„ Electronic commerce policies in CEFTA will bring 1 billion–euro worth e-commerce market closer to the businesses in the region “
Skopje, 11 November 2022 – Mr. Zdravko Ilic, Senior Trade Expert in CEFTA Secretariat presented the electronic commerce policies in CEFTA, emphasizing its importance for building the regional e-commerce market in the panel session – The Role of Governments in Accelerating Regional E-commerce, at the E-commerce conference in Skopje.
His focus was on the Electronic Commerce Package, a set of agreements recently reached under the CEFTA framework, as a part of the Common Regional Market agenda.
„E-commerce is one of our CEFTA’s flagship initiatives. Its objective is to create one joint digital market where companies and consumers will be able to sell and buy from wherever they want. WE are trying to bring experience of EU Digital Single Market here and prepare ourselves for it, said Mr.Ilic, elaborating the importance of implementing these crucial agreements and the benefits they will bring to the companies and consumers in the Western Balkans:
- Decision on facilitation of electronic commerce that will support small and medium companies who sell online, simplifying laws and regulations across all CEFTA markets.
- Decision on inter-Party parcel delivery services will enable joint tariff monitoring and address overpricing for sending packages to different CEFTA markets and promotes harmonized approach in standardization to improve quality of services and interoperability.
- Decision on prevention of unjustified geo-blocking will ensure consumers are protected from unjustified geo-blocking practices such as restriction to access to websites or goods and services offered there.
Mr. Ilic explained that all of the agreements will bring a direct benefit for people and businesses. The Decision on facilitation of e-commerce seeks to decrease the costs of selling and buying online regionally by introducing common market principle (seller needs to respect only domestic rules) and harmonizing key consumer protection rules, such as the right to return products ordered online. While Decision on inter-Party parcel delivery services and Decision on prevention of unjustified geo-blocking will ensure that people who shop online have the same level of consumer protection, price transparency and access to online shopping in other CEFTA markets no matter the customer’s place of residence or place of establishment.
It’s important to acknowledge the fact that all the agreements are aligned and based on the EU E-commerce Directive, the EU Consumer Protection Directive, EU Cross-Border Parcel Delivery Regulation and EU Geo-Blocking Regulation.
Mr. Ilic also described what are the next steps that need to be completed by the governments of the CEFTA parties „These agreements are ready. Now they need to be adopted by the Joint Committee. The first opportunity for this is CEFTA week, taking place this year in Brussels in second week of December. After its adoption, there is a lot of work of putting all these provisions in reality, but we do have help from EU and German government, and we are ready to start working on it, tomorrow“