UK and Ukraine negotiate ‘landmark’ digital trade deal
Image credit: PA Media / Department for International Trade
Electronic transactions, e-signatures and e-contracts are some of the technologies expected to boost commercial relationships between Ukraine and the UK, following the Russian invasion.
The UK and Ukraine have kicked off talks on a digital trade agreement, aimed at providing support for “Ukrainian jobs, livelihoods, and families” following Russia’s invasion.
The digital trade agreement is expected to support Ukrainian businesses by cutting red tape and helping them to trade with the UK more efficiently, as well as make it easier for UK companies to work with Ukrainian businesses and support their economic recovery.
The announcement was made today (Wednesday August 24) - a symbolic date that acknowledges both the 21st anniversary of Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union, as well as marking six months since Russian military forces invaded Ukraine on February 24 2022.
The negotiations began yesterday (Tuesday), when international trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan met virtually with first deputy prime minister and minister of economy of Ukraine Yuliia Svyrydenko and the vice prime minister and minister of digital transformation of Ukraine Mykhailo Fedorov, along with Vadym Prystaiko, the Ukrainian ambassador to the UK, in person in London.
“The UK stands shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine and will use trade as a force for good to help the country rebuild its modern economy after this barbaric war," Trevelyan said.
In 2021, total trade between the UK and Ukraine was valued at £1.9bn, with UK exports of digitally delivered services accounting for 73 per cent of all UK services exports to Ukraine in 2020. However, Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has disrupted commercial activities between the two countries.
"While we fight fearlessly for the freedom of our nation, many Ukrainians also look ahead to how we will rebuild our country," said Prystaiko. “Strengthening our economic ties through this landmark digital trade agreement will support our IT industry, which is set to become a major driver of economic growth for our businesses and cities.”
The announcement comes after a direct request from President (Volodymyr) Zelensky’s government, which identified supporting the digital economy as one of its areas of focus for the recovery and reconstruction of the country.
It follows the UK’s removal of all tariffs under the existing UK-Ukraine free trade agreement in May and the launch of a new UK-Ukraine Infrastructure Taskforce in July, which is building partnerships between UK and Ukrainian businesses to help repair damaged and destroyed infrastructure, including bridges and homes in and around Kyiv.
The UK has also introduced one of the largest and most severe packages of economic sanctions against Russia. Measures cover over £18bn worth of products that were traded with Russia in 2021, as well as over 1,000 individuals and over 100 entities in key sectors such as defence.
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