Serbia still hasn’t signed a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEC), although there are indications from the Russian side that that country would approve Serbia’s export quotas for alcoholic beverages, cheeses and cigarettes.
The Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Serbia, Alexander Chepurin, announced a few days ago that the establishment of a free trade zone was a “done deal”, which would be confirmed by the Intergovernmental Council. On his Twitter profile, Chepurin wrote that Russia’s Economic Development Minister, Maxim Oreshkin announced that the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council would soon decide on the establishment of a free trade zone between the EAEC and Serbia.
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„Over the course of this week, we should receive information about how did the meeting of the Intergovernmental Council go. The last round of negotiations is due to end on March 21st. Our requirements relate to quotas for cigarettes, certain types of cheeses and alcoholic beverages, and we were told that those quotas will be approved. However, while the negotiations are still pending, we are going to refrain from confirming anything“, Jagoda Lazarevic, a special adviser to the Serbian trade minister.
Serbia requested to be granted tariff quotas of 1,000 tonnes of certain cheeses, 2,000 tonnes of cigarettes and 50,000 litres of cognac. For now, we only get duty-free exports of fruit brandy.
As Lazarevic said recently, Belarus – a country that produces 200,000 tonnes of cheese annually – is very much against Serbia being granted the cheese export quota. Of this amount, Belarus exports more than 180,000 to the Russian market. Also, as far as the cognac is concerned, Armenia is against Serbia being granted the quota because they are also protecting their position, as a cognac exporter, in the Russian market. Furthermore, Belarus and Armenia have also opposed the duty-free export of our cigarettes.
As Lazarevic points out, Serbia pays customs duty for exporting products to these countries, while, for example, Russia and Belarus can export their cheeses to Serbia without having to pay any duty. The same applies to Serbia importing cigarettes from the Russian Federation, while our cigarette exporters have to pay 18% of the customs duty when exporting to Russia.
The Eurasian Economic Union was founded in 2015 and it comprises Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Russia and Kyrgyzstan. The market includes more than 180 million consumers, and the current value of its trade with Serbia stands at 2.8 billion US dollars. Of course, Serbia mostly trades with Russia, and it is a well-known fact that many investors have decided to invest heavily in our country due to its free trade agreement with the Russian Federation.
(Vecernje Novosti, 25.02.2019)
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