- Interview with Ambassador Olexander Horin of Ukraine in Seoul
By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik with Reporter Ms Sua Kim
It appears that the Republic of Korea and the Ukraine are in for rapid development in the economic and various other fields and this was immediately apparent at a recent interview with Ambassador Olexander Horin of Ukraine in Seoul conducted by The Korea Post media, established 33 years ago in 1985 and now managing and operating 3 English and 2 Korean-language media outlets.
|Incumbent Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman of Ukraine|
At the interview where First Secretary Igor Denissuk for Economic Affairs was also present, Ambassador Horin stated: “I would stress on the positive outcomes of the visit of First Vice-Prime-Minister-Minister of Economic Development and Trade Stepan Kubiv of Ukraine to Seoul last April when our relations were further strengthened by the 4th meeting of the Intergovernmental Ukrainian-Korean Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation in Seoul.”
Details of the interview follow:
|Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko meets with the then President Roh Moo-hyun of Korea in Seoul in December 2006. President Moon Jae-in (then the Presidential Chief Secretary) is known to respect the late President Roh from the bottom of his heart.|
Question: As the Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, please introduce the progress of bilateral cooperation in the economic, political and other areas so far made during your tenure of office in Korea and your view of the outlook of further development between the two countries.
Answer: I would stress on the positive outcomes of the visit of Mr. Stepan Kubiv, the First Vice-Prime-Minister and Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine to the Republic of Korea, in April 2018. During the visit he undertook fruitful talks with Kim Dong Yeon, the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Strategy of Finance of the Republic of Korea, Song Young-gil, Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Northern Economic Cooperation, Kim Young Ju, the Chairman & CEO of the Korea International Trade Association (KITA), Shin Myoung-jin, the Chairman of the Korean Importers Association (KOIMA), as well as with leaders of the flagship Korean corporations. Mr. Kubiv had given extensive interview to “Korea Post”, so the readers are well informed about outcomes of his visit.
|Minister Pavlo Klimkin of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine|
Our relations were further strengthened by the 4th meeting of the Intergovernmental Ukrainian – Korean Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation, held in Seoul under chairmanship of Maksym Nefyodov, First Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine, and Yan Kang-hyeon, Deputy Minister for Economic Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea. During the meeting, counterparts discussed a number of steps to boost bilateral cooperation in the fields of trade and investment, industrial production, energy, transport and infrastructure agriculture, SME support, IT, healthcare and tourism.
|Minister Stephan Kubiv of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine|
We also appreciate KITA’s assistance in organizing 6th Ukrainian-Korean Economic Forum focused on potential of bilateral interaction in the field of renewable energy, infrastructure development, and agriculture.
Here is an example, which proves good development of our cooperation. In July 2018, Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Korea announced its decision to issue multiple entry visas for skilled workers from 4 countries, including Ukraine. We are expecting further easing of visa regime for Ukrainian citizens because Korean citizens, as you know, do not need a visa to visit Ukraine since 2006. We hope that Korean authorities will take into account unilateral abolishment of visa requirements for Korean nationals and good will of Ukrainian side in legalization of ethnic Koreans, originating from Central Asia, in Ukraine.
|Ambassador Olexander Horin of Ukraine in Seoul emphasizes the importance increased cooperation between Korea and his country in the economic and various other areas, especially the science and technology where his country is very strong.|
Q: What is the current volume of bilateral trade, and its outlook in the next 12 months?
A: According to Ukrainian statistics, bilateral trade turnover in goods comprised US$275.85 million in the first 5 months of 2018, with 69.6 million trade surplus in favor of the ROK. With improved purchasing capacity of Ukrainian customers, Korean export to Ukraine is growing for the second consecutive year and made impressive 35% up since the beginning of 2018.
We don’t foresee any major changes in this tendency during the next year. Positive shifts in increasing trade volume are expected with the opening of Korean market for high-quality Ukrainian food and agricultural products, which are now highly competitive at the European market. Let me just mention that Ukrainian food and agricultural export to the EU countries in 2017 grew by 37.1% and comprised US$ 5.8 billion. In this context, we hope that Korean authorities will soon finalize certification procedures for dairy and poultry products originating from Ukraine.
|Ambassador Horin of Ukraine (left) is interviewed by Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post.|
Q: What are the areas in your country where you want Korean companies to invest in and what are the areas where you wish your businessmen to invest in Korea?
A: According to Ukrainian statistics, Korean investment in Ukraine currently comprise only around US$200 million. We don’t see any reasonable explanation for such overcautious approach of Korean business.
