“Ukrainians have the opportunity to become an example of an educated nation that finally unleashes its human capital through the right combination of reform and investment,” said Vice President Biden at the first U.S.-Ukraine Business Forum in Washington on July 13.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce welcomed senior government officials and business leaders from across Ukraine and the U.S.

The forum offered the nations’ leaders a chance to have a frank, open dialogue about improving Ukraine’s business climate for investors. Ukrainian officials spoke of their country’s progress, as well as next steps in building a prosperous future. U.S. business leaders suggested ways to encourage greater private-sector investment.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue greets Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk as Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker looks on. (Ian Wagreich/© U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

Ukraine’s recent achievements, which were outlined by Ukrainian Minister of Finance Natalie Jaresko, include opening access to the country’s databases, slashing a royalty tax on gas production, bringing anti–money laundering policies up to international standards and launching a new patrol police force in Kyiv.

According to Biden, the biggest challenges to the overall reform effort have been changing Ukraine’s deeply rooted culture of corruption and thwarting Russia’s continued attempts — both militarily and economically — to destabilize the country.

“Ukraine is open for business,” said Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. “The task ahead will be difficult … but I’m confident that we will succeed.”

Inspired by the Ukrainians

If Ukraine can continue to build on the progress it has made and secure economic reform, said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, “the country can become a place where small and medium-size businesses can start up and grow, with the support of venture capital.”

Both Biden and Pritzker reaffirmed President Obama’s commitment to Ukraine’s economic reforms and to the importance of the private sector in improving the country’s investment climate. They noted that the Obama administration has delivered $2 billion in loan guarantees and underscored the possibility of an additional $1 billion later in 2015. The U.S. has also delivered $16 million to fund programs that stabilize and grow Ukraine’s economy.

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