Kiev, Feb 4 After 14 years of talks, the World Trade Organisation is set to approve Ukraine’s membership bid, fulfilling President Viktor Yushchenko’s promise to nudge the ex-Soviet republic further towards the West.
Membership would open up new Markets for Ukraine’s export-driven Economy, force more competition on the domestic market and throw up new challenges — a free trade deal with the European Union and talks with Russia over its own WTO bid.
The WTO general council is to approve the bid on Tuesday and Ukraine’s parliament has six months to ratify the decision.
“Ukraine will really join the world Economy in a way that it has not before and has taken on a lot of obligations which are reassuring to investors and importers,” said David Hartridge, former WTO director of trade and services. The Economy has grown on average 7.4% since 2000, the OECD says, weathering three years of political turmoil. Investors, coming to terms with the fourth government in as many years, can take heart.
“The great value of membership is it imposes a sort of stability on internal policy. Government undertakes obligations which are in effect legal binding,” said Hartridge, now a trade consultant with White and Case. Yushchenko, committed to NATO and European Union membership, promised Ukraine would join the WTO within a year after the 2004 “Orange” Revolution swept him to power. But political turmoil, opposition in parliament and discord inside the “orange” camp led to a slower-paced approach.
As a WTO member, Ukraine could seek bilateral agreements with prospective members, raising speculation that Kiev could hinder Russia’s equally protracted WTO bid. Relations have been tense over Western integration and energy and security.