Ukraine’s largest single trading partner, the European Union (EU), has taken the first step to abolish import duties on all Ukrainian exports for one year in what it is calling an “unprecedented gesture of support for a country at war.”
The proposal by the European Commission, the political and economic union’s 27-nation member executive branch, now needs to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.
“This far-reaching step is designed to help boost Ukraine’s exports to the EU. It will help alleviate the difficult situation of Ukrainian producers and exporters in the face of Russia’s military invasion,” the EU’s executive body said in a news release on April 27.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the announcement in a social media post saying he spoke with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also about the EU’s sixth package of sanctions to be imposed since Russia renewed its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.
It “must include an oil embargo,” Zelensky tweeted.
So far, sanctions imposed by the West, in addition to Australia and Japan, have failed to deter Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin’s goal of subjugating Ukraine in all-out war of devastation and attrition.
The suspension of import duties, which include Ukrainian exports of industrial goods and food products, in response to “Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified aggression is severely affecting the Ukrainian economy,” von der Leyen said.
The move is “unprecedented” because the EU has “never never before delivered such trade liberalization measures,” said European Commission Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis.
Trade turnover between Ukraine and the EU reached a record of more than 52 billion euros in 2021. The amount is double what the two had in bilateral trade in 2016 when a free trade agreement went into effect as part of their Association Agreement.
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