Brussels, 1 July 2008
The European Commission has today welcomed the entry into force of the Interim Agreement (IA) with Bosnia and Herzegovina. The IA effectively creates a free trade area, with progressive opening of the market of Bosnia and Herzegovina facilitating economic and social development. The two sides signed the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) and the IA on 16 June in Luxembourg. Until the ratification process is finalised the trade provisions of the SAA are applied through the IA.
EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said: "Trade is a key element of EU policy in the region and an important driver of development. The free trade area will create economic opportunity and will attract more European investment to Bosnia and Herzegovina."
Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn added: "The entering into force of this Agreement is a further proof of the EU's commitment to the European perspective of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It will enhance economic development in the country. Its successful implementation is the gateway to candidate status."
The agreement allows free access to EU markets for almost all goods from Bosnia and Herzegovina, which in turn will gradually open its market to the European products and services. Bosnia and Herzegovina will also introduce standards from the EU, progressively aligning its legislation in a number of areas such as competition, intellectual property, investment, public procurement or protection of personal data. This process will facilitate economic and social development in Bosnia and Herzegovina and will encourage proceeding with further economic reforms. Finally, the institutional set-up foreseen in the SAA/IA will constitute a forum of extensive dialogue and cooperation in trade related matters and beyond.
The latest Commission Communication on Western Balkans from 5 March 2008 notes that the region has a clear European perspective. In this regard, a successful implementation of the IA and SAA is a key and essential factor in assessing Bosnia and Herzegovina's readiness to further advance relations with the EU.
The EU is Bosnia and Herzegovina's biggest trading partner, with total trade of around 5 billion euros in 2007. In 2007, imports coming from the EU made up 66.7% of total imports by Bosnia and Herzegovina, while exports to the EU accounted for 71.4% of its total exports. In 2007, EU imports from grew by 6.1% year on year to reach over 1.8 billion euros, while exports to Bosnia and Herzegovina grew by 8.3%, reaching over 3 billion euros.
For more information on EU Trade policy see: http://ec.europa.eu/trade/