Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina Staša Košarac (Union of Independent Social Democrats – SNSD) spoke in an interview for FENA about the issues that were resolved in the past mandate while he was performing this duty as well as his priorities future action.
He assessed that during the last mandate there were certain setbacks due to global disturbances such as the pandemic, but also due to internal unresolved issues and numerous disagreements between political actors who were in power for the previous four years at the state level.
Precisely because of all these challenges, the minister believes that the complete work of the Council of Ministers was limited, but the Ministry he led worked to ensure, first of all, successful coordination with entity ministries responsible for certain areas.
He mentioned the decision on oil and oil derivatives, which is ready for adoption, and which is important for fulfilling all the obligations BiH has towards the Energy Community, and there is the law on determining the wine market, because BiH has 82 companies that produce about 18 million liters of wine.
It is also important to define the issue of Trgovska Gora, notes Košarac, as well as the introduction of new markets for Bosnia and Herzegovina. producers such as the Eurasian and Chinese markets, and also announces talks on the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union, as many things have changed since its signing.
“Certain parts of that agreement put our producers in an unequal position, and one of the key things is the preservation of domestic production and the strengthening of exports from BiH,” underlined the minister.
Currently, the situation is such that certain goods are freely imported into BiH, says Košarac, while BH. producers will be forced to throw away the same goods, which is why it is necessary to find an adequate solution.
There is also a rural development strategy that should be done in partnership with the entity governments and competent ministries, as well as the issue of certain energy areas, because the Energy Community has already introduced the fourth package, and in the first half of the year an integrated climate energy plan should be adopted by 2030 and work on greater utilization of renewable energy sources.
Speaking about the long-standing issue of the construction of a nuclear waste disposal site in Trgovska Gora, Košarac reminds that it is important to resolve it as soon as possible for the benefit of 250,000 people in 13 municipalities in the Una river basin.
He reminds that in the previous mandate it was not resolved, although Croatia persistently sought the position of Bosnia and Herzegovina. A coordinating body and an expert legal team have been formed that created a strategy, and Košarac expects that in the next 20 days, a team will be formed that will monitor the implementation of the legal strategy and inform the institutions about the next steps.
He says that it is primarily important to preserve people’s health and the environment and to implement all the decisions of the BiH Presidency, the Council of Ministers and the Parliament, but also to preserve bilateral relations with Croatia, but not at any cost because “if Croatia does not recognize the importance of the BiH side, why would BiH be in subordinate relationship”.
He therefore expects talks with Croatian and Slovenian officials, as there are assurances that Slovenia and Croatia could agree on a location, although Košarac is not optimistic that it will come to that.
“That land is permeable, subject to earthquakes and can endanger people’s health and the environment, and I hope that through the implementation of international agreements we will defend our interests,” Košarac stated.
The Directorate for Health and Food Safety of the European Commission submitted a report on inspection with the aim of determining the fulfillment of the conditions for the export of red meat from Bosnia and Herzegovina to the European Union market, where shortcomings that can be overcome have been observed, says the minister.
He adds that the export of red meat to the European Union is not apostrophized as important, even though BiH imports livestock from the EU, fresh and chilled meat without customs duties, while other countries have customs duties, and Košarac believes that either the SSP must be changed or BH export to producers.
“The EU always has additional standards, and in principle it defends the interests of its countries and producers. There was resistance to the introduction of protective measures due to relations with the EU, even though all proposals were in accordance with the SAA,” emphasized Košarac.
The EU was asked that the cattle that were imported from the EU and went through the fattening process from Bosnia and Herzegovina be exported to third countries via the port of Ploče, but the EU did not allow it. That is why it was estimated that it is necessary to adapt agricultural producers to European standards, as this would relieve the appearance of surpluses in production.
He believes that it is necessary to do this by April in order to then consider in what perspective it is possible to consider the adaptation of the SAA in order to introduce protective measures such as customs duties or enable producers to export red meat.
“The primary issue should be the protection of domestic production. And in the supply and sales chain, there must be a regulatory framework that will show how necessary it is to have domestic products in markets,” the view of the Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The EU is the most important foreign trade partner of BiH, as well as the CEFTA countries, and it is necessary to recognize what other countries are doing in order to be a service and support to the business community, which is why Košarac reiterates that the Open Balkans is an idea that would adapt BiH. producers for some new trends and facilitated foreign trade.
BiH exports electricity to the countries of the European Union, where it has been shown that there are serious energy potentials, because 1.8 billion KM were exported at a time of energy instability, and it also exports metal products, and in that area it is very dominant in the auto industry.
“In the wood processing sector, we also export to the countries of the European Union, and we also export a lot of textiles and footwear, thereby ensuring a significant increase in the volume of foreign trade with the EU,” the minister added.
While noting that Bosnia and Herzegovina is still the only country in Europe that has not introduced the “blue diesel” measure for farmers, Košarac emphasizes that this is within the jurisdiction of the entity because there is no ministry of agriculture at the state level.
Croatia became a Schengen member country, and Minister Košarac says that even before that BiH had certain delays at the border in the summer period, which were subsequently resolved, but he notes that the Ministry is not aware of the current significant problems, but it is necessary to act preventively.