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Serbia and Russia plan to expand Free Trade Agreement

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Serbian Minister of Trade and Services Predrag Bubalo and Russian ambassador to Serbia Alexander Konuzin said that Serbia and Russia plan to expand the Free Trade Agreement.

Bubalo said at a meeting dedicated to business cooperation between Serbia and Russia, held at the Serbian Chamber of Commerce that after expansion of the agreement, 95% of products will fall under the free trade regime. Serbia will especially benefit from that since it has a very diverse export offer.

He said that foreign trade deficit is the Serbian economy’s greatest problem and that it is most persistent in cooperation with Russia.

The minister said that Serbia’s trade deficit with Russia in the first four months of 2008 was $1.16 billion, which is 59.8% more than in the same period last year.

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According to him, exports increased by 92% to $196.1 million, and imports increased by 63% to $1.36 billion. Energy products account for the greatest share of imports from Russia.

Russian help as well as larger investments by Russia in Serbia are needed in order to reduce the trade deficit, said Bubalo. He added that trade deficit with Slovenia, Austria and Italy was reduced when these countries made more investments in Serbia.

Konuzin said that Serbia has recommended to Russia to expand the list of products covered by the free trade agreement. He said that he expects that experts from the two countries will soon meet and decide on expansion of the agreement.

President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce Milos Bugarin said that Serbian companies in the construction and food industry sectors have great opportunities for success in the Russian market.

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He said that the Serbian trade centre due to open in Moscow should be able to contribute to the reduction of the deficit.

State Secretary at the Serbian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Ljubisa Dimitrijevic said that the Ministry has made a request to the Russian agriculture ministry for the harmonisation and mutual recognition of phytosanitary certificates.

According to Dimitrijevic, during presentations by Serbian companies in Russia at the end of May this year, it was noticed that standards are not compatible which creates problems for importers.

(Government of Serbia)

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