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8 October, 2012  ▪  The Ukrainian Week

Please the Oligarchs

The Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Petro Poroshenko, and other members of Mykola Azarov’s government continue to insist on Kyiv’s right to a review of its WTO membership terms.

This concerns custom duties for 371 goods worth a total of over USD 4.5bn. As expected, Ukraine’s Western partners were not long in responding: Keith Rockwell, Director of the WTO Information and Media Relations Division, said that reaction to these demands was very “quick and negative.” WTO representatives expressed surprise at such a large-scale revision of the terms. The reaction of the EU and the US was equally negative, essentially accusing Ukraine of protectionism. In truth, the review of import duties can take years, and this will probably satisfy the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, which has found itself under powerful pressure from lobbyists, including Ukrainian car tycoons and the Federation of Employers of Ukraine, the authority of which has increased since Dmytro Firtash became its chairman. A special working group was set up at the Ministry for the purpose of the revision of Ukraine’s WTO membership terms. The Ministry’s employees have collected all the recommendations from the working group and oligarchs and sent them in a letter to the WTO. 

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