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EU proposes more economic breaks for Ukraine

March 20, 2014 at 9:59 AM   |   Comments

BRUSSELS, March 20 (UPI) -- The European Parliament said Thursday it was considering a unilateral move to give Ukraine relief from customs duties.

A proposal backed by the European Parliament's International Trade Committee offered Ukraine relief from about 98 percent of the customs duties paid at European borders.

"Parliament and other European Union institutions should lose no time in passing this law, given the urgency of the situation in Ukraine," Pawel Zalewski, a Polish member of parliament, said in a statement. "Ukraine's new government needs strong and immediate EU help to fight off external pressures and to overcome economic and financial hardships."

Parliament said Ukraine under the terms of the proposal would still need to comply with EU trade laws and a "safeguard clause" would reinstate the duties if Ukraine floods the European market with goods.

Zalewski said if the full Parliament backs the measure in April, Ukraine could save about $675 million per year.

The European Commission said Wednesday it proposed a package of $1.4 billion in medium-term loans to help the cash-strapped Ukrainian government in Kiev.

Olli Rehn, vice president of the European Commission responsible for economic and monetary affairs, said the loans are an essential part of the effort "to maintain peace and political and financial stability in our continent."

Ukraine descended into chaos when the former government decided in November to move away from the EU. Demonstrations led to the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych and the eventual Russian annexation of Crimea.

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