- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 26, 2003

That trade relations between Ukraine and the United States have suffered in recent months is a matter of great concern to those of us who believe commerce is one of the cornerstones of our friendship.
In order to provide a boost to the overall atmosphere surrounding the current state of U.S.-Ukrainian economic relations I have chosen to lead a delegation of Ukrainian government officials, whose primary responsibilities revolve around economic and trade issues, on a series of discussions in Washington from Jan. 27 to Feb. 3.
This will mark the first time, since last May, that such a high level delegation of Ukrainian officials will visit the U.S. Accordingly, we see such consultations as being extremely important to the overall goal of further developing Ukrainian-American relations.
During the course of this weeklong visit, officials from the U.S. Departments of State and Treasury, in addition to the National Security Council, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, will play host to our delegation and participate in a variety of discussions concerning pressing trade and economic issues.
Three primary baskets of issues will be under negotiation, including: the overall economic policies of the government of Ukraine, issues relating to bilateral trade, and matters concerning specific bilateral investment projects.
Because of the extreme importance attached to these discussions we have spent considerable time in preparation for this visit. Over the course of the previous year Ukraine has taken significant steps designed to break down the barriers to further economic cooperation with the United States. For example, our legislature has enacted some very stringent intellectual property protections. With these laws now in place, the executive branch is fully committed to enforcing them.
Also, Ukraine has developed a completely transparent steel and metallurgical market possessing modern and open competitive market procedures. This overturns many decades worth of privileges that had been extended to Ukraine's metallurgical industry.
Moreover, there have been significant strides in bringing the Ukrainian legislature up to date in terms of conforming to FATF norms and regulations. Certain amendments to the Criminal Code, as were insisted upon by the FATF, were approved as well as amendments to the Law on Banks and Banking Activity, which allow for effective financial monitoring in order to guard against money laundering.
It is clear that, even though the new government is in its first few months' of existence, the level of conviction that is in place for passage of other FATF-approved laws, remains strong. As such, it will no longer be necessary to continue sanctions against Ukraine.
Various statements by the American side, regarding our upcoming trip to Washington, have been quite encouraging. We very much welcome the administration's language surrounding congressional waving of the Jackson-Vanick Amendment as it applies to Ukraine; however, we would like to see a little bit more.
Our markets have been transforming for 11 years. The United States could easily, and justifiably, acknowledge Ukraine as a country with a market economy for the purposes of antidumping investigations. This has already been done by Canada and, in part, by the European Union.
We feel it important that U.S. decision-makers recognize the recent legislative actions played by the Ukrainian parliament, whereby all market activities will be conducted according to the same principles upheld by the developed nations of the world. As such, Ukraine now has a new Civil and Commercial Code, in addition to a new set of laws affecting such things as corporate management, foreign economic activity and the development of foreign direct investment.
Conversely, Ukraine expects its commodities will not face unfair trade barriers in the American market, for example, in the form of double tariffs on the importation of certain types of steel. For our part, we are ready to join the U.S. in reducing the global steel overcapacity.
Bilateral trade, obviously, is a two-way street. Given this fact, we are prepared to engage in constructive talks regarding top American concerns such as the protection of intellectual property rights, access to Ukrainian markets by American poultry producers, and various problems related to investment projects in Ukraine by American companies.

Mykola Azarov is first vice prime minister and finance minister of Ukraine.


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