Representatives from the European Commission (Commission) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met in Sarajevo on 24 October 2017 to discuss the level of implementation of the SAA and of approximation of the country legislation to the EU acquis in the field of trade and industry, customs and taxation. The meeting was co-chaired for the EU by Mr. Georg Ziegler from the Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission, and for Bosnia and Herzegovina by Mr. Dragan Milović from the BiH Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations.
In the area of free movement of goods the EU welcomed the decision by the BiH Council of Ministers to appoint the members of the BiH Standardisation Council, and called on BiH to urgently finalise the adoption procedure for the members of the Metrology Council. The EU called on all authorities to engage constructively in the elaboration of the long outstanding countrywide strategy on quality infrastructure necessary for progressing in the acquis chapter on free movement of goods.
In the fields of enterprise and industrial policy the EU recommended that BiH elaborate country wide strategies in the fields of SME policy, industrial policy and tourism. The EU also invited BiH to accelerate the creation of one single economic area in BiH by abolishing the requirement of double registration or the necessity to set up a branch in another entity for companies wanting to be economically active throughout the entire territory of BiH. The EU welcomed the ratification by BiH on joining the EU’s COSME Programme for small and medium-sized enterprises and urged BiH to start participating in this programme as quickly as possible.
In the area of taxation the EU welcomed the introduction of electronic submission of VAT declarations for large companies and the announcement that e-signature will be introduced shortly. The EU also called on BiH to join the WHO Protocol to Eliminate the Illicit Trade on Tobacco Products. In the area of customs the EU urged BiH to adopt the implementing provisions for the new BiH customs policy law. The EU took note of recent developments to implement a computerised transit system across BIH by mid-2018.
On trade matters, the EU welcomed the fact that the Protocol on SAA adaptation following Croatia’s EU accession entered into force on 1 February 2017. The EU confirmed that the previously suspended trade preferences granted to BiH through the so called “autonomous trade measures” had been re-introduced. The EU noted that 66% of BiH’s foreign trade is with the EU and that there had been a 52% increase of BiH exports to the EU since the conclusion of the EU-BiH SAA/Interim Agreement in 2008. In view of the continuing alarming decrease in foreign direct investment (FDI) into BiH, the EU asked BiH to take measures to attract FDI inflow by implementing the Reform Agenda and the Economic Reform Programme.
The EU renews its call on BiH to urgently align its scheme on small breweries to the thresholds applying under the acquis (200.000 hl) The EU expressed its strong support for BiH’s wish to join the WTO, and welcomed the alignment of the FBiH law on internal trade to the acquis which is also an important requirement for WTO accession. The EU called on BiH to urgently appoint its coordinator for the Regional Economic Area (ERA) following the decision at the Trieste summit.