Certainly, ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine is major risk factor, but with unanimous international support of the territorial integrity and stability of Ukraine, we witness optimistic mood among global investors. According to Bloomberg, Ukrainian Equities Index was world best performing in 2017, advancing by 80%. This is a remarkable turnaround from 2015, when the Ukrainian Equities Index had almost 60% loss.
Ukraine’s participation in deep and comprehensive free trade agreement with the European Union, as well as ongoing cooperation program with the International Monetary Fund, are also adding to investors’ confidence.
|Ambassador Olexander Horin of Ukraine is flanked by Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media on the left and First Secretary Igor Denissuk (Economy) of Ukraine who had a lot of work to do to substantially increase and promote bilateral economic cooperation.|
Retail business, agriculture, solar and wind energy, IT and infrastructure are considered by experts to be among the most promising investment fields in Ukraine.
Concerning possible Ukrainian investments into Korean projects, I would look attentively at IT startups, while both countries excel in IT solutions and face new opportunities and challenges posed by the ongoing 4th Industrial revolution.
Q: Who are the Korean companies actively contributing to the economic cooperation between the two countries?
A: Korean SMEs need comprehensive assistance in exploring Ukrainian market. KOTRA’s office in Kyiv is doing great job in this regard, but further sustained efforts to match entrepreneurs of both countries are required. We proposed KOIMA and KITA to consider organizing business missions to Ukraine in order to promote B2B contacts.
Business potential in the fields of trading, logistics, IT startups, consumer goods production, cosmetics, and restaurant business is still largely untapped.
|Ambassador Olexander Horin of Ukraine (left) with Reporter Ms. Sua Kim who took part in the interview.|
Q: Korean business leaders as well as the FTAs want rest and recuperation. What are the attractive tourist destinations of your country?
A: Ukraine is currently experiencing a rethinking of its tourist attractions. If you open travel guides about Ukraine "Awesome Ukraine (Kyiv/Lviv/Odesa)" it will no longer be a guide for churches, monasteries and opera houses. Although Ukraine truly has a vast geography of incredibly beautiful holy places and very affordable theaters – this is not the only thing that may be interesting to the tourist. The era of the construction of industrial objects is equally impressive with its heritage, sometimes tragic, but it only adds a desire to learn more about the sad pages of Ukrainian history. And this is not just about the Chornobyl exclusion zone. Large industrial cities can be no less interesting than the cozy streets of old towns of Kyiv and Lviv, or the castles of Kamyanets-Podilsky and Khotyn.
Green tourism in the south of the country (Kherson region, which is often called fruit basket of Ukraine), and in the Carpathians – among the tranquil beauty of Ukrainian mountains – are other destinations for curious Korean tourists.
Cultural events you should not miss are exhibitions and festivals all year long at the Mystetsky Arsenal in the capital city of Kyiv, Odessa International Film Festivals (OIFF) and Kyiv International Film Festival “Molodist”, “Docudays UA” – the human rights documentary film festival in Ukraine, Odessa Jazz festival and Leopolis Jazz festival (Lviv), Ukrainian Fashion Week and many others. And remember: Koran citizens don’t need a visa to visit Ukraine!
Q: Please introduce in full the National Day of your country.
A: Ukraine has a long history on its way to become an independent state. It was a part of Russian Empire, we thought to get independence after First World War. However, Ukraine became a part of the USSR. After collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 due to the failed putsch in Moscow, Ukrainian Parliament – Verkhovna Rada – on 24th of August 1991 adopted a Declaration on Independence of Ukraine. Ukrainian people later approved this Declaration by the referendum on 1st December 1991 when more 90% voted for it.
Since, we celebrate our Independence Day every year on 24th of August and we do it not only in Ukraine but also everywhere in the world, in every country where Ukrainian citizens are present.
Q: 2. Please introduce the Head of Government of your country in full, including his/her family and hobbies.
A: In Ukraine, we have posts of Head of State (President) and Head of Government (Prime-Minister).
Ukrainian President Mr. Petro Poroshenko was elected in 2014 by over 54% of votes for 5 years. He actively supported the protesters during 2014 Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity widely known as “Euromaidan”. According to the Constitution, the President of Ukraine is the guarantor of state sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
During past 4 years after the Revolution of Dignity President Poroshenko implemented in Ukraine more reforms by scale and depth then in the course of its whole independence. A large number of these reforms were integrally linked with implementation of IMF programs, Ukraine-EU Association Agreement, achieving very demanding criteria for visa-free regime with the EU. President reset the national police as well as judiciary system and his efforts are aimed to fully launch anti-corruption system in the country. As a result, Ukraine took 6th rank in the Compliance Complexity Index 2018 among countries with easiest jurisdiction for corporate business.
