Even at the age of 27, Ukraine can hardly be called a “nation of startups”, as neither the president nor the Ministry of Economic Trade & Development have made this a priority.
Regardless, we will reject pessimism, as real steps are being taken in this direction. In fact, a stratum of IT specialists is forming, which, according to a recent study by experts from the IT Ukraine Association and the Office of Effective Regulation, has ensured that in terms of export, the Ukrainian IT industry takes an important second place.
Ponder this news. IT firms do not export grain, metal, or umbrellas. They sell the result of mental labour, which does not depend on the price of raw materials or other factors of turbulence.
Compared to the year following the Revolution of Dignity, Ukrainian exports fell like dead cargo by 14% ($54 billion). The year after that, which was probably the hardest for Ukraine, exports of our goods and services decreased by another 30%, accounting for just $38 billion. In comparison, this is almost half the revenue of Google in the same year.
In 2016 however, the curve was creeping upwards. And in the first four months of this year, we had already exported $15.5 billion, which is 13% more compared to the entirety of 2017. Looking at these figures, IT-export overtook pipeline transportation – more than 20% of Ukrainian exports. Before you tire of these figures, let me add just a couple more examples.
In Ukraine, the “brain economy” accounts for:
* 4.1 billion hryvnia in taxes of IT-companies in 2014-2017. The amount of deductions, reported by the State Fiscal Service, for 365 days increased by 27%, where 2018 will be no exception;
* 3.2 billion hryvnia in taxes of IT professionals who work for firms as physical entities; the amount of deductions, like yeast, grows annually by 58.8%.
In fact, the only question that should be asked after looking at all of the above, is this: “Why is IT-export not in first place?” It is easy to prove that the orientation towards the sale of intellectual services is the path forward, especially where countries aimed at a secure future are concerned. Of course, if the future is clear and there are few hands raised “against”, then the idea of what is “secure” can be deciphered. Like in construction, however, IT and its production are not only difficult to estimate for technical specialists, but for workers of related professions also – designers, accountants, lawyers (which is good to hear), and so on.
In addition, more than a quarter of employees of IT-firms have no relation to IT. As a result, the following picture emerges: an industry that does not require government incentives, but simply asks that they do not interfere with work, bringing the country money, buying it a ticket to a competitive club of advanced societies, and in the process creating an image of a post-industrial state. As always, business is at the forefront of change. The state simply needs to refrain from plans to squeeze additional juices from this seed of the future. IT will appreciate it, and so will the hryvnia.