Representatives of the Customs Administrations of Greece, North Macedonia and Serbia met today to discuss the potential of SEED - the key system for implementing green corridors.

Konstantinos Mourtidis, Director General of the Greek Customs and Excise Administration, Slavica Kutirov, Director General of the Customs Administration of the Republic of North Macedonia and Dusko Marinkovic, Acting Deputy Director General of the Serbian Customs Administration met at BCP Preshevo-Tabanovce to discuss the potential of the Systematic Electronic Exchange of Data (SEED) operating in the Western Balkans. The initiators of this visit are the Transport Community and the CEFTA Secretariat.

Greece's participation is of great importance because it is a huge step forward in the joint efforts and vision for the promotion of transport and trade between Greece and the CEFTA member states. This meeting is expected to result in a more dynamic cooperation for the establishment of the Green Corridors, which would bring economic benefits to both the EU and CEFTA.

Konstantinos Mourtidis, Director General of Greece Customs and Excise Administration of Greece noted the constructive cooperation of all parties involved in the Green Corridors initiative. In particular, the pilot implementation of the border crossing Evzoni-Bogorodica is an important and improved form of cooperation between the two customs administrations (Greece and North Macedonia). The exchange of pre-arrival data between customs administrations, together with the necessary infrastructure is an essential element of this initiative to ensure faster movement of key goods for the wider CEFTA region and neighboring EU Member States.

SEED is an improved management of border crossings in the Western Balkans, and has been operational since 2010. The upgraded SEED + further improves efficiency and simplifies procedures. SEED has a key role to play in implementing the green corridor / lanes initiative.

The Director of the CEFTA Secretariat, Emir Dzikic, said that SEED + is one of the main priorities of CEFTA, which in addition to the exchange of data between customs administrations, will include all agencies dealing with customs clearance of goods, and it is planned to expand and trade in services. In addition, it will have a positive impact on trade flows, as envisaged in the Common Regional Market Action Plan. The meeting with Konstantinos Mourtidis and the representatives of the Greek Customs Administration is an important step in bringing CEFTA members closer to the EU and spreading good practices, such as the green corridors / lanes, not only within CEFTA, where since the beginning of the pandemic approximately 2 million trucks have used the benefits of this initiative, but also at border crossings to the EU.

Slavica Kutirov, Director General of the Customs Administration of the Republic of North Macedonia, says that the faster flow of goods is a priority of the Customs Administration of North Macedonia as the best means to strengthen trade and improve cooperation between CEFTA members. North Macedonia, Greece and Serbia are neighboring countries that cover most of Corridor 10. Green corridors have proven to be a great way to improve the movement of goods between Serbia and North Macedonia, and SEED has served as a great tool for sharing information between customs administrations and other agencies. Our desire is to expand these corridors to Greece and thus improve the excellent cooperation.

According to the acting Deputy Director of the Serbian Customs Administration, Dushko Marinkovic, the concept of green corridors using the SEED system among CEFTA members is a great initiative because it contributes to speeding up procedures and facilitating the movement of goods. That is why the Serbian Customs Administration supports the possibility of upgrading this concept, as well as its expansion into EU Member States, which would better connect the economies in this part of Europe.

SEED and SEED + in practice mean significantly shorter waiting times at border crossings, simpler checks, reduced formal procedures and lower costs. This meeting enabled the representatives of the three Customs Administrations to gain insight into the functionality, maintenance and other technical issues related to the functioning of the SEED system, as well as its potential to serve as a key element in supporting the determination of priorities for certain goods at border crossings between Greece and its CEFTA partners.

"Western Balkan citizens have been waiting too long at the borders, especially at the EU borders. We continue to support regional partners in their efforts to extend the Green Corridor concept to Greece and other EU member states. The establishment of a functional Green Corridor at the Tabanovce-Preshevo border crossing shortened the waiting time and accelerated the export, import and transit of goods. North Macedonia and Serbia are the first regional partners from the Western Balkans to establish joint border controls and provide joint border and customs formalities. "If applied at the borders with EU member states, this concept will be equally successful," said Matej Zakonjsek, Director of the Transport Community Secretariat.

 

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