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Switzerland eases tariffs on Balkan exports

Customs check at the Swiss border: goods from Bosnia, Albania and Yugoslavia will benefit from preferential tarriffs Keystone Archive

Switzerland is to ease tariffs on imports from Yugoslavia, Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina in a bid to boost their ailing economies, and encourage growth and development.

The measures, announced by the government on Thursday, will give the three countries the same trade privileges as the poorest developing countries for the next three years.

The effect will be to remove almost all tariffs on industrial products from the three nations. Agricultural products from Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina will also be almost tariff-free.

Yugoslavia previously enjoyed similar trade privileges under Switzerland’s customs preference scheme, but was excluded at the beginning of 1998 in response to Serbian aggression in Kosovo.

Analysts say Switzerland’s decision to re-admit Yugoslavia into the scheme signals a normalisation of economic relations between the two countries.

The government said the decision was part of Swiss efforts to encourage economic development and integration in the Balkans.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR