Croatia has expanded the list of fruit and vegetables that must undergo phytosanitary control at the borders if they come from third countries, which includes Serbia. General secretary of the Serbian Foreign Ministry Veljko Odalović said that Serbia would have to take countermeasures. Croatia has also imposed fees which are 22 times higher than before, reports N1 on 1 August 2017.
Serbia does not have a lot of options since any countermeasures would not involve just Croatia, but the whole of European Union. However, Serbia could, for example, introduce “more detailed controls for trucks coming from Croatia,” which would be a clear message “that Croatia must stop what it is currently doing.”
“The most recent decision to change the rules for inspection controls and make food control more expensive has demonstrated that Croatia will not give up on economic patriotism, but in this case, it is harming Serbian farmers;” says Serbian daily Politika.
The new fees are 22 times higher than the previous ones – instead of 90 kunas (12 euros), Croatia now charges 2,000 kunas (270 euros), according to Politika. “It is clear that new measures will hit countries which are not EU members, notably Serbia, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina because the expanded list includes virtually all the fruits and vegetables grown in these areas,” reports Politika.
Croatian sources reportedly explained that “it was about time to stop following the requirements of the European Union and to finally protect Croatian farmers.” “We cannot do anything about imports from the EU, unlike those from third countries,” said a source from the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, according to Politika.
According to data from the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, in 2016, Serbia exported goods to Croatia worth 116 million euros and imported goods worth 79 million euros.
Reacting to Croatia’s decision, general secretary of the Serbian Foreign Ministry Veljko Odalović said that Serbia must undertake countermeasures. “Unfortunately, from time to time we receive messages in the form of various administrative and other measures which are not in line with our wish to improve the quality of relations with Croatia,” said Odalović.
Serbia will ask the European Commission to review Croatia's decision to institute barriers on the import of agricultural products from Serbia and other non-EU countries, said Serbian Trade Minister Rasim Ljajić. He added that Croatia had violated the Serbia-EU Stabilization and Association Agreement. He announced that Serbia would contact other regional countries which are also affected by the Croatian measure, to jointly appeal to the European Commission for the protection of economic interests. Ljaljić added that Serbia did not want a trade conflict with Croatia, “because it is not in the interest of either country.”
Translated from N1.