Boosting trade in agricultural produce in Ukraine

Swedish-funded ITC project to increase the competitiveness of Ukrainian agri-businesses
(Kherson/Geneva) – Representatives from Ukraine’s Kherson, Mykolaiv, Odessa, Vinitsa, Zaporizhzha and Dnipro regions, the Government of Sweden and the International Trade Centre (ITC) today kicked off the second phase of ‘Linking Ukrainian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Fruits and Vegetables Sector to Global and Domestic Markets and Value Chains’. The accumulatively eight-year project aims to increase the competitiveness of Ukrainian agricultural produce.

Agriculture and agribusiness represent a significant share of the Ukrainian economy, generating approximately 9% of the national GDP in 2019. Exports of fruits and vegetables, and nuts have consistently showed positive trends between 2016 and 2020. However, the presence of these Ukrainian exports in the world economy remains low. With its seaports and fertile land, the south Ukrainian regions have significant export potential to demanding global markets, including the European Union (EU).

Phase II of the ITC project will build upon the impact of Phase I that started in 2016. It will widen its geographical coverage by including Vinitsa, Zaporizhzha and Dnipro regions as well as add new product categories.

Phase I

Phase I has proven successful in helping small businesses raise their export competitiveness as well as enter new markets and global value chains. Project beneficiaries started exporting to thirteen new destinations, including the EU, the Middle East and Asia. Thanks to the project, Ukrainian business support organizations gained crucial hands-on experience, allowing them to expand their service portfolio and improve operational capabilities.

Phase II

Phase II of the Swedish-funded ITC project is designed to provide continued support to small businesses in seizing new market opportunities by enabling them to produce goods according to market demands. It will also strengthen the capacity of business support organizations, allowing them to provide better services to their small business clients.

Phase II takes into account lessons learned during the first project phase as well as other ITC past and ongoing activities in the country, feedback from national stakeholders and demand expressed by the beneficiaries including private business, regional authorities, and sectoral BSOs.

Tobias Thyberg, Ambassador of Sweden to Ukraine, said that his country was looking forward to the implementation of the second phase of the project. ‘Based on the positive results achieved in the first phase and with a view to ensure sustainability of the created impact, Sweden has committed to continue supporting Ukrainian SMEs throughout the Phase II of the existing project, implemented by ITC’, he said.

Ashish Shah, ITC’s Director for Country Programmes, expressed his appreciation to the Government of Sweden for its generous support to SMEs and the trust extended to ITC in implementing the second phase. He highlighted, that in the current circumstances when the COVID-19 pandemic is destroying livelihoods and economies throughout the world, ‘we need to remain united in extending support to MSMEs who are in urgent need to help bail them out of this difficult situation and the MSMEs in Ukraine are no exception’. He added that ‘this project therefore comes at a very timely moment as it will allow us to provide support to MSMEs in Ukraine and help them recover from the pandemic’.

Viktoriya Ostroumova, President of the Kherson Chamber of Commerce and Industry said: ‘We are grateful to the ITC project for practical assistance to the businesses of the Kherson region. For many enterprises the Project became an excellent opportunity to declare themselves on the world market and look more confidently into the future. Furthermore, the chance to meet and learn from highly professional international experts is invaluable and helps to increase the competitiveness of Ukrainian companies. The ITC project has done a lot to promote the fruit and vegetable and processing industry of Ukraine, and the Kherson Chamber of Commerce and Industry is ready to continue to actively work with the Project for the benefit of the enterprises of the Kherson region’.

Natalia Sudarkina, who represents Agro Patriot – one of the project beneficiaries companies, thanked Sweden for their support and said: ‘The ITC project is a window to Europe, a window to the world. It helps to understand how competitive your product is in foreign markets, and if it is not, what needs to be changed’. She further highlighted that four years ago her company was exporting only to Canada, but today, thanks to the ITC project, they have expanded their export to another eight countries. She added: ‘Such projects are really needed in Ukraine. They are truly efficient’.

About ITC – The International Trade Centre is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

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