Macedonia to lift ban on wheat imports as of September 2.

By bne IntelliNews August 28, 2013

The government has decided to lift the restriction on the imports of wheat as of September 2 due to stabilised domestic market, Kanal 5 TV broadcaster reported quoting government spokesperson Aleksandar Gjorgjiev. Some 95% of the domestic wheat production has been purchased which creates conditions for abolishing the restriction.

In July, the Macedonian government decided to link the imports of wheat and flour to the purchase of local wheat and flour until end-2013. Thus, Macedonian importers were required to purchase 3 kg of local wheat for every 1 kg of imported wheat, and 4 kg of local wheat for 1 kg of imported flour.

There are sufficient data that the domestic flour market has improved as well, so the ban on flour imports is also expected to be lifted in the first half of September, Gjorgjiev added.

Meanwhile, Macedonia's protectionist policy triggered negative reaction in neighbouring Serbia, the export companies of which had suffered due to Macedonia's ban on wheat and flour imports. Serbia had asked repeatedly for removing the restrictions. The country’s assistant minister of trade Bojana Todorovic even warned that the government is considering countermeasures which could be related to the export of seasonal fruits and vegetables and wine from Macedonia. At a meeting held in Belgrade on July 22, all CEFTA (Central European Free Trade Agreement) members urged Macedonia to abolish the decision within a reasonable time frame, seen by the Serbian side to be from 1 to 1.5 months, Serbian news agency Tanjug had previously reported.

Serbia accounted for 6.3% of Macedonia’s exports in H1 2013.

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