For most people, the biggest dilemma is whether to take Heineken, Tuborg, Jelen, Lav or homemade Nektar. For some it is a question of crucial importance, either to take dark or light beer. Of course, only a few will not know the correct answer to the question that it is related to “His Majesty”, the beer.

            Brewing industry occupies an important place in the world, especially in countries which achieve a large portion of their income just with production and sales of beer, and it is also well known as an industry that employs a large number of people, and which spins a lot of money. A true example of “beer countries” are the Czech Republic, Germany or England, where you can consume dozens or hundreds of different types of beer, and in each of them you can find something special. In these countries, production of beer is one of the main branches of food production, while the same cannot be said for Bosnia and Herzegovina, i.e. the Republic of Srpska. In particular, the main problem in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a large number of imported beers on the market, while domestic beer producers, in such market game are not able to cope with unfair competition.

            The relevant state institutions do not bother to provide appropriate public assistance, either of administrative, or financial nature, and assist domestic producers i.e. breweries, and thus generally affect the increase in the consumption of local products and improvement of entire economic environment. This does not mean that we should ban the import of beer of foreign manufacturers. On the contrary, it should be allowed to foreign manufacturers to import their products, in this case beer, to BiH, i.e. the Republic of Srpska. But, at the same time, the competent authorities and institutions should strictly comply with the laws and regulations that relate primarily to the import of food products, their safety and quality, marking and labelling of such products etc. There should not happen situations that imported beer on the market of Bosnia and Herzegovina find their place without respecting the above market criteria, i.e. with betray and disrespect of laws and regulations, while on the other hand, domestic beer almost cannot be available in the market of neighbouring countries, as well as other countries in Europe.

Also, there is a well-known case of attempted export to the Republic of Serbia of Banja Luka brand Nektar beer, which incidentally remained only as an attempt and this is due to a trivial reason. Apparently, in the declaration on the beer cans was not indicated that it is “svetlo” beer, but that it is “svijetlo” beer (Translator’s note- the word “light” slightly different in this two countries). The competent customs authorities of the Republic of Serbia justified this with the fact that the word “svijetlo” (light) is not in the spirit of the Serbian language, and that it would mislead consumers from the Republic of Serbia. It’s really not possible to find a common link between these two terms, and indeed consumers in Serbia would be in a situation that they do not understand what kind of beer they consume, and in some way is understandable decision of the competent authorities of the Republic of Serbia to ban the import of Nektar beer from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Oh, you were not mistaken, in the said sentence with the ironic tone I refer to the ban on beer imports from Bosnia and Herzegovina, i.e. Republic of Srpska, especially because here without problems you can order beer that says “svetlo” beer, as well as beer with indications such as just “Beer” or “Pilsner Beer”, ” Lager Beer”,” Weiss bier “, but some are still managing to cope with it.

            How to deal with this situation, what steps domestic producers of beer  should take to be brought on an equal line with those from abroad, are questions which are not difficult to answer but only if there was a genuine will and desire of the authorities. First, if the practice of belittling products from BiH, i.e. Republic of Srpska by other countries, is continued it is necessary that the competent institutions consider introducing reciprocal measures against countries that discriminate when exporting local products. Also, when importing foreign products to our country, there should eventually be tighten measures, and consistent enforcement of existing law and regulations prescribing requirements and standards. It would not be wrong to consider the possibility of reducing excise duty on beer with the purpose of financial unburdening of domestic producers of beer, but address those funds on investments that will contribute to an increase in production volume.

Also, something that especially causes my indignation and outrage is the fact that in a number of restaurants, in particular in Banja Luka, I cannot drink a local beer. I am compelled either to drink beer produced in a foreign country or just leave the place. Of course only if at the time of the question my palate does not feel like tasting anything else other than well-known combined taste of hops, barley and water.

It is not too big secret what hides behind this fundamental commitment of caterers in Banja Luka. Simply, it is a matter of a financial nature, because they are not immune to offers of foreign distributors of beer that from their “offer” completely throw local beer, and in return they receive either substantial funds or benefits, such as for example, equipping and renovation of the entire facility, with an interior that exudes with symbols and signs of certain type of beer. You can imagine an absurd situation and wonder of a tourist or a traveler who comes to the city on the river of Vrbas and in one of the restaurants order a local beer and get a negative response that there is no any.

Author: Ognjen Bogdanic, e-mail: [email protected]

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