24 January 2018, Wednesday, 2:42

Barys Zhaliba: Ukraine can expect wave of “shuttle traders” from Belarus


The Kremlin can close the border for Ukrainian goods after the country signs a free trade agreement with the EU.

Economist Prof. Barys Zhaliba said it in an interview with charter97.org.

– Mr Zhaliba, Ukraine is expected to sign a free trade zone agreement with the EU. How will it impact the Belarusian-Ukrainian trade?

– We can forecast that a wider access of high-quality goods from the EU will create competition with similar Belarusian goods. It's difficult to say how it will really be. The economic practice will show. I think the main thing for Belarus now is to resume its cooperation with Ukraine. Trade between Belarus and Ukraine, first of all oil products, meat, milk and other goods, has reduced significantly.

– How will it influence the cross-border trade? Many Belarusians go to Ukraine to buy cheaper goods.

– If cheap and high-quality goods from Europe appear [in Ukraine], it will boost cross-border trade. Belarusians will go to markets in Khmelnytskyi and other towns more often.

– Will the signing of the agreement influence the trade relations between Ukraine and Russia?

– The matter is more difficult, of course. Russian will begin to take revenge on Ukraine and close its borders for Ukrainian goods. Defence plants in eastern Ukraine work for the Russian defence sector. Let's take such a big plant as Motor Sich in the Zaporizhia region. It produces engines for all Russian helicopters and planes. It will be interesting to see what will happen. It will hit both Ukraine and Russia. I think Ukraine wants to continue exporting its goods to Russia, but you can expect everything from Putin. He already said they would be able to survive without Ukraine in a year or two. It will hardly take a year or two, but he can do dirt.

The EU says it is ready to sign an agreement on establishing a free trade zone with Ukraine after the inauguration of president-elect Petro Poroshenko.