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UK, Ukraine sign digital trade deal to aid post-war reconstruction

Britain signed a digital trade deal with Ukraine on Monday granting the war-torn country access to financial services “crucial” for its reconstruction efforts.

The deal facilitates cross-border data flows between the two countries, allowing Ukrainian businesses to trade more efficiently and cheaply with the UK through electronic transactions, e-signatures and e-contracts, the department of business and trade said.

“The historic digital trade deal signed today paves the way for a new era of modern trade between our two countries,” Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said in a statement.

The deal comes as Ukrainian ministers and 200 UK and international businesses and officials meet in London to discuss future Ukraine reconstruction projects.

Trading digitally is particularly important in the current conflict, where damage to Ukrainian infrastructure and warfare makes it “much harder” to trade physically, the department said.

Digital tools and technologies will help Ukrainians access everyday vital goods and services during the war, it added.

Badenoch said the UK had pledged to extend the removal of tariffs on all Ukrainian imports until March 2024.

“These initiatives will help protect jobs, livelihoods and families now and in Ukraine’s post-war future,” she said.
The UK’s total military, humanitarian and economic support pledged since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year is now over o4 billion ($4.9 billion), the department said.

The British government is currently preparing legislation for the next wave of trade sanctions targeting Russia’s government and military-industrial complex.

The sanctions were announced last month with the legislation to be presented before parliament “at the earliest opportunity”, the department said.

The UK and its allies have introduced “the most severe” economic sanctions ever imposed on a major economy, including on o20 billion of UK-Russia goods trade, the department said.

“Sanctions are having deep and damaging consequences for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s ability to wage war. Since the start of the invasion, UK goods imports from Russia have fallen by 99 percent and goods exports to Russia have fallen by 80 percent,” it added.