JULY 23 2012 15:22h
Immediately after the summer break, the European Union will launch negotiations with the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) member countries on a trading regime with the European Union after Croatia joins the bloc in July next year, Deputy Prime Minister Neven Mimica told Croatian Radio on Saturday.
The EU is expected to negotiate with CEFTA members about keeping the zero percent or the lowest customs duties on Croatian products once Croatia enters the European Union, Mimica said.
Mimica told Croatian Radio that all those, notably food producers, who announced moving of their production to Bosnia or Serbia once Croatia entered the EU as CEFTA regulations would no longer apply, would not have to do that because a deal was made with Brussels.
With EU entry, Croatia will have to abandon a preferential export regime to CEFTA countries, namely Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, and Moldova, and accept a trading regime which the EU has agreed with each country separately. With each of those countries the EU has signed Stabilisation and Association Agreements which allow them to keep their customs duties on EU products for a given period of time while at the same time they can export almost all products free of customs duties.
The European Commission was given a mandate to negotiate on behalf of Croatia in early September.
Unless the existing agreements between the EU and the CEFTA countries were changed, Croatian food exporters would lose their positions on their most important export markets because the CEFTA would no longer apply to Croatia. In other words, food products coming to Croatia from the CEFTA and EU countries will be free of customs duties, while at the same time Croatian food products in the CEFTA countries will be subject to customs duties. (Hina)