Representatives of the European Commission and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met via video conference on 22 April 2021 to discuss the implementation of the Stabilization and Association Agreement and the harmonization of BiH legislation with the acquis communautaire in the fields of trade, industry, customs and taxation.
“In the meeting, the parties discussed developments in these areas and exchanged detailed statistics on trade. “The Commission called on Bosnia and Herzegovina to vigorously accelerate efforts to strengthen institutional and administrative capacity, coordination and legal frameworks in all related areas, and recalled the importance of national sectoral strategies,” the EU Delegation to BiH said in a press release. .
In the area of trade, the EU stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a strong impact on trade worldwide. Exports from BiH to the EU during 2020 fell by 7.3%, while imports from the EU fell by 12.2%. The EU remains Bosnia and Herzegovina’s first trading partner, accounting for 65.1% of total trade. The EU stressed that the autonomous trade regime for the export of certain fruits, vegetables and wine from the Western Balkans to the EU was extended for a period of 5 years until the end of 2025, which proved to be a valuable aid for Exporters. e BiH. In this context, the EU reminded BiH of the importance of complying with the SAA ‘s trade provisions, in order to continue to reap the benefits of improved EU market entry. The Union called for the finalization and adoption of excise laws and regulations in line with the EU acquis, in order to ensure the same conditions for domestic importers and producers, including small breweries. The EU also encouraged BiH to intensify and conclude open bilateral negotiations with a view to completing its accession to the World Trade Organization.
Regarding the free movement of goods, the EU noted BiH’s initial steps in developing a national quality infrastructure strategy and expects to consider the final draft. The EU welcomed the appointment of members of the Metrology Council.
On taxation, the EU welcomed the ratification of the OECD-Council of Europe Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (MAC) and encouraged BiH to adopt new VAT and excise laws to further align with the acquis. EU. In the field of customs, the EU called on BiH to adhere to the timetable for the implementation of the next phase of the New Computerized Transit System (NCTS). She encouraged BiH to implement electronic signatures across the country and to ensure the interaction of various electronic signatures across the country. BiH was called upon to adopt a new law on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions with a nationwide supervisory authority, in line with the EU acquis.
The EU stressed the need for a coherent national approach to industry and small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) policy planning and implementation, in order to strengthen, inter alia, the economic sustainability of the COVID-19 pandemic. The EU particularly encouraged the finalization and adoption of strategic guidelines for harmonizing support for SMEs and entrepreneurship. The EU recalled that faster and more coordinated structural reforms are essential to accelerate recovery after the pandemic. Activities to place state-owned enterprises on an equal footing with other industrial enterprises in order to increase growth potential were also discussed. Strong commitment and constructive commitment is expected from all six Western Balkan partners (WB6), including BiH, for a common regional market, a catalyst for deeper regional economic integration and a step towards the EU single market. In the area of public procurement, the EU called on BiH to immediately abolish the practice of preferential treatment of domestic bidders and establish compliance with the SAA in this area. Finally, the EU stressed the need to implement the measures envisaged by the Economic Reform Program, as well as the Policy Guidelines based on the Economic and Financial Dialogue.
The meeting was co-chaired by Brankica Pandurevic, Assistant Minister for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship at the BiH Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations, and Ingrid Jenezova, Permanent Secretary of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighborhood and Negotiation Policy.