The U.S. government said Wednesday it was lifting trade sanctions that had been imposed on Ukraine almost four years ago as Kiev had finally made progress in cracking down on intellectual property piracy, Ukrainian Journal reported .

The measure would lift punitive 100% tariffs that had been imposed on $75 million worth of Ukrainian exports to the U.S., mostly on steel, footwear and other products.

The U.S. moved to cancel the sanctions after Ukrainian Parliament on July 6 adopted a law with tougher punishment against those that illegally produce and sell CDs and DVDs. The law has taken effect on Aug. 2.

Approval of the law is also one of the key measures needed for Ukraine to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) by the end of the year.

U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman, while announcing the lifting of the sanctions, praised President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko for their involvement in approving tougher CD/DVD piracy measures.

"This recent legislative action by Ukraine is a key step in the right direction," Portman said in a statement carried by The Associated Press. "We expect that Ukraine will use the tools created by these amendments to crack down on illegal pirating of protected works."

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry praised the lifting of the sanctions, which it said, is a proof that the country is moving closer towards joining the WTO.

“It’s a good sign on the eve of President Yushchenko’s visit to the U.S.,” the ministry said.

The punitive U.S. tariffs had been in effect since January 2002. U.S. officials contended at the time the penalties were imposed that Ukraine was the largest producer and exporter of pirated visual media in Europe.


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