TradePosts: Partnering with Ukraine on its Reconstruction

Message from the Director

USTDA Director Enoh T. Ebong

Last month, USTDA hosted a reverse trade mission for senior Ukrainian officials who are guiding their country’s reconstruction efforts. The goal of the visit was to build partnerships with U.S. financiers, suppliers, and regulatory and policy experts, to help identify solutions for the unprecedented infrastructure challenges facing Ukraine. USTDA Country Manager Mary Sloan spent a week with our delegates and gained a great deal of insight into their current priorities and vision for the future. USTDA looks forward to partnering with Ukraine on its long road ahead. Mary’s insights will help inform this effort.

Partnering with Ukraine on its Reconstruction

By Mary Sloan, Country Manager, Europe and Eurasia

In late September, I accompanied 20 Ukrainians on a USTDA reverse trade mission to Washington, DC. The delegates are leaders in reconstructing Ukraine’s infrastructure, with expertise spanning the energy, transportation, digital infrastructure and agribusiness sectors. During the visit, one of them summed up a prevailing sentiment when he said, “The one commodity that we cannot get more of is time.”

USTDA Director Enoh T. Ebong and Europe and Eurasia Country Manager Mary Sloan with USTDA’s reverse trade mission delegates.

The people of Ukraine cannot wait for the fighting to stop before reconstruction begins. They want a return to normalcy. This was evident among our delegates, who showed a strong sense of urgency to plan for infrastructure solutions that are sustainable and responsive to their country’s needs. At this point in time, we do not know what Ukraine’s infrastructure needs will ultimately look like, and acknowledging the size of the task ahead of them, our delegates asked, “Where do go from here?”

USTDA’s reverse trade mission was designed to help address these priorities through meetings and site visits with U.S. industry and U.S. government counterparts. The dialogue was fascinating.  

In some respects, Ukraine has already begun its reconstruction process. Earlier this year it launched the Digital Restoration EcoSystem for Accountable Management (“DREAM”) system, to improve transparency and accountability by publishing real-time data across all stages of a project’s reconstruction.

Our delegates were clear that Ukraine’s future is with the European Union, which is a key factor in their reconstruction planning process. Integration will require investment in high-quality infrastructure, which bodes well for U.S. companies that want to partner with Ukraine on its reconstruction. Integration will also represent a clear shift away from the “post-Soviet” label and the legacy supply chains, economic ties, and business practices that are holding back Ukraine’s economic growth.

Our delegates were focused on inclusive and long-lasting solutions for Ukraine. They want to restore their country’s digital infrastructure by building out secure wireless networks and connecting rural areas. They want to repair and replace damaged energy infrastructure with secure decentralized systems. Ukraine also wants to become a net exporter of power, particularly of renewable-generated power. To do this, they plan to expand their transmission connections with the EU.

Many reconstruction solutions will cut across sectors. For example, rebuilding Ukraine’s agricultural sector, which has global economic and food security implications, will benefit from enhanced transportation networks and logistics, digitized cross-border and port infrastructure, and creative de-mining technologies to restore Ukraine’s full agricultural capacity. 

Regulatory reforms will be foundational to attract and sustain investment, but reconstructing Europe’s second-largest country will require a great spectrum of solutions. This means deployment of innovative technologies, partnerships with industry and financial institutions, and careful project preparation to ensure high-quality infrastructure outcomes.

The visit demonstrated the courage and resolve of our Ukrainian partners. Despite the monumental task ahead, our delegates view reconstruction challenges as opportunities for innovation and remain hopeful about their ability to shape the brightest future for their country. USTDA stands with Ukraine to advance a Ukraine-driven, inclusive, and responsive economic recovery.