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ZAGREB (Croatia), August 11 (SeeNews) - Croatia's government said it has revoked its decision to increase the phytosanitary inspection fee for fruits and vegetables imported from non-EU countries - a decision that has drawn complaints from the country's neighbours in the Western Balkans.
The inspection fee for imports of fruits and vegetables from non-EU countries was reduced back to 90 kuna ($14.3/12.2 euro), the Croatian government said in a statement on Thursday.
Croatia expanded the list of fruits and vegetables that should undergo phytosanitary inspection last month and increased the inspection fee to 2,000 kuna from 90 kuna.
Earlier this week, government ministers from Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Macedonia sent a complaint to the European Commission over the hike in fees, arguing that the Croatian move threatens the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the Stabilisation and Association Process of the countries of the Western Balkans, which are at various stages of the path to EU accession.
With its decision to revoke the hike to 270 euro and bring back the inspection fee of 12 euro per plant species, Croatia contributes to the relaxation of relations between the countries in the Western Balkans, Serbian prime minister Ana Brnabic said in a statement on Thursday.
All countries of the region are relatively small markets and only the free movement of goods, people and capital, as well as the creation of a common economic space, can ensure their development and stability, Serbian trade minister Rasim Ljajic said in the same statement.
Montenegrin economy minister Dragica Sekulic welcomed the revoking of the increased fees, saying that the joint reaction of Montenegro, Bosnia, Macedonia and Serbia was a good regional initiative that served to warn Zagreb that the 22-fold hike in fees was a violation of the rules.
"I believe that this is a good way to cooperate and point to each other if there is a violation of mutual trade relations," Sekulic said in a statement issued by by the Montenegrin government on Thursday.
The reduction of the fees to their previous level was the best possible decision that could be taken by Croatia, Bosnian media quoted the country's trade minister Mirko Sarovic as saying on Thursday.
The fee reduction is a mutual success of Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro and a proof of the commitment of the region to the Berlin process and the building of a common economic area, which is improving the European perspectives of the Western Balkans, Macedonian agriculture minister Ljupco Nikolovski said in a statement.
Croatia's agriculture minister Tomislav Tolusic said on Sunday that by raising the phytosanitary fees the government aimed to improve the quality of food imports into the country.
(1 euro = 7.40009 kuna)