Implementing the reform agenda for trade and competitiveness in South-East Europe

Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Foreign Trade (ORF-FT)


The increase in trade and competitiveness between the signatory parties of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) offers considerable potential for their economies. Yet, the implementation of corresponding measures lags behind regional agreements, leading to the slow harmonisation of trade-related laws and regulations with EU standards. The quality infrastructure systems are not all sufficiently well developed or compliant, and the specific industrial product legislation is not always aligned with the latest EU acquis. The value of electronic commerce in CEFTA economies is growing, but its full potential remains untapped. Start-ups from the region face difficulties accessing new markets, while the main challenge for start-up hubs remains offering innovative and suitable support to their upcoming enterprises.


CEFTA parties have improved the implementation of the reform agenda for trade and competitiveness in line with the requirements of the EU approximation process.

A large warehouse with stacked shelves. Copyright: GIZ/ Besfort Kryeziu


The project supports CEFTA structures, line ministries, relevant authorities and private sector organisations in expanding their capabilities relevant to better implementation.

The Open Regional Fund for South – East Europe - Foreign Trade (ORF-FT) supports regional initiatives which focus on the facilitation of trade in goods and services, with the ultimate goal of creating a common market. These initiatives promote the mutual recognition of Authorised Economic Operators (AEOs) and border documents which enable simpler and cheaper cross-border procedures. They also work on joint risk management for customs and border agencies.

In the field of trade in services, the project supports CEFTA contact points to enable them to effectively coordinate the implementation of the Additional Protocol 6 to the CEFTA Agreement.

The project also supports CEFTA economies in improving their quality-infrastructure (QI) institutions and their alignment with the EU acquis.

The project also fosters regional cooperation in electronic commerce and innovation by strengthening the competitiveness of e-commerce providers and start-up hubs and their ties with the EU market.

Last update: January 2023

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