April 11, 2017 Committees / Intergroup

Croatian entrepreneurs got what they deserved

Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament voted today in Brussels on the proposal of the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) between the EU and its Member States on one hand, and Bosnia and Herzegovina on the other hand, took into consideration Croatia's accession to the European Union with 57 in favour, 1 against and 1 abstention.

When Croatia entered the EU, the most important contractual and commercial relationship was certainly CEFTA - Central European Free Trade Agreement, in which BiH is also included.

"It took time, but we achieved the desired goal - maintaining traditional preferential trade after Croatian accession to the EU was taken into consideration! From the beginning I have stressed that the European Commission must amend the SAA to provide business for our companies. After all, it is the principle of traditional trading: sector of acceding countries cannot suffer damage as a result of EU accession. Unfortunately, the agri-food sector suffered certain consequences after losing the market of Bosnia and Herzegovina", said MEP Tonino Picula, Head of the Delegation for Relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, after the vote.

When the Stabilization and Association Agreement between the EU and Bosnia and Herzegovina was concluded, Croatia applied the provision of CEFTA in the trade with Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to which the export of Croatian agricultural products in Bosnia and Herzegovina took place without customs duties. However, when Croatia joined the EU, export conditions have changed and for 20 of most important Croatian agricultural food products in exports in BiH, the full rate of duty was applied.

As of February 1 this year, manufacturers from Bosnia and Herzegovina can again use trade preferences ("the autonomous trade measures") for certain agricultural products, including fruits and vegetables. This means that manufacturers of BiH can export those products to the EU without any specific duties, making them more competitive in the EU market. As a reminder, these measures were suspended due to lack of agreement between the EU and Bosnia and Herzegovina who did not want to adapt the SAA.

"Bosnia and Herzegovina is the second most important export market for Croatia, but also the most important Croatian export market for agricultural products. Also, reducing the Croatian exports of agricultural products in Bosnia and Herzegovina from the date of Croatian membership in the EU is not offset by other export markets", warned Picula.

MEP Picula took the opportunity to ask the Commission in August 2013 what will they do to facilitate the placement of Croatian products in the markets of countries that have so far been a very important trading partner. Commissioner Karel De Gucht replied that the Commission is determined to implement adjustments to ensure the continuation of the traditional flow of trade between Croatia and its former partners in CEFTA.

Confirmation of the Committee on Foreign Affairs proposal is expected at the plenary session in May.

On the eve of the vote, MEP Picula met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Crnadak. They discussed the European future of BiH, but also the problem of dysfunction of the Joint Parliamentary Delegation chaired by Picula.

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