Business news from Ukraine

U.S. and South Korea begin large-scale drills

South Korea and the United States began major joint military drills on Monday to bolster military readiness amid heightened tensions over North Korea’s missile tests and tougher rhetoric toward allies, Renhap news agency reported.

The annual Ulchi Freedom Shield (UFS) exercise, “based on a total war scenario,” will include “contingency” drills, computer simulation-based command post drills, parallel field exercises and civil defense drills. They will continue until August 31.

According to a spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the South Korean Armed Forces, about 30 joint allied field training exercises are planned during the exercise period.

He stressed that the exercise is “designed as a tough and realistic training to strengthen the alliance’s joint defense posture and response capabilities based on scenarios reflecting various security threats.”

In addition to South Korean and U.S. participants, personnel from nine member countries of the United Nations Command (UNC), (a joint multinational military command established in 1950 to support South Korea): Australia, Canada, France, Britain, Greece, Italy, New Zealand, the Philippines and Thailand, will join the exercise, Renhap reported.

The agency noted that the South Korean military is stepping up its preparedness for possible military action by Pyongyang during the drills, as the DPRK has consistently called the U.S.-South Korean exercises a rehearsal for an invasion of North Korea.

South Korean intelligence agencies told parliamentarians last week that “the North is preparing various provocations during the joint drills, such as launching an intercontinental ballistic missile,” according to the report.

The agency said the CTAC report that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspected the 2nd Guards Division of surface ships of the Korean People’s Army Navy’s Eastern Fleet Eastern Fleet and observed missile launches was “a clear expression of protest against the drills.”


U.S. puts Alfa Bank co-owners on sanctions list

The United States has added Alfa Bank’s co-owners to the sanctions list.

Thus, Pyotr Aven, Mikhail Fridman, German Khan and Alexei Kuzmichev have fallen under the restrictions.

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Number of bankruptcies of U.S. companies in January-July 2023 reached 402

The number of U.S. company bankruptcies in January-July 2023 reached 402, the highest number for the period since 2010, excluding the “covid” 2020, according to a report from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

“High interest rates and a troubled operating environment continue to drive the collapse of U.S. companies,” the analysts wrote.

The number of bankruptcies in the seven-month period is nearly double the rate for the same period in 2022. In January-July 2020, the figure was 407 as the coronavirus pandemic caused many firms to close.

In July alone, 64 companies filed for bankruptcy in the U.S., the highest since March’s 70. The largest of them was the aircraft leasing company Voyager Aviation Holdings LLC, which owes more than $1 billion. In June, there were four companies with debts of more than $1 billion that filed for bankruptcy.

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Construction of new homes in U.S. in June fell by 8%

The number of houses, construction of which was started in the United States in June, decreased by 8% compared to the previous month and amounted to 1.434 million in terms of annual rates, according to the report of the Ministry of Commerce of the country.

According to the revised data, in May the number of new buildings amounted to 1.559 million, not 1.631 million, as previously announced.

Experts had forecast the figure to fall to 1.48 million from the previously announced May level, according to Trading Economics.

Construction of single-family homes fell 7% last month to 935,000. In the case of multifamily (including apartments and condominiums), a more volatile segment of the market, the number of new construction fell 11.6% to 482,000.

The number of building permits for new homes issued in the U.S. in June fell 3.7% to 1.44 million at an annualized pace from a revised 1.496 million a month earlier.

Analysts had expected the number of permits to fall to 1.49 million from the previously announced May figure of 1.491 million.


Ukraine receives $1.2 bln in grants from U.S. and Finland through WB

Ukraine’s state budget on Thursday received $1.215 billion in grant funds through the World Bank’s Multi-Donor Trust Fund: $1.2 billion from the U.S. and ;15 million from Finland.
“The grant funds are provided as part of the fifth additional funding under the project Supporting Public Expenditures for Sustainable Public Administration in Ukraine (PEACE in Ukraine). The purpose of the project is to partially compensate state budget expenditures, including social and humanitarian, not related to the sphere of security and defense,” the Ministry of Finance said on Thursday.
It specified that the attracted grant financing will be used for remuneration of state bodies’ employees and teaching staff, pension payments, as well as payments under certain programs of state social assistance (IDPs, people with disabilities, low-income families and payments of housing and communal subsidies).
The Finance Ministry added that in cooperation with Deloitte Consulting, which implements the USAID SOERA project, it is monitoring the use of direct budget support from the US government, and with PriceWaterhouseCoopers Ukraine, an auditing company, is reviewing the agreed procedures in order to determine the eligible state expenditures made by Ukraine in 2022.
It is indicated that the size of the PEACE in Ukraine program reached $16.5 billion and EUR1.4 billion (IBRD loans, MIGA loans, grants of the Multi-Donor Trust Fund).

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U.S. cancels mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for foreigners arriving in country

The U.S. administration has announced the cancellation of the requirement for mandatory vaccination against coronavirus for foreign nationals arriving in the country starting May 12.
“We are announcing that the administration will waive the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirement for employees of federal agencies, federal contract workers and passengers arriving on international air flights as of May 11,” the White House said in a statement.
The U.S. began requiring foreign nationals entering the country to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 beginning in November 2021. Only certificates of vaccination with vaccines approved by the U.S. health regulator or WHO will be accepted.
In April 2023, U.S. President Joe Biden lifted the national state of emergency imposed in 2020 because of COVID-19.

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