KYIV, Ukraine—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau oversaw the signing of a free trade agreement with Ukraine on July 11 after he and his son spent the morning commemorating the victims of mass atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis and Soviets.
In a meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko before the signing ceremony, Trudeau highlighted the historic relationship between the two countries. But he also said “As much as it’s important to look to the past, it’s also important to look to the future.”
The trade deal isn’t the biggest for either country. But it is seen as politically important given Ukraine’s efforts to escape from Russia’s influence. Ukrainian officials are also hoping it will spark an influx of Canadian investment for their country’s struggling economy.
In 2015, trade between the two countries totaled $278 million; the top Canadian exports to the eastern European country include fertilizers, iron and steel, and anthracite coal.
During their meeting, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko thanked Trudeau for Canada’s support over the years. That includes sending hundreds of military and police trainers, as well as helping Ukraine crack down on corruption. He said the efforts are making a difference.
Canada currently has 200 troops training Ukrainian forces in the west of the country. Poroshenko described the arrangement as a “win-win” as it also gives the Canadian military an opportunity learn more about the so called “hybrid warfare” strategy that has been adopted by Russia.
Following the signing, the Canadian and Ukrainian legislatures will begin the ratification and implementation process for the new trade agreement.