadily since 2016 and now lies at nearly EUR 2 billion per year.

Illustrative photo: Robert Linder / freeimages
The fallout from the Ukraine’s revolution and the subsequent conflict in its eastern regions hit bilateral trade significantly. Whereas the value of goods traded with the Czech Republic lay at EUR 1.24 billion in 2013 to just two years later it had fallen to EUR 550 million.

However, since 2016, trade ties have been growing again. Partly boosted by a 2017 deal between the EU and Ukraine, which allows visa free travel for Ukrainian citizens to EU, trade now lies at close to EUR 2 billion per year.

At a press conference following Monday’s meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin, Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček praised recent economic partnership. He said that mutual trade increased by 16 percent in 2018 and that Ukraine is currently one of the Czech Republic’s top 20 trading partners.

Currently, more than 200 Czech businesses are directly represented in the Ukraine. Particularly successful are car rental company Eurocar, nuclear power technology business Škoda JS and the IT services provider Unicorn.

One of the largest recent successes is a CZK 1.7 billion project in which the Třebíč-based company NUVIA is helping modernise the security systems in Ukrainian nuclear energy facilities.

Not all has been running smoothly in terms of trade. For example in 2018, up to three months’ worth of iron ore supplies were not delivered from the Ukraine to Czech steelmakers Arcelor Mittal and Třinecké železárny. According to the Ukrainian authorities, supply issues were caused by a lack of railway infrastructure.

Czech business has also brought awareness to the fact that trade ties could be extended if certain obstacles were removed. These include over-bureaucratisation and poor payment discipline on the part of some Ukrainian partners.