Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ukraine seeks to speed up pact talks

KIEV : Ukraine is urging the Thai government to accelerate work on a bilateral trade pact, according to Veerasak Jinarat, the vice-minister of the Commerce Ministry.

Mr Veerasak accepts a memento of his visit from Bohdan Danylyshyn, Ukraine’s economics minister.

The draft agreement is now in the Thai parliamentary process, said Mr Veerasak, who met recently with Bohdan Danylyshyn, Ukraine's economics minister.

The Ukrainian minister also urged Thailand to host a joint ministerial meeting in Bangkok for the two countries to discuss bilateral trade and investment expansion. He also asked the Thai government to set up an embassy in Kiev and to approve direct flights to the capital city of Ukraine, said Mr Veerasak.

The Ukrainian minister also pledged to lead a business delegation to Thailand early next year, with a focus on banking services to facilitate financial support for the businesses of both countries.

According to Mr Veerasak, Ukraine also agreed to Thailand's proposal to set up a joint trade commission to resolve import and export difficulties and other obstacles to trade.

Ukraine is Thailand's second largest trading partner after Russia in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), as the former Soviet states are known.

The 12 CIS states have a population of 274 million and many markets have had relatively limited exposure to the global slowdown. They include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.

Trade between Thailand and the CIS countries last year totalled US$4.68 billion, up 81% from 2007. Thailand's exports rose 55% to $1.31 billion, while imports were worth $3.37 billion, up 94%. Two-way trade between Thailand and Ukraine was worth $353.22 million in 2007 but surged to $656.50 million last year. For the first six months of this year, Thailand's exports to the country declined 80.1% to $24.2 million, with imports down 28.5% to $143.17 million.

Key export products are plastic pellets, footwear, refrigerators, rice, canned fruit, garments, gems and jewellery, and rubber. Imports from Ukraine are iron and steel, metal ore, scrap, chemicals, military supplies and electrical machinery.

Pasit Poomchusri, minister for commercial affairs at the Thai Embassy in Russia, which oversees the CIS market, said Ukraine was a promising market for Thai exports particularly for food, household electrical appliances, lifestyle and fashion products.

Mykhajlo Radoutskyy, honorary consul in Kiev, said the food industry offered great potential for joint investments.

"We are looking forward to joint ventures with Thai food firms such as Charoen Pokphand in shrimp, poultry and pork and processing business," said Mr Radoutskyy. "This period is a good time for joint investment, as land prices in Ukraine are still relatively cheap, while value-added tax is high - as much as 20% for imported products compared with only 10% for locally produced goods."

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