Bosnia has announced stricter border checks on food imports from Croatia after Croatia stopped Bosnian dairy exports from entering the country.Bosnia’s trade and agriculture ministers on November 1 agreed reciprocal trade measures against Croatia, after Croatia recently slapped a ban on dairy exports from Bosnia, mostly coming from Republika Srpska.
“Our joint conclusion was that the [Croatian] measure was unnecessary and is harming trade relations of the two countries,” Mirko Sarovic, Bosnia’s Foreign Trade Minister, said.
He added that the issue needed to be resolved with Croatia at the highest level and that he would initiate a meeting as soon as possible.
Miroslav Milovanovic, agriculture minister in Republika Srpska, one of two autonomous entities in Bosnia, said the situation was not supposed to happen but since it had, Bosnian authorities had decided to strike back.
“This is a coordinated policy of all levels of government in order to overcome problems that we have in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Milovanovic said.
“We will go with reciprocal measures, and the [Bosnian] Veterinary Office will freeze all trade in milk [with Croatia] until all analysis of it is done, just as Croatia has done to us.”
“Now it’s about milk from the Republika Srpska, but tomorrow it could be any other milk,” he suggested.
Milovanovic continued by saying that by returning milk from Bosnia, Croatia was harming trade relations between the two countries. Croatia decided to ban the milk imports citing quality concerns.
Ministers also agreed a package of rules on harmonizing the country’s laws and hygiene standards in accordance with EU standards for products.
This is necessary to allow Bosnian producers to export to Croatia once the country joins the EU next year.
“I expect the Council of Ministers to solve the problem of exports of animal origin products from Bosnia before Croatia joins the EU,” Jerko Ivankovic Lijanovic, the Federation entity’s agriculture minister, said.
Bosnia’s exports to Croatia are currently regulated by the easier regime of the Central European Free Trade Agreement, CEFTA.
But before joining the EU Croatia must leave CEFTA and only import goods that meet the EU’s stringent agriculture hygiene inspection standards.
This new regime will start on January 1, 2013, six months before EU membership starts in July 2013