Bosnia warned it could miss out on regional free trade agreement

SARAJEVO (Reuters) – Bosnia may be dropped from a regional free trade deal unless it resolves problems with its existing bilateral trade agreements with neighbors Croatia and Serbia, a regional official warned yesterday. The regional accord, due to be signed in September, will replace bilateral trade deals by expanding the Central Europe Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) that has served as a trade forum for countries that joined the European Union in 2004. «There is a political risk at the moment that either we are not able to conclude the single CEFTA agreement or that Bosnia-Herzegovina is excluded from this,» said Erhard Busek, the coordinator of the EU-funded Balkans Stability Pact. Bosnia has suspended parts of its free trade deals with Croatia and Serbia, regarded as harmful for Bosnian farmers and producers, and the two countries have declined to change the terms. Busek said the Stability Pact would try to mediate between Bosnia and its neighbors to solve the problems and join CEFTA, which would enable them to boost trade and create more jobs and investments in the future. The Stability Pact is assisting the countries from the region to negotiate a common free trade deal under the umbrella of CEFTA, which Busek said would serve as a training camp for the common market of the European Union.