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George W. Bush (right) with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko (file photo) (AFP)
WASHINGTON, March 23, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush today signed a bill permanently exempting Ukraine from trade restrictions that date back to the era of the Soviet Union.
Bush said the bill will benefit the United States as well as Ukraine. He said it not only will help Ukraine develop a prosperous economy, but also will mean new markets for U.S. products. He said he also will work to help Ukraine accede to the World Trade Organization.
According to Bush, Ukraine earned the exemption because of its struggle for freedom as well as a free-market economy.
"The Cold War is over, and a free Ukraine is a friend to America and an inspiration to those who love liberty," he said. "The Orange Revolution was a powerful example of democracy for people around the world. The brave citizens who gathered in Kyiv's Independence Square demanded the chance to determine their nation's future. And when they got that chance, they chose freedom."
The restrictions were imposed on the Soviet Union in the 1970s under what is known as the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. Ukraine has been given annual exemptions for the past several years, but now the exemption is permanent.
An exhibition of the history of the WTO in Singapore in 1996 (courtesy photo)
Armenia: Joined on 5 February 2003.
Croatia: Joined on 30 November 2000.
Georgia: Joined on 14 June 2000.
Kyrgyzstan: Joined on 20 December 1998.
Macedonia: Joined on 4 April 2003.
Moldova: Joined on 26 July 2001.
Romania: Joined on 1 January 1995.
Countries That Are Not Yet WTO Members:
Afghanistan: Submitted its application in November 2004.
Azerbaijan: Submitted its application in June 1997.
Bosnia-Herezgovina: Submitted its application in May 1999.
Belarus: Submitted its application in September 1993.
Iran: Submitted its application in July 1996.
Iraq: Submitted its application in September 2004.
Kazakhstan: Submitted its application in January 1996.
Russia: Submitted its application in June 1993.
Serbia and Montenegro: Submitted separate applications in December 2004.
Tajikistan: Submitted its application in May 2001.
Ukraine: Submitted its application in November 1993.
Uzbekistan: Submitted its application in December 1994.
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For an exclusive RFE/RL interview with former WTO head MICHAEL MOORE,click here.