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Serbia to chair CEFTA trade group next year

| 2023-12-11 2 min read

Serbia to chair CEFTA trade group next year

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Serbia will head up the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) in 2024 and boost regional connectivity and trade relations to benefit economies and people’s quality of life, Serbian Trade Minister Tomislav Momirovic said at the CEFTA Week 2023 conference in the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica on Thursday. With an over 18% share, the CEFTA market is key for the Serbian economy as its second biggest trade partner, Momirovic added.

Serbia’s chairmanship will focus on consolidating and strengthening the implementation of the agreement and intensifying trade between CEFTA signatories, Momirovic said, adding that said digitisation and e-commerce are increasingly important.

Momirovic said economic cooperation based on EU standards and CEFTA mechanism principles – and participants’ dedication in particular – stimulates economic activity and trade, as well as the creation of new and better jobs.

EU sees CEFTA as pivotal

The work carried out within the framework of the Common Regional Market, led by the EU and CEFTA, is the basis for gaining access to the EU single market, said Gert Jan Kopmann, Director General of the Directorate for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement in the European Commission, referring to the new Growth Plan for the Western Balkans.

“Economic integration in the region is based on EU rules and standards, and compliance with the application of EU law is an essential condition for closer integration within the EU single market.

“That’s why the seven priority actions outlined in our growth plan focus heavily on the work you do: advances in e-commerce, parcel delivery services and geo-blocking, to name just three areas, to enable access to the single market,” Kopman said.

CEFTA Week 2023

“The Internet as an opportunity for trade,” Nina Angelovska, Macedonian E-Trade Association president, said as a participant on the e-commerce panel, which discussed the CEFTA guide to e-commerce, including regulatory simplification, consumer protection, more efficient shipment deliveries, and customs and digital payments.

Danijela Gacevic, Acting Director of the CEFTA Secretariat emphasised that the work done by CEFTA meets the needs and shapes the future of economies, and creates jobs.

Confirmation of the importance of CEFTA’s work came from the New Growth Plan for the Western Balkans, Gacevic said, adding that Montenegro’s presidency ended with nine agreements that could also improve the business environment and people’s daily lives.

Digitisation and e-commerce as transformational forces reshaping global trade were the focus of several panel discussions. Also on the agenda was providing businesses with policies and tools to compete not only in CEFTA, but also the EU single market.

CEFTA expanded

CEFTA is an international trade agreement signed in 1992 by Poland, Hungary, Czechia and Slovakia (then Czechoslovakia), which entered into force in 1994, aimed at integrating with Western European institutions and markets, and consolidating democracy. 

Since then its has expanded to include Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria,Montenegro, Serbia, North Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, and the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) on behalf of Kosovo.