UK forced to reopen sensitive Ukraine trade pact after text errors Business News

The UK was forced to reopen its trade deal with Ukraine, one of its most sensitive post-Brexit deals, after mistakes were made in the original text, The independent can reveal.

The pact was signed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in October last year and has been hailed as a key example of Britain’s trade and foreign policy post-Brexit. The deal not only covers trade relations between Britain and the Eastern European country, but also defense cooperation to support Kiev’s sovereignty.

It follows Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, an area still internationally recognized as part of Ukraine. He also intervened in a context of deteriorating relations between Moscow and London following the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in 2018.

UK-Ukraine relations were brought to the fore again last month when Russia claimed to have fired warning shots at a British ship as it passed near the Crimean Peninsula.

Highlighting the political importance of the deal in October, Johnson said the UK was “Ukraine’s strongest supporter”. He added: “Whether it is our defense support, our stabilization efforts, our humanitarian aid or close cooperation on political issues, our message is clear: we are totally determined to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine ”.

However, two officials said The independent that the pact already had to be reworked after errors were found in the drafting of the trade chapters. Some of the errors are the result of cutting and pasting sections that tie the UK to EU rules, the same officials said.

Problems arose when the Commerce Department sought to create guidelines on how the deal should be used by businesses in February and March, after the deal went into effect in January. However, the fact that the agreement required further negotiations and redrafting was not made public by the Department of International Trade.

One of the same government officials said it was a deal “nobody wanted to be wrong.” Especially since the agreement has been the subject of particularly careful examination by the European Union, they added. Separately, an EU official said The independent that they had noted that the agreement bound the UK to rules in certain areas they did not expect.

A spokesperson for the Department of International Trade said: “It is common practice for small sections of agreements to be amended and updated over time to reflect developments or to add greater clarity that is useful to business. “

However, one of the same officials familiar with the development of the deal said the changes that needed to be made were not minor and could have a significant impact on businesses. They added that these were errors rather than an update.

A company operating in Ukraine, which the official did not name due to business sensitivities, also reported additional issues with the text, they said. The problems concerned trade in services and goods, the official confirmed.

Emily Thornberry, fictitious Labor Secretary for International Trade, said: “This is not the only time the government has made fundamental mistakes in renewing our European treaties, but it is by far the most serious.”

“Of all the 67 non-EU countries with which the UK signed renewal agreements in 2019 and 2020, the agreement with Ukraine was the only one considered to be of sufficient strategic importance to be signed. by the Prime Minister himself, which makes it all the more astonishing that it must now be rewritten, ”added Thornberry. “This flagrant act of incompetence must not only be rectified immediately, but urgently explained.”

The sensitivity of UK-Ukraine relations has been underlined in the recent Integrated review of its defense and foreign policy strategy. A section on Russia notes that Britain will increase its support for Eastern European countries, including Ukraine, “where we will continue to build the capacity of its armed forces.”

Sam Lowe, senior researcher at the Center for European Reform, said errors in trade deals are “unfortunate but not entirely rare”. He added that it was not surprising that this happened with a “renewal deal”, as these tend to include more copy and paste of text than new offers.

“It’s a deeper deal than others and includes commitments to follow EU rules in certain areas. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that the UK government doesn’t like to be bound by EU rules, ”Lowe said.

A former Australian trade negotiator said The independent that it is true that agreements sometimes need to be changed, but that substantial changes have not often been made so soon after the text of an agreement is finalized.

The ex-negotiator said this could be indicative of the Commerce Department’s rush to strike deals to ensure continuity after Brexit. Small, incorrect changes or not making the right changes to treaties can lead to …

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This notice was published: 2021-07-17 10:06:57

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