The Ukraine-EU Association Agreement took full effect on September 1 signifying “an exceptionally important stage in bilateral relations,” Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said on his Facebook page.
The Free Trade Area has been in effect for more than a year and a half, he said, during which the EU has become Ukraine’s main trading partner, making up 41% of Ukraine’s foreign trade. In January-July, exports of goods and services to the EU grew 22.8% y/y, reaching $9.4 bln.
On September 1, Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, issued a statement today congratulating the Ukrainian people for their efforts to achieve the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement.
“I thank all those who made it possible: those who stood on the Maidan and those who are working hard to reform the country for the better. This is a day of celebration for our European continent,” Juncker said in the statement.
The Ukraine-EU Association Agreement was signed by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in June 2014 after it was rejected in November 2013 by former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, an event that triggered the EuroMaidan revolt.
In April 2016, Dutch citizens voted to reject the agreement, forcing EU leaders to find a compromise to satisfy its opponents in a separate addition to the document. However, experts said that most of the compromise points were already address in the agreement. It was finally ratified on July 11, 2017 by the EU Council after getting approval from all member-states.
"The biggest benefit from the Association Agreement will be Ukraine’s gradual adoption of judiciary standards that will introduce rule of law to a country where it’s almost non-existent," Zenon Zawada, an analyst at the Concorde Capital brokerage in Kyiv, wrote in a research note.
"This lack of rule of law has made Ukraine a very difficult place to invest and do business."
"The agreement consists of specific targets that will have to be implemented within a specific timetable," he went on to say. "The agreement will also introduce higher standards to many other spheres of Ukrainian life, ranging from food safety to the banking sphere."