Minister of Economy Oleksiy Lyubchenko also said that negotiations with the EU about the association agreement are going well.
In a lengthy interview with Interfax Ukraine, the Ukrainian Minister of Economy Oleksiy Lyubchenko said that Ukraine is seeking a free trade agreement with U.S. President Volodymyr Zelensky will push for the deal when he is meeting the American President Joe Biden in the White House on August 30, he added.
“Ukraine is now trying to focus on its national interests, being open to all countries with which the vectors of development coincide. Finally, we have a strategy, based on which we have identified growth points, we also have a Budget Declaration and a forecast of socio-economic development for three years, clear trends,” said Lyubchenko, but did not reveal how far negotiations are with the U.S at this point.
“At all meetings with representatives of foreign countries, we repeat: Ukraine, like every country, has its own vectors of development. If they intersect, there will be synergy and results for both countries,” he added.
Lyubchenko said that Ukraine isn’t just negotiating free trade agreements with the U.S. Ukraine is negotiating with Turkey, Canada, Kazakhstan, Tunisia, Egypt, and Jordan, while Ukraine is also trying to expand existing deals with Northern Macedonia and Moldova. About the negotiations with Canada, Lyubchenko said that “I hope that this year we will complete negotiations on expanding the FTA to the services sector and mutual protection of investments.”
New EU agreement closer
Lyubchenko also said that Ukraine is negotiating with China about new investments, which we also have written about earlier at Ukrainenu. Among other things, China is interested in investing in Ukrainian infrastructural projects, but China and Ukraine are also negotiating a free trade agreement, according to Lyubchenko, which could deepen China’s position as Ukraine’s largest single trading partner.
While China is Ukraine’s largest single trading partner, the total trade with the EU is much greater reaching a total of 40.2 percent of Ukraine’s total trade, according to the minister. Years back, Ukraine and the EU signed an association agreement, which enhanced trade between the two parties, and negotiations are currently underway to expand it.
“We continue to have a trade deficit with the EU. In the first half of the year, it amounted to $ 1.09 billion. Our task is to structurally change trade with the EU so that it is dominated by industrial goods,” said Lyubchenko and added.
“We currently have tariff quotas for 40 categories of agricultural goods. They are currently being formally negotiated with political support at the level of the President and President of the European Commission. It will be possible to say in the autumn which quotas will be increased or simply abolished. More important for us are non-tariff projects – industrial visa-free travel, mutual recognition of the status of authorized economic operators, etc. The Ministry of Economy together with the Directorate General for Trade agreed to accelerate the implementation of these projects,” he said.