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Friday, December 18, 2009

U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation Reopens In Ukraine



After 10 years of being closed over an insurance claim dispute, the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has restored its programs in Ukraine.  The December 16 signing of an agreement between the Ukrainian government and OPIC officers will now pave the way for millions of dollars in potential U.S. private sector investment in the country.

“OPIC is pleased to once again make available its support for U.S. investment in Ukraine, a development which we anticipate will send a highly positive signal to prospective investors in the country,” said OPIC Acting President Dr. Lawrence Spinelli. “This historic occasion is indicative of Ukraine’s ongoing efforts to improve its investment climate, and we commend the Ukrainian government for its hard work in bringing about this result. We look forward to working with both U.S. and Ukrainian businesses to facilitate new levels of American investment in Ukraine.”

Vice President Joe Biden said during a prior visit to Ukraine earlier this year, “I was pleased to learn that the government has taken the final decision necessary to bring the Overseas Private Investment Corporation back to Ukraine. That will make it easier for American companies to reinvest in Ukraine, and invest in the first place, which will help both our economies in the current downturn."

OPIC is now able to provide financing and political risk insurance to American companies investing in Ukraine. OPIC has previously provided over $254 million in financing and insurance to 21 projects in Ukraine, in sectors ranging from manufacturing and construction to energy and financial services.

This landmark reopening event can be expected to significantly raise U.S. companies' investment levels and risk appetite for Ukraine, and marks a major inflection point in the investment relations between the two countries over the past decade. But due to the Ukrainian Presidential elections in January (and possible complete government turnover), American obervers remain "cautiously optimistic" about this week's progress and will withhold final celebrations until after the 2010 government is finalized and things become more clear for the December 16 agreement's long-term recognition.

Analysts predict that the agreement will survive the 2010 elections safely, and I certainly hope that this is the case. I will continue to monitor these events as they unfold and report on a rolling basis. 

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