Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ukraine: European Commission Content With Free Trade Zone Progress

SOURCE Worldwide News Ukraine - "We are not just discussing the possibility to make a serious step forward and sign an association agreement, create a free trade zone - we are actively working on it," said Stefan Fuele, the European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy summing up the meeting with Vasyl Dzharty, Prime Minister of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukraine.

The European Commissioner's comment was accompanied by a EUR 12 million pledge to support the joint initiative of cooperation in Crimea during the official three day visit of the Crimean Prime Minister to London and Brussels.

The latest round of the Ukraine-EU talks on the introduction of the Free Trade Zone between Ukraine and the EU took place on April 4-8, 2011. The Free Trade Zone is the core of the Association Agreement which stipulates different aspects of economic and scientific cooperation between the EU and Ukraine and is aimed at promoting and enhancing their political collaboration in the future.Overall, Ukraine and the EU have held a series of negotiations regarding the deep and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement starting February 18, 2008.

Less than a month ago Ukraine has expressed its readiness to compromise with the European Union on the Free Trade Zone. The key priority issues for Ukraine in the free trade zone negotiations are the agricultural production and automotive transportation. Despite the fact that upon signing of the Agreement Ukraine will get alucrative access to the market of about 500 million people, it still may require a transition period and compensation mechanisms for the local producers in the priority sectors. Such provisions have already been embodied by the EU in the existing Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and include the WTO-compatible transition period of up to 12 years, varying between countries and sectors.

During the last high profile negotiations between the EU and Ukraine, the latter has clearly demonstrated its intention of not becoming a member of the Customs Union but deepening its relations with its eastern members without affecting the EU integration plans.

Taking into account that over 90 percent of the positions in the free trade agreement have already been agreed upon both parties are convinced that signing of the agreement will take place by the end of 2011.