Oakland Institute

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Ukraine

Policy Briefs

Today, on the heels of Ukraine’s new cabinet appointments, the Oakland Institute (OI) is releasing a new brief detailing western agribusiness investments in the country.

In Walking on the West Side: the World Bank and the IMF in the Ukraine Conflict, a report released in July 2014, the Oakland Institute exposed how international financial institutions swooped in on the heels of the political upheaval in Ukraine to deregulate and throw open the nation’s vast agricultural sector to foreign corporations.

This fact sheet provides details on the transnational agribusinesses that are increasingly investing in Ukraine, including Monsanto, Cargill, and DuPont, and how corporations are taking over all aspects of Ukraine’s agricultural system. This includes circumventing land moratoriums, investing in seed and input production facilities, and acquiring commodity production, processing, and transportation facilities.

International financing has played a significant—although not always reported—role in the current conflict in Ukraine. In late 2013, conflict between pro-European Union (EU) and pro-Russian Ukrainians escalated to violent levels, leading to the departure of President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 and prompting the greatest East-West confrontation since the Cold War.

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In December 2015, bloodied cow heads welcomed Ukrainian politicians as they attended their last sessions of Parliament for the year. These and other graphic protests were part of a country-wide strike by Ukrainian farmers, who were protesting changes in Ukraine’s tax code that would end a special value-added tax (VAT) system for agriculture. These changes are part of the structural adjustment conditionalities laid out by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and represent yet another threat to Ukrainian farmers.

The fate of Ukraine’s agricultural sector is on shaky ground. Last year, the Oakland Institute reported that over 1.6 million hectares (ha) of land in Ukraine are now under the control of foreign-based corporations. Further research has allowed for the identification of additional foreign investments. Some estimates now bring the total of Ukrainian farmland controlled by foreign companies to over 2.2 million ha;1 however, research has also identified important grey areas around land tenure in the country, and who actually controls land in Ukraine today is difficult to ascertain.

On March 2, 2015, the Ukrainian government passed amendments to its 2015 budget that will cripple the economic well being of most Ukrainians, but satisfy the International Monetary Fund (IMF). At the cost of their pensions, tax increases, sky-rocketing energy bills, and a re-organized banking sector, Ukrainians are now poised to get an IMF-led bailout of up to $40 billion. These austerity measures will have a huge adverse impact – with inflation soaring, many citizens of Ukraine already face dwindling financial reserves. Increases in taxes, energy bills, and lost pensions, are enough to throw any family into financial turmoil.