On November 8-9, the Congress and Exhibition center "Parkovy" hosted Kyiv International Economic Forum (KIEF). About 2000 participants and 122 speakers from 30 countries attended the event, during which 22 panel discussions took place. The Forum was initiated by the holding company UFuture, led by entrepreneur Vasyl Khmelnytsky. The KIEF is a platform for shaping the economic development strategy of Ukraine. The Forum is aimed at initiating a dialogue between experts, business and government, borrowing the best world experience, creating a “road map” for the development and promoting the conversion of ideas into real.
The main issue of the Forum 2019 is the future in a changing world. From business cases to visionary ideas – the KIEF speakers talked about the imminent changes in the economy due to influence of technology. During the Forum, entrepreneurs, top managers, representatives of international organizations, analysts and company strategists shared their opinions on the key problems of the world and Ukrainian economies as well as their solutions, the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the socio-economic consequences it produces, climate change and its impact on business and society.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky opened the Forum. He called on foreign investors to invest in the Ukrainian economy. Prime Minister Olexiy Honcharuk, who opened the second day of the Forum, said that protecting investors, increasing the volume of foreign investments, counteracting raiding, and deregulation are the key priorities of the new Cabinet of Ministers.
Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group e-commerce platform was a special guest of the Forum. This is his first visit to Ukraine. According to the Chinese entrepreneur, the main task for Ukraine today is to develop the private sector of the economy and support entrepreneurship. Jack Ma believes that, first of all, the Ukrainian government needs to improve the payment infrastructure, Internet communications and logistics. In addition, Jack Ma talked about the reasons why Alibaba Group succeed, where he finds motivation, as well as gave a number of practical tips, starting from how to manage staff, ending with how to educate children. “My secret to success is that I am interested in the future, never give up and trust people”, Jack Ma told the Forum’s participants.
During the Forum, the issue of world trade wars and their impact on the Ukrainian economy was raised. Foreign experts who spoke on the panel “Trade Wars and Their Impact on the International Economy” urged not to dramatize the events, noting that turbulence is inherent in the international economy and the influence of trade wars is far from a decisive factor restraining the growth of the global GDP. At the same time, Ukrainian business speakers called on the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to actively protect domestic producers with protectionist measures in the face of the unfolding of world trade wars.
Moreover, according to the experts, the new global economic crisis is just around the corner, and it will inevitably affect the Ukrainian economy. This was discussed during the panel “2020: The global economic crisis or new opportunities?”. The fact that the global crisis can begin with any sector of the economy, said Vazil Hudak, Vice President of the European Investment Bank. However, Robert Koopman, Chief Economist and Director, Economic Research and Statistics Division, WTO, thinks the main indicator of the crisis is trade situation – if it has declined – the crisis begins. In turn, Managing director at Rothschild, Head of CIS, Giovanni Salvetti, in order to avoid a crisis, advised to attract more long-term investments. Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture in Ukraine Tymofiy Mylovanov is optimistic about the future. The Minister believes that right now the country has formed good prerequisites for entering the trajectory of economic growth. According to him, inflation in Ukraine will fall to 5-5.3% per annum in three years, and annual GDP growth will be 3.3-3.5%.
One of the panels was dedicated to climate change, which is becoming an increasingly important factor in shaping business processes. The relevance of the topic of climate change is due to the fact that the international community has not yet developed adequate mechanisms to counter these processes, and the system of the international law regulating the model of interaction between states, business and society with nature and the technosphere is subject to erosion. The speakers emphasized the fact that climate change prompted states and business corporations to introduce clean technologies, which over time are becoming one of the drivers of the global economic growth.
The issue of energy security of Ukraine was also discussed at the Forum. During the same panel, Minister of Energy and Environmental Protection of Ukraine Oleksiy Orzhel announced a change in the energy strategy of Ukraine and emphasized that the key priority of the Ministry at the moment is the conclusion of a long-term contract with Russia for the transit of natural gas. The speakers also underlined the need to diversify sources of energy supplies to Ukraine, increase own fossil fuel production, and increase green generation in the energy mix.
The organizers of the Forum has not spared the issue of the image and reputation of Ukraine in the international arena. Their promotion is one of the key goals set by the organizers and partners of the KIEF. Reputation in the modern world is actually becoming a new currency, a self-sufficient economic factor that makes an essential contribution to the success of states and business structures at the global level. Nicolas Georges Trad, Chief Operating Officer, Co-founder of Reputation Institute, became a guest of the Forum. He emphasized the need to create a narrative for Ukraine regarding what the country would like to be known in the world. The state should implement image projects more actively, Trad believes. Trad’s thoughts resonate with the ideas of Robert Govers, Chairman of the International Place Branding Association, who conducted the panel “Building the brand of Ukraine together!”. According to Govers, it is necessary to go beyond short-term marketing strategies, and to work comprehensively in all areas to improve the image of Ukraine – from the economy to local activities and presence in social networks.
In turn, Vasyl Khmelnytsky, the founder of UFuture holding company, expressed his willingness to help the new government to improve the country's image in the international arena, increase its investment attractiveness and modernize the Ukrainian economy. According to the businessman, the most important segment of the Ukrainian economy, which must be given a priority, is small and medium-sized businesses. UFuture holding company is developing a business accelerator project aimed at providing comprehensive assistance to small and medium-sized businesses, supporting innovative business ideas. Khmelnytsky calls on large Ukrainian businesses to support such initiatives, which ultimately will contribute to economic growth in Ukraine in the interests of all segments of business and society as a whole. Khmelnitsky emphasizes that businesses should not only strive to increase their own capitalization but to perform a social function as well.
During the Forum, Khmelnytsky also highlighted 5 future trends that will influence humanity transforming the economic and social landscape of the planet. These trends are the development of the Internet of things, urbanization, climate change, robotics, the development of Man 2.0 (whose internal organs can be created by a 3D printer). According to Khmelnitsky, the driver of the modernization spurt for the Ukrainian economy, which will help to reduce the gap with the most developed economies in the world, are talented and educated people. Khmelnytsky gave an example of the Ukrainian IT sector, which is growing by 20-26% per year. At the same time, Khmelnytsky believes, in order to overcome economic backwardness, it is necessary to radically revise approaches to science, education, industry, legislative work, and the fight against corruption.