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TRADE POLICY IN THE CONTEXT OF BULGARIA’S ACCESSION TO THE EUROPEAN UNION
Part V
Recommendations
 

1. Bulgaria should conduct its trade policy strictly in conformity with the provisions of the Europe Agreement and its multilateral obligations (after acceding to the WTO).

 

2. Bulgaria should complete its accession to the WTO in a reasonable time framework - preferably till the end of 1995. The accession will open up new opportunities in its relationship with the EU. It will give Bulgaria the qualification of a transparent and predictable economy.

 

3.Drastic changes are required so that trade policy alignment be achieved upon accession to the customs union and for the participation in the internal market of the Union. The specific areas concerned include inter alia: the trade policy instruments, the institutional framework for their proper implementation as well as the respective instruments of market regulation, the rules of competition, the system of quality controls, the protection of the consumers etc.

 

4.Discrepancies between the trade liberalization under the Europe Agreement (and beyond under future EU-membership negotiations), and the level of structural adjustment of the Bulgarian economy coupled with possible respective involvement of the privatization process should be kept to the minimum. In this respect it is worth mentioning that a delay in the structural adjustment would inevitably result in a negative impact on Bulgarian industries for production and market possibilities on accession to EU.

 

5. Bulgaria should not conclude free trade area agreements with important trading countries which have not yet concluded such agreements with the EU (e.g. USA, Russia, etc.) since, after Bulgaria's accession to the EU, it will be impossible for the Union to compensate such countries as a result of the adoption by Bulgaria of the common customs tariff of the EU in line with the requirements of Article XXIV of the GATT. If concluded, such agreements will delay Bulgaria's accession to the EU until, and if the EU signs free trade area agreements with the countries concerned.

 

6. Bulgaria's priority in negotiating free trade area agreements should cover associated countries of CEE (Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and later Slovenia). Such a policy will be strongly supported by the EU and will enable the cumulation in the rules of origin and the resulting more efficient resource allocation.

It is of interest to the Bulgarian industries to speed up negotiations for FTA with the respective associated to the EU countries. It is only logical, that any form of FTA with the CEFTA countries prior to the actual start of membership negotiations with the EU will enhance our chances for better terms of accession to the EU. i.e. better stay for the Bulgarian economic operators on the single market.

 

7. Bulgaria should increase its efforts to achieve further opening of the EU market for its products, due to various considerations, inter alia the importance of increased exports for achieving sustainable growth of the economy and servicing foreign debt obligations; the erosion of trade preferences for some products under the Europe Agreement as a result of the implementation of the Uruguay Round agreements and the latest enlargement of the EU; the chronic trade deficit with the EU which now covers agricultural trade as well.

 

8. Efforts for further market access should primarily concentrate on agricultural trade and its progressive inclusion into the free trade area. Up to now the impact of the Europe Agreement on Bulgaria's agricultural exports to the EU seems to be negligible. Apart from further trade concession in agricultural trade, most of which will probably be on a reciprocal basis, the EU should seriously consider the elimination of export refunds for exports when directed to Bulgaria and associated countries. Such measures will gradually ease the problems in agriculture when accession to the EU is achieved. Efforts on the part of Bulgaria and the EU should also concentrate on better utilization of tariff quotas by increasing its flexibility and by improving the information to exporters and importers.

 

9. Trade in agriculture will be facilitated by the conclusion of an agreement between Bulgaria and the EU on veterinary and phytosanitary questions.

 

10. Better market access to EU market should be coupled with the attraction of investments in Bulgaria by improving the investment climate and by increasing export and investment guarantees on the part of EU member states to potential investors.

 

11. Bulgaria should request the EU to refrain from using safeguards and antidumping measures vis-И-vis exports from Bulgaria and other associated countries. The mere initiation of the relevant procedure in this area results in harassment of trade. The EU should consider the abolition of the application of such measures when associated countries adopt comparable competition rules in their legislation (three years after the entry into force of the Europe Agreement).

 

12. Bulgaria should strongly urge the EU to abolish visa requirements immediately since such requirements discriminate against Bulgaria exporters compared to exporters from some other associated countries and represent an important barrier to trade.

 

13. Integration efforts should increasingly cover not only the government level but also the industry level. Cooperation between Bulgarian associations of sector industries, chambers of commerce, etc., and their partners in the EU should be encouraged.

 

14. Bulgaria should expeditiously study in detail the White Paper of the EU on approximation of laws and develop a programme of priorities and timetable for the harmonisation of its legislation with EU laws.

 

15. Bulgaria should adopt as soon as possible a new Customs Law, the draft of which is considered to be based on EU legislation.

 

16. Bulgaria should speed up the adoption of the Combined Nomenclature of the EU.

 

17. Bulgaria should bring its legislation on safeguards, antidumping and countervailing duties in line with the Uruguay Round Agreements in the respective areas. The same applies to the area of the TBT Agreement and the SPS Agreement.

 

18. Special efforts should be devoted in Bulgaria in the area of standartisation and certification.

 

19. Bulgaria should continue its policy of harmonization of the existing standards on internationally agreed rules and of developing the institutional framework for the comformity assessment procedures.

 

20. In the short run priority should be given to the application of the modules in technical legislation, the application of the EN ISO 9000 and EN 45000 series of standards, and the promotion of mutual recognition agreements in the unharmonized area of standards.

 

21. The institutional set-up in Bulgaria in trade policy matters should be enhanced by better coordination among economic ministries under the coordination of the Trade Ministry and by strengthening the respective departments of the Trade Ministry.

 

22. There is a strong need in Bulgaria to increase the number and quality of trade policy experts. Trade officials should make the best use of the opportunities to attend GATT trade policy courses and training in EU member states. There should be rotation of officials with GATT experience and EU experience.

 

23. There is a need of increased financial resources for training, computer and other technical hardware and proceedings stemming from SG and AD legislation, etc.


 

 
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