Brussels, 19 December 2012
EU welcomes bilateral deal on Bosnia and Herzegovina's WTO accession
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and the Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mirko Šarovic, today signed a deal on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). This agreement is a key step for Bosnia and Herzegovina's path to becoming a Member of the international trade body. Accession to the WTO is expected to make a lasting contribution to the process of economic reform and sustainable development in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“Today's signature is a milestone in Bosnia and Herzegovina's WTO accession process and an important step towards fostering our economic relations", said EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht. "The EU strongly supports the WTO accession of our neighbours. We believe that Bosnia and Herzegovina has made remarkable progress in preparing for WTO entry and hope to welcome them into the WTO family very soon".
Minister Mirko Šarovic said: "Bosnia and Herzegovina is committed to become an active member of the multilateral trading system and has invested serious efforts in this respect. The inestimable support provided by the EU is delivering positive results. Today’s event represents a step closer to our final common goal and we are confident that it will help in finishing the rest of the bilateral negotiations in the WTO in the months to come. If we find the same constructive attitude with other partners, we could become WTO members in 2013."
The bilateral deal provides for the lowering of tariffs for trade in goods and for the opening of services markets upon accession. These commitments will be then embodied in the future Protocol of Accession of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the WTO.
Bosnia and Herzegovina applied for WTO membership on 11 May 1999. The WTO Working Party on its accession was established on 15 July 1999. In order to become a WTO member, Bosnia and Herzegovina must complete bilateral negotiations with interested WTO members and obtain the endorsement of this Working Party at multilateral level.
EU-Bosnia and Herzegovina trade in facts and figures
The EU is Bosnia and Herzegovina's main trading partner, accounting for almost 73% of its exports and more than half of its imports. In 2011 the total value of EU goods exported to Bosnia and Herzegovina was €3.5 billion, whereas imports from Bosnia and Herzegovina amounted to €2.4 billion. Machinery and transport equipment, chemicals and manufactured products are the most traded products.
Bilateral trade commitments between the EU and Bosnia and Herzegovina are included in the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) signed between the European Union and Bosnia and Herzegovina on 16 June 2008. Pending ratification of the SAA, an Interim Agreement on trade-related matters has been applied since 1st July 2008.
For further information
Helene Banner (+32 2 295 24 07)
John Clancy (+32 2 295 37 73)