Representatives from the European Commission and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met in Brussels on 18 October 2018 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 Milovićfrom the BiH Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations.
In the area of free movement of goods, the EU raised the concern that many institutions are understaffed and encouraged further efforts in building administrative capacity. The EU called on BiH to urgently finalise the adoption procedure for the members of the Metrology Council. The EU encouraged 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 and establishment of the single economic space.
In the fields of enterprise and industrial policy, the EU called on BiH to progress towards creating a single economic space conducive for investment, including by elaboration of country wide strategies, such as in the field of SME policy and by full engagement in the investment component related to the Regional Economic Area. The EU welcomed efforts in both entities to simplify business registration procedures, but also invited BiH to abolish additional registration requirements in another entity for companies wanting to be economically active throughout the entire territory of BiH. The EU invited BiH to promote the COSME Programme and offered a TAIEX workshop as well as advice from the COSME Directorate. The EU asked BiH to take measures to further improve coordination in view of monitoring, implementation and reporting on the SBA assessment.
In the area of taxation, the EU encouraged BiH to finalise its VAT and excise legislation in line with the latest developments of the EU law. The EU welcomed efforts to step up introduction of electronic submission of VAT declarations for companies. The EU encouraged BiH to overcome difficulties in introducing e-signature and to ensure the inter-operability of different e-signatures across the country. 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. The EU encouraged BiH to join the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.
On trade matters, the EU noted that 65% of BiH’s foreign trade is with the EU and that there had been a 71% increase of BiH exports to the EU since the entry into force of the EU-BiH SAA/Interim Agreement in 2008. The EU called on BiH to implement trade related measures foreseen in the Economic Reform Programme and to be fully engaged in the implementation of the trade pillar of the Regional Economic Area. 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 encouraged BiH to intensify and conclude in the very near future its bilateral negotiations with a view to conclude its accession path to the WTO. The EU is fully supporting all efforts and stands ready to further assist BiH in finalising the WTO accession. The EU took note of BiH concerns regarding the potential impact that definitive EU steel safeguard measures would have on BiH’s economy and informed BiH about the current status of the steel safeguard investigations. The key objective of the European Commission is that the form of future measures, if any, does not disrupt the traditional trade flows.