The drive to create a free trade area in the Western Balkans ended more or less successfully on October 20, after negotiations closed on extending the Central European Free Trade Area, CEFTA. Trade integration is nothing new for the Western Balkans, where countries have signed at least 32 bilateral agreements freeing the movement of goods and services. “CEFTA will turn the spaghetti bowl into a lasagne,” said an EC official.
Suspension of the free trade agreement between Moldova and Romania on January 1, 2007, when Romania is expected to join the European Union (E.U.), will poise the trade balance between the two states, according to Mircea Toader, undersecretary of the Romanian Ministry of Economy and Commerce.
Albania`s prime minister says he will sign an association and stabilization agreement with the European Union, ending three years of negotiations.
The European Union will give strong support to efforts by the continent’s southeastern countries, most of them in the Balkans, to sign a regional free trade deal this year, EU officials said on Monday.
The European Commission has proposed replacing the existing web of bilateral trade agreements in the Balkans with a regional free trade agreement — a move it says would boost economic prospects. However, the idea has met with opposition in Croatia.
All Balkans countries are headed for European Union membership, but they are taking different roads, and at differing pace.
Recent moves have raised hopes that the Balkan region may one day join the European Union. Accession negotiations have been launched with Croatia, Serbia-Montenegro is in talks on a "stabilisation and association agreement" and Brussels decided this month to start talks with Bosnia.