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Controversial support: US seeks specialist to help Ukraine in WTO

2019-09-04T04:23:01.774Z

The US Department of Commerce plans to help Kiev negotiate agricultural products and resolve disputes at the World Trade Organization. For this purpose, the agency will hire a specialist who will advise the Ukrainian Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, as well as a delegation to the WTO. According to Washington, Ukraine has increasingly turned to the arbitration group due to the fact that neighboring countries "block the import of traditional Ukrainian goods." At the same time, since 2018, Kiev has lost several trade disputes with Moscow. According to RT experts interviewed, having a specialist in the Ukrainian government will allow the States to manage the country's economic processes in their own interests. However, even Washington’s support does not guarantee Kiev victories in trade disagreements, analysts emphasize.


The US Department of Commerce is looking for an expert who will advise the Department of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine (MEDT), as well as support the Ukrainian mission in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The specialist will help Kiev to negotiate on agricultural products and food, as well as participate in the settlement of disputes.

“Given the growing complexity of WTO issues of significant interest to Ukraine, the US Embassy in Ukraine asked the Commercial Law Development Program (a division of the US Department of Commerce. - RT ) to provide Kiev with an expert who can advise the country on trade negotiations within the WTO in particular concerning agricultural or food products, as well as regarding WTO dispute resolution procedures, especially sanitary and phytos Nitrogen issues, ”the document says.

The expert’s work was commissioned to coordinate the US Embassy in Ukraine. Five times a year, an employee will have to come to Kiev and give advice to the Ukrainian Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, and then go to Geneva to meet with the Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the WTO or with the Ukrainian delegation at organization sessions.

Recall that in April Ukraine lost to the WTO a dispute over the transit of goods through Russia. The arbitration group declared Kiev’s claims against Moscow unreasonable. The reason for the lawsuit was bans and restrictions on the transport of Ukrainian goods to Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan through the territory of the Russian Federation. Moscow was forced to take these measures after a free trade regime came into force between Ukraine and the European Union. As explained in the Russian Foreign Ministry, there was a threat of re-export of goods from third countries under the guise of Ukrainian ones.

The decision of the WTO was criticized in government circles of the United States. According to Reuters, Washington said the decision contained serious flaws. In particular, it was allegedly “premature and did not comply with the standards of international law”.

It is worth noting that this is not the first time that the WTO has ruled in favor of Moscow in a trade dispute with Kiev. So, last year, the arbitration sided with the Russian Federation in the matter of restricting the import of railway cars and turnouts of Ukrainian production.

The victory of Russia also ended the dispute on import duties on the import of ammonium nitrate, which Ukraine increased. Representatives of the Russian Federation claimed that Kiev used the cost of the substance on the European, and not on the Russian market.

As political analyst Ivan Meziuho explained to RT, the US Department of Commerce’s plans to appoint an adviser to work with the Ukrainian authorities once again confirm that Washington is seeking to profit from cooperation with Ukraine, and Kiev is ready to abandon national interests in favor of Western partners.

“Americans are interested in the work of such a specialist in order to control financial flows in Ukraine,” he said.

  • Road signs on the border of Russia and Ukraine
  • © Vladislav Sergienko / RIA News

Victory is not guaranteed

According to the document, the division of the US Department of Commerce has been providing technical assistance to Ukraine for more than 10 years. At first, the department helped Kiev join the WTO, and then - to comply with its obligations within the organization.

However, according to the Ministry of Trade, Ukraine is increasingly turning to the WTO in order to resolve trade disputes with neighboring states when they block the import of Ukrainian goods “allegedly for sanitary reasons”.

“In recent years, Ukraine has increasingly resorted to WTO mechanisms to resolve trade disputes with neighboring countries, especially when these countries impose a ban on the import of traditional agricultural or food products from Ukraine allegedly on sanitary and phytosanitary grounds,” the agency said.

Inconsistency of the products with safety standards really caused a ban on the import of a number of Ukrainian goods. In 2014, Russia suspended the import of all dairy products and milk from Ukraine due to the fact that a residual amount of tetracycline antibiotics, heavy metal salts and pathogenic microorganisms were found in them. In addition, potatoes were found under the embargo, in which a golden nematode was found to be a pest, and pork because of the threat of the spread of African swine fever (ASF).

Even with the support of such a significant player as the United States, victory in the WTO disputes is not guaranteed for Kiev, says Yuri Rogulev, director of the Franklin Roosevelt Foundation for the Study of the United States at Moscow State University.

“Of course, the US voice in the WTO is significant, and if Ukraine in one or another economic dispute can secure the support of the United States, then it will be important for it. But this does not mean that Ukraine will automatically win all disputes in the WTO, ”he added.

According to the expert, the United States does not intend to provide any real systematic assistance to Ukraine, but only pretends to support the country. The WTO is well suited for this purpose - in recent years, the organization has lost its former significance, Rogulev added.

  • Pigs on the farm
  • © Ilya Naymushin / Reuters

Lost a real partner

Cooperation with the United States and the European Union has not yet brought visible benefits to the Ukrainian economy, experts say. However, spoiled relations with Russia clearly affected the welfare of the state.

“Kiev suffered from its own anti-Russian and Russophobic policies, from countermeasures taken by Moscow against the Ukrainian state. Obviously, Ukraine has lost a huge amount of money over these five years, and cooperation with the West has not helped it to compensate for these financial resources. Russia was the main investor state of the Ukrainian economy even after the coup, ”said political analyst Ivan Mezyuho.

In 2015, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine adopted a resolution abolishing the free trade zone with Russia within the CIS. Moreover, since then Ukraine has imposed sanctions on the import of a number of Russian goods, which it has repeatedly expanded and extended. Moscow, in turn, has taken retaliatory steps. One of the latest measures was the embargo on wheat, sunflower and cottonseed oils, chocolate, bread, as well as canned vegetables, fruits, nuts, juices, beer and wines.

At the same time, the Russian authorities declared their readiness to lift restrictions as soon as the Ukrainian side did so.

As they said in the Department of Economic Policy of the Federation of Employers of Ukraine, trade restrictions significantly hit the economy of Ukraine. From bans on trade initiated by Kiev, the country suffered 13 times more than the Russian Federation.

And according to Verkhovna Rada deputy Yevgeny Muraev, Ukraine lost half of its gross domestic product due to anti-Russian sanctions.

“We lost half of GDP, Russia - 2%, Europe - less than 1%. This is a sanction war against whom? Against us? This is absurd, ”the politician said.

Mezyuho explained that Russia has economic interests in Ukraine, and if the current government in Kiev had established constructive cooperation with Moscow, this would have brought income to Ukraine.

“I think that Ukrainian economists clearly understand that without cooperation with Russia, Ukraine is doomed to a miserable existence within the global market,” the political scientist concluded.

Source: russiart

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