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Feb 7, 2019

Challenges and Opportunities for the CEFTA Countries

Analysis by Dženita Šiljak

The Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) was signed in 1992 by the countries of the Visegrád Group. Current CEFTA members are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the FYR Macedonia, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, and Serbia. CEFTA serves as a preparation for EU membership. Once a country joins the European Union, it has to withdraw from the Agreement. CEFTA membership has given many opportunities to the countries. Trade with the EU has increased, while intra-CEFTA trade is less pronounced. The Agreement membership has also brought some challenges. The latest dispute happened in November 2018, when Kosovo increased its tariffs towards Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia because they were among the countries that had voted against Kosovo’s membership in UNESCO and Interpol. Kosovo states that it has to protect its interest and economy. The CEFTA countries should put their differences and past behind, and focus on EU membership because they do not have an alternative. The quality of their products does not fulfll the EU standards, so they should also learn from the experience of former CEFTA countries; for example Poland, which is one of the biggest producers of cereals, cheese, poultry, and pork in the EU.

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