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Marko Čadež: Open Balkans Internal Trade And Single Labour Market

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Representatives of six sectoral groups that include representatives of competent institutions of all three countries will discuss about benefits for import, export and movement of goods, free movement of agricultural, food and industrial products, labour market, unique electronic identity for citizens of the Open Balkans and about the single information system. Participants have also been addressed by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, Branislav Nedimović, the Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications, Tatjana Matić, the Minister of Labour, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs, Darija Kisić, as well as by the Ministers of Finance, Agriculture and Trade of Albania and North Macedonia in their opening speeches.

“Within the regional initiative of the Open Balkans, we would like that our trucks do not stop at border crossings between Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia, that all paperwork is  completed within the shortest possible time, that we trust each other and that we recognise certificates issued in institutions of one of these three countries, as well as that we have single work permits”, has been said by Marko Čadež, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia in Niš where the meeting of more than 160 representatives of governments, state administrations, institutions and chambers of commerce and industry of Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia is taking place, the first one at such a large scale.

“This is our objective and this is the way in which we are going to speed up not only the flow of goods, but also we are going to reduce all costs for our companies. This is what we want to achieve until the Summit in Tirana at the end of December and for the implementation to start in January 2022. On the other hand, single work permits will enable all citizens of Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia to work without problems in three countries after simple application and that from the standpoint of the labour market, we are not going to treat each other as abroad but as the part of one area, which is done by EU member states” has been emphasized by Mr. Čadež.

The third great objective, according to the President of the CCIS, is the information infrastructure,  to make a unique ID number that is  important not only for speeding up trade but also for providing conveniences  for all companies and citizens that are going to register for the Open Balkans ID Number and this implies  cheaper airline tickets, road  tolls, benefits in the railway traffic and other privileges.  Mr. Čadež has also reminded that the formation of the implementation council is underway and that it will be in charge of the implementation of everything that has been agreed.

The Minister of Finance, Siniša Mali, has said that the objective is to remove barriers for business operations and citizens and that all three countries operate as one. “We all have the same objective to increase economic cooperation, not only among our three countries, but also with countries in the region. He has pointed out that the objective of the representatives of three governments is to develop a plan on how to improve the flow of goods, services and people in the next two days, as well as to remove everything that three economies see as obstacles for the development and progress of business operations.

Mr. Mali has pointed out that there is a political will for these three countries to function as one and to be coordinated with respect to phytosanitary and customs procedures in order to facilitate the flow of goods. “We can do that together and I am very happy that we are going to work on the same objective and this is that there are no borders and barriers, but that that there are three markets that operate  as one”, has been said by the Minister of Finance.

Minister Nedimović has said that the members of his Ministry will do their best that problems at the Preševo-Tabanovce border crossing are forgotten as soon as possible and he has added that they have prepared a series of proposals that  will be presented to their colleagues from North Macedonia and Albania tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and that they are ready to accept all their ideas.

“We are going towards the border crossing where there is no more food control. Namely, in the last seven days, several shipments of meat from North Macedonia have entered our country without any control. We have issued an order that there is no control. We have decided to be the first to step towards that and we hope that you want the same” has been said by Minister Nedimović.

Minister Matić has said that the idea of the “Open Balkans” is the best idea in the region in the last few decades and that it is worth every effort not only tonight but also in the following period.

“I am sure that we can implement the initiative of the Open Balkans because we have already done so much within the CEFTA. We have seen that we can all benefit from this type of the agreement” has been said by Ms. Matić.

She has said that the Open Balkans is crucial for the mobility of citizens from all three countries and that the successful initiative to cancel roaming shows that such an agreement is possible in other areas as well.

Minister Kisić Tepavčević has pointed out that the concept of the “Open Balkans” initiative is for all three countries to achieve economic development and to increase the number of investments and jobs. She has mentioned that the ministers of labour have made a draft agreement on understanding, which refers to free access to the labour market and she has expressed her belief that the agreement will be finalised soon so that successful application of single work permits can begin next year.

The Minister of Finance and Economy of Albania, Delina Ibrahimaj, has expressed her hope that the following weekend will be successful for the ministries of all three governments and that it will contribute for the “Open Balkans” to happen as soon as possible.

“I am glad that we are here thanks to the political will of our three leaders in order to provide all the benefits to our business community and to bring prosperity to our region” has been said by Ms. Ibrahimaj. In the following two days, as she has mentioned, ministers and representatives of sectoral groups will work on the organisation of customs inspections, facilitation of customs clearance procedures, reduction of administration and fees, harmonisation of economic parameters, coordination of phytosanitary documents, single work permits…

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The Minister of Agriculture of Albania, Frida Krifca, has pointed out that all farmers in the region want to work without barriers and without bureaucracy. She has also pointed out that some of the proposals of her Ministry  will be related to the harmonisation of regulations for the purpose of mutual recognition of certificates and standards in the following two days.

The Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management in North Macedonia, Trajan Dimkovski, has pointed out that the realisation of the “Open Balkans” initiative will not be easy but that all three governments will fight together for this initiative to succeed. “We are going to discuss how to implement the initiative, how to increase the production and trade among our three countries and how to reduce bureaucratic procedures until we eliminate all barriers,” has been said by Mr. Dimkovski.

Photo: Ivana Vukotić

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