US President Joe Biden has created a new position – that of US Special Representative for Ukraine's Economic Recovery. On Sept. 14, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced that Penny Pritzker has been appointed to the role.

Pritzker’s main task will reportedly be to drive efforts to shape donor priorities through the Multi-Agency Donor Coordination Platform, to align them with Ukraine’s needs, and to galvanize international partners to increase their support for Ukraine.”

In addition, Pritzker will work closely with the government of Ukraine, from which the US expects reforms necessary to open export markets, attract foreign direct investment, and accelerate economic recovery.

“In this role, she will work with the Ukrainian government, the G7, the EU, international financial institutions, international partners, and one of our great assets – the American private sector – to help forge Ukraine’s future as a prosperous, secure, European democracy,” Blinken said in a statement.

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Who is Penny Pritzker?

The newly appointed US Special Representative is a well-known US businesswoman and politician from Chicago. During the period of Barack Obama’s presidency, she headed the Ministry of Commerce (2013-2017).

Pritzker is the founder of PSP Partners, PSP Capital Partners and Pritzker Realty Group, as well as co-founder of Artemis Real Estate Partners and Inspired Capital. She is a board member of Microsoft and chair of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

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The United States has been the chief military backer of Ukraine in its war against Russia, but Congress had not approved large-scale funding for its ally for nearly a year and a half.

In 2021, Forbes estimated her fortune at $3.2 billion. Back in 2009, Forbes named Pritzker one of the 100 most influential women in the world.

Pritzker stems from a famous and influential family. Her father, Donald Pritzker, was one of the co-founders of Hyatt Hotels.

She also has Ukrainian roots. Her ancestors came from the village of Velyki Pritsky, Kyiv region. They moved to the US around a century ago.

From 2021 to 2022, she was a member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).

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What are Pritzker’s views on Ukraine?

Pritzker called her appointment a personal chance.

"My family fled Ukraine in the late 1800s from an area just outside Kyiv, so my family are immigrants from the area that is being challenged by the Russians. Having the opportunity on behalf of the United States to work with our allies and partners to help Ukraine remain an independent democratic state, progressing on its chosen path of European integration, is a calling of the highest order,” the Special Representative said in her first interview with European Pravda following her appointment.

“I feel enormous empathy and enormous close relations with the Ukrainian people.”

Pritzker says she will cooperate with the government of Ukraine, the US government. the US ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, and partner states.

A key aspect of the role will relate to reforms focused on transparency and accountability of reconstruction. As the politician explains: “I 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.,” the politician explained.

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“Another big part of my portfolio is working with the private sector, not just to 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. I aim to encourage American businesses and other businesses to understand the opportunity for investment and recovery in Ukraine,” the special representative said.

Pritzker provides assurance that, despite the looming presidential elections in the US in 2024, the US government is focused on meeting the needs of Ukraine now, as well as on the long-term recovery and security of Ukraine.

“There will be conditions to the money from the United States. That shouldn't be surprising to anyone in Ukraine, because our government wants to see Ukraine make progress on the various areas to make the environment hospitable to private sector investment," Pritzker explained.

“First, it’s handling the money appropriately,” she said.

“And second, it’s meeting the reform needs that are necessary for Ukraine to achieve EU accession and become part of a Western trading bloc, which is something that Ukraine wants to do.”

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Blinken believes that Pritzker can play a key role in the US’ “determination to see to it that Ukraine not only survives but thrives, standing on its own.”

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Comments ( 1)

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American Chris
This comment contains spoilers. Click here if you want to read.

Having done economic development for many years in U.S. and Eastern Europe the greatest development in Ukraine will come from the private sector. Governments can help fund infrastructure (public goods), however, the most significant investments will be by the private sector. Ukraine should engage the international private sector for prosperous development.

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