Friday, 22 June 2018 | News today: 18

Western Balkan countries send trade ultimatum to Croatia over higher inspection fees

133807381Bosnia/Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia have given an ultimatum to Croatia, asking Zagreb to repeal its decision on a higher phytosanitary inspection fee for fruit and vegetable imports from non-EU countries, or they will impose counter-measures, Hina reports.

The trade ministers of the four Western Balkan countries met in Sarajevo on Monday and agreed that they would insist that by the end of this week Croatian withdraw its decision on raising the inspection fee from EUR 12 to 270 for each inspection performed and for each type of fruit and vegetable. They find this increase as something that would make their produce uncompetitive.

Croatia’s Agriculture Minister Tomislav Tolusic said on Sunday that the purpose of the decision to increase the phytosanitary inspection fee for fruit and vegetable imports from non-EU countries was exclusively aimed at raising the quality of food arriving in Croatia and not at causing damage to the neighbouring countries, announcing that he would talk to his colleagues in the region about this issue this or next week.

Tolusic said that the regulation, adopted by his ministry, referred to 168 countries that are not part of the European Union.

The four ministers who met in Sarajevo said at at a news conference that they found the higher fee discriminatory and invited Tolusic for a meeting in the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica this week.

Bosnian Foreign Trade Minister Mirko Sarovic said that the fee should correspond to the costs and should be adjusted with the average fee rate in the EU and in the neighbourhood.

His counterpart from Serbia, Rasim Ljajic threatened to impose measures that would affect not only fruit and vegetable growers in Croatia but also its cattle farmers and dairies.

Sarovic was more restrained in his comment, adding that the government in Sarajevo did not want a trade war and they he hoped that a solution would be found.

Montenegro’s Economy Minister Dragica Sekulic also expressed hope that the solution would be found, whereas Ljupco Nikolovski of Macedonia recalled that Skopje had already sent a diplomatic note to Zagreb over a rise in the inspection fee.