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New US envoy for Ukraine reconstruction highlights opportunities in IT sector, green energy, logistics

Penny Pritzker in a 2016 visit to Ukraine. (Photo by US Embassy to Ukraine)

By Ukraine Rebuild News Staff, Sept 18, 2023

The new US special representative supporting the rebuilding of Ukraine said she will encourage investment in agriculture, green energy, steel, mining, critical materials and Ukraine's burgeoning IT sector as an important part of her duties.

Penny Pritzker, the former US commerce secretary who was named last week as US Special Representative for Ukraine’s Economic Recovery, that a "big part of my portfolio is working with the private sector to not just remove the barriers to investment, but really to encourage companies in a variety of sectors of the economy, particularly in energy, transportation, logistics, agriculture, critical materials, and IT technology.

"Even now, if you look at the technology sector in Ukraine, it’s growing. Another obvious opportunity is the energy grid, which is basically a Soviet-era one. It will need to be reconstituted, first of all into more Western technology, but also there’s an opportunity to leapfrog into a green grid," Pritzker said in an interview with the Ukrainian news outlet European Pravda shortly after her appointment.

Pritzker also said she's looking at "the obvious need for opportunities to invest in critical minerals and materials, mining and steel, all of which Europe and the rest of the world need and have a demand for. And finally, there's a real need for investment in transportation and logistics. This is an opportunity for business."

She said, however, that she will start her new role by pushing for reforms that “bake transparency and corruption into the reconstruction effort” and encouraging US businesses to invest in Ukraine.

“The focus will begin with working on reforms that bake in transparency and accountability into the reconstruction effort, whether that’s in the regulatory environment or law enforcement, judiciary, anti-corruption, state-owned enterprise governance, etc,” Pritzker said.

She said another major focus of her role will include working with the European Union and partner governments as well as international financial institutions and other donors on behalf of the US government.

When asked whether the 2024 presidential election in the US will affect the country’s support for Ukraine, Pritzker said she has “heard the same from members of Congress on both sides of the aisle: there's bipartisan long-term support for Ukraine.”

Pritzker, 64, said her family emigrated to the US about a 100 years ago from the Ukrainian village of Velyki Pritsky outside of Kyiv, where they owned a grain store. Pritzker’s father, Donald Pritzker, founded the Hyatt hotel chain, and her brother, J.B. Pritzker, is the governor of the state of Illinois.

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