EU and Ukraine may complete the technical preparation of Free Trade Area building by the end of 2009

EU and Ukraine may complete the technical preparation of Free Trade Area building by the end of 2009
11 July 2008

At the same time, representatives of Ukrainian state power and business community consider the preparation of the Area's format should be more thorough in order to minimize the risks for Ukrainian economy in relation to FTA building. 

These are the results of "The future Free Trade Area between EU and Ukraine" discussion, held within the 5th annual Yalta European Strategy (YES) summit.

"The Free Trade Area gives a deeper economic integration between EU and Ukraine; it gives more freedom in terms of capital turnover and people's movement. It may also create conditions for eventual accession of to the EU or becoming such a candidate", mentioned Peter Balas, Deputy Director General of DG Trade within European Commission, also adding that building the FTA with the EU may in no way constitute an obstacle for keeping good relations with Russia. He expressed his confidence that the technical part of RTA preparation may be accomplished by the end of 2009.

Oleksandr Chalyi, Deputy Head of the Secretariat of the President of Ukraine, said all Ukrainian people approve any measures in terms of EU integration. But at the same time he mentioned that "free trading with country, not having any membership chances or having the candidate chances, constitutes two different negotiation variants". Taking that into consideration, as well as problems with further EU extension, "Ukrainian business shares a quite moderate attitude towards it".

According to his opinion, the FTA building needs from 5 to 10 years instead of 1-2 years. Besides that, the Russian position should be taken into account at the negotiations. "Earlier my idea was that Russia would not interfere into our talks with the EU. We enjoy a good free trade agreement with Russia, quite beneficial for our business since it does not have to fit such strict terms that WTO is dictating. But at the moment Russia is extremely concerned as for our negotiations". Deputy Head of the President's Secretariat expressed his opinion about the necessity to hold trilateral negotiations involving EU, Ukraine and Russia.

Moreover, Oleksandr Chalyi thinks Ukraine needs 5 years to provide the national certification system. "Should the cheep European milk come to Ukraine, it will not be so easy for us to deliver Ukrainian milk to the European Union", he said.

According to the opinion of Hrygoriy Nemyria, Vice Prime Minister on European and International Integration, Ukraine has to approach the issue of FTA building in a realistic way instead of more or less optimistic, utilizing the experience of the countries having come through such procedures. "Considering the fact that these processes are generally lasting for 2-3 years, the optimal and realistic term for us will be the "2 years plus" period; we should set exactly these time frames in our case".

Igor Burakovsky, Director of the Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting, thinks the Free Trade Area has to be discussed as a business project and not as a political one. "Today there are no distinct recommendations or expectations concerning FTA. Ukrainian business community shares two ways of approaching the issue. We have addressed the largest Ukrainian exporters: they say they are targeted at relations with Russia and hope to have the Free Trade Area with Europe. In addition, we asked whether they considered the FTA as an instrument to enter the European market. And their reply was that they either were already in there or were having certain contacts".

Jean-Pierre Saltiel, Member of the Board of YES, says entering the FTA will be quite an expensive campaign from a financial point of view since, within the conditions of such Area building, Ukraine has to bring a range of economy branches up to EU level. At the same time he sees the FTA building as a very important step in EU integration process. "We have never considered FTA to replace the EU membership, but it may be an important landmark on the way of becoming the member of the European Union".

As was informed, Yalta is hosting the the 5th annual summit of international Yalta European Strategy (YES) network, the greatest and the most influential non-governmental forum for Ukraine and European Union issues. More than 160 politicians, businessmen, public characters, diplomats and journalists from more than 20 countries of the world shall take part in the Summit. The Summit will continue working until July, 13. The Plenary Sessions will be traditionally held in Livadia Palace.
Among the participants of the 5th annual organization Summit are Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund; Mikheil Saakashvili, the President of Georgia; Marek Siwiec, Vice President of the European Parliament; Aleksander Kwasniewski, the President of Poland in 1995-2005; Mario David, Vice-President of European People's Party; Victor Chernomyrdin, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Ukraine; key strategists of the leading USA political parties - Karl Rove, the republican, and Bob Shrum, the democrat.
Anthony Charles Lynton "Tony" Blair, the British politician and public leader, the Prime Minister of the Great Britain in 1997-2007, will be the special guest of the Summit to speak at Vision of Europe and Ukraine Plenary Session on July, 12.
The Ukrainian state at the Summit will be presented by Arseniy Yatseniuk, the Head of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine; Raisa Bogatyrova, the Secretary of National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine; Vice Prime Minister on European and International Integration Grygoriy Nemyria.

Yalta European Strategy (YES) is an independent international organization, uniting the famous politicians, business and public opinion leaders, and journalists, with the aim of reforming Ukraine and provision of support to its entering the European Union. The organization was created by Victor Pinchuk, Ukrainian businessman and public figure, in July, 2004. 
Annual YES Summits in Yalta act as communication ground to discuss and develop political and economic strategies for Europe and Ukraine. Since the year 2004, William J. Clinton, the 42nd President of the USA; Gerhard Shroeder, the German Chancellor (1998-2005); Aleksander Kwasniewski, President of Poland (1995-2005), Victor Yushchenko, the President of Ukraine, and other personalities took part in Summits' work.

Besides annual summits, YES acts as initiator and organizer of public opinion surveys, forums and discussions on actual Ukraine-European Union relations issues, provides public opinion polls in EU countries concerning the European integration perspectives of Ukraine.

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