Ukrainian First Deputy PM's visit to China boosts bilateral ties

11:14, 01 October 2013
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The recent visit to China by Ukrainian First Vice Prime Minister Serhiy Arbuzov has been hailed as a "landmark" for the country, according to Xinhua.

Observers here believe the Sept. 23-27 visit, which witnessed a number of bilateral meetings and exchanges with businesses, will strengthen cooperation between Kiev and Beijing in areas of trade, investment, agriculture and finance while laying the groundwork for the December visit by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to China.

According to Viacheslav Butko, analyst and vice president of Kiev-based Corporate Relations Research Center, Arbuzov's trip to China has been fruitful.

"Ukraine gained perspective on attracting investment from Chinese financial and banking corporations and prospects for using China's advanced technologies. The agreements reached during the visit will also enhance the bilateral trade between the two nations," Butko told Xinhua on Monday.

Arbuzov's visit also proved that China, as a fast-growing economy with a huge internal market, has been one of the top priorities for Ukraine's foreign policies, Butko said.

"The trip demonstrated that Ukraine, which has proclaimed to embark on European integration, also want to maintain good relations with its Eastern partners," the expert noted.

Addressing the Euro-Asia Economic Forum in Xi'an, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, Arbuzov said Ukraine is keen to become a bridge between Europe and Asia.

"The mission of Ukraine is to unite the East and the West, not divide them. So we conduct a balanced foreign policy," Arbuzov stressed.

During his stay in China, Arbuzov reaffirmed Ukraine's commitment to strengthening ties and traditional friendship with Beijing and expressed the wish that Kiev would like to be a dialogue partner to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Arbuzov also co-chaired the second meeting of the China-Ukraine Inter-government Cooperation Committee with Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai.

The two sides discussed ways to further push forward bilateral strategic partnership for the benefits of the two peoples and the development of the two countries.

Bilateral trade, one of the cornerstones of China-Ukraine economic relations, reached 10 billion U.S. dollars in 2012 and is expected to rise this year, Arbuzov announced.

The 15-billion-yuan (2.36 billion U.S. dollars) currency swap deal between the central banks of China and Ukraine, which is expected to come into force in the near future, will promote economic ties between Kiev and Beijing, he said.

The agreement, which allows the two sides to avoid the U.S. dollar in their trade, is bound to inject new impetus into the economic cooperation between the two countries, local experts suggest.

Eugene Kalinin, head of Ukrainian-Chinese Council of Commerce and Economic Development, noted that Ukraine is also particularly interested in attracting investment from China.

In his views, Chinese investment could unlock new opportunities for Kiev in farm sector and promote win-win cooperation between the two countries, as Ukraine has rich agricultural resources and the Chinese market has a great demand for agricultural products.

Ukrainian lawmaker Vladislav Lukyanov, a member of the ruling parliamentary faction, echoed Kalinin's words, saying China is ready to invest 3 billion U.S. dollars in Ukraine's agriculture projects.

In addition, Lukyanov said, Kiev and Beijing have agreed to deepen their cooperation in energy and high-tech industries such as aircraft engineering and engine construction.

Analysts here say Chinese investors are eager to boost investment in Ukraine. However, they still need more information about the East European country. Therefore, economic dialogue at the highest level is crucial to attracting businesses from the Middle Kingdom to Ukraine and promote mutual understanding between the two countries.

They believe that Arbuzov's visit improved mutual trust between Ukraine and China and set a clear direction for the development of bilateral ties for the near future.

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