Ukraine country profile28 August 2006
by eub2 -- last modified 12 February 2013
The EU is seeking an increasingly close relationship with Ukraine, going beyond mere bilateral co-operation, to gradual economic integration and a deepening of political co-operation.
Member of Schengen area:No
Political system: Republic
Capital city: Kiev
Total area: 603 700 km²
Population: 45.7 million
Ukraine is a priority partner country within the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and the Eastern Partneship (EaP). The Partnership and Co-operation Agreement (PCA) which entered into force in 1998 and provides a comprehensive and ambitious framework for cooperation between the EU and Ukraine, in all key areas of reform.
At the Paris Summit in September 2008 an agreement was reached to start negotiations on an EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, which is to be the successor agreement to the PCA. Several negotiating Rounds have since been organised, alternately in Brussels and Kiev (see: 4th Joint Progress Report on Negotiations on the Association Agreement. In November 2009, the Cooperation Council adopted the EU-Ukraine Association Agenda. This Agenda replaces the former Action Plan, and will prepare for and facilitate the entry into force of the new Agreement. For 2011/12, a list of 90 priorities for action was jointly agreed by Ukraine and the EU.
At the 15th Ukraine-EU Summit of 19 December 2011, the EU leaders and President Yanukovych noted that a common understanding on the text of the Association Agreement was reached.
The Association Agreement will significantly deepen Ukraine’s political association and economic integration with the EU. As Ukraine became a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in May 2008, negotiations on the establishment of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) could be launched, as an integral part of the Association Agreement.
After Russia, the Ukrainian republic was the most important economic component of the former Soviet Union, producing about four times the output of the next-ranking republic. Its fertile black soil generated more than one-fourth of Soviet agricultural output, and its farms provided substantial quantities of meat, milk, grain, and vegetables to other republics. Likewise, its diversified heavy industry supplied the unique equipment (for example, large diameter pipes) and raw materials to industrial and mining sites (vertical drilling apparatus) in other regions of the former USSR. Shortly after independence in August 1991, the Ukrainian Government liberalized most prices and erected a legal framework for privatization, but widespread resistance to reform within the government and the legislature soon stalled reform efforts and led to some backtracking. Output by 1999 had fallen to less than 40% of the 1991 level. Ukraine's dependence on Russia for energy supplies and the lack of significant structural reform have made the Ukrainian economy vulnerable to external shocks. Ukraine depends on imports to meet about three-fourths of its annual oil and natural gas requirements and 100% of its nuclear fuel needs. After a two-week dispute that saw gas supplies cutoff to Europe, Ukraine agreed to 10-year gas supply and transit contracts with Russia in January 2009 that brought gas prices to "world" levels. The strict terms of the contracts have further hobbled Ukraine's cash-strapped state gas company, Naftohaz. Outside institutions - particularly the IMF - have encouraged Ukraine to quicken the pace and scope of reforms. Ukrainian Government officials eliminated most tax and customs privileges in a March 2005 budget law, bringing more economic activity out of Ukraine's large shadow economy, but more improvements are needed, including fighting corruption, developing capital markets, and improving the legislative framework. Ukraine's economy was buoyant despite political turmoil between the prime minister and president until mid-2008. Real GDP growth exceeded 7% in 2006-07, fueled by high global prices for steel - Ukraine's top export - and by strong domestic consumption, spurred by rising pensions and wages. A drop in steel prices and Ukraine's exposure to the global financial crisis due to aggressive foreign borrowing lowered growth in 2008. Ukraine reached an agreement with the IMF for a $16.4 billion Stand-By Arrangement in November 2008 to deal with the economic crisis, but the program quickly stalled due to the Ukrainian Government's lack of progress in implementing reforms. The economy contracted nearly 15% in 2009, among the worst economic performances in the world. In April 2010, Ukraine negotiated a price discount on Russian gas imports in exchange for extending Russia's lease on its naval base in Crimea. In August 2010, Ukraine, under the YANUKOVYCH Administration, reached a new agreement with the IMF for a $15.1 billion Stand-By Agreement. Economic growth resumed in 2010 and 2011, buoyed by exports, but slowed in 2012. After initial disbursements, the IMF program stalled in early 2011 due to the Ukrainian Government's lack of progress in implementing key gas sector reforms, namely gas tariff increases.
Source: European Commission, CIA World Factbook