KIEV, July 26 The European Union warned Ukraine
on Friday that time was running out to resolve a number of
bilateral trade disputes and secure the signing of a landmark
free trade agreement, after the latest round of talks produced
The former Soviet republic hopes to sign agreements on
political association and free trade with the 28-member bloc at
a summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in November.
But it has yet to meet conditions set out by Brussels, which
is concerned by the Ukrainian government's protectionist
policies as well as what it sees as politically motivated
persecution of political opponents.
Struggling to bridge a large foreign trade deficit, Ukraine
has, in particular, introduced new barriers against imports of
goods ranging from cars to coke, a fuel produced from coal and
used in steel production.
It has also announced plans to raise tariff ceilings on
hundreds of other goods, which have drawn sharp criticism from
many other members of the World Trade Organisation.
Peter Balas, deputy head of the Directorate General for
Trade of the European Commission, visited Kiev this week to
discuss the issues with Ukrainian economy minister Ihor
Prasolov, the EU delegation to Ukraine said in a statement.
It said Brussels had hoped Ukraine would address its
concerns regarding the restrictions on the imports of cars,
coke, renewable energy equipment and other goods.
"However, these expectations could not be realised: the
Ukrainian side was not in a position to offer complete solution
to any of the EU's concerns," the delegation said.
"The maximum that was promised is that the Ukraine
authorities would continue, in the coming period, internal
reflections about possible solutions."
The Kiev government said it would then send its proposals to
Brussels. The EU made clear it was disappointed.
"The EU side is concerned that the only outcome of the long
consultation process is just the promise of further bilateral
discussions," it said.
"There are increasing concerns that the time is running out
to find mutually acceptable solutions."
The EU shelved the association and free trade deals with
Ukraine in 2011 after a local court jailed former prime minister
Yulia Tymoshenko, a key opponent of President Viktor Yanukovich.
It criticised the case as an example of selective justice.
The bloc has warned that if the deals fall through again, it
will take years to get back to them as Ukraine goes through
elections, and EU institutions face a turnover of top personnel.
(Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Richard Balmforth and