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Ukraine: Battle for a place on the ‘world’s largest construction site’

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Ukraine: Battle for a place on the 'world's largest construction site'In Lviv, Ukraine, far from hostilities, the reconstruction cranes are already at work. Thousands of businesses from around the world are flocking to the country to help rebuild its damaged buildings and infrastructure after the war. Ukrainian officials are talking about “the largest construction site in the world”. The problem is that very few are willing to risk their own funds. Photo Maciek Nabrdalik/The New York Times.

Latvian roofing companies, South Korean trade experts, Danish green fuel producers and carpenters from Austria. Investment firm titans from New York and concrete plant executives from Germany.

Thousands of businesses from around the world are preparing for the possibility of a construction Eldorado, the reconstruction of Ukraine , when the war ends.

Russia is ramping up operations as it enters its second year of war, but the enormous challenge of rebuilding is evident Hundreds of thousands of homes, schools, hospitals and factories were destroyed along with key energy facilities, kilometers of roads, railways and ports.

The human tragedy is inescapable and an incredible economic opportunity, which the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky , has likened to the Marshall Plan , America’s aid program to Western Europe after World War II.

Initial estimates of the cost range from $138 billion to $750 billion. The prospect of this treasure inspires altruistic instincts and entrepreneurial visions, smart strategies, and even opportunism for what the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce calls “the world’s largest construction site”! Zelensky and his allies want to use the reconstruction to connect Ukrainian infrastructure with the rest of Europe.

Ukraine , whose economy shrank by 30% last year, is in desperate need of funds to continue and make urgent repairs .

Aid for long-term reconstruction will depend not only on the outcome of the war but also on the money the EU, US and other allied countries are willing to invest.

And although private investors are being approached, few are willing to risk tying up money with the ongoing conflict.

Ukraine and many European countries have been pushing to expropriate Russian assets abroad, but many are wary of the idea, including officials in the Biden administration.

There will be significant funding from around the world, and businesses want to be part of this effort,” explains Timofey Milovanov, former finance minister and current president of the Kyiv School of Economics.

Over 300 companies from 22 countries have registered to participate in a trade fair for the reconstruction of Ukraine in Warsaw. The meeting is the latest in a dizzying series of events on the same theme, held either in person or virtually.

Last month, at the Davos Forum a packed room in the “House of Ukraine” gathered to discuss investment opportunities. More than 700 French companies flocked to a conference organized by President Emmanuel Macron in December.

And last Wednesday the Federation of Finnish Industries held a day-long online seminar with Ukrainian officials for businesses to show off their sewage treatment plants, transformers and prefabricated houses.

Sergei Chikvats, chief executive of the government-run UkraineInvest, which specializes in attracting foreign investment, is pleased with the interest.

He was in Lviv last week to meet with foreign investors. He did, however, emphasize a critical issue. “Everyone says they want to help rebuild. But do they want to invest their money or do they want to sell goods and services? These are two very different things.”

Source: Kathimerini

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