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Ukraine's Economy: Opportunities and Constraints to European Integration

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Abstract:

This paper looks at the economy of Ukraine from a perspective of its immediate and important EU neighbourhood. It analyses the transition recession, which had been one of the most painful and lengthy among the countries of Eastern Europe, owing to comparably difficult initial conditions. The economy's eventual return onto the path of growth has been attributable to productivity gains based on labour cost efficiency, harder budget constraints for enterprises and favourable price development on international markets, which has caused an increase in export revenue and consolidated the economy's initially weak external position. Nevertheless, numerous setbacks in reform policy and inefficient governance have resulted in the country's disappointing record on FDI, the stock of which per capita is almost negligible compared to more successful transition countries. Because the factors behind the Ukrainian recovery are transitory in nature, and given serious structural constraints on sustainable growth (energy intensity, weak international competitiveness of manufactures), EU-Ukraine Action Plan and the imminent Association Agreement offer a welcome policy anchor. Long-term economic co-operation with the EU and negotiating a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement will determine domestic structural reforms in the near future, enhancing the ability of the economy to react flexibly to internal and external shocks and safeguarding growth over a longer period.

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