Ukrainian Parliament Ratifies Accord to Boost Ex-Soviet Trade

Ukraine ratified a free-trade accord among the Commonwealth of Independent States that Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said would boost dealings with the group of former Soviet republics by more than a third.

The agreement was backed today by 260 lawmakers in the 450-seat parliament, based in the capital, Kiev. The pact is based on World Trade Organization rules and will boost CIS trade by 35 percent, Azarov told an extraordinary parliamentary session.

While the deal will bolster Ukraine’s ties with its ex-communist neighbors, the government has rejected invitations to join a Russian-led Customs Union that also includes Kazakhstan and Belarus. Ukraine, where economic growth will slow to 2 percent this year from 5.2 percent in 2011, according to the World Bank, is pursuing a free-trade pact with the European Union instead.

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