KIEV, Ukraine, Sept. 6 (UPI) — Ukraine’s exit from the Russian market meant the loss of $15 billion in exports, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told parliament.
“When Russia aggressively shut access to its market, that became an economic shock for us,” Poroshenko said Tuesday. “This economic aggression caused a sharp decline in the country’s standard of living. In recent years the volume of our exports to Russia declined five-fold. At present the share of Ukrainian exports to Russia is nine percent, with the tendency for a further decline.”
Although exports to the European Union have increased, a shortfall remains, Poroshenko said, adding that the country’s economic downturn has led to the loss of thousands of jobs.
A free-trade arrangement between Ukraine and the EU began on January 1, 2016, and Russia retaliated by suspending its own free trade agreement with Ukraine. Prior to the suspension, all Ukrainian goods except sugar could be exported duty-free to Russia. A Russian ban on Ukrainian agricultural products, raw materials and food, to protect its own producers, went into effect on the same day. Ukraine struck back with a ban on 43 categories of goods from Russia.
Poroshenko added Ukraine’s military spending has risen to three percent of the country’s gross domestic product, calling the “military burden” on the economy “critically large.”