Why Does Canada Want To Be Ukraine's Most Trusted Supporter
20 March, 2017

What you need to know:

Canada has a long-standing economic and diplomatic relationship with Ukraine.
On the 14th March 2017, the Ukrainian parliament ratified the Canadian-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement, which grants customs-free access to 98% of the Canadian market.
In relation to corruption reform in Ukraine, Roman Waschuk, the Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine, highlights the fact that Canada has been paying ‘close attention to the high-profile cases, to the audit of NABU.’
He also commented on foreign policy in relation to US and Ukraine: 'All of the G7 countries have their own dialogue channels of, we currently have good open channels with all of our G7 partners. We think that is an asset in terms of what Canada can bring, but also with regard to Ukraine and its issues.’

On the 14th March 2017, the Ukrainian parliament voted to ratify the Canadian-Ukrainian Free Trade Agreement that was signed by both countries back in July 2016. This Agreement provides Ukrainian enterprises with customs-free access to 98% of Canada’s market, and is yet another example of the continued partnership between the two countries. Over the past 3 years, Canada has provided financial assistance to Ukraine in a range of areas including police-force training and the conflict in Donbas. 

The Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine, Roman Waschuk, believes that this agreement is a positive step for both Ukraine and Canada, and hopes it will have a ‘halo effect’ in improving Ukraine’s trade and investment potential. He states: “What it [Free Trade Agreement] does is, it attracts people’s attention to this trading relationship and they begin to look at offers, ideas of working with that country that they may never have thought of before”.

Furthermore, the Free Trade Agreement could also improve Ukraine’s trade relationship with the European Union. Waschuk hopes that the Free Trade Agreement will create “kind of virtuous triangle” between Canada, Ukraine and the EU. As he pointed out: “Given the fact that we are also ratifying to Canada-EU agreement as well at the time, it means that we have already harmonised a lot of our standards with the EU, so has Ukraine”.   

The Ambassador also gave his thoughts and analysis on the corruption reform in Ukraine. While he sees progress on a local level, “rule of law is Ukraine’s major achilles heel – the ‘go along to get along’ culture of people in power gets in the way of actually finishing any case that has been started. So therefore there is considerable attention to high-profile cases.” 

Hromadske also asked the Ambassador about Ukraine’s relationship with Canada in light of the the US’s foreign policy towards Ukraine under President Trump, and the appointment of Chystia Freeland as the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, who is not only of Ukrainian descent, but is also prohibited from travelling to Russia. He stated that: “We are pursuing what Canadians expect, and Canadian’s expect a strong foreign policy toward Ukraine, and that it acts on it in a multilateral context as well as a bilateral context. So that’s what we’re going to be doing.”

Roman Waschuk, Canadian Ambassador appeared live on The Sunday Show 19th March 2017.