Ukraine and the EU parliaments simultaneously ratified the economic and political parts of the Association Agreement that will strengthen ties between Kiev and Brussels. Economic integration is postponed until the end of 2015.
The document was approved at 1:00pm in Kiev and there was a synchronous signing session in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Ukraine’s Rada voted 355 votes in favor out of 381 total, and the European Parliament supported the ratification with 535 ‘yes’ votes and 127 against, with 26 abstaining.
Ukraine will continue duty-free trade with Russia and other CIS states until December 31, 2015, and on January 1, 2016 will begin economic integration with the EU.
Free trade with Europe’s $13 trillion economy will be postponed until January 2016, due to the weak state of Ukraine’s economy which would make it vulnerable to a sudden influx of European goods.
Ukraine will still have the benefit of sending exports to Europe under a preferential trade code, but duty- free trade will not come into effect until 2016, protecting both Kiev and Moscow from economic risk.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has estimated that nixing duty-free trade with Russia and switching over to the European system will cost Ukraine €165 billion over the next 10 years.
During trilateral talks in Brussels on Friday, Ukraine, Russia, and the EU agreed Ukraine’s integration into Europe’s trade orbit will begin on January 1, 2016.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed the economic (The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, or DCFTA) part of the Association Agreement with the EU along with ex-Soviet nations Georgia and Moldova on June 27.
Ukraine signed the political part of the agreement on March 21, shortly after Crimea rejoined Russia.