Before Russia's aggression, Ukraine's economy grew at an average annual rate of 2.9% from 2014 onwards, except for a slight dip in 2020 due to the pandemic. SMEs, particularly in wholesale, retail, and the booming IT sector, played a pivotal role in this growth, driving economic expansion and job creation in Ukraine. Because of the war, Ukraine's economy shrank by around 35% in 2022, and approximately five million jobs were lost, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO).
Earlier this year, a significant agreement was established between the European Commission and Ukraine, enabling Ukraine's involvement in projects funded by the European Union through the Single Market Programme (SMP). This agreement offers support to Ukrainian businesses, making it easier for them to access markets, fostering a favorable business environment, promoting sustainable growth, and facilitating international expansion.
The EU has been actively assisting Ukrainian SMEs via the EU4Business program. In 2022, this support involved 42 diverse projects with a combined budget of EUR 246 million, benefiting 25,522 SMEs. These initiatives led to the creation of approximately 23,750 new jobs and a significant 18% increase in the total turnover of SMEs in Ukraine.
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