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Serbia's trade minister has said it is important for Serbia to strike a new deal with the IMF, ahead of a visit from bank officials on Tuesday.
Trade Minister Rasim Ljajic said it is "very important for Serbia to enter into a new arrangement with the International Monetary Fund."
This should be done "with a view to improving the international financial credibility of the country," he said, speaking after the opening ceremony for the International Furniture, Equipment and Interior Decoration Fair in Belgrade on Monday.
The arrangement with the IMF is important because of the expert support the country would get and also because of opportunities for soft loans in the future, Ljajic told reporters.
Asked whether the Serbian government was ready to meet the requirements set down by the IMF, Ljajic said that it had nothing to do with conditions or ultimatums, but rather with the interests of Serbia.
“We need to curb our deficit and expenditures wherever possible. The state has to save money and show it is responsible if it hopes to afford the full right to require others to do the same by being financially rational and frugal,” Ljajic said.
The minister also addressed the subject of Serbia's potential membership in the World Trade Organization. Belgrade "needs to find a way to become a member while at the same time continuing to protect itself in terms of trade in genetically modified organisms, GMOs," Ljajic said.
"The WTO and the EU are against any restrictive measures regarding the import or export of any product, not just GMOs, while Serbian law bans the production of GMOs.
“Our interest is to be part of the WTO, but to retain the ban on GMOs,” Ljajic said.
He said that Serbia, like other countries, had the right to place certain restrictions or conditions regarding the importation of GMO foods.
Last week, Ljajic said, Laos became the 157th member of the WTO, while Bosnia-Herzegovina is expected to be admitted in June 2013.
He expressed confidence that Serbia would be able to find a solution and become a member of the international organisation.
In two high-profile war crimes trials currently ongoing in Pristina, a series of witnesses have retracted previous statements alleging abuse at Kosovo Liberation Army detention centres.