A “landmark” digital trade agreement aimed at providing support for “Ukrainian jobs, livelihoods, and families” after the Russian invasion was discussed by the British and Ukrainian governments on Tuesday.
It is hoped that the new digital trade agreement will support Ukrainian businesses by cutting red tape and helping them to trade with the UK more efficiently through technologies such as electronic transactions, e-signatures and e-contracts.
The plan has also been designed to make it easier for UK companies to work with Ukrainian businesses and support their economic recovery.
The talks began on Tuesday, when International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan met Ukraine's First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Yuliia Svyrydenko and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov online, followed by an in-person meeting in London with Ukrainian ambassador to the UK Vadym Prystaiko.
Total trade between the UK and Ukraine was worth £1.9 billion ($2.2bn) in 2021 and UK exports of digitally delivered services accounted for 73 per cent of all services exports to Ukraine in 2020.
“The UK stands shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine and will use trade as a force for good to help the country rebuild its modern economy after this barbaric war.
“Our partnership with Ukraine will help them seize the brighter days ahead, and we will continue to do everything in our power to protect Ukrainian jobs, livelihoods and families.”
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Mr Prystaiko said “the ties between our governments have never been closer” and added: “While we fight fearlessly for the freedom of our nation, many Ukrainians also look ahead to how we will rebuild our country.
“Strengthening our economic ties through this landmark digital trade agreement will support our IT industry, which is set to become a major driver of economic growth for our businesses and cities.”
The announcement comes after a direct request from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government, which identified supporting the digital economy as one of its areas of focus for the recovery and reconstruction of the country.
It also follows the UK’s removal of all tariffs under the existing UK-Ukraine free trade agreement in May, supporting Ukrainian businesses and producers to export goods and rebuild their economy.
In July, Ms Trevelyan also launched a new UK-Ukraine Infrastructure Task Force, which is building partnerships between UK and Ukrainian businesses to help repair damaged and destroyed infrastructure including bridges and homes in and around Kyiv.