EU to investigate illegal Bosnian sugar exports

SARAJEVO (Reuters) – The European Commission (EC) is investigating illegal sugar exports from Bosnia to the European Union, a spokesman for its mission to the Balkan country said yesterday. «I can confirm that we are aware of the problem of illegal sugar imports from Bosnia,» EC spokesman Frane Maroevic told Reuters. «Bosnia exports much more sugar than it can produce and this is a very serious problem that we are investigating.» The EU last year scrapped export subsidies for Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia-Montenegro to stop so-called triangular trade where EU sugar was sold to the Balkans with export subsidies and then re-entered the bloc duty-free. The bloc last February lifted the ban on duty-free imports from Bosnia and the other western Balkan countries with the exception of the union of Serbia and Montenegro, where the measure was extended for six months. No Bosnian official was immediately available for comment on Maroevic’s remarks. Prime Minister Adnan Terzic was quoted yesterday as saying that 163,000 tons of sugar had been imported last year, while 35,000 tons were enough to cover the country’s needs. «More than 120,000 tons ‘evaporated’ somewhere and we will have to find out where the sugar ended, who exported it… and punish those who damaged Bosnia but also the EU,» Terzic told the Dnevni Avaz daily. The government has launched its own investigation and the authorities have filed criminal charges against some companies, the newspaper said. Maroevic said EU External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten will discuss the issue with Bosnia’s authorities during his visit to Sarajevo tomorrow. He did not provide details.