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Canada-Ukraine business relations during these turbulent times

milenio stasium - Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce2


A war brings out the worst in human nature and it’s a prof that in the power dispute between countries the ordinary people always ended up losing. The ongoing Russia-Ukraine battle is affecting the whole world and compromising relations between nations at all levels: political, diplomatic, economical, digital, and commercial. In a globalized economy countries depends on each other in many sectors and business relations are more integrated than ever. Canada and Ukraine have bilateral relationship that are strengthened by the large Ukrainian community that live here.

For 30 years the Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce (CUCC) has been working to promote trade and investment opportunities among members in Canada and Ukraine, and foster cooperation between Canadian and Ukrainian public and private stakeholders. The association represents more than 200 companies that do business in the two countries and naturally are dealing with the consequences of this turbulent and dangerous period.

In this interview with Milénio Stadium a representative for the CUCC talks about what the association is doing to help their members that have factories and offices in regions that are under attack, explaining us the assistance and aid for Ukrainian businesses that are currently operating to supply essentials for Ukrainian civilians and the army. Right now, they’re collaborating with other foundations in order to get donations and delivery of humanitarian aid. The CUCC is also concerned about the Ukrainian refugees here in Canada and working with their members and other local businesses to find training and employment for them. What the future holds for mutual business relations between the two countries is also discussed in this interview.

Milénio Stadium: How has the Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce contributed to promoting trade and investment between these two countries in recent years? How is this conflict between Ukraine and Russia impacting your association and your member’s businesses?

Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce: Our main activities involve the organization of trade shows, where companies can present their products, trade missions, through which businesses can find partners in the other country, providing legal and operational consultations for businesses wishing to expand to the other country, and acting as a liaison between businesses and government organizations. Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce has been a strong advocate for Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement, which was signed in 2016 and was taking part in Canada-Ukraine Trade & Investment Support Project, which was launched to promote and facilitate trade between two countries. The unjustified invasion of Russia into Ukraine has been devastating to all of us. Our members have factories and offices in regions that are now being under attack or are occupied by the Russian army. Many companies tried to help their employees move to the west part of Ukraine or Poland, but most of them refused to do so and wanted to stay and help defend their cities. We are extremely busy at the moment trying to help our members and other businesses in Ukraine, lobbying support for Ukraine to the Government of Canada and working with our partner Ukrainian Organizations to provide humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

MS: What kind of help are you offering to companies located in Ukraine with ties or business relations here in Canada? Are they able to keep working despite the situation?

CUCC: During the past few weeks, we provided assistance for those companies wishing to relocate their employees from eastern and central parts of Ukraine. Currently, we provide support to businesses that are still open to supply necessities to the Ukrainian population and army, we also seek Canadian organizations that would like to help these businesses financially or with any equipment that they might need at this time.

MS: What are the most relevant economic losses this conflict is going to represent to this trade partnership between Canadian and Ukraine business relations?

CUCC: It will all depend on how this war will end and if Ukrainian land will be under Ukraine’s flag. Should this happen, and we are all hoping that it will, there will be a lot of damage to infrastructure in Ukraine, it will take years to rebuild the cities and roads that are currently being destroyed. Canada has always been a strong partner of Ukraine, so we believe that the trade partnership between Canada and Ukraine will remain strong and that there will be many opportunities for Canadian investors.

MS: How do you analyse the Canadian government’s response to this conflict: both in the economic area and in refugee assistance? What else can be done?

CUCC: We thank the Government of Canada for all the financial and humanitarian aid to Ukraine and for the sanctions imposed on the Russian government. Below, you will find suggestions for the Government of Canada pulled from our Call to Action: advocate for no-fly zone over Ukraine; provide further military and financial assistance to Ukraine; accept as many of Ukrainian refugees as possible; impose a full trade embargo on trade with Russia; freeze all Russian assets and assets of Russian oligarchs, stop issuing Canadian visas to Russians and cancel existing visas; expel Russian ambassador from Canada and recall Canada’s ambassador from Moscow and block all Russian propaganda media.

MS: In your point of view, what is this conflict going to represent in the future business and trade relations between Ukraine and other nations, such as Canada?

CUCC: From my point of view, all trade relations with Russia and Belarus will be terminated (it’s a very large portion of Ukraine’s trade) and Ukraine will be seeking new partners in European Union, Canada, USA. Ukraine’s business and trade relations with the western world will be stronger.

Lizandra Ongaratto/MS

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