Ukraine flag Ukraine: Investing in Ukraine

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Ukraine

FDI in Figures

On February 24th 2022, Russia initiated a military conflict on the Ukrainian territory, which profoundly upsets the current political and economic context in both countries and will have substantial ramifications on the investment climate. For the ongoing updates on the developments of Russia-Ukraine conflict please consult the dedicated pages on BBC News.

According to UNCTAD's World Investment Report 2022, after a divestment of USD -36 million in 2020 due to the combined effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, macroeconomic difficulties and geopolitical tensions, FDI flows to Ukraine increased to USD 6.5 billion in 2021. The stock of FDI was about USD 62 billion in 2021. Multinational companies hold assets in steel, information and communication technology, pharmaceuticals and agricultural commodities. Arcelor Mittal is the largest investor, with assets of USD 6.5 billion (UNCTAD). In 2022, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent protracted war deeply deteriorated business climate. Insecurity, political and economic uncertainty, supply chain disruptions and infrastructure destruction lead to capital outflows. According to the National Bank of Ukraine data, FDI stock as of the end of September 2022 amounted to USD 53.7 billion. Most investments are made in manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade and repair of vehicles, mining, financial services and real estate. The main investors in Ukraine are Cyprus, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK and Germany (National Bank of Ukraine, 2021).

Despite the war, the government has launched a drive to attract foreign investment of up to USD 400 billion in various sectors including technology, the agro-industry, clean energy, defence, metallurgy and natural resources (Financial Times). In addition to political instability, investors pointed out before the war that the underlying inefficiency and corruption in the justice system were among the main obstacles to investment. Other serious obstacles are the complexity of laws and regulations, poor compliance with contracts and poor governance. However, the country has a large internal market, proven agricultural potential, energy and mineral resources and a strategic geographic location, making it a transit hub and a gateway to Europe and Eurasia. In addition, the current government appears to have been actively engaged in reforming the investment climate. In June 2018, a new law aimed at more transparency entered into force, and in 2021, new tax reductions, import customs duties exemptions, preferential land ownership rights, as well as measures to improve the rule of the law were introduced. A National Strategy to increase FDI, developed by EY, was also adopted. In 2022, the government announced it would offer tax credits, simplify and speed up regulatory procedures and cancel 500 different permit requirements to open projects to new investors (Financial Times).

Before the war, progress had been made in terms of obtaining building permits, connection to electricity, protection of minority investors and cross-border trade. Ukraine had also simplified and reduced the costs of the registration procedure for representative offices of foreign business entities. However, the war significantly worsened business climate. Ukraine ranks 75th (out of 82 countries) in the latest The Economist’s Business Environment ranking, and is forecast to drop to the last place by 2026.

Foreign Direct Investment 202020212022
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) -367,320848
FDI Stock (million USD) 52,09165,74651,118
Number of Greenfield Investments* 467831
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 2,2542,333975

Source: UNCTAD, Latest available data

Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.

Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors Ukraine Eastern Europe & Central Asia United States Germany
Index of Transaction Transparency* 9.0 7.5 7.0 5.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 2.0 5.0 9.0 5.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 6.0 6.8 9.0 5.0

Source: Doing Business, Latest available data

Note: *The Greater the Index, the More Transparent the Conditions of Transactions. **The Greater the Index, the More the Manager is Personally Responsible. *** The Greater the Index, the Easier it Will Be For Shareholders to Take Legal Action.

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What to consider if you invest in Ukraine

Strong Points

The key assets of the Ukrainian economy in terms of FDI include:

  • Strategic geographical position, the country being located at the gates of Europe, Russia and Asia
  • Abundant natural resources (iron ore and manganese reserves) and a large agricultural industry (55% of arable land)
  • Strong international financial support from global institutions (IMF, World Bank, EU) and through bilateral agreements
  • Association and Free Trade Agreement with the European Union (2016) which gives Ukraine preferential market access
  • One of the largest markets in Europe with 43.5 million consumers and the emerging middle class
  • Skilled and inexpensive workforce
  • Good education system (large number of qualified specialists in the high-tech sector)
  • Low level of private debt
Weak Points

The weak points of the Ukrainian economy in terms of FDI include: 

  • High geopolitical risk and political instability severly aggravated by the escalation of the confict with Russia (large scale military invasion of Ukraine launched by Russia at the end of February 2022)  
  • A weakly diversified economy which is highly dependent on Russia (its main trading partner and natural gas supplier) with which it has been in conflict since the 2014 crisis in Crimea and Donbass regions)
  • Unstable economy, characterised by a high rate of inflation and exchange rate vulnerability
  • Weak legal framework and business environment (endemic corruption, monopolies, weak property rights, inefficient public services)
  • High public debt level (especially external debt)
  • Declining demographics, regional inequalities, high level of poverty and of the informal sector
Government Measures to Motivate or Restrict FDI
In recent years, Ukraine has been trying to improve its business climate and attract foreign investors, as confirmed by the dozen laws passed by the government of President Zelenskyy in this regards, including several incentive programs (including a 5-year tax exemption for investments over USD 10 million in large-scale privatization projects, loans with reduced interest rates for SMEs, the collaboration of a government manager for investments over USD 100 million, higher depreciation rates for fixed assets, etc.).
UkraineInvest is the national investment promotion agency that works as a one-stop-shop for investors.
Bilateral investment conventions signed by Ukraine
To see the list of investment treaties signed by Ukraine, consult UNCTAD's International Investment Agreements Navigator.

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Latest Update: December 2023