The now famous phone call between President Trump and President Zelensky released to the public in September attracted most attention around the Biden affair and possible links to US military assistance. Less noticed were Trump’s remarks that Europe did nothing for Ukraine.
Over the last years, Ukraine has intensified its trade links with the European Union driven by both the positive stimulus provided by the Association Agreement and a negative stimulus, namely the need to replace lost trade links with Russia.
Ukrainian government needs to take steps to reduce the possibility of hostile takeovers of property and should ensure transparent and lawful conduct of the judicial system and law enforcement agencies. It should also engage Ukrainian business associations in policy making.
Ukraine’s dependence on the market for exports to Russia has been declining drastically since 2011. Until then Ukraine’s exports to Russia, the EU, and the rest of the world had been following similar paths.
Soon Ukraine might finally expand the list of products protected by the geographical indications (GIs). The AA/DCFTA includes more than three thousand GIs from the EU,1 with only two Ukrainian GIs, wines Soniachna Dolyna and Novyj Svit.
While the vote-counting in Ukraine continues, it is already clear that President Volodymyr Zelensky has secured the power over legislative and, consequently, executive branches of the government. His political force, the Servant of the People party, has won a landslide victory in the snap parliamentary elections.
Ukraine has been going through ambitious structural reforms aimed to strengthen its democratic institutions and human rights protection, impose rule of law, and develop modern market-oriented economy. Customs reform is among key reforms in Ukrainian policy agenda in 2019.
The voting day in Ukrainian presidential elections passed rather calmly, and observers have not reported major electoral fraud, stating that basic standards of free elections were safeguarded. Hopefully the same will apply to the second round on April 21, 2019.
According to the Ukrstat, Ukraine exported USD 20.2 bn to the EU, surpassing the previous peak registered in 2008, i.e. before the hardships of two economic crises and the occupation of the part of Ukraine’s territory.
In compliance with the requirements of the International Monetary Fund, Ukraine has split its previously combined fiscal service into separate tax and customs agencies. This is a step in the right direction, which should be followed by re-orienting the customs to serve businesses and promote cross-border trade.