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UKRAINIAN MINISTER SAYS 'TRADE WAR' WITH WASHINGTON BLOCKS WTO MEMBERSHIP... Economy Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said on the ICTV channel on 4 November that Ukraine is engaged in a "trade war" with the United States and this is holding up its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). "I would like to reject the accusation that the government is in a rush to join the WTO," Yatsenyuk said. "If we really were in a rush, we would have signed a protocol [on mutual access to commodity and service markets] with the U.S. long ago. We are engaged in an extremely tough trade war with the U.S. -- in defense of our own economic interests, while the U.S. is defending its interests." Yatsenyuk said Ukraine has refused to eliminate customs duties on scrap metal and has rejected proposed conditions for agricultural support. "We are in a deadlock today, and that's why we have not joined the WTO," he added. JM

...AS PRESIDENT POINTS FINGER AT 'PARTNERS' AND 'BUREAUCRATIC PROCEDURES.' Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said in a radio address on 5 November that he remains optimistic about Ukraine's chances of joining the WTO this year, but added that Ukrainians "should be frank" on this issue. "The answer to the question of whether Ukraine will be a WTO member in 2005 depends much on our partners and bureaucratic procedures," Yushchenko said. According to Yushchenko, Ukraine's WTO membership would result in many benefits to the country's economy. These benefits, Yushchenko went on, include the prevention of up to $8 billion worth of annual losses in trade because of antidumping investigations against Ukraine in various countries as well as a 10 percent increase in trade and a 1.9 percent increase in gross domestic product (GDP) annually after WTO accession. "If we join the WTO, we will retain existing jobs and will create thousands of new ones," Yushchenko said. JM

KYIV SAYS MEDIA DISTORTED PREMIER'S REMARKS ABOUT LUKASHENKA. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk said on 4 November that some media incorrectly interpreted the recent remarks of Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov about Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Interfax-Ukraine and UNIAN reported. According to media reports, Yekhanurov said in Washington on 1 November: "Two weeks ago I was in Belarus and met with Mr. Lukashenka. He made a good impression on me, he is a good propagandist. Now I understand why German women in the 1930s shouted, 'I want to have a baby with the Fuehrer.' You know, he is a man of great talent and he knows how to work with large masses of people." Minsk subsequently asked Kyiv for clarification of these words. "This is an arbitrary interpretation by the media," Tarasyuk said on 4 November, without elaborating. Tarasyuk said Kyiv is not going to respond officially to Minsk about Yekhanurov's statement in Washington. JM