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Bush Normalizes Ukraine Trade

President Bush has normalized trade relations with Ukraine, lifting restrictions that were put in place when the nation was part of the former Soviet Union.

President Bush says it is the beginning of a new era in America's relations with Ukraine.

"By eliminating barriers to trade between the United States and Ukraine, the bill will help Ukraine grow in prosperity," he said. "As we have seen over the past 50 years, trade has the power to create new wealth for whole nations and new opportunities for people around the world."

The president signed into a law a measure permanently lifting restrictions that were put in place by the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment, which imposed sanctions on nations that failed to comply with freedom of emigration requirements largely concerning Soviet Jews.

"The law made American trade with communist nations contingent on those countries' respect for the rights of their own people," he added. "At the time, the law served an important purpose. It helped to encourage freedom and the protection of fundamental rights and penalized nations that denied liberty to their citizens."

With the end of the Cold War, Mr. Bush says Ukraine is now a friend to America and an inspiration to those who love liberty following the 2004 Orange Revolution that brought to power President Viktor Yushchenko.

"The growth of economic freedom and ownership in countries like Ukraine reinforces the habits of liberty and democracy and gives citizens a stake in the success of their nation," he said. "The Ukrainian people have shown the world they are committed to the ideals of economic freedom and democratic progress and open trade. And that gives them a promising future."

President Bush says parliamentary elections scheduled for Sunday give Ukrainians a chance to continue to shape their own future. The timing of this bill signing is meant to help President Yushchenko show voters that his economic reforms are making progress.

Mr. Bush says the measure expands trade by creating new markets for U.S. products and helps Ukraine build a free economy, which he says will raise living standards for Ukrainian families.

"As Ukraine embraces democracy and more open trade, our nations' friendship will grow," he said. "President Yushchenko has made reforms to increase transparency and provide intellectual property protection and strengthen the enforcement of the rule of law. These reforms have taken great conviction."

Earlier this month, the United States and Ukraine signed a bilateral agreement establishing the terms of trade once Ukraine is admitted to the World Trade Organization. Both the European Union and the United States have concluded that Ukraine is a market economy, a decision which removes one of the last obstacles to WTO accession.

President Bush says he will work to remove the remaining WTO obstacles as quickly as possible and supports Ukraine's goal of joining both the European Union and NATO as well.