CEFTA – 15 years making trade happen

December 16, 2021

Skopje, 16 December 2021- As a central event of the CEFTA Week, conference “CEFTA – 15 years making trade happen” has gathered in Skopje over 100 participants and some 200 online participants from 7 CEFTA parties to mark the achievements of 2021 Chairmanship of North Macedonia.

Being the first year of implementation of Common Regional Market Action Plan, CEFTA has focused its efforts to promoting free movement of goods and services in the region. Together with European Commission and Regional Cooperation Council, it has made important steps towards bringing the region closer to the EU Single Market.

Opening the Conference, Kreshnik Bekteshi, Minister of Economy, North Macedonia stressed importance of CEFTA for regional economic development and accelerating economic recovery from Covid-19 pandemics.

” This year we managed to start and finish important work within the Annual program of our Chairmanship and in implementing important topics under the Action Plan of the Common Regional Market. Within CEFTA we have to fulfill our obligations to further develop this Agreement by creating favorable conditions in the trade policy for the business sector and to develop fair competition. Within our chairing with more CEFTA bodies and managing negotiations for Dispute settlement mechanism, we succeeded to focus on free movement of goods eliminating obstacles, making progress in free trade of services and improving institutional capacities of the CEFTA structures”, said Minister Bekteshi.

Director of the CEFTA Secretariat Emir Djikic emphasized important role of CEFTA in trade promotion in last 15 years.

“Studies have shown that contribution of CEFTA to the Parties’ export is estimated between 40% and 80%. However, what matters is the future and there lies potential of up to 6.7% of additional GDP if we bring CEFTA to the level of integration that exists in the EU. This year we made first steps in that direction.”

Key achievements in 2021 are:

Amended rules of origin, making them more flexible for the benefit of economic operators. The updates rules are in line with the process of the revision of the current PEM rules of origin.
Decision on facilitation of electronic commerce in CEFTA was finalized.
Decisions on recognition of the AEO programmes and professional qualifications have been agreed on the expert level.
Significant progress has been made in negotiations of Additional Protocol 7 on Dispute Settlement Mechanism and of Decision on removal of work permit obligation for service suppliers and intracompany transfers.
Green lanes were extended to all BCPs/CCPs in CEFTA providing faster and more secure flow of essential goods. A new portal representing data on utilization of the Green lanes initiative and waiting time was published to assist in monitoring of trade policies. Discussions have been initiated to extend it to neighbouring EU Member States.
SEED+ Platform Implementation has been launched. It will support exchange of certificates necessary for the clearance of goods, including e-certificates aiming to foster paperless trade. It will also support rapid exchange of information on non-compliant consignments for animals and goods with a final goal of protecting our consumers.
Piloted three Joint Customs Actions (JCA) on empty trucks, illegal trade of tobacco, IPR trademark as a step forward towards implementation of the CEFTA Customs Risk Management Strategy

Three panel discussions titled “Trade Facilitation through Recognition of Certificates and Procedures”, “Trade in Services and Licenses, qualifications, permits”, and “ Intellectual property rights in boosting trade and investment” focused on recognition programmes which aim to integrate 7 markets into one, ensuring efficient and cheap access to 20 million consumers and consolidated economy of 120 billion dollars.

North Macedonia has passed the baton to Moldova who will chair CEFTA in 2022 and who has promised to continue with ambitious trade promoting agenda.

The CEFTA Week 2021 was organized in cooperation with the partners from the European Union Intellectual Property Office, GIZ, USAID North Macedonia and Western Balkans 6 Chamber Investment Forum and with the support of the European Commission.

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