Q: Why should investors consider coming to Donetsk Oblast?
A: Industrial production in Donetsk Oblast represents 21% of Ukraine as a whole, 10% of the country’s population lives here and 22% of Ukrainian exports come from here. We are deeply integrated into the international economic space. But there is a problem we have to address; we are fourth place in Ukraine when it comes to the number of the new investment projects launched [in the past eight years]. Given our potential I believe we should be the first.
Q: What are the main reasons behind the fact that Donetsk Oblast is not attracting more investments?
We are still an old industrial region. The main pillars of our economy are metallurgy, coke chemistry and coal. We also have machine-building operations, but these are often associated with the sectors just mentioned. Naturally, we also have to admit that there are problems with bureaucracy, and the mixing of capital and politics, but we are working to tackle such issues.
A: If you look at the map, our region looks like the palm of an open hand. That can be seen as a symbol: we are open for business. For that reason, the Agency for Investment and Development of Donetsk Region was launched [earlier in 2012]. Thanks to that agency, entrepreneurs can be assisted when they encounter problems during the investment process.
Q: What sectors, other than heavy industry, are potentially interesting for foreign businesses?
A: Given that we have 2 million hectares of arable land, agriculture would be one such sector. Also potentially interesting is investment connected with environmental issues, such as the cleaning of rivers, drainage and the building of water treatment facilities. These would also benefit the development of tourism, which is another promising sector here. In terms of tourist attractions, we have the Sea of Azov to the south and forests in the north. The north attracts tourists already and could provide year-round demand from tourists. But there, too, investment is needed.
In addition to that, we are an important destination for sports. We successfully hosted matches during the 2012 European Football Championships and I think that Donbass Arena, our stadium, is the best in Europe.
What about software and IT?
Again, I think we have great potential here, but it is not fully realised. We have Donetsk National University, a major academic institution, and Donetsk National Technical University. Some of our students receive international recognition. But there is a need for a site where our IT specialists could work without the need to seek job opportunities abroad.