Brussels - The European Commission agreed on Tuesday to extend 500 million euros worth of unilateral trade benefits to Ukraine, removing import duties on a wide range of agricultural and other goods in an effort to support the Ukrainian economy.
European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said the decision would come into effect immediately and run until at least Nov. 1 this year, by which time the European Union expects to have signed a full free-trade agreement with Kiev.
The total value of the benefits is estimated at 487 million euros a year, De Gucht said, with most of that (330 million euros) coming from the removal of import duties on agricultural and processed agricultural goods. Duties will also be removed on some industrial goods and textiles.
The decision is part of efforts by the EU to prop up Ukraine following the ouster of former president Viktor Yanukovich.
At the same time, the EU is trying to apply pressure on Russia to remove its forces from Crimea by imposing sanctions and other targeted measures on Moscow.