Countries and regions
Trade plays an important role in the EU's efforts to promote peace, stability, freedom and economic prosperity in the Western Balkans.
The EU is the Western Balkans' largest trading partner, accounting for over 75% of the region's total trade.
As a whole the region's share of overall EU trade was 1.1% in 2014, however individual countries' shares were very low - Serbia (0.50%), Bosnia and Herzegovina (0.20%), the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (0.20%), Albania (0.10%), Montenegro (0.0%) and Kosovo (0.0%).
Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo. 1
Croatia became member of the European Union on 1 July 2013.
In 2014, the EU's main imports from Western Balkans were
- machinery and transport equipment (26.5%),
- miscellaneous manufactured articles (21.3%),
- and manufactured goods classified chiefly by materials (19.8%).
The EU's exports to the Western Balkans were mainly
- machinery and transport equipment (27.0%),
- manufactured goods classified chiefly by material (23.4%),
- chemicals (14.2%),
- and mineral fuels (12.3%).
EU-Western Balkans "trade in goods" statistics
|Year||EU imports||EU exports||Balance|
EU and the Western Balkans
Accessing the EU market
In 2000, the EU granted autonomous trade preferences to all the Western Balkans. These preferences, which were renewed in 2005 and subsequently in 2011 until December 2015, allow nearly all exports to enter the EU without customs duties or limits on quantities. Only sugar, wine, baby beef and certain fisheries products enter the EU under preferential tariff quotas.
- This preferential regime has contributed to an increase in the Western Balkans' exports to the EU. In 2013, the EU was the region's largest trading partner for both imports (73%) and exports (80.1%).
All the Western Balkans states have been offered Stabilisation and Association Agreements (SAAs) and have a clear EU perspective. The EU's strategy includes massive financial assistance, making it by far the largest donor to the region.
The EU strongly supports the membership of the Western Balkans states of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
- Albania (2000), the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (2003) and Montenegro (2011) are already WTO members.
- The WTO accession negotiations with Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are on going.
The EU's relations with the Western Balkans are governed by the Stabilisation and Association process.
- There are three Stabilisation and Association Agreements (SAAs) in force: with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (2004), Albania (2009), Montenegro (2010) and Serbia (2013).
- The trade part of the SAAs came into force through an Interim Agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina (2008).
- The agreements aim to progressively establish a free trade area between the EU and the Western Balkans.
- Where trade is concerned, they focus on liberalizing trade in goods, aligning rules on EU practice and protecting intellectual property.
For more information, see also: Commission Communication on "Western Balkans : Enhancing the European perspective" (March 2008), Staff Working Paper 2009 (February 2009) and Commission Communication on "Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2013-2014" (October 2011).
In order to further develop regional trade and to offer new opportunities for economic operators, a system of diagonal cumulation of origin has been set up between the European Union, the Western Balkans participating to the Stabilisation and Association Process and Turkey. This system allows a participating partner to use materials originating in other partner(s) of the zone under advantageous conditions in the manufacture of final goods which are exported to the European Union, the Western Balkans or Turkey.
Trading with Western Balkans
- The EU is present on the ground in the Western Balkans (EU Delegations in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo)
- Trade relations are part of the EU's overall political and economic relations with the Western Balkans
- The Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) is a single Free Trade Agreement (FTA) linking all the Western Balkans and Moldova.
- This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence