A digital trade agreement has been struck between the UK and Ukraine following a meeting with international trade secretary Kemi Badenoch and Ukrainian trade and economy minister Yulia Svyrydenko.
The UK government says the deal will provide Ukraine with digital identification services, jobs and trade to strengthen the Ukrainian economy as it comes to terms with the massive disruption caused by the Russian invasion.
“This agreement will mean our businesses and governments can collaborate even more and ensure Ukrainians have access to essential goods and services that digital trade opens up. This will help protect jobs, livelihoods and families now and in Ukraine’s post-war future,” Badenoch said.
In 2021 the UK imported £830m of goods from Ukraine. This accounted for 0.2% of all goods arriving in the country, making Ukraine its 53rd biggest importing partner, according to figures released by the ONS.
Details of the UK-Ukraine digital trade deal
The two countries believe growing digital trade can increase access to the Ukrainian economy, as the ongoing conflict makes physical trade difficult. The agreement will also help provide vital tools for those fleeing Russian forces, such as digital identification services and digital access to currency.
Introducing electronic transactions, e-signatures and e-contracts will make trade between the two nations more efficient, a Department for International Trade (DIT) spokesperson said.
The negotiation of a digital trade agreement between the UK and Ukraine was first announced in August. It accompanies the formation of a UK-Ukraine infrastructure task force implemented to build partnerships between companies from both countries, and to help repair damaged and destroyed infrastructure, including bridges and homes.
“As a global leader in digital, the UK is ideally positioned to aid Ukraine’s post-conflict transition to a digital economy with over two-thirds of our services exports to Ukraine already digitally delivered,” the DIT statement said.
Svyrydenko believes the deal indicates a bright future for Ukraine’s tech sector. “This digital trade agreement illustrates that Ukrainian IT companies operating in Ukraine are in demand around the world despite all the challenges of war,” she said.
In May of this year, the UK removed all tariffs under the existing UK-Ukraine free trade agreement, supporting Ukrainian businesses and producers to export goods and rebuild their economy.
UK support for Ukraine’s tech sector
This agreement comes in the same month as a UK announcement revealing a secret £6m aid package was provided to Ukraine at the beginning of the war. It was designed to help implement advanced cybersecurity measures, along with partnerships with vendors to optimise the country’s protection against a feared wave of attacks by Russia-supporting hackers.
“We are committed to working with our members and the UK and Ukrainian governments to make the most of this agreement and support the Ukrainian economy at this difficult time,” explained Julian David, CEO of technology trade association techUK, when the news was revealed. “This agreement provides the framework for easy flow of critical goods and services, by ensuring the free flow of data and cybersecurity cooperation."