Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 9

Deputy prime ministers Anatol Kinakh of Ukraine and Valentin Kunev of Moldova signed yesterday in Chisinau a protocol on establishing free bilateral trade. The protocol commits the two countries to discussions over the next six months concerning the possibility of creating a Ukrainian-Moldovan customs union. The announcement by Kinakh and Kunev at a joint news conference capped a two-day session of the Ukrainian-Moldovan intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation. Kinakh was accompanied by an unusually large delegation of Ukrainian officials responsible for trade, customs, finance, and transport. Ukraine’s internal affairs and state security ministers, also in Chisinau January 9 and 10, conferred with their Moldovan counterparts regarding cooperation between their respective ministries. (22)

Ukraine and Moldova have declined to join the CIS customs union on the grounds that it does not offer economic benefits and encroaches on their sovereignty. Should it materialize, a Ukrainian-Moldovan customs union would set itself apart from the existing Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan customs union, dividing the CIS into two trading areas of unequal size. Ukraine accounted for 14 percent of Moldova’s total foreign trade turnover in 1995; both sides see considerable room for expanding their trade. Romania, which has its own agenda for a Romanian-Moldovan "common economic space," would be highly displeased by a Moldovan-Ukrainian customs union. Moldovan president Mircea Snegur was in fact vacationing in Romania during the visit of the Ukrainian delegation. The Ukrainian ministers were received by Moldovan prime minister Andrei Sangheli, Snegur’s potential competitor in this year’s presidential election. Sangheli studied in Ukraine and speaks Ukrainian.

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