New UK-Ukraine digital agreement a 'landmark moment' that shows trade is a force for good

Wed 30 Nov 2022
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

uk ukraine

The UK and Ukraine have agreed a new deal to help rebuild Ukraine’s war-shattered economy, using digital trade tools and technologies to help Ukrainians access vital goods and services.

It is the second such digital deal that the UK has concluded following an agreement signed with Singapore earlier this year. The UK also cut tariffs on all goods from Ukraine to zero under the UK-Ukraine free trade agreement earlier this year.

Record pace

International trade secretary Kemi Badenoch said the agreement was negotiated at “record pace” and paved the way for a new era of modern trade between the two countries.

“This agreement will mean our businesses and governments can collaborate even more and ensure Ukrainians have access to essential goods and services digital trade opens up. This will help protect jobs, livelihoods and families now and in Ukraine’s post-war future,” she said in a government statement.

Digital trade

The director general of the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT), Marco Forgione, also welcomed the deal, saying that digital trade can return Ukraine to prosperity. He said:

“International trade is a force for good with a proven track record of bringing prosperity to communities and nations. Increasing trade between the UK and Ukraine will help rebuild Ukraine’s economy and help to address aspects of the ongoing cost of living crisis.

“We also welcome the UK government’s continued determination to use digital tools and technologies to strengthen its trading relationships and to reduce barriers to trade.

“The IOE&IT is a proud supporter of this direction of travel, as part of one of the six consortia developing the government-backed Ecosystem of Trust pilots. Through distributed ledger and supply chain technologies, we are showing how digital solutions can streamline documentation requirements and help goods to travel more quickly and efficiently across borders.

“This agreement is a landmark moment for digital trade and an important development for Ukraine’s recovery.”

Electronic borders

Reuters reports that the deal covers areas such as streamlining digital border processes, cross-border data flows, electronic transactions and e-signatures. The agreement also allows for greater co-operation between the UK and Ukraine on cybersecurity and emerging technologies.

Yulia Svyrydenko, Ukraine’s first deputy minister and minister for trade and economy, who will be in London to mark the agreement, said: “The UK-Ukraine Digital Trade Agreement has enshrined core freedoms for trade in digital goods and services.”

Infrastructure damaged

Kyiv had been investigating whether the deal would be possible given the damage to trade infrastructure caused during its conflict with Russia, reports the Independent.

Russia has targeted Ukraine’s infrastructure, but Western allies have pledged to continue to support efforts to repair and rebuild it, according to Politico. There is nonetheless concern that repaired physical infrastructure will simply be retargeted and destroyed again.

A joint statement from NATO’s foreign ministers has said the alliance “will maintain our support for as long as necessary”. 

Digital focus

As previously covered in the IOE&IT Daily Update, trade talks on a digital deal kicked off in August during a surprise visit from then prime minister Boris Johnson.

The UK has focused on digital trade as a way to boost its economy post-Brexit, including in its negotiations for new trade deals.

Trade talks with Israel have looked at the benefits for the UK services and digital sectors under a future deal, and digital provision has been built into agreements with Singapore and Australia.