Serbia applies interim deal Feb. 1

Serbia will begin to apply the interim trade agreement with the EU on Feb. 1, Finance Minister Diana Dragutinović announced on Monday.

Source: B92, Beta

"Technically, this will not be a unilateral application of the interim trade agreement because Serbian goods are free from customs on the EU market," she said, adding that "they did that before we did."

The deal should have been put into effect on Jan. 1, 2009, but it was postponed as the parliament failed to adopt amendments to the Law on customs tariffs which would allow for its implementation in time.

The agreement envisages the gradual liberalization of trade in industrial and agricultural products over the next six years.

The Serbian industry will be protected the longest when importing goods on the list of "most sensitive products." In the first year of implementing the deal, customs tariffs on those products will be 85 percent of the current ones.

Tariffs on the next category, "very sensitive" products, are to be phased out over four years - being lowered first to 80 percent of the existing ones, then to 60, 40 and 20 percent, and lifted altogether in 2013.

Customs on "sensitive products," the third category according to the interim trade agreement, would be phased out over three years, until 2011, with the first year drop at 70 percent followed by 40 percent of the current customs rate.

The Stabilization and Association Agreement and the interim trade agreement between Serbia and the EU were signed on April 29, 2008, in Brussels, immediately suspended by the EU, and ratified by the Serbian parliament on Sept. 9, 2008.

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