Following agreements with the EU and Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine looks set to join theWTO in 2008. To join, Ukrainemust have the consent of all the current 151Members. However, Kyrgyzstan had been withholding its consent pending resolution of a payment of US$27.3million owed to Kyrgyzstan as outstanding ‘state debt’ incurred in the years up to the collapse of the USSR in 1991. Nevertheless, on 15 November, the two countries finally reached an agreement. The EU also had concerns that the Ukraine ditch export taxes designed tomake Ukrainian-made goods cheaper if they stay inside the country. However, on 10 December, agreement was also attained on this issue, thus leaving the door open for the Ukraine’sWTO succession in 2008.
President Viktor Yushchenko had promised to secureWTOmembership within a year of coming to power in 2005 following the pro-Western “Orange Revolution”, as part ofmeasures to position Ukraine closer to theWest. However, the date has been repeatedly put back.
WTO membership could entail significant newmarket opportunities for foreign investors fromthe nation of 46.5 million people, the third most-populated country, after Russia and Iran, still not a part of the organisation.Moreover, the EU has madeWTOmembership a condition for commencing negotiations with Ukraine on free trade – amove seen as vital to Ukraine’s aspirations of drawing closer to the 27-nation bloc.