Timeline: 2005 – 2014
Donor: Switzerland (SECO)
Beneficiary: Montenegro (Ministry of Economy)
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was a member of the GATT since 1966 but could not ratify the Uruguay Round Agreements due to the Yugoslav Wars. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, reconstituted in 2003 as the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro had thus to negotiate its accession to the WTO. A Working Party was established to this end in February 2001 and a Memorandum on the Foreign Trade Regime was submitted in June 2002.
In December 2004, Serbia and Montenegro notified the WTO about a new constitutional agreement to which they agreed to maintain separate customs and trade regimes and decided to apply individually for the accession to the WTO. In February 2005, the General Council of the WTO decided to establish a separate Working Party on the accession of Montenegro. The project therefore stemmed from a project assisting jointly Serbia and Montenegro.
As Montenegro became a formal member of the WTO on 29 April 2012, the Government of Montenegro and SECO decided to extend the assistance project into an implementation stage enabling the young State of Montenegro to better absorb the impact of extensive commitments undertaken in the accession process. An implementation period of 15 months was agreed.
The overall objective of the project was advancing Montenegro’s integration into the multilateral trading system, as a mean to foster trade and investment with its regional and global partners.
On a more operational level, the objective of the project was to assist the Government of Montenegro in implementing its WTO obligations and to provide custom-made training to its officials.
“The objective was to advance Montenegro’s integration into the multilateral trading system, as a mean to foster trade and investment with its regional and global partners.”
During its accession process, most activities revolved around trainings of capital-based experts. The number of issues covered was wide-ranging: preparation to Working Party meetings, work on regular accession tasks (preparation of specific documentation, in particular on agriculture), etc. The Government of Montenegro was also assisted in the shaping its agricultural policy in the context of the WTO and in identifying key issues of the negotiations process. A number of missions were carried out in Podgorica to discuss trade policy objectives of the Government and how they can be designed so as to comply with WTO rules and requirements.
In the post-acession phase, most activities focused on the training of Montenegrin officials regarding the notifications to the WTO and the Doha Development Agenda negotiations. IDEAS Centre provided comments on the outgoing notifications and discussed them with the Government. The other main area of work in the post-accession phase was the support to the Permanent Mission of Montenegro in Geneva. This included commenting on the negotiating proposals, communication with WTO members, joining the groupings in negotiations, advising on multilateral and plurilateral negotiations in Geneva, etc.