Since April 2016 Government of Ukraine is headed by Volodymyr Groysman – a young and energetic statesman, who has a background of reform-oriented Mayor of Vinnytsia City, effective Vice-Prime Minister and Chairman of the Parliament of Ukraine.
While in Prime-Minister`s office he managed to improve socio-economic situation. Ukraine`s GDP growth comprised 2,5% in 2017 and is expected to reach 3,5% in 2018. Ukraine scored 76th in Doing Business – 2018 rating, improving its position from 83rd in 2016. In August 2017, Moody`s agency has upgraded the Government of Ukraine's local and foreign currency issuer and senior unsecured ratings to Caa2, and changed the rating outlook from stable to positive.
Groysman`s government adheres to the path of reforms with a number of new policies being introduced to revitalize the economic system. As the most remarkable achievements experts point out marketization of gas price, decentralization and substantial increase of local budgets, healthcare and education reforms, increasing minimal salary and pension, large-scale road renovation and building, launching transparent state procurement and tender system, as well as introducing e-declaration for all public officers.
Association agreement with the EU, offering free trade and visa free travel for Ukrainian citizens is providing new opportunities for Ukraine`s further integration into common European economic and cultural space.
Q: Please add whatever other details that we might have left out from our questionnaire.
A: What do Koreans know about Ukraine? Perhaps, some still remember a breathtaking triumph of a Ukrainian athlete Sehii Bubka at 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. Those into football probably know Andrii Shevchenko, a “Golden Ball” winner and legendary striker for Milan and Chelsea. Some Koreans probably think of Ukraine as a mysterious country in Europe, with the most beautiful women in the world.
Of course, there is a lot more to Ukraine waiting for Korean people to discover. Take, for example, Ukrainians’ constant aspirations to reach far beyond Earth. Starting with George Gamow, born in Odesa, who proposed a physical model of the Universe origins known as the “Big Bang,” and continuing with a first turbo-jet engine that was developed by a Ukrainian scientist Arkhip Lyulka from Kyiv Polytechnic Institute.
Ukraine has always been at the forefront of the world’s most cutting-edge airplane and space program efforts. Everyone in the world knows about a titanic Antonov‑225 Mriya airplane, originally developed for the space program. The airplane can lift record-breaking 253,800 kg and is nowadays used for super heavy cargo transportation.
Another Ukrainian who truly deserves recognition as a front-runner of human space exploration is Sergei Korolev. Born and grew up in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, Korolev is sometimes referred to as the “father of modern astronautics.” He engineered and made possible the launch of the first satellite Sputnik, as well as the first human being in space.
Down on Earth, Ukrainians worked hard to advance humanity into technological era. Numerous fundamental discoveries in physics, mathematics, medicine, electronics have been made by Ukrainian scientists. Ukrainians have pioneered in computers industry, both hardware and software. MESM, the first computer in Europe, was built in Kyiv in 1948. As computers became more popular, Ukrainians made technology more accessible for people. For example, Ukrainian company PocketBook is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of electronic readers based on the E Ink (“electronic paper”) technology. World-famous software companies, such as PayPal and WhatsApp, and many others, have Ukraine-born founders.
But what if we turn around, and explore what does an average Ukrainian know about Korea? One of Four Asian Tigers, the Miracle on Han River, the home of world-famous innovators such as Samsung, Hyundai, LG, and global events such as 2002 FIFA World Cup and Winter Olympics 2018. Perhaps, considering that Ukraine’s national football team did not qualify for 2018 FIFA World Cup, many Ukrainians will cheer for the Korean national team. Ukrainians welcome and enjoy Korean traditional culture, its food, music, fashion and architecture. Popular Korean restaurants in Kyiv serve authentic Korean food and drinks. K-Pop stars visit Kyiv for concerts, gathering huge crowds. Ukrainian TV channels broadcast Korean drama for Ukraine’s 45 million strong audience. Kyiv residents spend their weekends at a recently opened Korean traditional garden, immersing themselves into a Korean spirit.
Ukrainians know that the advances of Korean society are hard-earned. Thanks to the unbreakable spirit of the Korean people, the country could fight Japanese occupation and communists, rising from the ashes of Korean War into one of the most developed countries in the world. Ukrainian people can relate to Korea, because they also suffered from occupation by its powerful neighbor.
Korean media have echoed the news from Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. The government of the Republic of Korea expressed serious concerns over these developments in Ukraine, and stated that Korea will not recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea (2014.03.19 MOFA Spokesperson’s Statement on the Situation in Ukraine).
