September 15, 2020

Ukraine's TOP potential manufacturing sectors and opportunities for the Norwegian-Ukrainian cooperation: market analysis

During the summer NUCC together with CBR, a research agency and the official partner of GfK for ad hoc research in Ukraine, analyzed the Ukrainian non-food manufacturing industries, as well as tried to identify the manufacturing sectors that will have the most potential to deepen the Norwegian-Ukrainian cooperation in the post-pandemic time. Here is the executive summary of the research. For the full report, please take contact with Anastasia Antonyk via

Prior to the pandemic crisis, the Ukrainian economy had been growing for four consecutive years (2016-2019). In 2019, the economy almost recovered after the previous crisis in 2014-2015 which was caused by the war in Donbas and loss of control over part of Ukraine’s territory.

Industrial manufacturing is an important sector for the Ukrainian economy. It accounts for 13% of the total of Ukraine’s value-added (GDP). This is the second largest contribution after the contribution of the wholesale and retail trade.

In 2016-2019, the average growth rate of the output in the industrial manufacturing sector was 3.7%. Growth rates were higher in 2016 and 2017 (at about 5%) and then slowed down to 3% and 1% in 2018 and 2019.

Food processing accounts for one-third of industrial manufacturing in Ukraine. The other two-thirds are the output of non-food manufacturing sectors.

Basic metal processing and machinery and equipment make the largest contributions to the output of non-food manufacturing output. The share of basic metal processing is 33% in the total non-food manufacturing output and the total share of machine and equipment manufacturing is 20%.

Export demand is an important factor for the development of the Ukrainian non-food manufacturing sector. For the majority of non-food manufacturing sectors, export sales account for more than 20% of total sales.

The most export-oriented industries are manufacture of motor vehicles, basic metals, timber and wood products. About 60% of the sales of these sectors come from export markets. They are followed by manufacture of furniture and leather products with the share of export sales at about 50%.

The growth of exports to the EU since 2014 has been the strongest driver of non-food manufacturing development. EU has become the main export partner for Ukraine, 37% of total Ukraine’s exports was sent to the EU countries in 2019. This share is bigger for some categories. For instance, 63% of timber and woodwork exports are sold in the EU.

The machinery and equipment sector was historically connected to the Russian market. After 2014, this market was lost for Ukraine and machinery producers have started to re-orient their exports to European countries. The share of EU export in total exports of machinery and equipment significantly increased from 12% in 2014 to 32% in 2019.

To identify top potential non-food manufacturing industries in Ukraine, the following criteria were applied:

  • The export sales account for more than 20% of total industry sales. This allows us to distinguish those sectors which are focused on external markets.
  • The average growth rate of exports to the EU of the sector in 2016-2019 is above 9% (close or above average rate for total EU exports which is 10%). The exports to the EU signals for the ability of key exporters in the sector to comply with EU technical regulation and meet the customer requirements.
  • The average growth rate of real domestic output of the sector in 2016-2019 is above 3% (close or above average rate for industrial manufacturing which is 3,7%). This criteria signals for the growing productivity in these sectors and/or expansion of capacities.

Applying these criteria results in the identification of top-10 potential non-food manufacturing sectors:

  • Furniture
  • Paper, cardboard, other paper products
  • Other industrial goods (sporting equipment, toys)
  • Textiles
  • Fabricated metal products
  • Electrical equipment
  • Other than automotive transport equipment
  • Timber and woodwork
  • Diverse machinery and equipment
  • Chemicals.

Key exporters in these sectors are dominated by the subsidiaries of European firms or joint ventures between Ukrainian and foreign owners. Meantime, there are also Ukrainian owned companies among key exporters to the EU. They are a mixture of recent start-ups as well as large plants with a long history, both medium and large enterprises.

The wide range of Ukrainian exports’ to EU countries shows the potential for the expansion of Norwegian-Ukrainian business relationships. Imports of Norway from Ukraine showed strong growth in 2016-2019. In 2018, Norwegian imports from Ukraine almost doubled over 2016. Then in 2019 imports decreased, but still, it is much higher comparing to the 2016 level.

Imports of goods of top potential industries identified above account for 50% of total Norway imports from Ukraine. Top potential industries together with apparel (which was not included in top-10 potential sectors) cover 70% of total Norway imports from Ukraine. Key Ukrainian exporters to Norway are frequently the same companies exporting to the EU.

The pandemic has significantly hit the manufacturing sector in the first half of 2020. Total exports to the EU countries decreased by 18,5% in January-July 2020 over January-July 2019. Meantime, the top potential non-food manufacturing sectors declined to a lesser extent – by 9%.

Demand contraction was the main reason for the decline in manufacturing output and exports. The industrial enterprises reported a decrease in the number of orders. However, strict quarantine measures were not imposed on manufacturing sites. Manufacturing plants continue to operate under the provision of health protection measures.

The pandemic crisis may open the following opportunities for the Ukrainian exporters:

  • Restructuring of European supply chains with the priority of closer proximity of suppliers (that is, producers will search for suppliers located close to their main production sites in Europe).
  • The push to expand exports and search for new markets, for instance, Norway.

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