The European Commission and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) "are halfway" to reaching a final solution that would enable duty-free Croatian exports to BiH and negotiations could be completed in two weeks at the latest, BiH negotiator Hamdo Tinjak was quoted as saying in Friday's issue of the Sarajevo daily Dnevni Avaz.
Although negotiations on the adjustment of the interim trade agreement between BiH and the European Union were expected to end on Thursday, when negotiating teams met, that did not happen.
"There are things which the European Commission can't accept. There are also things we insist on. To reach an agreement, we must find a compromise, which we are working on," Tinjak said, adding that the BiH negotiating team is yet to formulate proposals for the Council of Ministers and the Presidency to consider and approve.
He said earlier the Commission was willing in principle to accept BiH's demand for a gradual adjustment of the trade agreement. This would mean that some form of customs protection would remain over a five-year period for food and agricultural imports from Croatia, primarily milk and some dairy products. BiH expects the same concession for meat and some meat products.
The adjustment of the interim trade agreement, which is part of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between BiH and the EU, is a key prerequisite for the Commission to consider BiH's application for EU membership status, submitted in February.
Until this year, BiH refused to negotiate on the duty-free import of Croatian products, such as applies to all other EU member states, citing the need to protect domestic production, but changed its mind when Brussels made it clear that negotiations on possible EU membership are not possible without it.