The Government of Serbia will most probably abolish taxes on the import of milk and milk products starting with the New Year, and the decision should be reached in the next ten days, Blic learns.
The decision has been caused by the pressure from Brussels, which requires that the provisions of the Stabilization and Association Agreement be honored, as they do not envision a privileged status of local milk producers. They also believe that the price of milk has started rising in the EU market, and that the measure will no longer be justified in 2017.
The source of Blic from the Government claims that this position is causing a lot of trouble for the Government and that it is thereby quite certain that the milk import taxes of RSD 10-20 per liter and RSD 1-30 for sour milk products, introduced in June 2015, will be abolished starting with the New Year.
– Minister Branislav Nedimovic is having intensive negotiations with milk producers these days and he has explained to them that Brussels no longer deems the milk import taxes justifiable, as the market has stabilized. To clarify, the measure was implemented at the time the milk prices in the European market had dropped from 45 to around 20 euro cents in order to protect the local production. As the prices are now rising, the EU is no longer willing to tolerate Serbia's advantage in this matter. It needs to be said that, if a crisis occurs again, the Government will intervene with protective measures – the Blic source says.
Milk producers are not worried.
– Now that the prices of milk in the European market are stabilizing, it's logical for the milk import taxes to be abolished and that the focus should be put on implementing measures increasing the competitiveness of Serbian farmers, such as opening the National Laboratory and awarding premiums based on milk quality. I believe that the most important thing is that we've had milk import taxes in the past year and a half, and that we will no longer need them from January 1 – says Ilija Setka, director of Implek.
Associations: We are not competitive
President of the Association of Milk Producers of the Macva District, Goran Vasic, believes that the milk import taxes should remain in effect for another six months at least.
– If they are abolished, the local production will be jeopardized and imported milk will flood the Serbian market. European farmers enjoy all kinds of subsidies for improving competitiveness, which we can't keep up with – Vasic says.