The British Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce (BUCC)

  • The British Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce (BUCC)
  • The British Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce (BUCC)
  • The British Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce (BUCC)
Issue 107, December 2017.

The British Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce (BUCC)

The British Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce (“BUCC[1]  brings together British, Ukrainian and international companies and individuals doing business in Ukraine or the UK, including in the City of London, the financial capital of  Europe, the Middle-East and Africa. We provide in-depth information on business, commerce, trade and culture in Ukraine and the UK to assist our members and others interested in business opportunities in Ukraine and the UK, hold regular meeting with interesting speakers and conduct a wide variety of other activities, including those described below.

The BUCC also supports the Commonwealth of Nations, formerly known as the British Commonwealth.

SPECIAL EVENTS

During the past year, we have held a number of special events, such as the following:

Reception and Dinner for the Official Visit of President Poroshenko to the UK. This event was held last April at the Armourers Hall in London between the President and senior officials from his administration and members of the BUCC, at which the President gave an excellent review of Ukraine’s recent achievements to recover from the sharp economic decline resulting from the conflict in eastern Ukraine, resolve the banking crisis, lower inflation, solve the VAT problem, develop the army, etc. A number of potential major new projects for Ukraine were then discussed over dinner, which should significantly benefit the Ukrainian economy (please see photograph above from this event[2]).

Annual BUCC Luncheon in Lviv. The luncheon was held on 23 June this year to open the Lviv Alpha Jazz Festival, in the presence of the Mayor of Lviv, Lviv City and Lviv Oblast officials, BUCC members and Lviv business leaders, at which the Ministry of Infrastructure made a presentation.

Receptions and Dinners with Professor James Rubin for the BUCC’s Tkachenko Art Project. Last month, the BUCC held exhibitions and receptions on the Ukrainian Impressionist artist Mykhailo Tkachenko, to begin with in Lviv, at the Lviv National Museum of Art followed by dinner at the Leopolis Hotel Dining Room, and then in Kyiv, at the Hyatt Hotel Ballroom followed by dinner in the Hyatt’s London Room. Professor James Rubin, one of the world’s leading experts on Impressionism and the author of the principal study of Manet and over 60 other books and important articles (his biography is in Wikipedia), spoke at these events as well as at three leading Ukrainian universities. The exhibition at the Hyatt’s Ballroom specially featured 20 paintings by Tkachenko that are privately held and are not otherwise generally available for public viewing. Professor Rubin is advising the BUCC on its proposed book on Tkachenko (with Korners Art) and on the BUCC’s proposed major exhibition of Tkachenko paintings to be shown in leading museums in Kyiv, London, Paris, New York,  Chicago and Toronto (discussed further below under CSR). (Please see the photograph below from this event.)

Ukrainian Week in London and Ukrainian IT Days in the UK. For 2018, the BUCC is organising Ukrainian Week in London and Ukrainian IT Days in the UK to promote trade, investment and cultural exchange between Ukraine and the UK.

MONTHLY NETWORKING RECEPTIONS

In Kyiv, the BUCC holds its Monthly Reception on the last Wednesday of each month (except in December, when it is mid-month) at leading hotels, restaurants and other interesting venues, like the Hyatt, Fairmont and Hilton. Pictures and short press releases on all BUCC events can be found on our web site (www.bucc.com.ua) and the BUCC Facebook Page.

In 2018, we will also be holding regular meetings in London and Lviv, and later in 2018, in Odesa.

COMMITTEES AND PROJECTS

The BUCC focuses on facilitating the development of major projects to address important needs for Ukraine, such as:

(1)   Brexit. The BUCC’s Brexit Committee is studying how best to react to Brexit (the existing of the UK from the EU) so as to develop further trade between Great Britain and Ukraine when the DCFTA with the EU ceases to apply for the UK. The BUCC believes that because the UK imports more than half of its food, it should be in favor of expanding food imports from Ukraine, unlike the EU which severely restricted such imports in the DCFTA to protect EU farmers. Consequently, as a major food exporter and for other reasons, Ukraine should be a major beneficiary from Brexit.

(2)   Political/Conflict Risk Insurance. Ukraine needs greater availability of political/conflict risk insurance, so that such political/conflict risk does not continue to deter foreign investment into Ukraine. The BUCC’s proposal is based on increasing the level of political/conflict risk insurance available from the World Bank’s MIGA, just as has been done, for the same reason, for the West Bank and Gaza.

(3)   Legal/Judicial Ombudsman. For Ukraine’s judicial reform and anti-corruption programs to actually help protect UK and other foreign investors into Ukraine, Ukraine needs a Legal/Judicial Ombudsman, as was developed by Sweden when corruption in the Swedish courts was a problem in the early 1900s. The BUCC’s proposal would allow all litigants in Ukraine to take court decisions that constitute an abuse of justice to this Legal/Judicial Ombudsman for immediate review, as well as for the judges responsible for such abusive decisions to be investigated for presumed corruption (this would be different from lustration that is not based on the actual judicial misbehavior of judges).

(4)   Port/Rail Container Traffic. The BUCC’s Transportation Committee is focused on its project to facilitate moving containers from Asia through Ukraine to Eastern Europe, the Baltics and Scandinavia. This was a principal focus of the discussions with the President at the BUCC’s dinner for his official visit to London last April.

