Archive for April 25th, 2017


Visa Free issues – Ukraine

April 25, 2017

The 26th April is slated to be the day upon which the representatives of the Member States of the EU sign off on the impending Visa-free regime with Ukraine following the overwhelming favorable decision by the European Parliament.

It will be the penultimate bureaucratic step.

Thereafter on or around 18th May the EU President and Malta due to holding the rotating EU presidency will add the final two signatures allowing the agreement being published and thus coming into force 20 days thereafter.

During those 20 days, the Ukrainian authorities will hopefully blitzkrieg the media in all its forms to drive home exactly what the Visa-free agreement provides for – and just as importantly, what it does not.

Ergo, unless an existing specific date of  symbolic importance is chosen as the date of implementation (which seems unlikely), some time during the first 2 weeks in June visa-free travel to the Schengen nations will become a reality.

An achievement perhaps more significant in its symbolism than anything else.

However there are other visa-free opportunities that came to light this week.

The People’s Republic of China made clear to Ukraine that not only was it supportive of the EU-Ukraine visa-free decision, but also that China was prepared to offer visa-free to Ukraine too – naturally on the condition of reciprocity.   The message being that China stands ready “at any time” to advance the issue.

Like many nations, Ukrainian visa-free with regard to China currently involves only Macau and Hong Kong.  It is a very short list of nations that enjoy visa free status with mainland China (approximately a dozen with one or two pending at the time of writing).

When it comes to China there are perhaps few nations so entirely (and selfishly) focused on doing only what is in its national interest.  Outside of that (for example the Iran deal) the bare minimum of engagement necessary occurs.  Whether a reader begrudgingly respects or riles against such a policy, it is for the most part predictable.

However as China is unlikely to sees hordes of Ukrainians heading to China and spending huge sums generating inward tourism revenue – and neither would Kyiv necessarily witness the reverse either – the Chinese offer can only be seen as a step upon a longer road that has very little to do directly with reciprocal visa-free tourism.

Visa-free tourism is hardly the platform that provides the legislative and institutional framework and enforcement that would witness the current $7 – $10 billion of Chinese investment in Ukraine expand by the orders of magnitude which potentially can be realised.

The question therefore, if accepting the premise that the visa-free offer (if accepted at some time in the future) as a step upon a longer road and not an end in and of itself, is whether China foresees this as a small step required for the sake of engagement/momentum in lieu of a large step that cannot be taken for quite some time due to the Ukrainian inability/unwillingness/dilatory attempts to provide a business framework/environment upon which it can comfortably make great strides?

With this offer comes the question of Chinese motivation.

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