Serbia Says Talks With Ukraine On WTO Entry Are The Toughest

BELGRADE, Serbia -- Serbia will try to win Ukraine’s consent early this year for membership in the World Trade Organization, deputy Prime Minister Mladjan Dinkic said.

Serbian deputy Prime Minister Mladjan Dinkic.

Belgrade, which applied for WTO membership in 2005, expects to complete bilateral talks with five more countries, including Ukraine, and join the trade group by the end of 2011.

Membership would mark another step on its path to becoming a European Union member, Dinkic said in an e-mailed statement today from Brussels.

Dinkic and European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht signed a bilateral agreement on behalf of the Balkan nation and the EU earlier in the day, agreeing on tariffs for trade in goods and the opening of each other’s services markets.

The EU accounts for 60 percent of Serbia’s foreign trade.

Dinkic said Ukraine is not an easy negotiating partner and Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic will visit the country in the coming months.

“Talks with Ukraine have not been smooth for any country, so Ukraine will remain the last country that we need to see how to reach the agreement.”

Serbia is negotiating an agreement with the U.S. and Dinkic said he expects “we will be able to reach agreement by the middle of the year.”

The government is still negotiating with Brazil, Switzerland and El Salvador, and expects to sign an agreement with Canada by the end of this month, according to the statement.

Source: Bloomberg