Canada and Ukraine signed here Tuesday a free trade deal, which is expected to help create jobs in both countries and provide improved market access for each other's exports.
The Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA) was signed in Chelsea, Canada Tuesday afternoon, witnessed by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Ukrainian counterpart Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
The deal came a few hours after the Canadian prime minister announced that the two countries have successfully concluded the negotiations of the agreement Tuesday morning and a few weeks after Harper's visit to Ukraine in early June, his third to the east European country since March 2014.
Since 2006, the Harper government has concluded free trade agreements with 39 countries, bringing the total to 44.
Before the signing ceremony, Harper and Yatsenyuk, who arrived in Canada for his first official visit Tuesday afternoon, met privately for about 20 minutes.
Once the agreement enters into force, Canada and Ukraine will immediately eliminate duties on 99.9 percent and 86 percent of respective current imports, thereby benefiting both Canadian and Ukrainian exporters and consumers.
It also will lead to the elimination of all Ukrainian tariffs on industrial goods, forestry and wood products, fish and seafood products, as well as the elimination of the vast majority of Ukraine's agricultural tariffs. Canadian agriculture exporters will benefit from duty-free access for beef, pulses, grains, canola oil, processed foods and animal feed.
The prime minister's office highlighted the inclusion of Ukraine as a priority emerging market under Canada's Global Markets Action Plan. It also publicly released Canada's market access plan for Ukraine -- another tool the Canadian government is providing to help Canadian companies, especially small and medium- sized enterprises, identify new opportunities to do business in Ukraine.
Total bilateral trade between Canada and Ukraine averaged 347 million Canadian dollars (some 300 million U.S. dollars) in the 2011-2013 period, and is expected to expand by 19 percent as a result of the implementation of this trade agreement.
According to the Canadian Prime Minister Office, Harper spoke with the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko Tuesday morning, reaffirming Canada's support for Ukraine ahead of the visit of Yatsenyuk to Canada.
They hailed the completion of the negotiations between Canada and Ukraine on the free trade deal, confirmed the need for the continued reform efforts in Ukraine, and discussed the situation in eastern Ukraine.
Harper reiterated Canada's support to Ukraine, including the provision of training and capacity building programs for Ukrainian security personnel.