UK minister says British-Ukrainian trade deal to be top priority
Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox said that Britain and Ukraine had started developing a free trade agreement that would seek to replicate the conditions of the existing Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between Ukraine and the EU.
On the same day, Bob Seely, a member of parliament from the UK’s governing Conservative Party and an elected member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said at the House of Commons, the UK parliament, that Ukraine and the United Kingdom were “natural allies” and that Britain had so far been “too soft” on Russia.
As the UK readies itself to leave the European bloc, it’s faced with the daunting task of negotiating dozens of new trade deals around the world.
In Britain, there is still significant opposition to the UK leaving the EU, and hope among some that the country might not in fact leave the union (polls show most voters now want the UK to remain in the EU) – but most are steeling themselves for it eventually happening.
Fox’s speech took place at the Savoy Hotel in central London on the third day of Ukrainian Week, an occasion that saw a string of events focused on British-Ukrainian relations take place across the UK capital.
“Last year the total trade between Ukraine and the UK topped 1 billion pounds,” Fox said. “(This followed) two years of strong growth across the board, in goods and services, imports and exports.”
“British companies, like many others across the world, are increasingly aware of all that Ukraine has to offer, and the huge commercial opportunities that exist in the country… GlaxoSmithKline, Astra Zeneca and Vodafone, to name just a few, have substantially increased their operations in Ukraine in recent years,” Fox added.
Fox called Ukraine “the historic bread basket of Europe” and said his department is taking steps to improve bilateral relations in this agriculture and agritech.
“We’re offering British expertise in agricultural machinery, grain storage, and food processing… I don’t need to tell the people in this room that Ukraine is a nation with a vast amount of untapped economic potential,” he said. ■