Ukraine begins 2018 with a fairly stable economic and political platform. In comparison with the catastrophic economic downturn in 2014 and the subsequent recession that lasted until the
end of 2015, the economic growth of 2.2% in 2017 looks encouraging.
The first step towards the exit from the permanent crisis is made, but the main complaint to the government of the country remains the fact that this step, comparably on the forecasts, looks rather timid. A large number of reforms has been implemented, but even more changes either stay on paper or go beyond populist speeches from both the authorities and the opposition.
Tax reform, including the introduction of a progressive tax on withdrawn capital, has been discussed for over a year, but concrete steps in this direction have not been made at all. The land market is an electoral nightmare for any politician who is preparing for the new 2019 election season.
The forecast of economic and social development of Ukraine for 2018-2020, approved by the Cabinet of Ministers in May 2017 on the basis of the analytical work of profile ministries, gives us reasons for cautious optimism. For example, GDP growth in 2018 is projected at the level of 1.2-3%. At the same time, according to the forecasts of the International Monetary Fund, the
growth of Ukraine’s economy in 2018 is estimated at 3.2%.
INFLATIONARY KEY FIGURES
The main macroeconomic indicators of the beginning of 2018 indicate a gradual development of the Ukrainian economy. Indicators of inflation expectations, according to the data of the National Bank of Ukraine, in comparison with the period of December 2017, increased by 0.7 units (to 9.5) by February 2018 but already in March they dropped by 0.3 to the indicator at 9.2. These fluctuations are insignificant, but they show a cautious lack of confidence in the further stability of the economic situation in the country. At the same time, the consumer price index, according to the December of the previous year, ranges from 1.1% (alcoholic beverages, tobacco products) to 3.0% (transport) among the main commodity groups. The exception is the product group
«Clothing and footwear», their CPI is -3.9%.
By the side of the last month of 2017, the index of production of basic industries grew by 1.7% from 3.5% to 5.2% in January 2018, indicating an increase in the economic activity of national production for that period. The index of industrial production (compared with the previous month) in January 2018 was 86%, and the index of executed construction works in comparison
with the corresponding period of last year reached a mark of 99%.
The retail turnover of enterprises decreased by 24.8% compared with December 2017 and amounted to 75.2%. At the same time, retail sales in January 2018 amounted to UAH 68,828.4 million, which is UAH 747,725.1 million less than in December 2017. This trend is not a «black swan» of the domestic economy, but only as a result of a certain cluster of factors: the drop in commodity turnover at the beginning of the year and the exhaustion of trade quotas of the European Union in certain categories of Ukrainian goods.
As for the situation in the labor market, the situation did not change significantly: according to the data of February 2018, the unemployment rate is 1.5% (calculated according to the methodology of the State Statistics Service of Ukraine), of which 128.3 thousand young people under the age of 35, and women – 200.5 thousand. However, already in February 2018, in these
categories of able-bodied growth of unemployment was 0.71% (in the category of «youth under the age of 35») and 1.55% (in the category of «women»).
The Independent Association of the Banks of Ukraine (hereinafter – IABU) published its own macroeconomic analysis. According to his data, the growth of industry (as of 26.02.2018) was 3.6%. Regarding individual industries, the data shows the following statistics (in the comparison system «January 2018 – December 2017»):
Industrial growth (main industries)
However, if you choose the system of comparison «January 2018 – January 2017», then we will receive completely different indicators:
Industrial growth (main industries)
Also, in the macroeconomic analysis of IABU, fluctuations of the hryvnia exchange rate to the dollar, which was fixed at 26.96/26.99, were analyzed. Treasury bills of the Ministry of Finance have changed with success. The state bonds for one year was issued for the amount of 233 million UAH, and for a period of three years – 81 million UAH. Also, the Ministry of Finance has invested in the market of bonds of domestic government loans for a period of 3 and 6 months.
BUSINESS ANALYSTS EXPECTATIONS
Analysts expect a further growth of the Ukrainian economy in 2018 with an opportunity to increase the percentage of its growth, but this is possible only with the actions on reforming the country’s economic and tax system and the absence of shocks within the country that could cause doubts to investors and business partners of Ukrainian companies.
Steps such as eliminating local tax inspections and further reforming the corporate governance of state enterprises will greatly heal the Ukrainian economy and make it more attractive to foreign capital.
However, in order to make the 2018th a year of Ukrainian growth, there is still a tremendous amount of bold decisions – from launching a full-fledged land market to a profound reform of the business taxation system.