* Ukraine, using loophole, has moved to raise trade barriers
* Move has sparked barrage of criticism in WTO
* Ukraine says criticism is 'bullying'
KIEV, March 13 The United States on Wednesday
urged Ukraine not to renegotiate its World Trade Organisation
commitments, warning the move could trigger a chain reaction and
bring down the whole global trade system.
The former Soviet republic, which joined the WTO in 2008,
shocked the trade club last September by announcing plans to
raise tariff ceilings on 371 goods using a legal loophole, a
move met with virtually unanimous opposition.
Denouncing the criticism as "bullying", Ukraine's chief
trade negotiator Valery Pyatnytsky said in a newspaper interview
this month that Kiev would press ahead with the move.
"We are being told: you have certain rights but you should
not exercise them because we do not like that," Pyatnytsky told
the Dzerkalo Tyzhnya newspaper.
Reiterating Kiev's official stance, he said Ukraine's right
to renegotiate tariff ceilings was protected by Article 28 of
the founding agreement of the 157-member body.
The U.S. embassy in Kiev issued a statement responding to
Pyatnytsky's comments on Wednesday.
"Ukraine's Article 28 filing, coming a short three years
after Ukraine's accession to the WTO, gives the appearance of
being a renegotiation of Ukraine's initial accession
conditions," it said.
"The number of tariff lines makes this the largest Article
28 filing since the WTO was created. This is not business as
The embassy said more than 100 other WTO members shared
"If other WTO members were to follow Ukraine's lead and
attempt to renegotiate their accession terms, the WTO system
would come under unprecedented strain."
It described WTO members as mountain climbers all tied to
"While any individual climber arguably has the right to
untie in mid-climb, doing so places himself and his fellow
climbers at heightened risk of a fall," the embassy said.
"A colleague who points this out is not an 'oppressor', as
Mr Pyatnytsky would have it, but an interested party calling
attention to the danger of an unwise action."
The WTO move has further strained Kiev's relations with the
West, which has criticised its handling of parliamentary
elections last October and the jailing of former Prime Minister
It also came at a time when Ukraine's economy, which has not
yet not fully recovered from a 15 percent slump in 2009, went
into a fresh period of recession due to falling steel exports, a
poor grain harvest and oil refinery shutdowns.
(Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Richard Balmforth and