Mr. Nicholas Burge, Head of Trade and Economic Section in the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine, has recently stated the EU requirement to immediately lift the ban on roundwood export from Ukraine. The same issue was outlined by Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine, Ms. Nataliya Mykolska, in her summary of the meeting of the Association Committee during which trade matters were discussed. In their opinion, such ban violates both the Association Agreement and the principles of free trade. Obviously, this issue will be on the new Government’s agenda.

Somehow both the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine and the EU Delegation ignore a special provision in Title IV (Trade and Trade-related Matters) of the Association Agreement
regarding trade in forest products. Thus, Article 294 clearly says that “in order to promote the sustainable management of forest resources, Parties commit to work together to improve forest law enforcement and governance and promote trade in legal and sustainable forest products”. Therefore, the EU-Ukraine cooperation in this area aims at ensuring sustainable management of forest resources instead of free trade in forest products of which the origin is de facto illegal.

Forests first of all perform environmental, not economic functions. If Ukraine is incapable of improving law enforcement in this area, in particular ensure elimination of illegal logging, then the Parties’ primary priority should be improving such law enforcement instead of facilitating free trade in illegal timber.