KIEV, Oct. 29 ??“ Ukraine, in bilateral talks with other countries, will push for retaining $1.4 bln in annual state subsidies for the agriculture sector after joining the World Trade Organization, a top official said Saturday.
The issue is primarily discussed with the U.S. and Australia, the two major exporters of agriculture produce, such as grain, and that already face strong competition from Ukraine??™s exports.
???We have tough discussions over state subsidies to the agriculture sector,??? Anatoliy Kinakh, the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, said at a press conference. ???Ukraine believes the level of subsidies must be at least $1.4 bln.???
Mentioning the agriculture sector subsidies as one of the key issues that must be resolved within the next 30 days adds a challenge twist to Ukraine??™s WTO accession process. Other challenges include garnering support in Parliament for WTO bills.
Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov is expected to visit the U.S. early November for talks over the WTO and other bilateral issues.
The National Security and Defense Council, which advises President Viktor Yushchenko on strategic issues, met on Friday to check the pace of Ukraine??™s joining the WTO.
At the meeting, Yushchenko urged the government to do its best to make sure Ukraine is ready to join the WTO in December, but Kinakh assured the government will not retreat on the issue of retaining the agriculture subsidies.
Kinakh warned that Ukraine??™s agriculture sector may plunge 40% after joining the WTO unless the state subsidies are continued in the sector that is still suffering from inefficiency dating back to the former Soviet Union.
???In this issue, we??™ll stick to the position that meets our national interests and that meets real condition of our agriculture sector,??? Kinakh said. ???In a very short time we have to learn how to powerfully protect our national interests,??? Kinakh said. ???Then we will be respected.??? (tl/ez)