Gennadiy Chyzhykov, President of the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has been working since day one to keep Ukraine’s private sector alive.
It has been three months since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine brought devastation on the country, its people and its economy. Since the conflict’s onset, ICC has mobilised its global network and built historic collaborations with strategic partners to protect lives and livelihoods, support humanitarian efforts and promote business continuity and economic resistance.
As the humanitarian situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate, the attrition of Ukraine’s productive capacity is causing alarming cascading effects to the country’s economy and beyond. With the blockade of Black Sea ports in the south and the havoc caused to industry in the east, the war-torn country’s economy is on course to contract by almost half this year.
A recent survey by the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry indicates that 30% of businesses have completely closed their activities since early March—while a further 45% are operating at severely reduced levels of output. Trade capacity has also been reduced by an estimated 70%, with key maritime trade routes in the Black Sea unsafe for navigation—limiting the capacity of businesses to generate essential export revenues. Based on current trajectories, direct losses alone could amount to over US$500 billion.
In this context, we spoke with Gennadiy Chyzhykov, President of the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who has been working since day one to keep Ukraine’s private sector alive.
What is the situation like for businesses and business owners in Ukraine?
I am in awe of Ukrainian entrepreneurs. My appreciation and respect for their resilience grow each day. I admire their courage and their devotion to their country, as well as their ability to keep their businesses afloat in such difficult conditions. They are true entrepreneurs! It’s mind-blowing, but despite the obvious stressful circumstances, 60% of Ukrainian business owners have found ways to help the army and citizens of Ukraine.
History is moving by leaps and bounds at the moment, and we are witnessing in real-time the economic transformation of the second-largest country in Europe. This is a unique experience. Economic chains and logistics are changing, production is being relocated…
What does this mean for you as president of Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry?
My personal challenge is to champion and help the entire UCCI network go through this unique and challenging transformation phase by limiting the negative impacts on people and businesses. After the war is over, we’ll be rethinking the new role of the chambers in the modernised economy of Ukraine. Beyond that, I am also working to speed up the digitalisation process of the Chamber.
In what state are regional chambers across Ukraine?
The regional chambers are in varying operational states. Some are working full time, and others, located in those severely impacted regions, have just started to rebuild their activity, which of course will take a long time. All that being said, we believe in our victory. We believe in the rapid economic recovery of most regions, especially along the EU’s borders.
With the support of our European partners, we will be able to support Ukraine’s businesses. I am very much appreciative of the communication with the leaders of European and International chambers. My goal is to involve them as much as possible in the rebuilding of the Ukrainian economy in general and in supporting the UCCI system.
What urgently needs to be done to restore Ukraine’s economy?
Ukraine remains a substantial European market with a population of 35 million. Business activities continue on two-thirds of the territory. The world’s leading economies support Ukraine. If we manage to preserve and protect the industrial capacities of the south and east, to involve the allies in reconstruction, Ukraine will set an example of historically unprecedented growth.
But to pass this difficult stage, we first need to unblock the logistics chains, which is the number one issue for business today. Once we’ll have unlocked ports and established new supply chains, the export and import operations will be restored. Working in this direction will bring us closer to peace.
How responsive has the international business community been so far?
We are grateful to the EU and especially ICC for the incredible level of solidarity with Ukraine. We appreciate and value being a part of the ICC team. We’ve felt strong support from ICC since the very beginning of this war. Every week we have calls, we receive informational support and, crucially, programs aimed at supporting our regional chambers via different sources.
The ICC has worked closely with the European Commission and supports Ukraine with powerful statements of solidarity on sanctions, and by helping solve the problem of blocked agricultural products in the southern part of Ukraine, to name a few. Together we can build a prosperous and safe Europe.