SECRETARY PRITZKER: Mr. President, thank you very much for your warm introduction and for your warm welcome to our delegation. It’s a pleasure to be back in Kyiv, and I am honored to be with you today.
In September 2014, at President Obama’s request, I traveled here to discuss how the United States can support Ukraine’s ambitious economic reform agenda and how this country can create a level playing field for all businesses. Those discussions helped pave the way for our deepening economic cooperation and the passage of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau through the Rada less than two weeks after our visit – a powerful and positive signal to outside investors and the United States.
Since that time, under your leadership, Mr. President, your country has continued to make progress to improve the business climate, strengthen governance and competition, tackle corruption, repair the financial sector, and eliminate poorly targeted energy subsidies while protecting the most vulnerable members of society. But we all know there is far more to do – and we are here to discuss how the American government and our private sector can continue to be your partner on the road to economic reform.
In our meetings today the President, with members of Ukraine’s government, and with senior U.S. executives, we focused on essential steps needed to make additional concrete progress to curb corruption, improve tax administration, strengthen intellectual property rights, deepen the gas sector reform, continue privatization in a transparent manner, and support the rule of law. And, we, the United States, our allies, and the international financial institutions, stand ready to support your efforts to improve the investment climate, integrate Ukraine into the global economy, and put this nation on a path to self-sustaining growth.
As part of this work, I am pleased to announce that the President, working with Congress, intends to move forward with a third $1 billion loan guarantee for Ukraine in the coming months. This fulfills a U.S. commitment to consider providing a third $1 billion loan guarantee in late 2015, if the conditions warrant.
Today, I’ve had the opportunity to discuss with President Poroshenko how the United States and Ukraine can use a third $1 billion U.S. loan guarantee to support continued progress in advancing reforms – including reforms that will be important to unlock international investment into Ukraine, and lay the groundwork for a return to growth. I will have similar discussions later today with Prime Minister Yatsenyuk.
Mr. President, sweeping economic reform is never easy, under the best of circumstances, not to mention when you also bear the responsibility for so many challenges – from managing the conflict in the east and relations with Russia, to strengthening the judiciary and law enforcement. In America’s government and business community, we fully appreciate the difficulty of this task. We applaud your efforts thus far, and you can rest assured that the United States stands with you and all Ukrainians today, tomorrow, and for the long term.
MR. TSEHOLKO: Ladies and gentlemen, we have the possibility for two questions. The first goes to AP.
QUESTION: James Ellingworth from the Associated Press. Just looking at the political and economic difficulties in the European Union and [inaudible] the refugee crisis, is it fair to say the U.S. contribution to rebuilding Ukraine’s economy is inevitably going to be perhaps larger than previously expected?
SECRETARY PRITZKER: The United States has made, as I said, President Obama has made three $1 billion loan guarantee commitments. But I think the more important thing to keep in mind is that the administration has a sustained commitment to Ukraine regardless of the situations going on in the region, and our administration continues to act in support of Ukraine, and we are working with the President and the Prime Minister to help and support them as they develop an independent, democratic, free from corruption and economically strong country.
MR. TSEHOLKO: The last question from the Ukrainian side [inaudible].
QUESTION: [In Ukrainian]
SECRETARY PRITZKER: First of all, I would like to congratulate Ukraine for their third election, and we look forward to the final results from the Ukrainian Election Commission, as well as the OSCE. It appears from Ukrainian observers and from Embassy observers that the election seemed to indicate it was well conducted, and that the election was orderly and lawful in the vast majority of the country. My trip here is one that exemplifies what we call commercial diplomacy. I’m traveling with six business leaders from Cargill, Westinghouse, NCH Capital, Citibank, Honeywell, and DuPont. And the progress that the IMF and the U.S. government is promoting tracks with what our private-sector leaders have been emphasizing, and that was repeated in our conversations today with the President, which is a frank discussion about everything from energy reform, to capital controls, to taxation, to the most important issue, which is to address corruption and judicial reform. And the United States believes in Ukraine and is supporting Ukraine as it goes through this very challenging period of repositioning itself to be part of the world economy, and we stand with them, and have done so to date and will do so in the future. Thank you.
PRESIDENT POROSHENKO: Thank you very much indeed, and I want to congratulate Madam Secretary with the very important award, Commercial Diplomat of the Year.
SECRETARY PRITZKER: Thank you.
PRESIDENT POROSHENKO: Thank you very much.