7 October 2005

Serbia's membership negotiations now underway

Serbia's Foreign Economic Relations Minister Milan Parivodic, at the first meeting of the country's accession working party on 7 October 2005, declared that WTO membership is a “sine qua non” for Serbia's competitiveness and integration into the world economy.

The first meeting of the Working Party for the accession of the Republic of Serbia to the WTO was held Friday 7 October The head of the Serbian delegation at this meeting was the minister for Foreign Economic Relations, Milan Parivodic. The chairman of the Working Party is ambassador François Roux, of Belgium.

Serbia submitted at this meeting a Memorandum on the Foreign Trade Regime, written replies to questions raised by Members, a draft notification on subsidies, an action plan for the implementation of the TRIPS Agreement, information on domestic support and export subsidies in agriculture and a legislative plan of action. Overall, a very comprehensive set of documents which provided for an initial discussion which according to the chairman was “very useful, substantive and business-like”.

The chair encouraged Serbia to work on a check list and other supporting documents in the area of Services, SPS and TBT and reported that “the process of implementing and enforcing a WTO-consistent trade regime is well underway in Belgrade”. Serbia announced the immediate issuing of their first offer of market access in goods and services.

In his statement, the head of the Serbian delegation, minister Milan Parivodic, said that a thorough and efficient accession to the WTO is of prime importance for the future of the Republic of Serbia. He said that membership is a “sine qua non” for Serbia to be able to integrate fully into the world economy by improving its competitiveness and make its fair contribution to the world economic welfare. The minister reported on a fast-paced and comprehensive plan of privatization of public companies. He said that in three years more than 1500 firms were privatized and in 2005, by the end of June, 83 companies have been sold out. Privatization of another 14 large enterprises is expected this year as well as 300 small and medium enterprises. The initial questions by members were to get clarification on the status of different state companies called “socially owned, public, state trading or state owned”. Concerning other reforms in the economy, the minister said that in 2004, 88 reform laws have been passed while during this year another 75 laws have been passed an 41 are in the parliamentary procedure.

In December 2004 Serbia and Montenegro notified the WTO of the new constitutional agreement just reached by the two Republics by which they agreed to maintain separate customs and trade regimes and decided to apply individually for accession to the WTO. At the February 15th 2005 meeting, the General Council accepted the separate applications for membership of the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Montenegro.

Of the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia, Croatia and the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” are already members and Bosnia and Herzegovina is in the process of negotiation.