The CEFTA Joint Committee reviewed its key achievements in expectation of the EU-Western Balkans Zagreb Summit.
Additional Protocol 6 on Trade in Services was adopted in December 2019, setting out a framework for liberalization of trade in services. Once in force businesses will benefit from guaranteed market access and national treatment in key services sectors. The Protocol also lays ground for enhanced cooperation aimed at tackling remaining barriers such licenses or professional qualifications, as well as development of regional electronic commerce. To date, two Parties, Albania and Serbia, have completed the ratification process.
Activities related to facilitation of trade in goods have been focused on development of mutual recognition programmes of documents and procedures between the Parties. Setting out a immense step forward in cooperation within the region, these programmes are highly important for administrations and businesses as aiming to increase the resource efficiency of on one hand, but also to increase the safety and security of the products on the other.
The first such a programme developed within CEFTA refers to the mutual recognition of CEFTA Parties’ national Authorised Economic Operators’ Programmes with regard to the safety and security (AEOS). The respective Decision entered into force on 1 April 2020. The AEOS programme as a voluntary concept of customs and businesses cooperation, enables traders to gain from fewer customs controls and mutual recognition extends these gains with no additional costs within CEFTA.
Adopted Decision on Facilitation of trade in fruit and vegetables will simplify the system of controls for trade in fruit and vegetables within the CEFTA and cut down the control time. Moreover, it will ensure maximum food safety by implementing the highest European Union standards.
Going step forward in balancing the protection and customs control efficiency, the Parties developed the CEFTA Customs Risk Management Strategy (2020-2024), which offers a basis and tools for enhancing trust between the administrations while increasing the efficiency, and thereby making the trade cheaper.
Although the regular CEFTA activities were put on hold, CEFTA efficiently addressed the trade related challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In cooperation with the Transport Community, CEFTA enabled identification of the key intra-CEFTA crossing points that provide all services necessary for clearance of goods (Green Corridors) and enable prioritisation of essential goods at crossing points based on a joint list (Green Lanes). CEFTA will work with the Transport Community and EC on the way ahead to establish green corridors with the EU.