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Serbian parliament to ratify CEFTA by mid September

Serbian State Secretary at the Ministry of Economy and Regional Development Jasna Matic said yesterday that Serbian parliament should ratify the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) by the middle of September.

Matic told a press conference that the bill on ratification of CEFTA will be forwarded to Serbian parliament in urgent procedure, and agreement has been reached with Serbian parliament Speaker Oliver Dulic that it should be the first article on the agenda at the first autumn session.

The Serbian government considers that there were no negative consequences of the delay in ratifying the agreement, said Matic. She expects that at the ministerial conference, which will be held by the end of September in Skopje, Serbia will be full member of CEFTA. There will be no negative affects on the Serbian economy due to delayed implementation of CEFTA, said Matic. She explained that concessions provided through the agreement, are at the level of concessions in free trade guaranteed by 31 bilateral agreements between countries of the region. She stressed that CEFTA is important for Serbia, which mainly realizes a budget surplus in the region. She added that CEFTA will help Serbia to efficiently use preferences which it had until now, according to bilateral agreements with countries in the region, since trade will be simpler and countries will find it harder to adopt protectionist measures for domestic markets. Matic said that the agreement will make it possible for Serbian trade to grow, and pointed to the fact that CEFTA is a prologue for the future membership of Serbia in the World Trade Organization and the EU. According to Matic, the agreement has been ratified by eight countries thus far, excluding Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

CEFTA came into force on July 26 in Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia and Moldova, and it has been announced that it will become valid in Croatia during this month. CEFTA was drafted according to WTO regulations, and was signed in December last year in Bucharest by Montenegro, Croatia, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, Macedonia and the UNMIK (on behalf of Kosovo-Metohija). CEFTA envisages harmonization of customs limitations for industrial and agricultural products in countries of the regions at the latest until 2010. Novelties are liberalization of public procurement and encouraging investment in signatory countries, and the opportunity to compete in the European market, by means of preferential treatment, will also increase.

CEFTA was originally created in 1992, and the revised text for countries of south eastern Europe was drafted last year. (