KYIV, Oct 1 – Ukraine will seek to significantly expand trade with China, focusing on high-technology and agriculture sectors, in development that will further diversify the country’s exports and imports, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Thursday.
China, with $13 billion in bilateral annual trade turnover in 2019, has become one of Ukraine’s largest trade partners over the past several years, but the plan is to dramatically increase the cooperation.
"Ukraine has significant potential for cooperation with China in various fields, comparable or even greater than that of many other Eastern European countries,” Zelenskiy said in an interview with the Chinese news agency Xinhua.
The comments underscore efforts by the Zelenskiy administration to reorient Ukraine’s foreign and economic policy away from heavy dependence on the West, and to boost cooperation with China, the world’s emerging economic superpower. China was increasingly buying more Ukrainian agriculture products and also seeking to invest in Ukraine’s manufacturing by acquiring a majority stake in Motor Sich, the Zaporizhia-based aircraft engine producer.
“China confidently took the first line in the ranking of our largest trading partners: last year our trade turnover amounted to about $13 billion. And China takes leading positions among the main export partners of Ukraine,” Zelenskiy said. “I am convinced that the current figures can be significantly increased."
Zelenskiy said Ukraine is well positioned to capitalize on its proximity to the European Union and to benefit from growing trade between Europe and Asia.
"Ukraine has a unique geographical location - on the eastern border of the EU, on the way from Asia to Europe, as well as between the Black and Baltic Seas. We have the necessary economic and industrial potential for effective participation in this ambitious project," Zelenskiy said.
Among the priorities of cooperation with China, Zelenskiy named the credit and investment, agro-industrial, engineering and transport sectors.
"Ukraine has significant scientific and educational potential, rich culture. All this provides good opportunities for increasing the volume of trade and economic cooperation, enhancing bilateral humanitarian contacts and exchanges," he said.
Zelenskiy said that in order to create better conditions for tourism development, Ukraine introduced a temporary visa-free regime for Chinese tourists from August 1.
"We will continue to try to improve the conditions for mutual trips of citizens of the two countries, so that they have better opportunities to get acquainted with the rich history and culture of Ukraine and China," he said.
In his opinion, one of the steps towards cultural rapprochement between the two peoples should be the systematic training of specialists in Chinese studies in Ukraine, and now the Chinese language is being studied at Ukrainian secondary schools and universities, in Ukraine about 500 Sinologists annually receive diplomas of philology, there are qualified translators. (om/ez)