Last stage remains in arbitration process with EU on dispute over Ukrainian round timber exports – Deputy PM Stefanyshyna
Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olha Stefanyshyna has said the last stage – the oral hearings – remains in the arbitration process with the European Union to consider the dispute over Ukraine's ban on raw timber export.
"I refrain from commenting on the moratorium itself and its correctness or incorrectness, as there is a rather multi-level discussion on the various measures introduced within the arbitration process. But I can definitely say that this type of decision should be born and made at the level of the Cabinet of Ministers. Because we are a civilized country that has undertaken international obligations, has become a member of the WTO, signed the Association Agreement, and has become part of the civilized trading world," she said in an exclusive interview with Interfax-Ukraine.
Stefanyshyna emphasized that Ukraine's membership in world trade obliges the country to follow certain procedures and processes.
"At this stage, as part of the arbitration process, all the procedures that needed a written exchange of information are over, and virtually the last stage remained – the oral hearings of the parties," she said.
According to her, for some time discussions continued on the possible modalities of these hearings in connection with the coronavirus, since the arbitrators are in different countries, but the parties came to the conclusion that the hearings should be in person.
"Therefore, there is a dialogue now, when all participants in the process will be able to get together for the hearings," she said.
As reported, the Verkhovna Rada adopted a law on April 9, 2015, which prohibited the export of timber and sawn timber in raw form (round timber) for ten years, while a ban on the export of timber of wood species (except pine) was introduced on November 1, 2015, and tree species – from January 1, 2017.
In 2018, parliament limited domestic consumption of raw timber to 25 billion cubic meters per year for the duration of the export of round timber outside the customs territory of Ukraine.
At the same time, on January 16, 2019, the EU asked for consultations with Ukraine under the Association Agreement on this moratorium, which is the first step towards resolving disputes.
In January 2020, Ukraine and the EU created an arbitration group to consider a dispute over Ukraine's ban on raw timber exports.