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Strasbourg, 11 March 2014
An "economic life-line for Ukraine": Temporary tariff cuts for Ukrainian exports to the EU
Statement by EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
I'd first like to thank President Barroso for his presentation today and his full support for the trade action I have been working on for Ukraine.
I am very pleased that the College of Commissioners has agreed today to my proposal for a system of autonomous trade measures for Ukraine.
This will be an important component of the European Union's package to help Ukraine during this difficult period. A package which the President himself presented to you already last week. What we proposed today adds on to this package – these are new measures.
Today is a first step in delivering rapid and direct assistance to the people of Ukraine. As the President just explained, it is also a clear sign of the European Union standing shoulder to shoulder with all the Ukrainian people.
So what does this system of autonomous trade measures really mean?
In short, the EU will open its doors to exports from Ukraine, giving a real boost to Ukrainian companies with the knock-on effect of creating or maintaining jobs across the country. These measures will be valid until 1 November 2014. We hope that in the meantime the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) part of the agreement will be signed. If not, we could prolong the measure.
We are all aware of the economic plight facing Ukraine right now. This trade action is more than a gesture – it is an economic life-line.
Now, the 'one-way' trade system will allow for almost full, preferential access for Ukrainian goods onto the EU marketplace - without any reciprocity from Ukraine but with a number of key restrictions.
We have, of course, included certain conditions to prevent abuse from third countries – I'm referring to the rules of origin. We have also put in place important safeguards to prevent sudden damaging surges of products onto the European marketplace which would harm our companies or key sectors such as agriculture.
I would expect a positive impact for Ukrainian businesses and workers to be felt just weeks after this system comes into force.
The expected annual benefits for Ukraine through tariff reductions of the original, as yet unsigned trade deal is in the region of half a billion euros per year, to be precise 483 million euros. So, even a few months of this unilateral arrangement would be expected to bring gains in the hundreds of millions of euros for Ukraine.
This is why I strongly urge the European Parliament and our EU Member States to 'fast-track' this proposal so that it can be operational by June.
But let me finish by reiterating that this unilateral system is not a substitute for the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) that from the outset we have proposed to Ukraine.
The EU-Ukraine complete trade deal is still the goal.
In the medium and long term, only the complete trade deal will modernize Ukraine's economy; provide it with a new lease of life; and build the trade ties to Europe that offer a brighter economic and stable future for all Ukrainians.
For further information
Press Release (IP/14/250): European Commission proposes temporary tariff cuts for Ukrainian exports to the EU, 11 March 2014
SPEECH/14/205: Statement by President Barroso on the autonomous trade measures for Ukraine
Press Release (IP/14/219): The European Commission's support package for Ukraine, 5 March 2014
Guide to the EU-Ukraine Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA):
EU-Ukraine Association Agreement – the complete texts
Trade relations between the EU and Ukraine