Bosnia could face EU sanctions over continuing deadlock of bilateral trade talks–report

By bne IntelliNews August 7, 2013

Bosnia could face sanctions from the EU if it keeps banning imports of agricultural products originating from Croatia, daily Nezavisne Novine reported quoting an unnamed EU official.

In July, more than 50 Croatian companies were banned from exporting their products to the Bosnian market because they do not meet EU standards.

Bosnia and the European Commission (EC) are currently negotiating the adaptation of the EU-Bosnia bilateral trade regime following Croatia’s accession to the EU. However, Bosnia refuses the proposed EU methodology to solve the issue. The latter implies that trade concessions applicable to the EU with 27 member states are adjusted by the trade flows of Bosnia and Croatia in order to reflect the situation of the enlarged EU-28.

According to the report, Brussels sees Bosnia’s attitude as illegal protectionism of some major agricultural producers including politicians and ministers. The possible sanctions include the introduction of the principle of reciprocity on Bosnia’s products. This will reportedly imply that some products that the country currently exports to the EU under favourable conditions will be delisted. The head of Bosnia’s negotiating team, Dragisa Mekic, recently told local media that further liberalization of Bosnia’s trade with the EU would be against the spirit of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA). Mekic also reminded that during the negotiations of the SAA, Bosnia was allowed to maintain tariff protections for some of its products until the country’s economy recovered and developed.

The EU warned earlier in August that the continued deadlock in the ongoing negotiation with Bosnia on the adaptation of its bilateral trade regime could have negative consequences for the Balkan country. It might result in disturbance of Bosnia’s trade with the EU while Bosnian citizens will have to pay higher prices for products traditionally imported from Croatia.

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