KIEV, December 11. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukrainian Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food Nikolai Prisyazhnyuk defended the government's decision to postpone the signing of the association and free trade zone agreement with the European Union.
In talks with the EU, Ukraine will be seeking more acceptable terms of trade, Prisyazhnyuk told a news briefing on Wednesday.
He reminded about Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich's position that Ukraine, if it signs the agreement in its present form, can put its agrarian sector in the condition of unequal competition.
The parties will begin to finalize provisions of the agreement in the near future. The work will start on Thursday following the arrival of a working group led by First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Arbusov.
Kiev will insist on cancellation of export subsidies for foodstuffs supplied from Europe to Ukraine. "When we signed the WTO deal, we took the obligation not to apply export subsidies," Prisyazhnyuk said. "Conversely, Europe does have export subsidies. For example, 250 euros per ton of poultry. Will we be able to compete? We'll find it difficult."
Ukraine intends to demand measures towards protection of its farmers. "What does history say? All who wished to limit the private sector's production ended up with food crises, famine or shortage of foodstuffs," the minister underlined.
He made it clear that Ukraine was opposed to some quotas on agricultural products to be supplied to the EU market duty-free.
Whereas the entire "grain group" is certified, with Ukraine having permits to supply grain to the European market, talks are needed for obtaining the quota for the supply of 900,000 duty-free tons of corn a year.
He underlined that Kiev should have a very balanced approach to the adjustment of terms of the agreement. "We quickly signed the agreement on full-fledged WTO membership. Today, our analysis shows that our country has to introduce 360 amendments," Prisyazhnyuk said.