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Regional integration and free-trade agreements in the Balkans: opportunities, obstacles and policy issues

Bartlett, Will (2009) Regional integration and free-trade agreements in the Balkans: opportunities, obstacles and policy issues. Economic Change and Restructuring, 42 (1-2). pp. 25-46. ISSN 1573-9414

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s10644-008-9062-4


The Balkan states are engaged in a complex and contradictory process of simultaneous regional integration and disintegration. The main instrument of regional integration has been a network of bilateral Free Trade Agreements which the Balkan countries have adopted under the guidance of the Stability Pact for South East Europe, and more recently the extension of the CEFTA free trade area to the region. The bilateral FTAs have been criticised for creating a ‘spaghetti bowl’ of differentiated trade relations, and creating risks of trade deflection and trade diversion. At the same time other arrangements, including the contractual relations of individual countries with the EU, cut across the region and fragment their mutual trade relations. Moreover, Croatia is likely to become an EU member within the next few years, at which point it will suspend its trade agreements with the non-member Balkan states. Therefore, soon after having established a new mechanism of integration, the region will once again be split apart, leaving a rump association of five or six poverty-stricken and politically unstable countries to pursue the vision of regional cooperation. This paper focuses on the prospects for regional integration among these remaining countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. It explores the patterns of their mutual trade, and the opportunities and obstacles to increasing trade between them.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2009 Springer
Divisions: European Institute
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DR Balkan Peninsula
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2011 13:55
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2021 02:05

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