Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Greetings to participants of the Ukrainian Financial Forum, which traditionally brought together experts in finance and economics from around the world.
Finally, the moment came when we can confidently talk about the light at the end of the tunnel that has now been left behind ... From which we went out into the open space with a broad horizon of development.
Nevertheless, statistics is the main witness that the worst is definitely over in the Ukrainian economy. Having experienced an extremely powerful blow - the war, Russia's aggressive closure of what was our largest market until recently and even the Russian blockade of exports to third countries - we did not just survive, we did not just avoid default ... We laid the foundation for sustainable development.
Tough anti-crisis steps, macro-financial stabilization, easing of tax burden, deregulation, anti-corruption measures, opening new foreign markets, including through the Association and the deep and comprehensive free trade area agreement with the European Union -- all these have cleared the way for our economic recovery.
Gross Domestic Product has been expanding for the sixth consecutive quarters after 14 quarters of contraction. Those signals that we receive from the business circles add confidence that economists are not mistaken in positive forecasts. The survey of companies' top managers, which is conducted quarterly by the National Bank, shows the growth of optimistic expectations - both in terms of the development of the macroeconomic situation and the financial situation of the enterprises. According to a study conducted by the European Business Association, Ukraine's investment attractiveness index finally left the negative territory and became the highest in six years, including pre-war time. Companies surveyed by the same association plan to expand production, increase wages and create new jobs next year.
Moody's raised Ukraine's credit rating. Negative outlook set up in March 2015 gradually changed into positive in August 2017. S&P also confirmed long-term and short-term sovereign debt's credit rating at B/B- with stable outlook.
214 managers from one hundred and fifty four investment companies surveyed by the Institutional Investor's research group put Ukraine first in the list of countries they plan to visit over the next year for investments or to assess investments prospects.
This week the parliament is debating amendments to the procedural codes that will allow the new Supreme Court, formed on a competitive basis, to start its operation. Judicial reform is the main component of our anti-corruption strategy as it is important to protect ownership right. Last week the National Council of Reforms discussed changes to the privatization's legislation. Process of state assets sale will be simplified, transparency will be improved, and there will be such an innovation as an electronic auction.
Exactly a week ago I had an extremely frank and effective conversation with members of leading business associations representing Ukrainian, European and American companies. One of the main topics was the relations between business and law enforcement agencies. We agreed to create a fundamentally new Financial Intelligence Service, which will have the sole right to investigate economic crimes.
I take the Association Agreement as our road map for reforms. This big document is my handbook. But our ambitions go much further. The Ukrainian side has already submitted new initiatives on strategic vision for long-term cooperation to the EU's leadership. They envisage joining the EU Customs Union, the EU Energy Union, the Joint Aviation market and the Single Digital Market.
Implementation of these ambitious initiatives will actually transform the eastern borders of Ukraine to the eastern borders of the European Union even before we de-jure join the EU. As a result of this strategy, we will be as close as possible to the criteria for the European Union's membership. Ukraine will integrate into the EU, almost like any other country in the European Union. I think these are important benchmarks for your long-term business planning. So, prepare your money and come first to the country, which we observe to be part of a single European market....