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Ilyashev & Partners Is a Legal Advisor in the First Dispute Under the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement

News date: 23 September 2020

he International Trade Practice team headed by Olena Omelchenko, the Partner of Ilyashev & Partners Law Firm, defends the Ukrainian trade and economic interests in a dispute between Ukraine and the EU pertaining to a temporary export ban on the unprocessed (raw) timber (roundwood).

This is the first dispute within a framework of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and the second case in the EU history for a case to be resolved by ad hoc arbitration provided for by the bilateral interstate trade agreement. The case concerns the legal issues of interpretation of the provisions of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, in particular, with respect to the right of each party to establish and regulate the levels of national environmental protection, sustainable forest management, as well as issues of the national policy of Ukraine in the field of forestry and environmental protection.

“It is a great honor for us to defend the interests of Ukraine at the international level in this unique project: it is for the first time that a local law firm has been officially involved in defending interests in the interstate dispute, – noted Olena Omelchenko. – This is a recognition of our team, and we apply all our expertise to achieve the best possible result”.

The dispute with the European Union arose in connection with the introduction by Ukraine of a moratorium on export of unprocessed (raw) timber. Since 2005, Ukraine has a permanent ban on the export of timber and lumber of valuable and rare species: acacia, birch, cherry tree, pear tree, walnut, chestnut, yew, sweet cherry tree, planetree maple and juniper. In 2015, a ban was imposed temporarily, for a period of 10 years, on the export of unprocessed timber of any species, with the exception of pine, for which the moratorium began on 1 January 2017.

The EU member states accounted for 70% of Ukrainian timber exports. The European Union believes that non-lifting of the 2005 export ban on rare and valuable wood species and the introduction of a temporary export ban on the unprocessed timber in 2015 contradict the provisions of Article 35 of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement as to the prohibition of export and import restrictions on goods.

In January 2019, the EU requested consultations with Ukraine with regard to a temporary ban on the export of unprocessed timber. The consultations did not result in any mutually agreed decision, and in June 2019, the EU initiated dispute resolution through arbitration and sent a request to establish an Arbitration Panel.

The Arbitration Panel’s hearings took place on 22-23 September 2020. The representatives of Ukraine took part therein from the office of Ilyashev & Partners Law Firm in Kyiv via videoconferencing.

Ilyashev & Partners Law Firm was founded in 1997. It provides a full range of legal services in the field of International Trade, and is known for its precedent-setting practice of dispute resolution and protection of the companies’ interests in trade investigations. It is ranked among the best law firms in International Trade according to the authoritative international legal directory Who’s Who Legal, the annual national research Ukrainian Law Firms. A Handbook for Foreign Clients and Market Leaders: Ranking of Law Firms of Ukraine. The firm is a two-time winner of the Ukrainian Legal Award as a Law Firm of the Year in International Trade.