Russia, Ukraine discuss free trade zone agreement

Russia and Ukraine have come close to reducing the list of exceptions from the free trade zone agreement. This was disclosed here today by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, after the talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovich wound up.

"We have discussed top-priority issues, which will be examined at a regular session of the inter-governmental commission in early July 2004," Mr. Fradkov noted. "First of all, this concerns specific exceptions from the free trade zone agreement. We have come close to reaching consensus on this issue," Mr. Fradkov stressed.

According to the Russian Prime Minister, the sides also examined the application of direct taxes in Russian-Ukrainian trade, railroad tariffs, as well as the ratification of the "zero option" agreement.

"We have now summed up the results of our experts' work, reaching consensus on specific barriers hampering our mutual relations. Such barriers can and must be overcome by mobilizing all available opportunities," Mikhail Fradkov went on to say.

In his words, bilateral trade and economic cooperation keeps developing rather successfully. For instance, the Russian-Ukrainian trade turnover soared by 35 percent over the January-March 2004 period.

This success in our trade and economic relations was largely facilitated by the simultaneous ratification of an agreement on establishing a common Russian-Ukrainian-Belarussian-Kazakh economic infrastructure by national parliaments, Mr. Fradkov noted.

For his own part, Ukrainian Prime Minister Victor Yanukovich informed reporters about specific prospects for implementing the joint An-70 cargo-aircraft project.

This issue is to be examined by the Russian-Ukrainian inter-governmental commission, due to hold its session in July 2004. The sides have agreed to coordinate the project's details and to step up their work for the sake of completing this project before the year is out, Mr. Yanukovich said.

In his words, this issue became a top-priority aspect of the May 15 talks.

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