The Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) was concluded in 1992 between Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, under the conditions of disappearance of the CAER system, with the aim of facilitating exchanges and intra-regional economic cooperation. At the same time, from the beginning, the agreement has been seen from as a tool to prepare the participating countries for EU membership.
In accordance with the provisions of Article 51, three of the original signatories, Bulgaria and Romania (2007) and Croatia (2013) withdrew from the agreement following their accession to the European Union.
Currently, CEFTA members are: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, UNMIK Kosovo.
At the meeting of the Prime Ministers of the Stability Pact for Southeast European Countries in Bucharest on December 19, 2006, the participating countries signed the draft “Agreement on the Accession and Modernization of the Central European Free Trade Agreement”, CEFTA 2006, which came into force in the Republic of Moldova on 1 May 2007.
CEFTA 2006 is an agreement with modern provisions with a broad degree of liberalization, especially trade in industrial products, efficient collaboration and coordination procedures and transparent mechanisms for the application of trade defense measures. CEFTA 2006 provides for the establishment of its own settlement mechanism for commercial disputes or the use of the instrument WTO.
The agreement contains a main text and a series of annexes. Since 2006, they have been completed by a number of additional protocols negotiated by parties in different fields.
The CEFTA parties manage and promote the implementation of the agreement through the decisions of the Joint Committee. These decisions must be taken by consensus.
CEFTA 2006 replaces the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) concluded in 1992, and the bilateral Free Trade Agreements. The agreement proposes a uniform, predictable and long-term legal framework that contributes to the development of bilateral and multilateral trade and economic relations between member countries.
The objectives of this Agreement are:
- To consolidate in a single agreement the existing level of trade liberalization achieved through the system of bilateral free trade agreements already concluded between the Parties;
- To improve the conditions for promoting investment, including foreign direct investment;
- To increasing trade in goods and services and boost the investments through fair, clear, stable and predictable rules;
- To eliminate trade barriers and distortions and facilitating the movement of goods in transit and the cross-border movement of goods and services between the territories of the Parties;
- To provide the right competition conditions for external trade and investment, and to open gradually the procurement markets of the Parties;
- To provide adequate protection of intellectual property rights in accordance with international standards;
- To ensure effective procedures for the implementation and enforcement of this Agreement and their contribution to the harmonious development and growth of world trade.
CEFTA 2006 provides for the abolition of all customs duties on imports and exports, quantitative restrictions and other charges having equivalent effect in trade in industrial products and the majority of agro-industrial products.
The agreement contains extensive provisions regarding the trade in services, government acquisitions, customs administration and preferential rules of origin, the procedure and conditions for the application of safeguard measures and trade defense instruments.
The Republic of Moldova held the presidency of CEFTA during 2015.