Date: 23/06/2020

Green Lanes - the path to faster foreign trade

AmCham hosted a discussion panel on the relationship between CEFTA Green priority lanes and streamlined trade within the Western Balkan region.

Discussion was opened with a status analysis of the Green Lane Initiative with experts, Ivan Marković, contact for the CEFTA agreement and the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications, and Tatjana Jovanović, Deputy Minister to the Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, regarding the demonstrated viability of Green priority lanes in facilitating efficient transport and trade of goods.

While the Green lane system was first implemented in March of this year as a measure to streamline trade amidst the coronavirus pandemic, to great success, the speakers discussed the uncertain future expansion of the system to EU and Balkan borders. An answer still awaits from the EU regarding this potential expansion, however the only concrete future steps that can be taken consist of continuing to strongly urge EU adoption of these policies.

The speakers further clarified the main elements of the Green Lane Agreement, citing the interconnection of border crossings between CEFTA countries as a critical element in allowing for the passage of traffic and supplies. Furthermore, the speakers clarified how the Green lane system allowed for the passage of all goods, not strictly goods deemed essential. However, goods such as food, medical and emergency supplies would be prioritized for passage, alongside other goods recommended essential by the World Customs Organization. There was further discussion of the potentially prolonged period of time required to establish a fully electronic CEFTA system.

The panel, consisting of Aleksandra Ilić, Head of the Department for TSO and Simplified Customs Procedures, Senad Radončić, Head of the Preševo Customs Office, Ivan Tomašev, Head of the Border Department of Phytosanitary Inspection, and Branislav Marković, Head of the Border Veterinary Inspection Group Preševo, then discussed the measurable effects of implementation of Green Lanes and the necessary procedural changes to border customs control.

The Customs Administration was quoted as having had taken steps to relax transport and trade restrictions, recommending the expansion of specific lanes for priority supplies and noting minor procedural changes, such as mandatory provision of tariff numbers in transit declaration. Further planned adjustments included recommendations for increased presence of customs police and installation of more weighing-scales for streamlined wait times at the customs border. The panel also spoke about the effectiveness of the ITCM pre-announcement system which has streamlined trade and decreased border wait times by allowing border control to proactively prepare for goods passing through customs.

This event was moderated by Brankica Obućina of the International Finance Corporation, member of the World Bank Group.