BRUSSELS, March 11 The European Commission
agreed on Tuesday to extend 500 million euros worth of
unilateral trade benefits to Ukraine, removing import duties on
a wide range of agricultural and other goods in an effort to
support the Ukrainian economy.
European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said the decision
would come into effect immediately and run until at least Nov. 1
this year, by which time the European Union expects to have
signed a full free-trade agreement with Kiev.
The total value of the benefits is estimated at 487 million
euros a year, De Gucht said, with most of that (330 million
euros) coming from the removal of import duties on agricultural
and processed agricultural goods. Duties will also be removed on
some industrial goods and textiles.
The decision is part of efforts by the EU to prop up Ukraine
following the ouster of former president Viktor Yanukovich.
At the same time, the EU is trying to apply pressure on
Russia to remove its forces from Crimea by imposing sanctions
and other targeted measures on Moscow.
(Reporting by Justyna Pawlak and Luke Baker)