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Abstract

[Introduction] When Ukraine adopted the 2002 Land Code, it chose to follow a liberal path of agricultural land relations, but failed to create the necessary conditions for the land market to function fully. The moratorium on land sales, implemented directly after the adoption of the Land Code, prohibited 6.92 million owners of land shares (16 % of the population) from fully exercising their property rights. Initially intended as a temporary measure, the moratorium has, to date, been extended eight times. As such, many landowners have passed away without ever being able to fully exercise their property rights. Economic losses caused by the prohibition of land sales are considerable. First, inability to transfer land from less to more efficient producers contributes to a situation where tenancy insecurity substantially reduces incentives to invest in technologies improving land use productivity. As a result, growth of the agricultural sector is substantially lower than it could have been with a free land market. Second, current management of land lease contracts incurs high transaction costs, which could be lowered if land users were able to buy plots. Third, one quarter of Ukrainian agricultural land is still owned by the government. Privatization of 10.5 million ha could generate substantial financial resources for newly reformed local governments. In addition, land sales market has a potential to expand respective tax base and improve the collection of land tax. Resources from privatization and improved tax revenues could substantially help restore the dilapidated rural infrastructure. In sum, due to gains in agricultural production and land privatization, Ukrainian experts estimate that liberalization could lead to a 3-9 % increase in the annual growth rate of the GDP.

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