The Open Balkan Initiative has so far enabled that foreign trade procedures between member states when it comes to food products have been reduced by up to 50 percent, also the direct costs of fees and charges have been reduced by up to 80 percent, which has resulted in an increase in trade in the Open Balkan region by almost 30 percent, as shown in the research of the American Chambers of Commerce in Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania, which was presented at the conference “Regional economic cooperation Open Balkans: what can the economy expect?”, held on 24th April 2023.
As part of the ministerial panel, the Minister of Internal and Foreign Trade and President of the National Coordinating Body for Trade Facilitation Tomislav Momirović pointed out that the Open Balkans is “one of the most important aspects of Serbian economic policy”.
“Linking markets and integration at the regional and European level have no alternative. Any other path is a path to uncertainty, a path to economic and political stagnation,” said Momirović.
He added that this is why Serbia is determined to connect the regional market in every way, reminding that the Open Balkan is an initiative of the leaders of Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia and it was not imposed from outside.
“The Open Balkan has led to the fact that today Serbia and Albania have the best political relations in their history,” said the Minister of Trade of Serbia and pointed out that the Government of Serbia will not give up on regional integration.
In the panel on free trade in goods, the participants were members of the National Coordination Body for Trade Facilitation: Ivan Tomašev, head of border phytosanitary inspection, Ljiljana Ivanjac, head of department in the veterinary inspection, Mirjana Veljković, head of the department of border sanitary inspection, Barbara Vlačić from of the Customs Administration, as well as Olivera Jocić, Assistant Minister of Internal and Foreign Trade. At this panel, the opinion of the business regarding research in the field of free flow of goods was discussed.
According to the bussines community, the most significant achievement of the Open Balkan Initiative is the result of the implementation of the simplification of import-export procedures for trade in goods of plant and animal origin (removal of border inspections, acceptance of laboratory results and reduction of fees and charges), which directly affected the shortening of the total duration of export- import procedures and reduction of trade costs.
The industry sees this as a good demonstration of the positive effects that the removal of trade barriers can have for the economy and the potential cost reduction for end consumers.
As the research showed, among the most important steps for the further improvement of the free movement of goods in the region, the business community sees the uniform and consistent implementation of the adopted agreements by all signatories so that all exporters, in all three countries, can fully benefit from these agreements, as well as the expansion of the scope of these agreement on all categories of traded goods and on all inspections – primarily sanitary inspection.