Clearly, in the age of information technology warfare, the so-called “hybrid wars,” it requires insurmountable amount of efforts and collective stand up to the aggressor. Take, for example, the spread of “fake news.”
Everybody knows that Yuzhnoye design office and Yuzhmash, world’s leading manufacturers of space rockets, are in a full compliance with the Missile Technology Control Regime. The companies have a long standing and well-documented history of directly supporting the US government efforts in non-proliferation since the 90’s. Also, the European Vega light-class launch vehicle was made in Ukraine, and was successfully launched from the Kourou Space Centre (French Guiana) on Aug. 2 delivering two satellites for the Israel Aerospace Industries into orbits. Since the Vega program began, Ukraine has helped deliver 25 satellites into space, for 19 customers. In fact, just on Nov. 12, Yuzhnoye and Yuzhmash helped launch a modernized launcher “Antares” from the Space Flight Facility on the Wallops Island, Virginia, successfully delivering cargo to the International Space Station.
Twenty-five years ago, in 1992, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea was opened in Kyiv. Soon after, the Embassy of Ukraine began its activities in Seoul. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between our states, we have made considerable efforts to build deep cooperation in areas of mutual interest.
Air and Space
As already mentioned, Ukraine is famous for its aerospace engineering industry, as it possesses a full cycle of aerospace hardware engineering and production. At the same time, Korea aspires to become a space nation, and recently succeeded in its advance into space. In fact, Korea Aerospace Research Institute and Yuzhnoye design office have already cooperated on the launch services: From 2013-2015, Dnepr rockets successfully delivered Korean satellites to orbit.
Another legendary Ukrainian airspace company is Antonov. The company has designed over 100 passenger, cargo and special purpose airplanes, with over 22,000 of them used by 55 countries around the world. With more than 70 years of experience in airplane design, engineering, manufacturing, sales and even operation, it is ready to work with Korean partners to open a new era in aviation. Co-developing a brand-new NATO-compliant An-148 marine patrol airplane, and even delivery of super large cargo using record-breaking An-124 “Ruslan” and An-225 “Mriya” -- all of these opportunities are fully available to Korea. In addition, in order to fully replace Russia-produced parts of its An-148, An-158, An-132 and An-70 airplanes, Antonov is open to consider Korean-manufactured parts and systems for its products.
For over 70 years Ivchenko-Progress design bureau is developing and manufacturing aviation gas turbine engines for a wide range of purposes and applications, such as ground use or aviation. The scientific and technical potential and experimental research complex of Ivchenko-Progress SE allows developing turbo-jet engines of various types with a thrust of 500-50,000 kilonewtons and a power of 300-15,000 horsepower. The company is open to cooperation with Korean partners who are interested in turbine engines.
Ukraine has long been called the “breadbasket of Europe” for its fertile black soil, perfect climate and landscapes for agriculture. Korean companies are actively participating in development of Ukraine’s agricultural potential. For example, Posco Daewoo and the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food will jointly upgrade agricultural machines in Ukraine for small and medium farms. The company will also construct grain elevators in Ukrainian ports, as grain exports continue to be a very popular commodity in international markets. The potential of Ukraine’s agriculture, however, is far from being fulfilled, so Korean agritech and agriculture companies are more than welcome to explore possibilities in Ukraine and take advantage of world’s most fertile soils.
Korean companies are successfully developing and selling their products in Ukraine. For example, Samsung Electronics operates an R&D center that employs more than 1,000 Ukrainians. Ukraine, on the other hand, is a leading software engineering country, with total market value over $2 billion. Ukrainian software engineers are among the best in the world. This year, Korean National IT Promotion Agency selected Ukrainian-founded Cards out of over 1,500 worldwide for “K-Startup Grand Challenge 2017,” a governmental support program. Cards is developing “andCards,” a software service that helps foster networking culture and build community at coworking centers.
The time has never been better to invest into Ukraine, and to cooperate with the Ukrainian companies. Asian investors have already been actively investing into Ukraine. For example, Japanese electric equipment manufacturer Fujikura is already opening its second factory in Ukraine. Chinese construction companies are building ports and metro lines all around Ukraine. Various Chinese companies already invested over $7 billion into Ukraine.
Tempered by the past, both Korea and Ukraine are emerging as a new type of nations: more united, competitive and creative. Passionate about technology, and rooted into tradition, both countries can combine their best achievements of past and present to reach extraordinary heights. The time has come for Korean businesses and investments to come to Ukraine, to work with Ukraine, and to create new growth engines between our countries.
Kim Sua firstname.lastname@example.org