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Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau visits Ukraine, signs trade agreement

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived in Kyiv on July 10, following the NATO Summit in Warsaw, and will stay until July 12. The main event of his visit will be the signing of a Canadian-Ukrainian Free Trade Agreement.

Trudeau is meeting with Ukraine’s president and prime minister, Petro Poroshenko and Volodymyr Groysman, as well as other political and civic leaders. One reception took place for him on July 10 and another one takes place on July 12 at 7 p.m.

Trudeau promised “new possibilities, and new jobs” for the peoples of Ukraine, with 43 million people, and Canada, with 33 million people, as the two nations signed a free trade agreement on July 11.

Canada’s leader, in speaking at a joint press conference in Kyiv with Poroshenko, said the trade agreement “will create new markets for goods, and will improve the quality of people’s lives,” Trudeau said.

The free trade agreement is designed to do away with tariff barriers and boost trade between the countries. The document will start to come into force immediately, Poroshenko said. However, it will take seven years to fully implement it, he said.

Under the agreement, goods produced in Ukraine get preferential access to the Canadian market, and Ukrainian producers will be able to participate in public procurement in Canada.

Canadian producers get the same conditions on the Ukrainian market.

Poroshenko added that “we will continue negotiations on widening the spheres of the agreement, as this is extremely important.”

The “milestone agreement,” as Trudeau described it, was signed for Ukraine by Deputy Prime Minister Stepan Kubiv, and for Canada by Christina Freeland, Canada’s federal minister of international trade.

Trudeau also spoke of the assistance Canada is currently providing to Ukraine, including providing monitors for the mission of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in the Donbas, and humanitarian and financial aid.

Canada has also sent soldiers to train the Ukrainian military, Trudeau said. They will stay in Ukraine until 2017.

Poroshenko thanked Trudeau and the whole of Canada for its great support, and for “standing with Ukraine during its hardest times.”

He said Canada had been one of the first to condemn Russia for its illegal annexation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea, and to implement economic sanctions in response.

Trudeau added that he hoped the trade agreement would improve not only the exchange of goods and investment, but would also increase the number of people traveling between the two countries.

He said he understood the importance “of the visa issue for Ukrainians.”

According to Poroshenko, the sides have agreed to launch negotiations on relaxing the requirements made of Ukrainians to obtain Canadian visas.

The first step would be to “decrease the number of the visa denials for Ukrainians,” Poroshenko said.

Trade between Canada and Ukraine is currently heavily in Canada’s favor.

According to Ukraine’s State Statistics Service, Ukraine exported $30.2 million worth of goods to Canada in 2015, while importing $206.3 million worth of Canadian goods.

Kyiv Post staff writer Alyona Zhuk can be reached at zhuk@kyivpost.com

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