A businessman has founded a group so that Irish businesses can be “at the forefront” of efforts to rebuild Ukraine.
Following the Russian invasion of the country, Ukraine’s economy is forecast to shrink by 45% this year alone. Buildings have been flattened, young families have fled, soldiers and even Holocaust survivors have been killed by Russian bombs. Even if a peace agreement is soon agreed, the country is expected to endure many years of hardship as it rebuilds.
John O’Connor, founder of O’Connor International, recently visited Kyiv and came away impressed at the stoicism of the locals and determined to help it get back on its feet.
The result is Úcráin Nua - Irish for New Ukraine - and he is urging businesses across the island to get in touch:
“The idea is that that will act as a business bureau for Irish companies predominantly,” he explained to The Pat Kenny Show.
“Although funnily enough the first company will probably be an Argentine one which has got a lot of Irish investors in the biofuel area.
“It’s quite difficult to set up in Ukraine now and it’s okay if you’re one of the really big boys. You can go in and get organised and sit there for a couple of years without any deal flow and just eat the costs.
“But if you’re a midsized company, that’s hard to do and there’s quite a lot of bureaucracy.
“So what we’re offering is a one stop shop. So if you want to take part in this restoration and you want to be there now because the Ukrainians will be aware of who is there now and who are the Johnny come latelys who turn up when it’s safe to do.
“So I think it’s important to be there now… and to bring in people behind me who I think have something to offer.”
Mr O’Connor also believes the war presents a huge opportunity for Irish companies as well; in the short-term there are export opportunities for Irish companies who can fill the void left by businesses that are now inoperable because of the war.
Last month the EU announced the end on all import duties on Ukrainian goods in what the bloc described as an “unprecedented” gesture of solidarity through trade liberalisation:
"The EU has never before delivered such trade liberalisation measures, which are unprecedented in their scale: granting Ukraine zero tariff, zero quota access to the EU market," Valdis Dombrovskis, EC executive vice-president and commissioner for trade, said.
The decision is also a significant milestone in the bloc’s efforts to fast track Ukraine’s application for EU membership.
Main image: Mariupol, Ukraine. 17th Mar, 2022. Residents seen on the street after emerging from bomb shelters. Picture by: SOPA Images Limited/Alamy Live News