The third Ukraine Reform Conference concludes in Toronto

    Participants of the Ukraine Reform Conference at the University of Toronto grounds on June 2, 2019. At the centre: Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland. Photo: NP-UN

    Kateryna Bandura for New Pathway – Ukrainian News.

    The Government of Canada announced more than $45 million to support Ukraine. The announcement came during the third Ukraine Reform Conference, which concluded in Toronto on July 4, 2019.

    The funding will be divided between four areas: development assistance ($33 million), peace and stabilization operations program ($12.5 million), international police peacekeeping and peace operations program, and trade.

    The funding includes $25 million to help implement inclusive and gender-responsive reforms in Ukraine.

    Since January 2014, Canada has allocated about $800 million in multi-faceted support to Ukraine, including a broad range of financial, development, stabilization and security, non-lethal military and humanitarian assistance.

    Co-hosted by Ukraine and Canada, the three-day Ukraine Reform Conference highlighted the importance of implementing the existing reforms in Ukraine and demonstrated Canada’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, security and prosperity. It gathered more than 800 friends of Ukraine and partners, including foreign ministers, heads of international institutions, parliamentarians, the private sector, civil society and think tanks representatives.

    While in Toronto, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on July 2.

    During the meeting, the two leaders signed two new agreements: Canada-Ukraine Audiovisual Coproduction Treaty and a Joint Declaration on a Youth Mobility Agreement. The first will expand Canadian film and television access to Ukraine; the second will improve student exchanges and youth work permits between the two countries.

    The two leaders also announced the conclusion of negotiations on a Canada-Ukraine Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement. According to Global Affairs Canada, this new agreement will ensure the proper application of customs laws and will prevent and combat customs offences.

    Zelenskyy said that Ukraine is interested in strengthening trade, economic and investment cooperation with Canada. He noted that the two countries will work on extending the bilateral free trade agreement to the sector of services and investments.

    “I sincerely welcome the investments of Canadian companies, such as Brookfield, TIU, Black Iron, and Vermilion in our country,” Zelenskyy said during a joint briefing with the prime minister. “Yesterday (July 1), a Ukrainian company together with Canadian Vermilion Energy Inc. won the right to two oil and gas fields.”

    Canada will be increasing its trade representation in Ukraine with a new Trade Commissioner position in Kyiv. This position will help businesses take full advantage of Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement’s trade benefits.

    Zelenskyy also spoke about Ukraine’s interest in deepening cooperation with Canada in the military sphere, referring to Operation UNIFIER.

    “We have agreed on the supply of armored vehicles and the development of cooperation in this area,” he said, but noted that he did not want to reveal the details now.

    Prime Minister Trudeau confirmed the progress in supporting Ukraine in the protection of its territory and sovereignty.

    “We already see the investments from Canadian companies in the production of ammunition in Ukraine,” Trudeau said. “We will continue the UNIFIER operation, we will do everything for Ukraine to receive the necessary equipment.”

    Zelenskyy said he is convinced that Ukraine will be able to resolve the situation in Donbas only through political and diplomatic means. He thanked Canada for active and comprehensive support and for uniting the international community in assisting Ukraine’s efforts to counteract Russian aggression.

    The third Ukraine Reform Conference began with the ministerial meeting, which took place on July 2. It saw representatives from 37 countries in attendance. Topics included “Ukraine – Sovereign, Secure and Prosperous”, “Vision – Ukraine as a High-Income Country”, and “Top-Down, Bottom-Up – Integrity, Inclusivity and Governance”.

    The meeting was followed by two days of discussions of Ukraine’s reform process and its path to Euro-Atlantic integration at The Ukraine House, which was held at The Fairmont Royal York Hotel July 3-4. The attendees could asses Ukraine’s progress and impact of Ukrainian reforms. The Ukraine House served as a hub for private sector, civil society, government and international partners to connect, network and debate. It also highlighted investment and innovation opportunities in Ukraine.

    On July 3, Zelenskyy delivered remarks to the Economic Club of Canada and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.

    He urged Canadian business to invest in Ukraine. “Invest in Ukraine!” he said. “Why? Because we are one of the most promising countries with a great growth potential.”

    Among the industries that may be interesting to investors, Zelenskyy mentioned IT, renewable energy and mining of mineral resources. In the speech, he mentioned several Canadian investors in Ukraine, including Brookfield (IT center in Lviv) and Black Iron which is developing the iron ore project near Zelenskyy’s home town, Kryvyj Rih.

    The 2020 Ukraine Reform Conference is expected to be held in Lithuania, according to Global Affairs Canada.

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