By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik with Reporters Kim Jung-mi, Sua Kim
Ukraine is eager to further increase bilateral cooperation with Korea, especially in the economic field. And President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine has already extended his invitation to President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea to visit his country at a time convenient to the Korean President. This was disclosed by First Vice Prime Minister (FVPM) Stepan Kubiv of Ukraine at a recent interview with The Korea Post media in Seoul.
Speaking at an exclusive meeting with The Korea Post media on April 24, 2018, FVPM Kubiv (concurrently the Minister of Economic Development and Trade) said, “Election of Mr. Moon Jae-in as the President of the Republic of Korea was very warmly welcomed in Ukraine, that on that occasion President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine in his congratulatory letter to President Moon expressed his confidence that under his leadership Korea will continue to pursue the path of intensive economic development, strengthening stability and social harmony and that the Ukrainian-Korean relations will continue to develop dynamically for the benefit of the two peoples. “This is the consolidated position of the Ukrainian government,” he said.
FVPM Kubiv then stated: “The President of Ukraine invited President Moon Jae-in to pay a visit to Ukraine at a time convenient for him. Ukraine would welcome such a visit, especially since it would be the first visit of the President of the Republic of Korea to our country since the establishment of diplomatic relations between our states in 1992.”
FVPM Kubiv discussed a wide range of topics at the exclusive interview with The Korea Post media, established 33 years and now owning and operating five major media outlets, 3 in English and 2 in the Korean language. Details of the interview follow:
Question: What is the purpose of your visit to Korea this time? Please elaborate. Answer: There are two parts of the visit I would like to point out.
The first one is my official visit as the First Vice-Prime Minister of Ukraine to Korea and the second part is the holding of Ukrainian-Korean Economic Forum organized by the Korea International Trade Association and the 4th meeting of the Intergovernmental Ukrainian-Korean Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation.
The first part of the visit embraced the meeting with Korean top officials. During the meeting with Mr. Kim Dong Yeon, the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Strategy and Finance of the Republic of Korea, the Memorandum of Understanding on the Knowledge Sharing Program (KSP) was signed. Also I had an interesting conversation with Mr. Song Young-gil, Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Northern Economic Cooperation.
This year’s business forum was the sixth in a series of similar bilateral events and was significantly expanded to provide a good opportunity for business initiative and presentation of the potential of Ukrainian market. Economic forum, business and governmental meetings signaled about new perspective fields of interaction between Ukraine and the Republic of Korea. These are the aerospace and aircraft industry, renewable energy, infrastructure projects, agro-sector, finance and investment, IT and start-ups.
Mentioning the KSP program, we would like to stress several basic points: the knowledge dissemination program; the digital economy development policy, Korean experience in digital infrastructure; the development and promotion of small and medium-sized businesses; the Korean Sinmungo experience as an important milestone of regulatory reform; healthcare reform, telemedicine; stimulation and modernization of Ukrainian economy, formation of economic hubs.
Talking about economic hubs we mean clustering innovations and advanced technologies with Ukrainian industrial power to produce and export goods for European, Asian and African markets. Ukraine is well-known for its IT industry and IT workforce potential. We have about 5,000 IT firms with more than 100,000 highly skilled employees. Kyiv, Kharkiv and Lviv Polytechnics have already signed agreements with Korean companies in the field of IT.
Q: What are the prospects of cooperation between small and medium-sized Korean businesses powerful for new markets?
A: The Ukrainian authorities consider Korean experience as very important for us. This is about the environment for private entrepreneurship, support system for small and medium-sized businesses, exploring foreign markets, diversification of risks. How to make quick reorientation to the needs of the market? How to get a micro-credit in easier way, how to attract investment position and the last but not the least--how to foster innovations through the financing of start-ups. All these are the questions that our government is trying to answer.
Q: How can you invite or acquaint Korean businessmen with Ukraine?
A: We have just agreed with the Korea Importers Association that our Ministry and the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce will continue to cooperate. Important thing for businesses is visiting specialized exhibitions in the field of tourism, agro industry, IT, medical sector.
Another level of communication is trade missions. Also our embassies are interacting very well, respectively, with the Ukrainian and Korean authorities. Moreover, due to the presence of Korean ethnic minority, the Korean culture is well known in Ukraine and resonates with the sentiments of Ukrainian people.
Q: How large is the ethnic Korean communication in Ukraine?
A: In the south of Ukraine there are around 34 thousand of them. They are mostly engaged in small and medium agricultural business. For them it is usually a family business, or several families join efforts together. They are hard-working people who remember their homeland, and preserve their culture and identity.
Q: What system of government is in Ukraine?
A: We have formally a parliamentary-presidential republic. There is a parliament that acts as a legislative body and forms the government. The President is the head of state, responsible for foreign policy, national security and defense, and also outlines the main state strategies. He is a guarantor of the Constitution and statehood who is directly chosen by the people. Mr. Petro Poroshenko won the Presidential election in the first round after receiving more than 54% of votes. The government is an executive body that deals with the economy, social standards, retirement bloc, manages issues of scientific potential and other resources of the state.