(5)   Irrigation Farming. The BUCC’s Agriculture Committee is focused on providing for greater irrigation to address the problem that crop yields in southern Ukraine are decreasing due to increasing drought from climate change, which is also making the Oleshky Sands, one of Europe’s largest deserts that is located in Kherson Oblast, even larger and risks damaging soil quality and yields throughout southern Ukraine. In connection with this, the BUCC is working on a proposal to exempt, from the current moratorium on the sale of agricultural land, those sales of land in designated drought destressed areas that are to farmers who commit to spending the required significant amounts on equipment to irrigate this land and which then do so.

(6)   OSBB Project. The BUCC’s Real Estate Committee earlier obtained significant changes to the implementation of OSBB laws and regulations (please see our previous KyivPost article on this[3]). We are now organizing an internet “clearing house” at our website so that (1) different OSBBs can compare their experiences managing their buildings, and (2) details on the relative performance of suppliers of services and goods for buildings and their apartments can be posted for all to see.

(7)   Tourism Promotion. The BUCC’s Tourism Committee promotes tourism between the UK and Ukraine, and is presently aimed at obtaining UK destination tourism PR services for Ukraine and certain Ukrainian cities to show potential UK tourists the excellent sites, restaurants and hotels that Ukraine has to offer.

CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY (“CSR”) PROGRAMME:

The BUCC presently has the following CSR projects:

1. Law Reform. Our law reform/foreign investment protection project to improve Ukrainian legislation is presently focused on (1) curing the problem due to special (and unnecessary) drafting requirements that makes over 60 per cent. of agricultural land leases currently invalid (the BUCC’s proposal to repeal the legislation that caused this problem starting in 2008 was adopted in 2016, so land leases executed since 2016 are valid, but the BUCC’s proposal to prevent land leases executed between 2008 and 2016 from being voided due to this problem still needs to be adopted); (2) curing problems due to certain Ukrainian Supreme Court rulings that a land lease registration can be voided for relatively minor problems (the relevant case law is inconsistent); and (3) correcting the currently proposed draft Limited Liability Law, for example to more appropriately protect minority investors from being coercively removed.

2. Anti-Corruption and Anti-Corporate Raiding Program. Following up on our previous conferences on the British Bribery Act, the Law of Ukraine “On the Prevention of Corruption”, the US FCPA and other anti-corruption laws and their application in Ukraine, we continue to hold meetings and distribute information on compliance with anti-corruption laws. In 2018, we will be holding conferences focused on changes in anti-corruption law compliance practices. We also continue to make proposals to combat corporate raiding, such as to oblige enforcement officials to provide advance notice of most enforcement actions and have prior judicial endorsement for most coercive measures, and to limit or regulate better such actions that may affect the ability of a business to continue its operations.

3. Education: (1) Bringing Foreign LLM Programs to Ukraine. The BUCC is endeavoring to attract UK and certain other foreign LLM programs to law schools at Ukrainian universities, so that more Ukrainian law students have an opportunity to study foreign and international private law relevant to international business transactions. This will help prepare Ukrainian lawyers for situations such as where a foreign law (e.g. English law) governs a cross-border contract, as is so often the case. (2) Scholarships to the UK. We are developing a scholarship programme to send Ukrainian students to study at UK universities for graduate business and law studies. We are presently seeking sponsors to fund scholarships at Cambridge and Oxford.

4. Art Promotion / Ukrainian Impressionism. As noted above, the BUCC is organizing for an exhibition of the paintings of the Ukrainian impressionist Michael Tkachenko to be shown in Kyiv and London, and then in New York, Paris, Chicago and Toronto. Tkachenko in the period 1890-1910 was considered to be one of the leading impressionists in Paris. He had, for example, major exhibitions at the Grand Palais in Paris, and his paintings received medals at major exhibitions. However, after Ukraine was overrun by the Bolsheviks in 1921, he was forgotten by western art historians. The BUCC is leading the project to restore Tkachenko’s reputation as a leading Impressionist, which should thereby generally improve the recognition abroad of Ukrainian artists and of Ukraine.

5. Digitalization Project. We have a project to digitize ancient Ukrainian books held at foreign libraries, to make this part of Ukrainian culture generally accessible digitally to Ukrainians.

SPORTS

We actively promote sports, including cricket and golf (with a programme with the Kyiv Golf Club, Kyiv’s leading golf course).

THE BUCC E-CARD for DISCOUNTS

The BUCC’s new membership E-Card system provides substantial (5% to 50%) discounts for our members at leading restaurants, hotels, shops and other establishments in Kyiv, London, Lviv, Odessa, Kharkiv and elsewhere. (Members should be able to more than cover their membership cost through these discounts.)

JOIN THE BUCC for 2018

To join the BUCC, please contact: Natalia Dobrovolska or Maria Atamanyuk at +38 (044) 490-6000 or +38 (044) 278-1000 or by email to Bate Toms, Chairman, at [email protected].

 

[1] The BUCC was originally established in 1997 by its founders under the auspices of the Ukrainian Embassy in London and the UK Department of Trade and Industry to promote trade and investment between the United Kingdom and Ukraine. Our founder members include AON Group Ltd., B.C. Toms & Co, British Petroleum plc, De La Rue plc, First Ukrainian International Bank, GlaxoSmithKline plc, Procter and Gamble, Shell International Ltd, Thomas and Adamson, Ukraine International Airlines and Unilever plc.

[3] https://www.kyivpost.com/article/content/business-wire/the-developing-crisis-for-the-owners-of-multi-apartment-buildings-in-ukraine-due-to-the-1-july-2016-deadline-for-their-building-management-arrangements-to-be-in-place-411617.html