The U.S. secretaries of transportation and commerce announced Wednesday the signing of a joint statement of intent with their infrastructure counterpart in Ukraine to oversee current and future rebuilding requirements in the war-torn country.
The U.S.-Ukraine Infrastructure Task Force will boost efforts to support private-sector companies in America that will be involved in Ukraine’s reconstruction, with an emphasis on transportation and energy.
“We’re proud to establish the U.S.-Ukraine Infrastructure Task Force to help the people of Ukraine strengthen their infrastructure now and support its reconstruction and resilience after the war ends,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “This task force is another example of the United States’ enduring commitment to Ukraine and its future peace and prosperity.”
Restoring the country’s infrastructure “will be an essential pillar of Ukraine’s prosperity and national security,” said Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
The task force envisions an inaugural working-level meeting in the coming months. Both sides intend to identify best practices “to create a positive business climate with an emphasis on enhanced good governance, transparency and countering corruption,” according to the announcement.
“As we move to create a joint task force … we envision an effective model of cooperation focused on implementation of specific projects, and we look forward to the participation of U.S. businesses and experts in Ukraine’s reconstruction,” said Ukraine Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov.
A September 2021 report by the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration (ITA) noted that Ukraine has been at the crossroads of world trade routes between Europe and Asia and that its strategic location can be a “powerful catalyst” for the country’s development as well as for the West. Ukraine’s transit potential is 200 million metric tons per year, while its utilization is only 25-30%, according to ITA.
That potential has likely regressed since the start of the war with Russia earlier this year. An August report by the Kyiv School of Economics estimates transportation infrastructure represents the highest economic cost ($35 billion) to the country behind housing since the war began. According to the report, 311 bridges and 15,000 miles of state and local roads have been damaged or destroyed.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday discussed the creation of “mobile power points” in the event of a breakdown of the country’s energy system following recent Russian air attacks on the country’s energy infrastructure, Reuters reported.
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