This article was published before we became the Chartered Institute of Export & International Trade on 10 July 2024, and this is reflected in references to our old brand and name. For more information about us becoming Chartered, visit our dedicated webpage on the change here.

The UK and Ukraine have today (24 August) announced the formal launch of talks on a new digital trade deal as part of the effort to help the country rebuild following Russia’s invasion.

The agreement will help Ukrainian businesses by reducing trade barriers and by facilitating the use of electronic transactions, e-signatures and e-contracts technology.

The announcement came as prime minister Boris Johnson made a surprise visit to Ukraine today to mark the country’s celebration of its 31st anniversary of independence from the Soviet Union.

The Guardian reports that Johnson received the Order of Liberty – Ukraine’s highest award for foreigners.

‘Brighter days ahead’

Commenting on the deal, international trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “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.”

She added: “Our partnership with Ukraine will help them seize the brighter days ahead.”

'Positive move'

Marco Forgione, director general of the Institute of Export & International Trade commented on the deal saying:

“This is a very positive move which will strengthen trade links between the UK and Ukraine. These digital trade talks are indicative of the modern free trade agreements the UK government is signing around the world, giving UK businesses access to new markets and reducing barriers to trade.

“Increasing trade between UK and Ukraine will help rebuild the Ukraine economy and help address aspects of the current cost of living crisis.

“IOE&IT has established a digital trade platform and a trusted trader system which will help ensure the security with traceability and tracking.

“Congratulations to both Governments on agreeing this deal.”

Strengthening ties

Vadym Prystaiko, Ukrainian ambassador to the UK, added: “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.”

Total trade between the UK and Ukraine was worth £1.9 billion in 2021 and UK exports of digitally delivered services accounted for 73% of all UK services exports to Ukraine in 2020.

Trade deal strategy

London has adopted a strategy of assisting Ukraine through trade agreements since the beginning of the war.

In July, the Trevelyan also launched a UK-Ukraine Infrastructure Taskforce, which aims to build partnerships between UK and Ukrainian businesses to help repair damaged and destroyed infrastructure.

Reuters notes that the UK had previously removed all tariffs on goods from Ukraine in May 2022.

Digital trade

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

As reported previously by the IOE&IT Daily Update, Trevelyan launched talks with Israel in July, highlighting the benefits for the UK services and digital sectors under a future deal.

The UK has also heralded the digital nature of its agreements with Singapore and Australia.