Ukraine won permission to join the World Trade Organization after a 15-year battle to speed economic growth, improve living standards and set up a free- trade area with the European Union.
WTO members approved the accession agreement today in Geneva. Ukraine now has until July 4 to ratify the accord and will become a WTO member 30 days after that.
Ukraine, a country of 46 million that borders Russia and the European Union, reported an average wage of about $267 a month in 2007, or about a quarter of the monthly wage in neighboring Poland, also a member of the WTO. Ukraine is counting on WTO membership to open new markets and give a boost to the $106 billion economy.
``We have difficult homework to do,'' Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said at a press conference in Geneva. ``This starts the colossal integration work that lies ahead.'' Membership means ``better living standards, higher wages, improved social standards and economic life.''
The WTO sets global rules to ease commerce among members and acts as an arbitrator in settling trade disputes between countries. The organization is struggling to break a deadlock in talks on a broad treaty to eliminate more trade barriers and is now targeting a deal next year.
Woo! Congratulations to my Ukrainian readers!
One step down two more to go (plus interminable internal issues to clear up). This also means Russia gets the shaft.
1. Meaning NATO AND EU membership.