Today at the Cabinet of Ministers, the United States signed a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement with Ukraine, providing a framework for expanded cooperation between the two countries on matters related to the flow of people, goods, and services into and out of Ukraine. The agreement builds on the already robust partnership between the United States and Ukraine on customs and related issues.
The agreement signed today will help our respective customs authorities do their jobs more effectively, optimizing security while facilitating legitimate trade between our two nations. It provides the essential legal framework for exchanging information and evidence to assist our countries in enforcing customs rules and regulations, and will enable the United States and Ukraine to collaborate on investigations, share best practices, and exchange information vital to our national and economic security.
Four U.S. government Departments and Agencies – the Department of Commerce Commercial Law Development Center (CLDP), U.S. Treasury Department Office of Technical Assistance (OTA), U.S. Department of State – Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) Program, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) – are already hard at work helping Ukraine better facilitate cross-border trade, increase customs revenue collection, and strengthen border security. These programs total more than $17.5 million dollars in customs and related assistance over the next several years.
Facilitating Cross-Border Trade
- The Department of Commerce Commercial Law Development Center supports two resident World Trade Organization (WTO) trade expert advisors and has hosted a series of training workshops to promote trade capacity building – including the reform of Ukraine’s State Fiscal Service to meet the requirements of the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), and the improvement of the interdiction of substandard, illicit, and counterfeit goods while facilitating the efficient flow of goods to and from Ukraine.
- Through USAID’s Ukraine Trade Policy Program, the United States is improving Ukraine’s ability to address foreign trade disputes through the WTO system. This includes training in gathering and collecting the necessary information from the affected company or business sector, and preparation of official presentations to the WTO. The project is also improving communication and coordination on WTO issues within the Government of Ukraine and between the Government and the private sector; and assessing and improving Ukraine’s WTO compliance with previously agreed upon conditions.
- Another USAID program to start this month will focus on improving the efficiency of several border crossings in western Ukraine. U.S. assistance efforts will help Ukraine decrease the time it takes for goods to cross the border and minimize the opportunities for corruption, while continuing to provide the necessary level of security.
- Another large, multi-year USAID project coming on line early next year will continue work with the Government of Ukraine on trade policy issues and improving trade facilitation. This new activity will expand and extend previous customs and trade policy reforms.
Strengthening Border Security and Increasing Customs Revenue Collection
- The United States is providing Ukraine with cutting-edge tools, technology, and equipment to help it interdict substandard and illicit goods at the border, including a $1 million dollar Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System (VACIS) and a Cargo Targeting System through the World Customs Organization to help target and identify potentially high-risk shipments. We have also provided more than $120,000 in information technology and office equipment for Ukraine’s Customs Service and continued maintenance / support for mobile x-ray scanners.
- The United States intends to deliver more than $1.1 million dollars in additional detection and inspection equipment in July 2016, including portable chemical / explosive detectors; Contraband Team Detection Kits containing Busters, fiberscopes, probes, inspection mirrors, and range meters; Optimum Freedom View Light-Emitting Diode (LED) Fiberscope Inspection Kits; Garett Super Scanner V handheld metal detectors; and 3 Rapiscan mobile x-ray vans.
- The United States is also helping train and build capacity in Ukraine’s Customs service. In April, Ukraine participated in a U.S. sponsored Ukraine-Moldova cross-border exercise during which Ukraine’s capabilities to detect, identify and interdict illicit attempt of smuggling a radiological source and a dual use item were tested. In the coming months, we intend to provide additional training for customs officials on targeting and risk management, export control list changes, and how to identify and interdict potentially dangerous chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear materials.
- A team of eight intermittent technical advisors from the U.S. Treasury Department is helping the State Fiscal Service with administrative reforms related to human resources, security, and information technology.