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Ukrainian Economics Minister Sees Improved Ties with U.S.

(Washington, DC – February 4, 2002) Despite recent tensions between the United States and Ukraine, progress has been made on a number of key bilateral economic issues. That was the message of Valeriy Khoroshkovsky, Ukrainian Minister of Economy and European Integration, who spoke at an RFE/RL briefing in Washington on January 31.

Khoroshkovsky was in Washington to take part in the 12th meeting of the US-Ukrainian Committee for Economic Cooperation and to meet with officials from the US government, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. Among the issues discussed were Ukraine's macroeconomic stability, US assistance policy, and energy and environmental issues. Khoroshkovsky also discussed repeal of the Jackson-Vanik amendment with members of Congress.

A major part of Khoroshkovsky's meetings focused on Kiev's continuing battle with money laundering. In a joint statement, the US promised to lobby for the lifting of international sanctions against Ukraine if Kiev steps up its fight against money laundering. According to Khoroshkovsky, if this happens, Washington will also support Ukraine's bid to join the WTO.

In addition to fighting corruption and joining the WTO, Khoroshkovsky described the Ukrainian government's priorities as working more closely with international financial institutions, as well as tax reform and reform of the civil service. When an official receives a salary much smaller than his counterparts in the private sector, said the minister, the incentive to accept bribes will be great. Work on these issues must accelerate, Khoroshkovsky added, since there are only two months left before the 2004 presidential election campaign gets under way.

Despite Ukraine's economic problems, Khoroshkovsky said his country has the potential for significant future development. Its assets include agriculture, high tech manpower, heavy industry, and energy.