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UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT STRUGGLES WITH WTO LEGISLATION... The Verkhovna Rada on 15 November passed in the first reading three bills that are essential for Ukraine's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), Ukrainian media reported. The debate over other WTO-oriented bills was interrupted by Communist Party lawmakers who sounded sirens and provoked a scuffle with pro-government legislators as Economy Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk was speaking in support of WTO membership from the parliamentary rostrum. President Viktor Yushchenko, who is currently on a two-day visit to France, commented that political forces that block the adoption of laws essential for Ukraine's accession to the WTO are acting against the country's strategic course. JM
...AS OFFICIAL CASTS DOUBT ON UKRAINE'S WTO ENTRY THIS YEAR. Deputy Economy Minister Volodymyr Ihnashchenko told journalists in Kyiv on 15 November that Ukraine, in order to secure WTO membership, has still to sign protocols on bilateral access to commodity and service markets with 10 countries, Ukrinform reported. Ihnashchenko said Ukraine will sign the protocols with seven countries within two to three weeks but added that problems remain with China, Australia, and the United States. According to Ihnashchenko, procedural issues have remained in signing the protocol with China, while Australia is demanding a big quota and low import duties on raw sugar from Ukraine. "It's difficult for us to find a compromise [with Australia]. Maybe some additional legislative alterations are needed," he added. Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov suggested in Washington earlier this month that the United States abstains from giving a go-ahead to Ukraine's WTO membership because of a controversy over Ukrainian scrap-metal exports (see "RFE/RL Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova Report," 10 November 2005). Kyiv earlier hoped to be accepted to the WTO during the organization's summit in Hong Kong on 13-18 December. JM