The situation is a familiar one: a reception for a hundred-plus people is held in the garden of the residence.  After a day of constant summer sunshine, storm-clouds brew.  Thunder rumbles.  Lightning forks down.  But I feel confident that the assembled guests can cope with anything the weather can throw at them.

I've written before about why anyone doing business in Ukraine is a bit of a hero for their ability to cope with what has often been a tough business climate.  So it's good to welcome to the residence members of the European Business Association for a networking event jointly organised by the embassy and the EBA.  Over the course of the evening I discuss with business people and entrepreneurs a range of issues varying from the prospects for expanding the market for English language teaching in Ukraine to the problems of VAT refunds; charity work to help children with HIV; and a range of specific business proposals and problems relating to British businesses in Ukraine.  It's clear there are huge opportunities in many sectors including energy, property development, agriculture and education.  But it's also clear that many business people are not yet convinced that the new government is doing as much as it could to create a business environment which welcomes inward investors and to combat corruption.  I know the EBA intends to keep lobbying on the kind of changes which need to be introduced.  So do I.

Incidentally, an extraordinary thing happened at the reception: an event in the garden at which it almost didn't rain.  After I had pointed this out, however (and one or two people had said that it never rained at events to which they were invited) the Kyiv weather did make a half-hearted attempt at consistency and the towering thunderclouds produced a smattering of raindrops.  Needless to say, this did not affect the continued networking of the assembled business representatives.

Leigh Turner
British Ambassador to Ukraine

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Ukrayinska Dumka


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