CEFTA economies like other European economies are dominated by service sectors. They represent in average nearly two-thirds of the CEFTA’s GDP. Promoting trade in services is considered an important instrument for achieving economic development and growth in CEFTA by expanding trade and investment. The importance of trade in services is growing and today it accounts for 35% of total intra-CEFTA trade. Most traded sectors are travel, transport, construction, other business services, telecommunications, computer, and information services. To tap into this potential the CEFTA Parties have committed to gradually achieve a progressive liberalization of their services markets, based on the EU and WTO rules and practices.
The first step in this direction was made in 2019 when Additional Protocol 6 on Trade in Services was adopted in 2019 (entered into force on 11 January 2021). It provides the legal framework for trade in services and cooperation among the Parties. The Protocol contains extensive commitments supporting liberalisation of trade, in particular providing guarantees for market access and national treatment to services suppliers across different sectors. Additionally, it lays ground for enhanced cooperation aimed at removing remaining barriers including matters related to domestic regulation and electronic commerce.
As part of the agenda to further strengthen the trade under the Common Regional Market Action Plan, CEFTA Parties have committed to expand the network of recognition programmes to professional qualifications and licenses. Special attention will be paid to priority sectors such as tourism, financial services and postal (parcel delivery) services.
The work on trade in services is led by the CEFTA Subcommittee on Trade in Services and other technical bodies such as the Working Group on Trade in Services Statistics, FATS and FDI Statistics, Joint CEFTA-RCC-ERISEE Working Group on Recognition of Professional Qualifications.