CORRECTED (OFFICIAL) -UPDATE 2-Ukraine minister: Bigger GDP contraction possible in 2022 vs earlier forecast of 35%
WASHINGTON — Ukrainian economy minister Yulia Svyrydenko said Russia’s destruction of civilian infrastructure in recent weeks could result in a bigger contraction of gross domestic product in 2022 than the earlier forecast of a 35% drop. Svyrydenko, in Washington to meet with senior U.S. officials, told reporters on Wednesday the Ukrainian government would continue to need foreign budgetary assistance, but was also taking steps to reduce government costs by cutting staff and privatizing smaller state-owned enterprises.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy last month said his country would need $38 billion to cover next year’s expected budget shortfalls, and an initial $17 billion to begin work on the most urgent infrastructure repairs, including roads, bridges and schools.
Svyrydenko, who also serves as first deputy prime minister, said those sums had not yet been revised to reflect the massive damage inflicted on civilian infrastructure by Russian missiles since Oct. 10.
Asked about recent comments from Republican leaders in Congress suggesting they would curtail U.S. aid to Ukraine, Svyrydenko said Ukraine’s fight against Russia was an existential one, and that the entire world order would change if it lost.
She said she had not met with any Republican leaders, but said the United States had consistently made good on its promises since the war began on Feb. 24.
Ukraine was providing clear records about its spending of international aid, she said, adding that work was continuing on setting up a coordinating platform for international funds.
Her talks with U.S. officials were largely technical, focused on specific needs in the wake of the Russian attacks that have severely curtailed electricity generation, including transformers, generators and even LED light bulbs that could help save 1 megawatt of power if installed across the country.
She said Ukraine is also seeking a yearlong extension of the suspension of U.S. steel tariffs to help Ukrainian steelmakers, which have been hit hard by Russian missile attacks.
Svyrydenko said she discussed the issue with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai during a meeting in Washington earlier on Wednesday. No comment was immediately available from Tai’s office.
She also met on Tuesday with U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, who pledged continued strong support for Ukraine, including efforts by the U.S. government and private sector to help rebuild Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure. (Reporting By Andrea Shalal; Writing by Andrea Shalal and Paul Grant; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Jonathan Oatis)
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