Three months ago, on 29 January, EUBAM in collaboration with the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine presented to the public the major findings of a study on Odesa and Illichivs’k ports.
The study reviewed border control and customs procedures at the ports and made recommendations to improve management and reduce the scope for corruption. Taken together, the recommendations were seen as an action plan with the power to be truly transformative, building ever-more transparent and effective state services and opening up European Union markets for Ukrainian trade.
The report was welcomed by professionals and businesses whose work involves the ports. The State Fiscal Service expressed its commitment to use it as a tool for driving forward modernization and for meeting the customs-related obligations deriving from the EU Association Agenda and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA).
Three months after the launch of the study, EUBAM has taken stock of progress so far. Some efforts to address shortcomings and ensure more effective and transparent operations at the ports have gained momentum. They include norms and standards on authorized economic operators and the introduction of computerized transit systems. Further, in early April the State Fiscal Service tabled a draft roadmap setting out specific action points and deadlines for implementation and seeking EUBAM assistance with aspects of it. Discussions are ongoing between the Service and the Mission on future cooperation around these points.
Francesco Bastagli, Head of EUBAM, said: “The roadmap by the State Fiscal Service is an encouraging development. Many action points are directly connected to fulfilling the customs elements of Ukraine’s DCFTA obligations. With the DCFTA provisionally coming into force on 1 January 2016, it is vital to keep up the momentum. It’s equally important that the ongoing reorganization of the State Fiscal Service and Customs be brought to an early conclusion. Stability and clarity of responsibilities within the Service would help motivate and lead a vigorous implementation of reforms.”
Fulfilling the action plan would bring major economic benefits, including a reduction in operating costs for businesses, making them more profitable and competitive. It would be far easier to trade across borders. This, in turn, would boost growth and investment in the region, increasing revenues to the Ukrainian State budget.