UK strikes digital trade deal with Ukraine

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Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch and Ukraine's Minister for Trade and Economy Yulia SvyrydenkoImage source, DIT
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Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch and Ukraine's Minister for Trade and Economy Yulia Svyrydenko met in London

A "digital" trade deal between the UK and Ukraine has been agreed.

The digital trade agreement was struck at a London meeting of Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch and Ukraine's Minister for Trade and Economy Yulia Svyrydenko.

Trading digitally is particularly valuable, the UK government argues, because war and damage to Ukrainian infrastructure makes trading physically difficult.

It is hoped the agreement will help bolster Ukraine's beleaguered economy.

According to the Department for International Trade (DIT) it is hoped the agreement will help the UK and Ukraine make their digital identity systems work together.

There is critical need for people who have lost documentation or been forced by the war to travel to new countries to be able to use digital tools to prove they are who they say they are, it said.

The deal will also enable deeper cooperation on cybersecurity, and help smooth flows of cross-border information between financial services firms an explanatory note says.

Ms Svyrydenko said the deal illustrated that Ukrainian IT companies were in demand around the world despite all the challenges of war.

It comes as Ukrainian businesses and infrastructure face attack from Russian hackers.

A secret £6m ($7.1m) UK programme that had been helping Ukraine defend against Russian cyber attacks, was recently revealed.

UK UA and AI

The deal is an agreement in principle. A legally binding final text of the agreement is yet to be agreed, Sabina Ciofu an international trade expert for industry body TechUK told the BBC.

Typically such deals formally agree cooperation on things like cyber security, artificial intelligence (AI) and emerging technologies. These could translate into "pilot projects with regulators and industry on both sides" she said.

Much would depend on how the deal was finally implemented, but according to Ms Ciofu, "this particular agreement will likely see a lot of support - from industry too - to move fast on implementation".

Ms Badenoch said the deal would "help protect jobs, livelihoods and families now and in Ukraine's post-war future".

The deal follows Tuesday's visit by Ukraine's First Lady Olena Zelenska to the UK parliament.

She told members of both houses of alleged Russian war crimes and called for the UK to support for a special tribunal to prosecute Russian aggression against Ukraine.