Representatives from the European Commission and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met via a videoconference on 14 May 2020 to discuss the implementation of the SAA and BiH’s approximation of legislation to the EU acquis in the field of trade, industry, customs and taxation. The meeting was co-chaired for the EU by Mrs. Ingrid Jenezova from the Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission, and for Bosnia and Herzegovina by Mr. Dragiša Mekić from the BiH Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations. Ambassador Johann Sattler, Head of the Delegation of the EU to BiH and the EU Special Representative in BiH provided opening remarks.
The EU and Bosnia and Herzegovina discussed the measures and initiatives taken during the current COVID-19 crisis in the area of trade, customs, and the industry and business environment. The EU will assist Bosnia and Herzegovina to cover the immediate needs of their public health systems with €7 million. Furthermore, to help mitigating the socio-economic impact of the coronavirus, the EU has allocated €73.5 million from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) to help the recovery in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Commission has also proposed €250 million of macro-financial assistance for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In the area of taxation, the EU encouraged BiH to complete its commitments on tax good governance by ratifying the Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (MAC) and invited BiH to deposit the Instrument of ratification. Moreover, in the area of customs, the EU invited BiH to keep the envisaged schedule to implement phase 5 of the New Computerised Transit System (NCTS). It also encouraged BiH to implement the e-signature countrywide and to ensure the inter-operability of different e-signatures across the country. However, the 2015 Law on customs policy still remains to be implemented.
On trade matters, the EU noted that over the last 10 years bilateral trade has grown by 83% and the EU remains Bosnia and Herzegovina’s first trading partner, accounting for 65% of total trade. The EU called on BiH to be fully engaged in the implementation of the trade pillar of the Regional Economic Area and to work towards adoption in autumn of a detailed plan for the future of regional economic integration. The EU welcomed BiH’s efforts to prepare a new draft Law on Excise Duties and a Rulebook in line with the acquis, in order to ensure that the same conditions are put in place for importers and local producers, and that provisions for small breweries will be included. The EU encouraged BiH to intensify and conclude the pending bilateral negotiations with a view to conclude its accession to the WTO. As regards industry and business environment, the Commission noted that the need to develop new industrial strategies to deal with the impact of the Covid-19 crisis would constitute an opportunity to work towards a more coherent strategy for the entire country.
Finally, the EU stressed the need to implement measures foreseen in the Economic Reform Programme as well as the Policy Guidance based on the Economic and Financial Dialogue.