CEFTA members meet in summit in Skopje

Shkup, 21 November 2007 – Under the leadership of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – the current Chair in Office of CEFTA – the participants reviewed the events of 2007 that saw the rapid ratification and entry into force of the enlarged and modernized regional free trade agreement now known as CEFTA 2006.

In his welcome address, Prime Minister, Gruevski noted that CEFTA was an important tool to improve overall economic and social well-being. He also highlighted the political benefits of the agreement in accelerating the region’s progress in European integration.

The representatives of the CEFTA Parties warmly welcomed the entry into force of the agreement in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 22 November, which means that all trade in the region is now covered by one single agreement. The Parties highlighted the increasing rates of regional trade and welcomed the small but growing rates of regional investment. They reiterated their strong commitment to implementing the agreement, fully and efficiently.

The Stability Pact’s Deputy Special Co-ordinator Michael Mozur told participants that “CEFTA has become a strong calling card for the region. The dynamic and rapid pace of its negotiation and ratification has been clearly noticed by potential investors from within the region and without.” He also emphasised that CEFTA 2006 was a key element of the overall regional co-operation strategy gradually being put into place by the governments of the region. It complements other elements such as the Energy Community Treaty, the SEE Investment Committee, promoting information and communication technologies and the co-ordinated fight against organised crime and corruption.

Erwan Fouéré, representing the European Commission, confirmed the decision to provide support under the EU’s Instrument for Pre-Accession to facilitate the implementation of CEFTA 2006. He stressed the complementarity of such regional initiatives to the process of EU accession and urged the governments of the region to maintain the momentum in regional trade integration in the face of political challenges.

Participants thanked the Government of The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for its determined chairmanship in 2007. Moldova will take over as Chair in Office of CEFTA in January 2008 and promised an active work programme to ensure that the Parties’ commitments to rapid implementation would be met.

ECIKS / Stability Pact for SEE