Ukraine has asked the World Trade Organization to set up a panel to consider its complaint about Russia’s repeated restrictions of transit of goods from Ukraine through its territory to third countries, the Ministry of Economic Development & Trade announced on Monday.

According to the ministry, Russia imposed restrictions on transportation of goods on transit by road and rail from Ukraine through Russian territory to Kazakhstan on 1 January 2016 and to Kyrgyzstan on 1 July, following the adoption of the provisions of the free trade area between Ukraine and the European Union. Experts estimate that about 79% of exports from Ukraine to Kazakhstan and 95% exports to Kyrgyzstan have been affected by the restrictions and partial ban imposed by Russia.

"Following the imposition of the restrictive measures that are being appealed, export of goods from Ukraine to Central/East Asian countries fell by 38.3% in 2016 compared to 2015. In general, the loss of exports to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are estimated at more than USD 0 4 billion. We are deeply convinced that the trade aggression by the Russian Federation, including illegal restrictions on transit from Ukraine to third countries, should be assessed objectively by the World Trade Organization’s experts and they should certainly be canceled," said Deputy Minister of Economic Development & Trade Natalia Mykolska.

According to the ministry, as part of the work to counter Russian aggression in the sphere of trade and protect the interests of Ukraine and Ukrainian exporters, the ministry began the process of settling the dispute over these restrictions at the WTO last year. Since Russia was not ready to resolve the dispute in the first stage of the dispute resolution process (consultations) and did not take measures to cancel its illegal, discriminatory, and economically unreasonable transit restrictions, Ukraine decided to proceed to the next stage by asking the WTO to set up a panel to consider the dispute.