Bad Business

KIEV, Ukraine -- In her remarks to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s Kyiv meeting, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko told investors and bankers she would advocate for transparency, free markets and economic stability.

PM Yulia Tymoshenko

Her second term as prime minister isn’t especially convincing.

It took Tymoshenko four months into her post as prime minister to cancel grain export quotas. Or she claimed to cancel them, but instead she merely relaxed them.

Some market observers cited Ukraine’s May 16 accession to the World Trade Organization as the main factor in her decision.

Others cited influential poultry farmers in the Tymoshenko Bloc. Whatever the motivation, it probably had little to do with a commitment to free markets.

Meanwhile, her Cabinet’s decision to cancel the government's licensing and busines contract with Vanco Energy Co. sent more shutters throughout the Western business community.

Vanco executives found out about Tymoshenko’s cancellation only through media reports, and she made no attempts to renegotiate the deal before her public declaration.

If that didn't intimidate the businessmen enough, Tymoshenko then performed a professional smear job against the Houston-based firm, claiming it was planning to punt its contract to Gazprom and casting doubt on its legitimacy by stating it was registered to four college-aged students offshore.

While Tymoshenko and her team say nice things to Western businessmen, their actions don’t always reflect that.

Unfortunately, the prime minister who promised stability and respect for private property is seemingly pursuing policies on behalf of special interests, perhaps even her own.

Rather than misleading businessmen on export quotas and suddenly terminating international energy contracts, Tymoshenko and her team ought to treat foreign investors with more respect and offer clearer communication.

That’s regardless of whether the Vanco deal was good for Ukraine or not.

Source: Kyiv Post

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