Following the Lithuanian Parliament’s ratification of Serbia’s Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU (SAA) on 18th June 2013, the wide-ranging trade agreement will come into force in August 2013.
Lithuania, which is to assume the EU Presidency on July 1,was the last EU member state to ratify the SAA. Serbia signed SAA with EU on 29 April 2008 and Serbian National Assembly ratified SAA on 9 September 2008. An Interim Agreement on Trade And Trade-Related Matters has governed trade relations between Serbia and the EU. Serbia’s SAA was ratified by the UK, on 11 August 2011 and by and by the European Parliament on January 19, 2011.
The SAA is an important element of EU-aspirate countries’ economic integration with the Single Market. It establishes the legal framework and regulates relations among the signatories in, among others, the areas of: political dialogue and regional cooperation; free flow of goods, people, services and capital; judiciary and internal affairs; competition; financial cooperation; and harmonization of laws.
The agreement creates a free trade area between Serbia and the EU for a transitional period of six years. The deadline for trade liberalization is determined in accordance with the capacity of Serbian industry and agriculture to adapt to free trade.
Serbia’s obligation consists in the gradual abolition of customs duties on goods originating from the EU for a transitional period. The pace of liberalization and the degree of protection depend on the degree of product sensitivity for Serbian industry. Three groups of industrial products were defined, according to sensitivity, for which liberalization will be achieved after a period of two, five or six years. For products that are not on these lists, customs duties will be abolished at the moment the Agreement comes into force.
Provisions within the SAA will see further decreases in already-low tariff and other barriers to trade between the EU and Serbia, making exporting to the emerging Western-Balkan economy simpler for UK firms.
Serbia hopes to be awarded a date to begin its EU accession negotiations at the European Council on 28 June, 2013; and in the meantime continues to implement agreements reached with Kosovo governing normalisation of the two countries’ relations, as called for by previous European Councils and by all EU Member States.