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[Blog] The UK-Ukraine political, free trade and strategic partnership agreement

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posted on 2023-06-10, 06:20 authored by Erika Szyszczak
In its avowed Global Britain Project the UK promised that Ukraine would be given preferential status in the post-Brexit trade landscape. Finally, on October 8, 2020 the UK and Ukraine signed a Political, Free Trade and Strategic Partnership Agreement (the Agreement). This is the first comprehensive strategic and trade agreement signed by the UK since the creation of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, but one of several continuity agreements. The political symbolism of the Agreement is of greater significance than the economic impact of the Agreement, with Ukraine and the UK keen to show that they are independent, sovereign trading nations. According to the UK Press Release, trade between the UK and Ukraine was worth only £1.5bn in 2019. The main UK goods exports to Ukraine were aircraft (£79m), medicinal and pharmaceutical products (£61m) and cars (£52m). The Agreement is of significance to the UK for securing food supplies: in 2019 £177m of cereals were imported which amounted to over 14% of UK imports of cereals (Source: UN Comtrade). The other major import was iron and steel (£182m). Overall Ukraine benefits by increasing its access to export finance support and technical assistance from the UK, alongside increasing its capacity to export to the EU and the UK market. It is estimated that 98% of Ukrainian goods will now be accessible to the UK market without tariff quotas. But the aim of the Agreement is to increase UK-Ukraine trade. Ukraine is the UK’s 69th largest trading partner. The share of Ukraine in the UK’s exports and imports of goods in 2019 was 0.14% and 0.11% respectively (Source: UN Comtrade). In 2019, UK exports to Ukraine were £0.7bn, making it the UK’s 71st largest export market. UK imports from Ukraine were £0.8bn, making it the UK’s 66th largest import source. Trade in goods has greater significance than trade in services. The new Agreement has been adapted for bilateral trade from the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) Agreement between the EU and Ukraine which formally entered into force on September 1, 2017. This Agreement was lauded as an example of the new EU approach to its neighbourhood policy, by increasing trade in goods and services through tariff reductions but also by including conditionality clauses relating to democracy, human rights and good governance and, most importantly, by Ukraine adapting its internal harmonising standards in industrial and agricultural products to EU standards.


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Falmer, Susssex

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  • UK Trade Policy Observatory Publications

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