Review of 2015
In 2015, Ukraine increased its trade turnover with the Islamic world. The military-industrial complex received orders worth billions of dollars. The country has also intensified international trade in agriculture, in particular with Egypt.
Nevertheless, bilateral cooperation between Ukraine and the countries of the Muslim world is mainly the initiative of individual businesses, without significant state support or governmental business development programs.
Ukraine is currently home to hundreds of thousands of Muslims, both of indigenous origin (Volga and Crimean Tatars), as well as students and immigrants from Muslim countries. They consume a significant amount of Halal products: food, clothing, etc. But many services and goods are still inaccessible to the Ukrainian Muslim population, such as Halal financial services including: financial leasing, money transfers, retail deposit and credit products and corporate finance.
In 2015, Ukraine saw a few events fully or partially focused on Islamic finance, in particular, the Islamic finance seminar conducted at the Central Ukrainian Trade Chamber in February 2015 and the Islamic trade finance session during the Ukraine: Trade Finance 2015 conference. A non-governmental working group has been established to develop and implement the first Ukrainian Shariah compliant microfinance establishment. Several new Halal restaurants also opened in 2015 in the capital, Kiev.
Preview of 2016
While Islamic investment considerations are not fundamentally different from general fundamental investment principles, it is for the Ukrainian government to demonstrate to Islamic investors that the legal, tax and investment environment is stable and attractive.
From an economic perspective, investment in Ukraine may be attractive, especially considering the four to five times depreciation of the local currency against the euro/US dollar over the year, making local assets much cheaper for foreign investors.
Ukraine has activated an interstate dialog with several Arabic countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and others. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine is constantly contacting the diplomatic services of these states. According to the minister of foreign affairs Pavel Klimkin, Ukraine is now considering an opportunity of the simplification of the visa regime with some Arabic countries. This will stimulate the free movement of people and labor.
There are proactive Muslim NGOs in Ukraine like the Islamic Culture Center, Alraid and many others, encouraging large local Halal producers such as Kozyatin Meat Processing Plant and Nasha Ryaba to enter new markets with Halal goods and services.
It is expected that the creation of the first Ukrainian Halal microfinance establishment in 2016 will speed up and consolidate the Halal industry with the possible development of this institution into an Islamic bank, contributing further to the development of the Ukrainian Halal industry.