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  • Economic trends from a business point of view (January 2023)

    13.02.2024

    Long-term prospects are on the rise, and uncertainty is gradually subsiding. However, the current recovery is at a standstill, plagued by business apprehensions regarding security, labor shortages, and demand issues. This encapsulates the sentiment among businesses in January 2024, as revealed by the research conducted by the IER team as part of the 21st #NRES monthly enterprise survey.

    Of the surveyed enterprises, 56% reported that 2023 met their expectations, with 8% even surpassing expectations. Notably, there's a correlation between meeting 2023 expectations and enterprise size, with 77% of large enterprises reporting meeting or exceeding expectations compared to only 54% among micro-businesses.

    "The results we obtained are quite optimistic. Given the turbulence experienced by Ukrainian businesses in 2023, I didn't expect to see such figures. It indicates that most enterprises are realistic in their planning," remarked Oksana Kuziakiv, executive director of IED.

    According to the survey, three-month uncertainty regarding new orders and headcount expectations decreased among surveyed businesses (though it increased for exports). Uncertainty over the 6-month economic outlook decreased overall but rose for exports.

    In addition to heightened uncertainty surrounding export prospects, surveyed companies also reported reduced exports. 34% of respondents had to decrease their exports in January compared to 20% in December. Meanwhile, the proportion of enterprises reporting increased exports dropped from 31% to 19%.

    Overall, production indicators of surveyed enterprises worsened in January compared to December. The percentage of enterprises reducing production rose from 16.8% to 23.2%, and employment rates decreased slightly, with businesses facing challenges in finding qualified workers. However, Kuziakiv noted that the decline in employment might also be a seasonal trend.

    Moreover, in January 2024, the index of business activity recovery worsened, with the proportion of enterprises reporting better business activity than the previous year decreasing from 64% in December to 56% in January.

    The most cited obstacles to production growth among interviewed entrepreneurs include the war and unfavorable security situation, low demand, a shortage of qualified workers, and an unfavorable regulatory climate. However, corruption and pressure from law enforcement agencies were not deemed significant problems, according to the study.

    Furthermore, over a fifth of surveyed Ukrainian enterprises identified lifting the blockade of western borders as a necessary change to improve the business climate in the country. For the first time, the survey also inquired about the impact of border closures on their businesses.

    The survey included 552 enterprises from 21 regions of Ukraine operating in the manufacturing industry, retail, and agribusiness sectors. It was conducted from January 16 to 31, 2024.

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