WASHINGTON, June 27, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is being released by the US-Ukraine Observer:
Foreign affairs editor for Chronicles magazine, Srdja Trifkovic notes that while the debate continues over Ukraine's economic orientation between either the European Union and the Russia/Belarus/Kazakhstan Customs Union, Ukraine's potential as a "significant actor in its own right" is too often ignored. Writing for Chronicles, Trifkovic writes: "Kiev's current quandary is real, but it should not overshadow Ukraine's promise as a pivotal player in the development of regional cooperation with its EU neighbors to the West, former CIS countries to the north and east, and emerging regional powers further afield… that potential is real. The importance of food as a key strategic commodity will continue to grow in the decades ahead, and Ukraine has an enormous, still untapped capability to become a global-scale producer. In 2012 Ukrainian agricultural sector raised $2bn in capital investments, which is 11 percent higher than in 2011 but still short of what is needed to unleash its potential. If and when Ukraine's farmers gain reliable and affordable access to finance, they will be able to compete with, and perhaps out-produce, their peers in the American Midwest or Canada. Cooperation with key EU agricultural producers, such as France, is proceeding apace and should continue regardless of what happens in Vilnius next November. The same applies to Kiev's cooperation with the EU in the energy sector in 2013—an important step in making Ukraine's role as a key energy conduit more stable, predictable and transparent."
Trifkovic advises that as Ukraine's economy strengthens, Kiev should consider bilateral cooperation, instead of speedy economic integration. "Ukraine's merchandise trade deficit narrowed to $608.5 million in April, which is markedly less than a year ago. Exports increased 4.7% year-on-year, while imports declined 8.1%. Most of its minerals, steel, coal, petroleum products and grains go to other former Soviet republics, but Germany and Poland have been gaining importance in recent years. Trade with Hungary, Sweden, and other smaller EU members has also recorded significant increases. Outside the EU and the former Soviet Union, Ukraine's key partners are Turkey (second-largest overall, after Russia) and China. Ukraine will sign an agreement on a free trade area (FTA) with Turkey in October, and its trade with China is expected to double to $20bn in the next few years," writes Trifkovic.
In his commentary, Trifkovic points out that Ukraine should project its "soft power" in the region, no matter the outcome of the negotiations for economic integration: "[Ukraine's] rich cultural heritage and still underdeveloped tourist industry are by no means the only assets. The 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, commonly referred to as Euro 2012—jointly hosted by Poland and Ukraine—was an expensive but useful step in the right direction. There are still too few foreign students, researchers and guest-lecturers in Kiev, Kharkov, Lvov or Odessa, considering the quality of their institutions of higher learning. The perennial issue of Ukraine's geopolitical strategy—should it lean to the East or to the West—is on the whole somewhat artificial. Experts note that recent trends in the country's foreign trade have created preconditions for growth even if it joins neither the European Union nor the Moscow-led customs union… Stability in Europe and the continent's long-term integration devoid of the Cold War, zero-sum-game mentality, requires a new paradigm in Kiev. It should be based on further diversification of political and economic options, which is not incompatible with Ukraine's quest for optimal forms of association with its eastern and western neighbors."
Srdja Trifkovic is an international affairs writer and foreign affairs editor for Chronicles.
Chronicles: "Ukraine's Dilemma" http://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/2013/06/26/ukraines-dilemma/
Contact: US-Ukraine Observer, Frank Abernathy, 615-290-5662, firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE US-Ukraine Observer