Zovko welcomes the extension of autonomous trade benefits to the Western Balkans

Brussels / Split, 12 November 2020

During the November mini-plenary session, the European Parliament approved the extension of autonomous trade measures for the Western Balkan countries for an additional five years. Member of the European Parliament and IPA III co-rapporteur Željana Zovko welcomed the decision stating that the limited preferences granted through this extension still provide valuable support to the economy of the region. “So far, these trade measures have benefitted the cooperation of EU businesses and local producers in the Western Balkans. In 2019, the Eu and the Western Balkans traded for a value of EUR 55 billion.” – stated Zovko.

In October, when Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi presented the 2020 Enlargement Package and the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans in the European Parliament, Zovko called to also include trade preferences in that initiative. “The EU remains by far the biggest trading partner of the Western Balkans accounting for 72% of total trade in goods in 2019, but they are experiencing a trade imbalance. Trade preferences could address this issue and provide a larger growth impetus than foreign direct investment alone.”

Most of the existing trade preferences granted to the Western Balkan countries have now been integrated into their respective Stabilisation and Association Agreements (SAA) with the EU. “This week’s extension of those autonomous trade regimes that are not embodied in the SAAs result in the continuation of these fruitful features of our economic and business relations with the region,” Zovko concluded. 

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