A technical meeting was held on 15 April 2021 between the European Commission and Bosnia and Herzegovina to discuss the situation in the beef and pork market in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the 2020 decision by Bosnia and Herzegovina to grant preferential treatment. domestic bidders in public procurement procedures.
During the meeting, the Commission stressed that, based on trade data for 2018-2020, it can not reveal any concerns about the relevant products in the market of Bosnia and Herzegovina that could cause imports from the EU. By contrast, EU exports of fresh beef and pork to Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2020 have declined. The Commission notes that Bosnia and Herzegovina has not submitted any significant new data. The Commission considers that the introduction of safeguards will not be justified. If the measures are adopted, Bosnia and Herzegovina would be in violation of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA). The Commission therefore calls on Bosnia and Herzegovina to refrain from actions that violate its international commitments under the SAA and undermine its international credibility.
The Commission recalled that overall trade growth is a welcome effect of any free trade agreement. He notes that Bosnia and Herzegovina currently benefits from additional autonomous trade measures (ATMs) for some agricultural products, mainly fruits and vegetables. These measures have recently been extended until 2025. If Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to adopt measures in violation of the SAA, the EU will consider all available means to restore balance in its trade relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Commission noted the socio-economic consequences of the COVD-19 pandemic on farmers in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Commission recalled the substantial financial assistance the EU has provided to the agricultural sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina (€ 35 million in the period 2020-2024), including assistance to recover from the COVID-19 crisis. She encouraged Bosnia and Herzegovina to do its best to help the EU modernize its agricultural sector and reap the benefits of the open market and EU accession process for the benefit of its farmers and citizens.
The meeting was also an opportunity to discuss Bosnia and Herzegovina’s May 2020 decision of the Council of Ministers to extend the preferential treatment of domestic bidders in public procurement procedures in violation of the SAA. The Commission called on Bosnia and Herzegovina to end such treatment of domestic bidders without further delay in order to restore compliance with the SAA in this area. The authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina indicated that the measure will not be extended beyond June 1, 2021.
The meeting was organized following announcements of plans to introduce protectionist obligations to import beef and pork for up to 2 years, as proposed by the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This technical meeting was not an official consultation in accordance with Art. 30 of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA). The Commission has asked Bosnia and Herzegovina several times in recent months not to adopt any measures without prior consultation as required by the SAA.