US taps business leader to bring Ukraine investment
September 14, 2023 08:51 PM
US President Joe Biden on Thursday tapped Penny Pritzker, a billionaire businesswoman who served as commerce secretary, to encourage investment in Ukraine, which is expected to need hundreds of billions of dollars to recover from Russia's invasion.
Pritzker, who will take on a new role of US special representative for Ukraine's economic recovery, will work to bring both public and private investment for Ukraine's immediate and long-term needs.
"Working in lockstep with the Ukrainian government, our allies and partners, international financial institutions, and the private sector, she will drive the United States' efforts to help rebuild the Ukrainian economy," Biden said in a statement announcing the appointment.
She will also assist Ukraine in economic reforms, a top priority of the Biden administration as concern grows over corruption and its impact on waning US public support for assistance to Ukraine.
Pritzker's appointment is in line with a push by Ukraine to bring in foreign businesses to keep alive the economy despite obvious security concerns as Russia bombards its neighbor.
At a conference in London in June, the United States promised $520 million to support Ukraine's energy infrastructure, a pledge which was separate from the more than $43 billion the US has provided in security assistance.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on a trip this month to Kyiv ate at a McDonald's restaurant to show the staying power of US businesses and also met with anti-corruption activists.
The World Bank has estimated that Ukraine needs more than $400 billion to rebuild from the war, a gargantuan task on par with post-World War II reconstruction.
In a recent report, the US Agency for International Development called for reconstruction that modernizes Ukraine's economy, including by strengthening the private sector and anti-corruption protections, with a goal of backing Kyiv's goal of integrating into the European Union.
Pritzker served as commerce secretary under Barack Obama and is a member of a prominent Chicago-based business family best known for the Hyatt hotel chain. Her brother, J.B. Pritzker, is governor of Illinois.