Q: What are the duties and responsibilities of the Prime Minister?
A: The Prime Minister is the head of the executive branch of the government.
Q: Who is the main state executive, who carries out the daily government administration?
A: The President and the Parliament are directly elected by people, and the Prime Minister and the government are elected by the parliament, with the presidential nomination. Our system of government is close to French one.
Q: Now what is the general trade turnover between Ukraine and Korea?
A: The last year turnover was 637 million. During 2 months of this year for it has grown by 25%. Why has the turnover between our countries dropped since 2014?
Four years ago Russia started war on Ukrainian territory. Ukraine has lost 20% of its economy. We lost 7% of our territory. They seized our Crimea, turned it into a military base. They killed 10,000 of our people, 13,000 more were disabled, 1,700,000 people became displaced persons. This is the blatant act of aggression from our neighbor that cannot be trusted anymore.
Most of the world shown solidarity with Ukraine and we are thankful to Korea for support of our state’s sovereignty and independence.
Q: What areas of activity would you like to provide for Korean businessmen to go to Ukraine?
A: Let's look at the big things. These are space, the aviation industry, infrastructure projects, railways, locomotive construction, automobile production, shipbuilding, grain elevators. We talk about ports and logistics.
For small and medium business this is mostly the issue of finding individual segments in agribusiness, IT industry, etc.
Q: How are the small and medium businesses operating in Ukraine?
A: We have a little bit different situation. In our country the small and medium businesses can comprise 20-30-50 people. IT education and development are gaining strong hold on Ukrainian SMEs. This is a software application, cryptography, cyber security, AI. Small enterprises are being formed to produce auto parts, confectionery, or, for example, beekeeping, honey. Ukraine is the second biggest exporter to the EU.
Q: How much is the cost of honey in Ukraine?
A: A kilogram of honey costs 5 dollars. It is linden, floral, acacia and buckwheat. There is a very good business here because honey is sold in large barrels for export, and when you come to a hotel or restaurant, honey is served in small portions, so there is the good added value.
Q: Why do you not export honey to Korea?
A: The question is about opening of Korean market for this type of products. When it is open, then we will do it. The similar questions are about sugar from sugar beets, not sugar cane, exporting wild berries, natural juices. Agricultural products comprise more than 40% of the total Ukrainian export.
Q: What can a Korean tourist see in Ukraine?
A: Ukraine has a very long history. We trace our statehood from IX century AD. Ukraine has a fascinating cultural heritage. Each region has its own distinctive sights of interest. If you drive from East to West it is 1200 km. In the East, culture is more connected with the Cossack warriors value. The ancient Kyivan Rus is still emanating in the city of Kyiv, where you can see St. Sophia`s cathedral, protected by UNESCO, and a number of other spiritual places, temples around which the core of glorious Rus (not Russia!) was built.
In the West of Ukraine you can see European culture that echoes the periods of Austro-Hungarian and Polish domination. Ukrainian culture embraces a culture that has been created and developed for millennia in close connection with European context. There are many fortresses, historical monuments that witnessed intense fighting for our statehood, which was finally restored 27 years ago.
I would also like to add the following:
Ukraine is ready to support the Ukrainian-Korean dialogue at the highest level. And, on behalf of my President, I invited President Moon Jae-in to visit Ukraine. Our President is also ready to come to the Republic of Korea. I also invited Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Strategy and Finance Mr. Kim Dong Yeon to visit Ukraine and it would be a historic visit. It would certainly strengthen our political and economic relations. So I hope that's going to happen.
I personally liked your country very much. The remarkable history, educated and hard-working people, very good people and I think that we have a better future together than separately.
About FVPM Stepan Kubiv of Ukraine:
First Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine.
In the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine since April, 14, 2016, Stepan Kubiv is responsible for macroeconomic stabilization and economic reforms. He oversees the work of Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food. As the First Vice Prime Minister, Mr. Stepan Kubiv is also responsible for Government’s relations with the Parliament.
Mr. Kubiv was born on March 19, 1962, in Western Ukraine.
He majored in mathematics (1984) and finance (2002). Mr. Kubiv also holds a PhD. in Economics (2006).
Before starting his political career in 2012, Stepan Kubiv was one of the most successful top managers in Ukrainian banking sector. He served as a Chairman of “KredoBank” (owned by Polish capital) for 8 years. During his governance, a little local bank became an all-Ukrainian financial institution. Later on Stepan Kubiv became a People’s Deputy of Verkhovna Rada (2012-2014), a Head of the National Bank of Ukraine and a member of Council on National Security and Defense of Ukraine (Feb-June 2014), a President’s representative in the Parliament of Ukraine (2015-2016).