To mark the launch of regular monthly cooperation between Lviv Today magazine and European Business Association Western Ukrainian branch we interviewed Udo Heine, EBA Western Ukrainian Branch Board Chairman and the CEO of Hotel Leopolis, Opera Passage and Opera Market.
How do you assess business sector development in the Lviv region so far in 2011 and what are your business develop¬ment predictions for 2012?
In general we can expect to see an increase in the volume of business throughout the rest of 2011 and into 2012. This is not solely down to the impact of Euro 2012 on the local economy – it is also a reflection of the general signs of re¬covery which are being registered throughout the Ukrainian economy following a long period of recession. The real im¬pact of the current upswing will only begin to be felt towards the end of 2012 and beyond.
How do you envisage the medium-term development of the West Ukrainian investment environment?
We are still waiting to witness the results of the new Tax Law and to gain a better understanding of how it will affect the development of local business. We must also bear in mind that the nation’s elected officials at both local and national governmental levels have only recently entered office and will need more time to implement their policies. It is safe to say that 2011 and 2012 will be better than 2009 and 2010, but nevertheless access to credit remains very limited for Ukrainian companies and it is difficult to see when this ac¬cess to capital will improve.
In your opinion what role should Western Ukraine play in the broader Ukrainian economy?
Based on my personal experience I can say that West Ukraine should definitely be more active in the promotion of its tourism industry. Lviv City Council and the regional authorities should be looking to dramatically increase their budgets in order to promote Lviv and the Carpathian region to far wider national and international audiences. As well as tourism, we are seeing more and more foreign companies and joint-ventures with international partners choosing Lviv as their Ukrainian base of operations – this trend is particu¬larly evident in the IT sector.
Which business sectors present the most interesting invest¬ment opportunities in today’s West Ukrainian market?
Businesses related to the hotel industry, IT industry, agri¬culture and renewable energies will likely remain among the most interesting for investors for some time.
What 5 steps would you advocate to the Ukrainian authori¬ties in order to improve the business climate in Western Ukraine?
These steps are already well-established and are consis¬tently lobbied by the EBA: the court system reform, the improvements in the system of public administration and other steps which are well outlined in our report: “Barriers for Investments into Ukraine”.
What are the key obstacles facing companies which seek to run successful businesses Western Ukraine?
Major obstacles include the delay in VAT refunds and the long bureaucratic procedures required in order to register and open new companies.
Will Ukraine in general and Lviv in particular be ready due in time to host a successful Euro 2012 tournament?
It looks like everything will be completed in time and you can already see some planning work moving ahead for the Win¬ter Olympic Games in 2022 – certainly many of the features of Lviv’s Euro 2012 preparations including the new inter¬national airport will prove useful when it comes to putting together Lviv’s formal Olympic bid.
What are the biggest benefits of EBA Membership for your company?
EBA is an influential business association in the Western Ukraine and recognition of this status on the part of the regional authorities allows us to enter into dialogue on a level playing field. As well as creating mutually beneficial channels of communication with the regional authorities, another major benefit of EBA membership is the network¬ing opportunities. This is an essential aspect of our EBA membership.
What do you regard as your biggest business success story to date?
Our biggest success is the fact that we survived the global economic crisis period relatively unscathed and were able to keep all our staff on board throughout a very complicated time.
What are your personal recommendations for anyone who wants to be successful in business?
Just get involved in busi¬nesses which you know and understand. Before you begin anything, al¬ways do the necessary research and don’t allow yourself to dream or to over¬estimate your future profits.