: We Stand With Ukraine: Canada Trade Minister on historic Kyiv-Ottawa Free Trade deal (video)

14:49 Jul. 13, 2016

We Stand With Ukraine: Canada Trade Minister on historic Kyiv-Ottawa Free Trade deal (video)

Ukrainian Development and Trade minister Stepan Kubiv (R) and International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland (L) sign a free trade area agreement ceremony between Ukraine and Canada, on July 11, 2016 in Kiev, Ukraine. (GettyImages Photo)

Chrystia Freeland goes into detail about Ukraine-Canada cooperation, and explains how to approach Russian aggression in Donbas and Crimea

On July 11 Ukraine and Canada signed a historic Free Trade Agreement, after almost six years of negotiations. How will that improve economic and political relations between the two countries? And what is Canadian stance on the Ukrainian conflict? Read about it in our interview with Canadian Minister of International Trade, Chrystia Freeland.

Q. Let's start with the Free Trade Agreement between Ukraine and Canada. What benefits will Ukraine get out of this deal and what Ukraine and Canada can give each other?

A. I think it's important to avoid disappointment first, to explain to people that we signed the agreement this week, but it hasn't come into force yet, it will come into force only after both Parliaments, Ukrainian and Canadian, ratify the pact. But, I think it will happen, and Canada will do it really fast, I think the same can be said about Ukraine.

Read also: Canada's PM arrives in Kyiv

As regards the importance of this agreement, I think it's vital to underline that a reason why this agreement was a priority for our government is the fact that we have strategic partnership with Ukraine. We understand that Ukraine is currently fighting for democracy, for democratic values, for multicultural values. And we understand that we have our duty to support Ukraine. We believe that supporting Ukraine's economy is the best way to support the country.

We see big opportunities for economic cooperation with Ukraine. I think the agrarian sector is a key area where we have these opportunities, which is obvious as we are two mighty agrarian countries. Also the IT sector, and we have already developed great cooperation here, for example our big company Canadian Tire, you know it, successfully cooperates with Ukrainian engineers.

We also see huge opportunities for the service sector in general, financial services, insurances etc. Although we are only at the beginning of the road, we have great opportunities in the Aviation sector too, this is a strong sector both in Ukraine and Canada, and I think we'll have great opportunities to cooperate here.

Q. It's the first time Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits Ukraine, we understand that the Free Trade Pact took almost six years to be agreed upon, and now he's here, so tell me, does he like Ukraine? I know you have also visited the Yavoriv military training ground, so what's his impression of Ukraine, what is his attitude towards the agreement and its impact?

A. You know, the Prime Minister has been supporting Ukraine for quite a long time already, when we were in opposition, we supported Ukraine. And I think that all political parties stand with Ukraine now, and I also see, that Ukraine has impressed the Prime Minister a great deal during his two-day visit, which is also not his first visit, but the first as that of a Prime Minister.

Read also: Ukraine and Canada ink Free Trade Agreement in Kyiv

On the deep soul level he realized two things. First off, how important the Ukrainian values are, and how much the conflict Ukraine is experiencing now is a fight for democratic values, human rights, multicultural spheres. He realized all that and it really impressed him, and he also saw that Ukraine is faced with challenging and difficult conditions.

He saw that Ukraine has a two-front war, the military front and the reform front. He saw it with his own eyes, and so did I, and we really appreciate the work that is being done by the Ukrainian government, but more importantly we appreciate the work that is being done by Ukrainians, by the society.

Q. Let's talk a little bit about the fact that the government changed, and obviously we have a liberal leadership in Canada, and there was a little bit of concern as far as tendencies… to go a little lighter with Russia or at least find a compromise. So what is your stance, what is the Liberal party's, and of course, the Prime Minister's stance?

A. We were very clear in opposition, we were clear during the election campaign, and perhaps the most importantly the Prime Minister here in Ukraine was extremely clear that Canada stands with Ukraine today and we will stand with Ukraine in the future, and we really understand that Ukraine's struggle is not only Ukraine's struggle. It is a struggle for democratic values, and we have a duty to support Ukraine in that struggle.

Read also: Ukraine and Canada ink memorandum on export support, trade and investment

Now, when it comes to Russia, our view is that the most effective way that we can support Ukraine, that we can support those democratic values, is by being part of that international community, which is engaging with Russia and talking to the Russians about how they have to live up to their international commitments when it comes to Ukraine.

This is a conversation that our G7 allies and our NATO allies are part of. It's important for Canada to have a sit at that table too, and to be part of that conversation. Because we are strong voice in support of Ukraine, and having that Canadian voice there is really important support for Ukraine.

Chrystia Freeland's interview took place in Lviv, where she and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went after signing the Free Trade agreement in Kyiv. Watch how the events unfolded during Trudeau's historic visit to Ukrainian capital, on Ukraine Today.

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