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News 02 Aug 13

Bosnia to Maintain Croatia Import Bans

Foreign trade minister Mirko Sarovic said Bosnia would continue to refuse certain imports from Croatia if they do not meet EU standards, despite pressure from Brussels.

Elvira M. Jukic
BIRN
Sarajevo

Sarovic said on Thursday that around 50 Croatian companies which have been banned from sending their products to Bosnia because they do not meet EU standards would remain blacklisted despite insistence from the European Commission that Sarajevo should solve the bilateral trade problem.

The Bosnian authorities imposed the ban after Croatia joined the EU last month, because the Croatian producers were no longer subject to the Central European Free Trade Agreement, CEFTA, which maintained less stringent standards than those applied by the EU.

Sarovic argued that Bosnia deserved products that met the same standards as EU states.

“It is not possible to say that some goods are exported from Croatia to the EU, while goods which can't go there, can go to Bosnia, which takes all sorts of things,” Sarovic said.

The European Commission said in a statement on Friday that it “regrets the current attitude of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is not in line with the spirit of bilateral free trade”.

“The effective establishment of bilateral free trade is one of the cornerstones on a country's path to EU membership. The current attitude is a step backwards,” the statement warned.

It accused Bosnia of continuing to refuse to use the EU’s methodology to resolve the issue.

“This methodology consists of a purely technical adaptation of the bilateral trade of the EU with Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to take into account the traditional trade of the country with Croatia under the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA),” it said.

The Commission also warned that a failure to resolve the issue could hit Bosnia’s trade with the EU.

“Trading partners count on reliable trade conditions,” the statement said.

The European Commission's warning was not its first, but despite that, Sarovic insisted that he would protect domestic producers in Bosnia who often complain that imports are not properly controlled.

Sarovic said that Bosnia wanted to make import conditions stricter, but emphasised that the country would respect its existing trade agreements with the EU and CEFTA.

“There has to be order, which no one from outside will dictate,” the minister said.

“We will regulate quotas [for imports] and make suitable rulebooks on trading standards which is a process to be completed by the end of 2013,” he added.

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