The seventh meeting of the U.S.-Ukraine Trade and Investment Council held recently in Kyiv focused on ways to improve Ukraine’s business environment and remove barriers to bilateral trade. This council was established under the trade and investment cooperation agreement the two countries signed in 2008 after Ukraine joined the World Trade Organization.

According to a joint statement issued at the conclusion of the meeting, the delegations reviewed Ukraine’s efforts to improve the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights and the U.S. welcomed Ukraine’s efforts to reform its tax system and customs procedures. The two sides also discussed Ukraine’s reform of its regulatory system and stressed the need to continue engagement at the technical expert level to generate a better understanding of these reforms and ensure the development of a regulatory regime consistent with Ukraine’s international obligations. Ukraine’s current and future planned privatization process, as well as its ongoing efforts to improve the investment environment in the energy sector, were also reviewed.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s most recent National Trade Estimate report cites a number of trade barriers with respect to Ukraine. These include its potential adoption of European Union standards rather than international standards as the basis of its technical regulations, a requirement that makes it more difficult to export processed food products to Ukraine, and the lack of a system for registering genetically engineered products. Other problems include arbitrary sampling and testing practices, customs valuation practices that result in higher import duties, corruption in government procurement, and export licensing requirements for various consumer products. The report also cites Ukraine’s listing on USTR’s Special 301 priority watch list due to its problems with IPR protection and enforcement.

According to the NTE report, the U.S. ran a goods trade surplus of $501 million with Ukraine in 2016, up $490 million from the previous year. U.S. goods exports to Ukraine jumped 25.1 percent to $1.1 billion while imports from Ukraine plummeted 32.1 percent.

The joint statement notes that progress was made in the council’s discussions but cautions that “much work remains.” The next council meeting will be held in Washington, D.C., in 2018.

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