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Canada launches free trade talks with Ukraine

Canada’s farmers and farm machinery makers are among the expected beneficiaries from the launch of talks toward a free trade agreement (FTA) with Ukraine.

International Trade Minister Stockwell Day and Ukrainian Economics Minister Bohdan Danylyshyn announced the talks Tuesday, saying the two countries will meet in the coming months on “a range of trade and investment issues to facilitate economic relations and fight protectionism.”

An FTA with Ukraine could further open markets for Canadian exports ranging from agricultural and seafood products to machinery and pharmaceuticals, the Canadian government said in a release. An agreement “could also help to address non-tariff barriers.”

Canadian merchandise exports to Ukraine in 2008 totalled $229.7 million, up 80 per cent from 2007 and about 400 per cent from 2004.

Canada’s top export category was machinery at $53.4 million or about 23.3 per cent of all exports to Ukraine, the government said. Machinery exports were up  74.3 per cent last year over 2007. Much of that increase, worth about $30.2 million, was in agricultural machinery.

Ukraine’s top merchandise export to Canada in 2008 was iron and steel, worth $72.5 million or 36.7 per cent of all imports.

Canada’s second-largest import from Ukraine, however, was fertilizers, worth $52.6 million in 2008, an increase of 345.8 per cent over 2007.

Ukraine (pop. 46 million) is the largest country in Europe, and home to a “diversified industrial base and substantial natural resources,” the Canadian government said.

“Canadian companies are steadily building a deep business presence here in areas like aerospace, communications technologies and in agriculture,” Day said in the government’s release. “Free trade negotiations could help to extend our deepening partnership. We know the support is there — on both sides.”

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