The European Union and Serbia today signed a bilateral trade deal under which the EU will remove all quotas applied to textile imports from Serbia.

Serbia will, in return, dismantle its tariffs for EU textile imports by January 2008.

Both parties have also pledged not to introduce any non-tariff restrictions to the other's clothing and textile exports.

Under the agreement Serbia will be able to strengthen its presence on the EU market.  At present about $156 million worth of textiles are exported each year.
 
EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson said: "This agreement is a tangible example of the increasing closeness of the EU's relations with Serbia through the Stabilisation and Association Process."

Mandelson added that the deal illustrated how both the parties' economies would benefit from increased cooperation.

The EU previously applied 11 quotas to Serbia and Montenegro on cotton yarn, cotton fabrics, synthetic fabrics, jerseys and pullovers, shirts, blouses, trousers, terry towelling, overcoats, suits, knitted and crocheted clothing accessories and household linens, curtains and blankets.

Serbia and Montenegro's textile and clothing exports to the EU in 2003 amounted to €137 million. EU exports to Serbia amounted to €207 million.

Of the €137 million in exports from Serbia and Montenegro, €128 million was clothing and made-up goods and €9 million were textiles.

Textile and clothing imports subject to quotas amounted to over €35 million in 2003 with the remainder entering quota-free.