In February, the Government of Canada launched public consultations to seek the views of Canadians on the possible modernization of the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA). The focus of these consultations is to seek feedback on new areas that could be included in a modernized CUFTA, such as chapters on trade in services, trade and gender, investment, and SMEs, as well as potential updates to existing chapters in order to bring the Agreement up-to-date with Canada’s most recent agreements. WIT-Toronto was invited to make a submission, which was completed in March by Maria Marchyshyn, Advisor to the Board, and Susan Baka, VP International, on behalf of OWIT-Toronto.
The CUFTA entered into force for Canada on August 1, 2017, eliminating duties on 99.9% of goods imports from Ukraine, and 86.8% of Canadian goods exports to Ukraine. Bilateral merchandise trade has remained strong since entry into force, totalling $346 million in 2018.
The CUFTA contains a review clause, in which Canada and Ukraine agreed to review the Agreement within two years of entry into force, with a view to adding additional provisions that were not in the original Agreement, including investment and services. In July 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy publicly announced their agreement to expand the CUFTA.
As part of its Trade Diversification Strategy, Canada has advanced an inclusive approach to trade in its recent free trade agreements – through the inclusion of provisions regarding labour, gender, the environment, Indigenous peoples, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The potential modernization of CUFTA presents an opportunity to add, or improve trade provisions within the existing CUFTA to help ensure that a broad range of stakeholders are able to benefit from the Agreement. Previous modernization negotiations such as the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA), and the modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA) are examples where Canada has successfully sought the addition of inclusive provisions, including those on SMEs and on Trade and Gender.
Canada is committed to pursuing an inclusive approach to trade in recognition that trade policies and agreements need to respond and contribute more meaningfully to broader economic, social and environmental policy priorities. This means seeking trade policies that are responsible, transparent and inclusive.