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Kosovo to become CEFTA member

Brussels, 10 November 2006 - Parties to the new modernised and enlarged CEFTA trade agreement – Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as well as representatives of UNMIK/Kosovo – made all technical modifications on 9 November on more than 370 pages of the amended and modernised trade agreement that will upgrade the existing network of 32 bilateral Free Trade Agreements (FTA) that exist in South Eastern Europe.

According to the media, Andreas Wittkowsky, Deputy UNMIK Pillar IV Chief, and Gazmend Qorraj, the Kosovo Coordinator of Stability Pact, initialed the agreement on behalf of Kosovo.

When it comes into effect (expected in the summer of 2007), the new agreement, which has been negotiated under the Chairmanship of the Stability Pact and the European Commission, will replace the existing network of bilateral FTAs, harmonise trade rules across the region and incorporate new provisions such as trade in services, intellectual property rights, public procurement and investment promotion. Moreover, the new text is completely in line with the rules of the World Trade Organisation and with the parties’ obligations towards the EU.

The text of the so-called CEFTA 2006 was initialled by eight countries. Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina were not in a position to lift their reservations today but have until mid December to align themselves with the text and sign it at the CEFTA summit on 19 December in Bucharest.

All parties adopted a declaration in which they have stressed that the door remains open for Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia to join and reiterated their desire to see the two countries sign the agreement in December and thus meet the South Eastern Europe Prime Minister’s commitment of April 2006 in Bucharest on achieving an inclusive, modern and ambitious agreement.

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