Despite obvious changes for the better, the world has not yet come out of the economic crisis. Positive factors are mixed with risks, and even the most experienced experts do not dare to make exact forecasts. We see certain stabilization in the United States, but the situation in Europe is still alarming. The Greece problem has been finally solved, but markets of Italy and Spain are ready to collapse.

Against such background it would be interesting to talk to experienced foreign economic analysts, especially those, who can take the liberty to say more than a business manager or a state official, for example...a colleague-journalists -  a shark of international economic processes. ForUm has decided to talk to Neil Buckley, Eastern European Editor of The Financial Times.

- What does Ukraine need to pass to the new level of development?

- The key task is to diversify the economy, which is still strongly dependent on post-Soviet structure of industry (metallurgy, chemistry, construction). To carry out such diversification Ukraine needs to attract new foreign investors, which in its turns requires the improvement of the investment climate. The rate of Ukraine's economic development does not keep in scale with the country's size. We all feel that your country does not reach the proper level of economic development.

The amount of direct foreign investments in Ukraine is not bad - $50 billion (for all years of independence), but still it is way less than Poland, Ukraine's partner on Euro-2012, has. However, in 2011 the inflow of foreign investments in the country made 4.7 billion dollars. Let's hope we will see what has been done and what still needs to be done to improve the investment climate.

- Western economists admit that in 10-15 years Ukraine may become one of the countries with booming economies. Do you share such opinions?

- Diversification of economy is exactly what you have to do in order to join the group of countries with booming economies. First Ukraine has to ensure steady economic growth (5-6%) and to create proper business environment not only for foreign investors, but for small and middle businesses as well. For the moment I see that the development of small business in the country is insufficient. People simply do not want to take risks, to be involved into bureaucracy or to face numerous administrative obstacles.

One of the characteristics of BRICS countries is the dynamics of their economies, the rate of growth and speed in doing business and launching new projects. It applies to all levels of business - in China, India, everywhere we see boom. And that is what Ukraine must take into account if it wants to venture upon BRICS.

- Current state of relations between Ukraine and the EU are far from being perfect. How would you estimate it?

- I would not speak in general, but I want to point out that Europe and U.S. can afford now to show tough reaction to certain actions of official Kyiv. The EU does not fear that its strict position can push Ukraine into Moscow's arms. Anyway, the West expressed itself very clearly: if Ukraine intends to ingrate into Europe, the parliamentary elections must be free and fair. There are grounds to believe that European countries will recognize the elections even without participation of certain opposition figures, but only if the rest is transparent and fair.

- What developments can be expected in the world and European economies in 2012?

- The biggest challenge for the world economy is the problem of the Eurozone and the risks of the European crisis. The question is how this factor will influence the global economic dynamics, as US economic results directly depend on European ones. Moreover, the development of all emerging markets directly depends on the situation in Europe's economy, as the latter is the key foreign trade partner.

The situation in the EU is now better than in November-December of 2011 thanks to the stabilization of the situation with Greece. When the European central bank took a number of important steps on reorganization of bank debts and upsurge of liquidity of the financial system, the risks to lose Greece as EU member and other following negative consequences backed off.

- Is it difficult for a Western journalist to work in former USSR countries? And why?

- It's easier to work with business in such countries. Companies from CIS, including Russia and Ukraine, actively develop the communication with the outside world and understand the necessity to work with journalists. The situation is way better than ten years ago. But, unfortunately, the communication with the government, public authorities and state officials is as difficult as before. From my experience I know that the Kremlin and Russian government are still closed for communication with foreign press. Ukraine also has similar problems: the authorities are not loyal enough to foreign journalists. There are problems with accreditation and visas.

Ukraine should send a positive signal to the outside world. Such policy is important not only for the country's image, but also for attraction of foreign investments and development of economy.

- Some words about Russia. What is the current situation in this country?

- At the recent presidential elections the victorious candidate used anti-Western rhetoric, but the West should not sulk with Russia and try to pay back in its own coin. On the contrary, there is a point to offer a hand of friendship and to welcome changes in the society. One of the prior tasks is to involve Russia into international organizations and the global integration system, based on common rules. The West should apply sanctions to officials, who violates human rights and abuse office, but at the same time should deepen ties with those, who support and promote ideas of economic modernization.

The most important is to get in contact with ordinary Russians: to expand the program on academic exchange, to provide the youth with a possibility to study abroad. Simplification of the visa regime for Russian also will be helpful, though Brussels is not in hurry to take corresponding measures and Moscow does not make return moves.

- And speaking about economy?

- Some positive changes are observed in Russia regarding the modernization of industry and development of promising sectors. But in general the economy of the country is tied to feedstocks, and I cannot say that Russian leadership does anything to change the situation. Against such background Ukraine holds better positions: if Ukraine firmly decides to join Europe it will get a "beneficial" access to European technologies and standards. In such a way Ukraine can outrun Russia in development despite all internal difficulties.


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