Western Balkan countries keep Croatia under pressure

Western Balkan countries keep Croatia under pressure

The ministers of trade and agriculture from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and FYROM, urged the Croatian government to remove discriminatory provisions from the Regulation on Inspection Control and Control of Fruit and Vegetable Conformity with the market standards of this country, and to respect the earlier adopted contracts with these countries regarding the trade between countries.

In their meeting held on Monday in Sarajevo, the ministers also demanded the urgent meeting of their delegation with the Croatian Government members in order to solve the problem. The Regulation, which Croatia put in effect recently, introduces different treatment for domestic products and products imported from third countries. According to these new rules, the fee for each inspection or control and each type of fruits and vegetables is 2.000 kunas (270 Euros), while previously it was 90 kunas (12 Euros). An additional barriere for the trade of these product is that the review is paid according to the type of fruits and vegetables, which means that the transport which contain several species of goods is obliged to pay EUR 270 for each type of fruit.

“We have determined that in this way the economic interests of producers from BiH, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia are endangered”, emphasized Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of BiH, Mirko Sarovic, at the press conference after the meeting.

He explained that he had a telephone conversation with the Minister of Agriculture of Croatia, Tomislav Tolusic, who expressed his willingness to solve the problems related to the Regulations.

The ministers of the regional countries also concluded to demand from competent institutions in Croatia to accord the price of inspection supervision to the actual costs of the procedure and that it does not represent indirect protection of domestic products or indirect taxation of imports.

“This price should be harmonized with the average price in relation to prices in the countries of the region and in the EU”, Sarovic added.

He stressed that these measures are completely unacceptable for BiH. BiH, as he said, will not tolerate such behaviour and definitely will take counter-measures. According to him, countries affected with this decision will “give space to Croatia” for the next seven days, but each country can apply any measure or countermeasure, including BiH, if it deems it appropriate.

Rasim Ljajic, Minister of Foreign and Domestic Trade and Telecommunications of Serbia, said that Serbian Government has already contacted the Croatian institutions, but there was no answer.

“There was no answer, neither the letter nor the postcard. We even received very offensive explanations of this measure. Then we started to apply certain types of phytosanitary and veterinary control, and we will strengthen it. We have the right to do so according to WTO rules. We do not increase the price of this supervision, but we have the right to implement measures that are in line with the SAA and which in some way represent a serious warning that Croatian measures must be reviewed and withdrawn. If we enter into further countermeasures, businessmen and consumers in the two countries will suffer the damage. We are under hard pressure from the public and our producers”, Ljajic said.

The meeting was aimed at facilitating the free flow of goods and protecting the economic interests of BiH, Serbia, Montenegro and FYROM.

The ministers also called on the European Commission to engage in solving this problem in order to respect the principles of free trade, in accordance with the provisions of the Stabilization and Association Agreement.

Apart from Minister Sarovic as the host, the meeting was also attended by the relevant ministers from Serbia, FYROM and Montenegro – Rasim Ljajic, Ljupco Nikolovski and Dragica Sekulic respectively./IBNA