Ukraine Not To Join Customs Union - Foreign Minister

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine will not join the Customs Union (of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan), Ukrainian Foreign Minister Konstantin Grishchenko said on Friday in reply to questions by parliamentarians.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Konstantin Grishchenko.

Speaking in parliament, he reminded the audience that President Viktor Yanukovich had offered to cooperate with that organization on the “three plus one” formula.

“This means the following – first of all Ukraine intends to cooperate with the Customs Union without formal membership in it,” he said.

“We are not in the process of negotiations with the Customs Union,” he added. According to Grishchenko, Russia does not make Ukraine’s entry into the Customs Union as condition for continuing cooperation.

Russia has just “expressed its wish to see our country in that union,” the foreign minister said.

“In accordance with the foundations of Ukraine’s domestic and foreign policy, European integration remains the main foreign policy priority for our country,” he added.

According to Grishchenko, Ukraine intends this year to sign an agreement on associated membership with the European Union, which also includes an agreement on a free trade zone.

“It is very important for Ukraine that the formation of the Customs Union should not worsen terms of trade with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan,” he said.

According to the minister, “there is a threat that measures of protection applied in trade with one country would involve the whole territory of the Customs Union,” Grishchenko added.

He also reminded parliamentarians that in trade with Belarus the free trade regime is applied to all items, while in trade with Russia, sugar is excluded from the list of commodities falling under the regime of free trade.

As for trade with Kazakhstan, nine Ukrainian products, including sugar, tobacco, alcohol and some other goods, are excluded.