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UK and Ukraine announce digital trade deal to help with economic recovery

UK exports of digitally delivered services accounted for 73% of all UK services exported to Ukraine in 2020

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan walking outside No. 10 Downing Street

The UK and Ukraine have signed a new digital trade agreement to help Ukraine rebuild its economy following Russia’s invasion.

The agreement is set to support Ukrainian businesses by cutting red tape and helping them to trade with the UK more efficiently, the government revealed on Tuesday. This will be done through better use of technology, including electronic transactions, e-signatures, and e-contracts.

The agreement will also aim to make it easier for UK companies to work with Ukrainian businesses and support them with their economic recovery. Total trade between the two nations was worth £1.9 billion in 2021, with UK exports of digitally delivered services accounting for 73% of all UK services exported to Ukraine in 2020.

Despite the government citing examples of the technology underpinning the agreement, it's currently unclear what steps will be taken as part of the deal, or when it will be delivered. However, the deal is said to be the result of a direct request from president Zelensky’s government.

“While we fight fearlessly for the freedom of our nation, many Ukrainians also look ahead to how we will rebuild our country,” said Vadym Prystaiko, ambassador of Ukraine to the United Kingdom. “Strengthening our economic ties through this landmark digital trade agreement will support our IT industry, which is set to become a major driver of economic growth for our businesses and cities.”

The Ukrainian government has identified supporting the digital economy as one of its areas of focus for the recovery and reconstruction of the country. The UK is well placed to help with this, since it’s a leader in digital trade, said the UK government.

"Putin’s brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has had devastating human consequences. The UK stands shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine and will use trade as a force for good to help the country rebuild its modern economy after this barbaric war," said international trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan.

"Our partnership with Ukraine will help them seize the brighter days ahead, and we will continue to do everything in our power to protect Ukrainian jobs, livelihoods and families."

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The UK has already removed tariffs as part of the existing UK-Ukraine free trade agreement, supporting Ukrainian businesses and producers to export goods and rebuild their economy. A new digital trade agreement would further strengthen the two nation’s trading relationship, said the UK government.

The IT Ukraine Association and BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, called on organisations around the world in April 2022 to give Ukraine’s tech consultancies serious consideration when tendering for contracts.

The two groups underlined that Ukraine computing specialists are open for business and are ready to fill the gap now that many Western companies no longer work with Russian consultancies.

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