Minister: WTO accession Serbia's goal for 2014

BELGRADE -- Amendments to laws on genetically modified organisms and alcoholic beverages excise duty will pave the way for Serbia's World Trade Organization membership.

(Tanjug)
(Tanjug)

This has been revealed by Serbia's Minister of External and Internal Trade Rasim Ljajić.

"If we remove those obstacles, the way for Serbia's WTO accession will be practically paved," Ljajić said in an interview with Tanjug, adding that this is the key foreign trade objective of his ministry.

He noted that amendments to the law on GMOs will not contribute to distribution of genetically modified food in the Serbian market, adding that he guarantees that "there will be no distribution of such food, just as there is none at present."

"The essence of amending the law is to put this sector under control, to make it more transparent and more clear," Ljajić said, noting that this represents no licence for distributing GMOs, but a way of removing restrictive provisions from Serbian legislation.

Ljajić announced that the ministry will work on stepping up the digitization process in 2014, adding that two conditions must be met for its timely completion.

"One condition is to secure funds - we are in negotiations about this with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development - and the other is to adopt two laws that are in the competence of the Ministry of Culture - the laws on electronic media and on public media services - as a legal foundation for completing the digitization process," Ljajić explained.

Also in the works is the law on e-business, which is a key, systemic law that will provide an impetus for development of e-business and e-commerce in Serbia, he said.

Ljajić expects the Serbian government to adopt a new bill on consumer protection in late January and table it to parliament for adoption.

He also announced negotiations with Ukraine on signing a free trade agreement, as well as the signing of a document with Canada on encouraging and protecting investments.

Negotiations have already started with the U.S. and Qatar on signing agreements on encouraging and protecting investments, Ljajić said.

He said that the new regime of cigarette trade with the EU should not come into force before March.

Serbia also expects discussions to start on raising the quotas for sugar exports to EU countries, Ljajić said.

"The quota now amounts to 180,000 tons. We expect the EU, which has in principle shown understanding for such a request, to accept discussions on raising the quota," Ljajić concluded, adding that Serbia has requested a 45,000-ton increase of the quota, but that he cannot say with certainty that it will be granted.