Today I am in Kiev, Ukraine, meeting both President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and also with Foreign Minister Klimkin and Minister of Economy Abromavičius. We are discussing the implementation of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) between the EU and Ukraine as of 1 January 2016, and related reforms.

Despite the difficult situation in Ukraine the country has managed to move forward with ambitious economic and governance reforms that are backed by a strong political commitment. Today, I am congratulating President Poroshenko on the reforms carried out so far, and underlining that the EU will keep supporting Ukraine. Yet, there is still work that needs to be done, not least on the important issue of anti-corruption reform.

Once the DCFTA  is fully implemented it will send a powerful signal that the regulatory environment in Ukraine is modern and efficient. That, in turn, will be a magnet for trade and investment that can create prosperity for the Ukrainian people. From the EU side we intend to help spread the word that Ukraine is open for business, once the reforms are done.

At the same time, we must remember that Ukrainian businesses – in particular the small and medium-sized ones – sometimes aren't fully aware of the benefits, or equipped to take advantage of the opportunities, created by our free trade area. For this reason, the EU is providing concrete support via several programmes, providing know-how and funding to smaller companies that want to trade with the EU. For example, we are providing concrete technical assistance on complying with EU sanitary, technical and quality standards to small business, so that they can seize all of these new export opportunities.

The EU delegation in Ukraine is also releasing an e-book today for this very purpose - a hands-on, user-friendly manual for Ukrainian businesses for starting or growing their exports to the EU. It can be found here.

I am happy that our agreement will be provisionally applied in just a few weeks’ time. Coupled with the reform agenda of Ukraine, this will be an important element of economic recovery. The EU will continue to stand by Ukraine's side, to help the country reap all the benefits of our agreement.

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