Serbia to Reduce EU Import Custom Duties in Bid to Ease Prices

Jan. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Serbia will lower customs duties on imports from the European Union as the Balkan country enters the fourth year of implementation of an interim trade agreement with the bloc, hoping to result in lower retail prices at home.

An average customs duty charged on imports from the EU will drop to 1.8 percent this year from 2.6 percent in 2011, according to the pact, compared with an average of 6.2 percent for countries that don’t have preferential trade ties with Serbia.

“This reduction paves the way for lower import prices in the domestic market,” the government said in a statement.

The average rates on imports of agriculture products will drop to 5.2 percent from 7 percent last year, Nadica Pantovic, the head of the customs system and policy department at the Finance Ministry, said in an interview. Customs duties on industrial products will fall to 0.81 percent from 1.32 percent.

The continued liberalization is in line with Serbia’s Stabilization and Association Agreement, which “ultimately creates a free trade zone” between Serbia and the EU, giving the country “duty-free access” to the market of half a billion people, the government said.

The EU remains Serbia’s top trading partner. Exports to the EU rose an annual 18.8 percent in the first 10 months of 2011 to 4.05 billion euros ($5.17 billion), with imports rising 14.4 percent in the same period to 6.59 billion euros.

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