Israel Signs Free Trade Agreement With Ukraine

YERUSHALAYIM -
Economy Minister Eli Cohen, right signed the Free Trade Agreement for Israel, and his Ukrainian counterpart Stepan Kubiv signed for Ukraine. (Mykola Lazarenko)

Israel and Ukraine signed a major free trade agreement in Yerushalayim on Monday, the culmination of some 15 years of negotiations.

“Today is a historic day in Jerusalem,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko wrote on his Twitter account. “For many years hundreds of bureaucrats have attempted to prepare this agreement that will make the lives of our countries better.”

The 1,500-page accord reportedly provides for a reduction of the price of Ukrainian food in Israel and Israeli goods in Ukraine. It is estimated that it will lift bilateral trade to over $1 billion within five years.

Economy Minister Eli Cohen signed for Israel and his Ukrainian counterpart Stepan Kubiv for Ukraine.

In a statement, Cohen said the agreement will “strengthen economic relations between the two countries and promote Israeli industry.”

It marks Israel’s ninth free trade agreement, and the fourth such agreement since the beginning of 2019, after others with Canada, Panama and the European Union.

Poroshenko arrived in the country on Sunday for a 30-hour visit, which included the signing ceremony on Monday.

Poroshenko is fighting for reelection on March 30 and is holding in third to fourth place in the polls.

He was scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday evening.

Poroshenko hailed cooperation between the two countries in votes in the international arena and thanked Israel for its support. In December, Israel voted with Ukraine on a U.N. General Assembly resolution that called for an end to Russia’s occupation and militarization of Crimea.

President Reuven Rivlin thanked Poroshenko for Ukraine’s stand against Hamas in the U.N., his part in the fight against anti-Semitism, and the establishment of a museum at Babi Yar, where more than 33,000 Jews were massacred during the Holocaust.

Also on the itinerary was a meeting with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Minister of Yerushalayim Affairs and of Environmental Protection Zeev Elkin. Both Edelstein and Elkin are Ukrainian-born, and Elkin reportedly played a role in the Free Trade Agreement negotiations.

Poroshenko visited the Kosel on Monday, as well as Yad Vashem and other religious sites.