Ukraine wants to expand steel exports on top of a crucial grain-export agreement as a way to support economy battered by Russia’s war, Economy Minister Yuliia Svyrydenko said in an interview.
The cabinet minister called for building on the deal brokered last July by the United Nations and Turkey, which opened three Ukrainian Black Sea ports that had been blockaded by Russian forces for food exports to alleviate the global market.
“It’s essential for us to add more ports, to enlarge export volumes,” Svyrydenko said Tuesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
After the economy contracted by almost a third in the wake of the Russian invasion, gross domestic product could climb back as much as 3% this year — if Russia pulls out and sea ports open, Svyrydenko said.
“We will focus on building more storage for agricultural goods, but what we need to do from a strategic point of view is to open sea ports,” the minister said. “It’s not just about agriculture, it’s about steel.”
Ukraine’s economy has been devastated by the invasion, with revenues collapsing because of a falloff of key exports and the destruction of energy infrastructure at the hands of Russian missile strikes, cutting off electricity to millions of people and businesses. GDP shrank 30.2% last year, still a better result after initial forecast of 50%, the minister said.
At the WEF, Svyrydenko said she would discuss weapons supplies with partners “again and again, even at Davos.”
“Every missile strike adds pressure on partners and they understand they need to provide weapons as soon as possible”, Svyrydenko said. “We need anti-missile systems and heavy weapons from Germany as well.”
Svyrydenko also said a loan from the International Monetary Fund will be crucial to shore up the nation’s financing on top of aid from the US and the European Union. Ukraine aims to finalize a deal with the Washington-based lender in March.