CEFTA, trade agreement among 8 countries in region enters new stage
TIRANA, November 8. (ATA). Representatives, policy makers and experts from eight countries of the Central European region, signatories of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) in 2006, gathered in Albania’s capital city of Tirana on Wednesday at a two-day conference to discuss main priorities of Albania Chair for 2012 and examine progress and economic impact to date and to debate new challenges and potential future developments. CEFTA 2006 signatories include Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosova, Republic of Moldova, Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Albanian Minister of Economy, Trade and Energy Edmond Haxhinasto said in his remarks at CEFTA Week that CEFTA implementation has entered a new stage that requires more expertise, quality and dynamism.
Haxhinasto noted that elimination of tariff barriers to trade among the CEFTA 2006 countries marks only the start of a long journey towards boosting regional competitiveness and entering to new markets through investments. "Combination of the open economic policies and further liberalization of the market through a liberal foreign investment regime are a necessity not only for Albania, but for all CEFTA members,” Haxhinasto added.
Haxhinasto provided then a socio-economic development panorama of Albania, highlighting that Albania’s competitiveness has significantly improved during 2011 and 2012. "Albania’s ranking in the World Bank’s Doing Business report shows that the country has maintained a stable position in the overall ranking compared with a year ago," he said.
According to him, a combination of good and transparent governance principles has enabled Albania to rank among top preferred destination of foreign investors, as shown in the WB’s Doing Business report, in which Albania was ranked 18th in the world for the performance of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI).
CEFTA is a trade agreement, but the spirit of cooperation, understanding and tolerance among all member states have turned it into a political agreement, which by providing and suggesting solutions to the challenges that lie ahead of these countries on their path towards accession into the European Union.
Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Albania, Ambassador Ettore Sequi, underlined in his remarks at the CEFTA Week conference that CEFTA is the best way to mobilize political and economic support in the region, adding that Western Balkan countries need to fulfill the required reforms before they can join the European Union. According to him the changes into the inter-regional trade are among the proposed indicators and the EU will strongly support such development. “CEFTA is obviously a cooperation agreement about development of the region. As this cooperation moves forward to enter a new phase, trust is what matters most,” Sequi noted.
On Dec 19, 2006, all bilateral agreements Albania had signed with countries in the region merged into a single multilateral free trade agreement. Central European Free Trade Agreement - CEFTA 2006 includes eight countries: Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosova, Moldova, Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. CEFTA officially entered into force on July 26, 2007 for five signatories (Albania, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro and Kosova), for Croatia on 22 August 2007, Serbia on 24 October 2007 and for Bosnia and Herzegovina on 22 November 2007.
This Agreement’s main objectives to expand trade in goods and services and foster investment by means of fair, stable and predictable rules, eliminate barriers to trade between the Parties, provide appropriate protection of intellectual property rights in accordance with international standards and harmonize provisions on modern trade policy issues such as competition rules and state aid. It also includes clear and effective procedures for dispute settlement.