The European Union and Ukraine have formed stronger trade, economic and political links after the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement entered into full force this month.
Taking full effect on September 1st, the agreement was signed in 2014 to create deeper ties between the two territories, with a focus on common European values. The treaty includes the formation of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) that provides a framework for modernizing Ukraine's trade relations and economic development.
By opening up the Ukraine market and harmonizing laws, standards and regulations with EU and international norms, it is hoped that cross-border trade between the regions can be facilitated.
To secure this deal, Ukraine has also committed to structural reforms in the areas of democracy, human rights, rule of law, good governance and sustainable development, with the EU to provide support on areas such as environmental protection, social development, transport, consumer protection, equal opportunities, education, industry and energy.
Substantial parts of the Association Agreement have been applied provisionally since November 2014, with the DCFTA taking effect at the start of last year.
Johannes Hahn, EU commissioner for European neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations, said: "Generations of Ukrainian citizens to come will reap the benefits of closer association with the EU. The first concrete results of implementation of the agreement can already be seen: Ukraine's exports to the EU have increased and the EU has confirmed its position as Ukraine's first trading partner."
EU estimates indicate that exports from Ukraine to the EU and Ukrainian imports from the EU both increased by about 25 per cent in the first four months of 2017 compared to the same period the previous year - a trend that is expected to continue.