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EU membership key for Serbia growth plan

By: | at 08:00 PM | International Trade  

Targets in an ambitious 10-year growth plan for Serbia, based on boosting foreign investment and exports, will not be met unless the country joins the European Union, an aide to prime minister Mirko Cvetkovic said.

The plan aimed at boosting annual growth to 6 percent and expanding the job market by a quarter by 2020 while scaling back the role of the state, could form a cornerstone of the government’s program, Cvetkovic said at its presentation.

“This study ... would serve as one of the basic elements for our own development strategy,” Mirko Cvetkovic said. “If applied, this model shows us where we will be in the next decade.”

But it depended on EU membership, said Stojan Stamenkovic, an economic advisor to Cvetkovic and one of the document’s 14 co-authors. “The ... key precondition was the assumption that Serbia will join ... during the next decade.”

Serbia would “in turn secure an appropriate business environment through fiscal and monetary policies,” Cvetkovic said.

“If the model fails to secure new levers for growth, the country will stagnate or decline,” said Jurij Bajec, another co-author and prime ministerial advisor.

Serbia applied for EU membership last year, but progress has been hampered by the non-arrest of remaining war crime suspects, including Ratko Mladic, a top Bosnian Serb wartime commander charged with genocide. The country also needs to amend many trade and other laws to meet EU standards.

The document said that, over the next 10 years, Serbia should halve the state’s share of expenditure as a proportion of GDP, more than double the share of exports of goods and services and halve the current account deficit. (Reuters)