Serbia has become China's 29th free trade partner



Serbia has become China's 29th free trade partner

The China-Serbia FTA is the first FTA signed between China and Central and Eastern European countries, and the 22nd FTA signed between China and relevant countries and regions, with Serbia becoming China's 29th FTA partner. The signing of the China-Serbia Free Trade Agreement is an important measure to implement the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, another important practice to expand the network of high-standard free trade areas facing the world, and an important outcome of the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

Serbia is an important partner of China in jointly building the Belt and Road. In 2022, bilateral trade reached 3.56 billion U.S. dollars, up 10.1 percent year-on-year. Through the FTA, China and Serbia will achieve a high level of mutual opening-up, establish new institutional arrangements for bilateral economic and trade cooperation, create a more favorable, convenient, transparent and stable business environment for enterprises of the two countries, and inject new momentum into promoting high-quality Belt and Road cooperation and deepening China-Serbia comprehensive strategic partnership.

The person in charge of the International Department of the Ministry of Commerce introduced that the China-Serbia free trade Agreement negotiations were officially launched in April 2023, and two rounds of formal negotiations and nearly 30 working group meetings were held within 5 months, and all negotiations were substantively completed by the end of September.

The China-Serbia Free Trade Agreement focuses on relevant arrangements for trade in goods and has the following features:

First, the level of liberalization is high. China and Serbia will eliminate tariffs on 90 percent of each tax line, of which more than 60 percent will be eliminated immediately after the agreement enters into force. The final proportion of zero-tariff import items on both sides reached about 95%.

Second, the product coverage is wide. Serbia will include cars, photovoltaic modules, lithium batteries, communications equipment, mechanical equipment, refractory materials and some agricultural and aquatic products, which are China's key concerns, in the zero tariff, and the tariff on relevant products will be gradually reduced from the current 5 to 20 percent to zero. China will include generators, motors, tires, beef, wine and nuts, which are the focus of Serbia, in the zero tariff, and the tariff on relevant products will be gradually reduced from the current 5 to 20 percent to zero.

Third, the facilitation measures are practical. The two sides will deepen customs cooperation, strengthen information exchange, communication and coordination, and make specific provisions on simplifying trade procedures, risk management, transparency, pre-adjudication, the "certified operator" system, cooperation and consultation. In particular, the introduction of independent declaration of origin will facilitate enterprises to enjoy benefits.

A person in charge of the International Department of the Ministry of Commerce said that the promotion of trade liberalization and facilitation between China and Serbia is not only conducive to expanding bilateral trade, but also conducive to promoting investment cooperation and industrial chain integration between the two sides, giving better play to their respective comparative advantages and jointly enhancing international competitiveness.

In addition, in the field of investment and services, the two sides agreed to cooperate in investment promotion and investment facilitation, including sharing and exchanging investment information, improving the transparency of the investment environment, and simplifying application approval procedures. At the same time, the two sides will strive to achieve gradual liberalization of trade in services and market opening in accordance with the provisions of the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services, with a view to concluding a trade in services liberalization agreement between the two sides.

In the field of intellectual property protection, the two sides will abide by the principles and provisions of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights and strengthen cooperation in the field of intellectual property protection through coordination and consultation. In the field of competition, the two sides, on the basis of recognizing the independence of competition law enforcement, make provisions on the competition rules of enterprises to be followed. The head of the International Department of the Ministry of Commerce said that after the signing of the agreement, the two sides will respectively carry out their respective domestic legal approval procedures to promote the early implementation of the agreement.

Source: China Trade News