Brussels, 11 January 2011 - The EU and Serbia have today signed a bilateral agreement on Serbia’s accession to the WTO. The agreement was signed by Mladjan Dinkic, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Regional Development of Serbia, and the European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht. It comprises provisions on tariffs for trade in goods and the reciprocal opening of the partner’s respective services markets. These commitments will be embodied in the future Protocol of Accession of the Republic of Serbia to the WTO.
“Today's signature is a milestone in Serbia's WTO accession process and an important step towards fostering our economic relations," said EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht. "Serbia has made remarkable progress in preparing for WTO entry and the EU remains a strong supporter of its swift WTO accession."
Deputy Prime Minister Mladjan Dinkic said: "Recognising the importance of the multilateral trading framework embodied in the WTO, Serbia invested serious efforts in order to become a member of this important family. On this road Serbia was not alone, since the EU was and still is supporting this goal. We can say that at this point we see positive results and the end of the road. Today’s event represents a step closer to our final goal and we are confident that it will help in finishing the rest of the bilateral negotiations in the WTO in the months to come. If we find the same constructive attitude with other partners, we are ready to finish accession negotiations by the end of this year."
In order to accede to the WTO, Serbia still must complete bilateral negotiations with other WTO members and have its accession endorsed by a multilateral working group at the WTO in Geneva.
Serbia applied for WTO membership in December 2004. In February 2005, the WTO General Council accepted its application, and a working group was established to start the negotiations. Parallel negotiations are being led at working party level and bilaterally with a number of WTO members.
Accession to the WTO is expected to make a lasting contribution to the process of economic reform and sustainable development in the Republic of Serbia. Bilateral trade commitments between the EU and Serbia are already embodied in the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) which was signed between the European Union, its Member States and Serbia on 29 April 2008. As ratification by Member States for the SAA is not yet completed, an Interim Agreement on trade-related matters has been applied since 1 February 2010, allowing for the early implementation of trade provisions of the agreement.
The EU is Serbia's main trading partner. In 2009 the total value of goods exported to Serbia was € 3.4 million, whereas imports from Serbia amounted to € 3.2 million. Main EU exports are machinery, transport equipment, and manufactured goods. Serbia provides the EU market with iron and steel products, tyres, electrical machinery, corn and raspberries.