BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU foreign ministers approved on Monday measures to allow Ukraine to export more industrial and agricultural products free of tariffs to the bloc in recognition of reforms undertaken by Kiev and the country’s fragile economy.
By the end of September, Ukraine will be able to export greater tonnage of farm products, including grains, honey and processed tomatoes for three years.
The EU will also remove for the same period import duties on fertilisers, dyes, footwear, copper, aluminum, televisions and sound recording equipment.
The measures add to a free-trade agreement provisionally in place since January 2016 that has opened both markets for goods and services.
“It is our duty to support Ukraine and strengthen our economic and political ties, also in the face of the ongoing conflict on its soil,” said Estonia Foreign Minster Sven Mikser, whose country holds the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union.
Trade has been at the heart of a dispute between Russia and the European Union over relations with Ukraine, with Moscow and Brussels both competing to bring Kiev closer to their side through offers of greater economic integration.
While Kiev has moved westward, Russia has sought to destabilize Ukraine, EU governments and NATO say, by annexing Crimea and providing separatists with weapons and troops in Ukraine’s industrial east.
Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop, editing by Robin Emmott