The Western Balkan countries already have plans for bold and deep institutional reforms that will not only liberalize and deliver a boost to their economies, but will also, most importantly, significantly improve the level of freedom enjoyed by the people in the region.
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.
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.
In an escalation of tensions between Japan and South Korea, Tokyo has moved forward with regulations on exports of chemicals to Korean technological companies like Samsung. This move is seen as a political calculation, given recent disputes of trade and negotiations between the two Asian nations.
The street protests that have started in Tbilisi on June 20, 2019, became a direct result of the mistakes of Georgian officials and a brazen behavior of a Russian politician. The majority of Georgian people thinks that, first, Russia is dangerous and, second, we cannot be partners of Russia, and instead need more integration with Europe and NATO.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Chairman of the European Research Group on the House of Commons, claimed that this treaty would make the UK a vassal state. It is difficult to not agree with him. The last treaties that gave jurisdiction to foreign courts were the aforementioned 19th-century treaties with China.
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.
The first steps of the long-awaited customs reform in Ukraine started in 2017 only to be cancelled at the beginning of 2018. Meanwhile, customs clearance in the country remains lengthy and complicated, which is reflected in Ukraine’s low positions in comparative international rankings.
The year 2017 brought wins and failures. The Ukrainian Government was able to approve important reforms, which was still not sufficient to receive scheduled assistance from the IMF and the EU. 2018 will be tough as Ukraine should make large progress in many areas, while the 2019 elections are approaching.