Analysis 20 Mar 17

Call for Balkan Customs Union Draws Faint Praise

Economists have given calls for a new Balkans customs union a tepid welcome - saying the region’s political instability and poor business framework is a far bigger problem than lack of free trade.

Stevan Veljovic
BIRN
Belgrade
Aleksandar Vucic. Photo: Beta.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic recently announced plans to create a new free-trade market and customs union in the Balkans have been backed by the EU following a summit of Balkan leaders in Sarajevo last week.

“I will definitely work on that and I wish that I would be able to influence for the [union] to happen, that would be a relief,” Vucic told press on March 19, adding that the idea was backed by the EU.

According to Vucic, the union would decrease the costs of operations for local companies per seven per cent and increase investments, as it would turn the Balkans for much more attractive market of 20 million people.

Economists say that while this might potentially deliver some benefits, it would not bring many more than already exist under the terms of the Central European Free Trade Association, CEFTA.

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