Agency for Statistics of B&H is an independent administrative authority, responsible for production and dissemination of high quality, reliable, understandable, timely and internationally comparable statistical data of Bosnia and Herzegovina which meet the needs of decision makers, researchers and other domestic and foreign users. In addition, Agency is responsible for international representation of B&H in front of European and international bodies in terms of statistics.
Velimir Jukić, director of Agency for Statistics of B&H in an interview for Horizon 2024, among other things, spoke about the main activities of Agency, activities that marked the previous year, economic trades, cooperation with Eurostat, regional cooperation, and about expectations of the Regional Forum on market, investment and statistics – MIS, whose presentation will be held on 27 April in Sarajevo.

1. Can you tell us what are main activities of Agency for Statistics of B&H?
Velimir Jukić: The main activities of Agency for Statistics of B&H are focused on: Harmonization of Statistics of B&H with requirements of the European Statistical System – improvement and development of social, demographic, economic and business statistics, then statistics of agriculture, environment and regional statistics, as well as harmonization of these statistics with EU standards and requirements – as an instance we can mention that Agency in 2016 conducted 167 statistical surveys / activities and improve cooperation with the users of statistical data – effective and timely preparation and dissemination quality of statistical indicators that provide customers reliable source for making decision and harmonization of their views by facts – as an example we indicate that Agency in 2016 published 343 announcements with statistical data for different referent periods and 18 thematic annual bulletins for specific statistical areas.

2. Which activities marked 2016 year?
Velimir Jukić: Statistical activity that marked 2016, as well as the previous three years, was Census of population, households and dwelling in B&H. The expectations of a wide range of users from the Census have been extremely high, and there for Agency and entity statistic institutes have made maximum efforts to successfully carry out activities related to the census. Director of Agency for Statistics of B&H on 18 May 2016 made a decision about “Unique program data processing of Census of population, households and dwelling in B&H in 2013”. This decision has enabled us to successfully complete remaining activities related to the processing and publication of Census results on day 30. June 2016. Results of Census make possible determination of a comprehensive picture of population of B&H at a given moment (number and spatial arrangement of population, demographic, migration, ethnic, educational and economic characteristics, number and structure of households and families …). Also, results of Census are of great importance for the development of a set of demographic indicators, which provide good starting basis for population estimates and are used for population projections.

3. According to data of Agency for Statistics of B&H, what are economic trends?
Velimir Jukić: During 2016 in Bosnia and Herzegovina has registered growth in industrial production of 4.3%, compared to the previous year. This increase in production was accompanied by an increase in the number of employees within the industry. The number of unemployed persons in B&H continued to decline resulting in magnification number of employed persons. During 2016 in B&H continued the upward trend of foreign trade with the world, and the main characteristics were the increase of total trade volume, export and import of goods and reduction of foreign trade deficit and better coverage of imports by exports, compared to the last year.

Gross domestic product
Real GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to the same period of the previous year, amounted 2.6%. Seasonally adjusted data shows GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2016 from 0.7%, compared to the previous quarter.

Industry
Observed by sectors based on the available data of the Agency for the 2016 year, it can be said that all sectors positively contributed in realization of increase in industrial production. Looking annually, still the most significant contribution to the growth of industrial production in B&H was recorded in the processing industry, which is due to the positive economic development in export markets that recorded an increase in production of 3.1% compared to the previous year. On the other hand, after a weaker operating results in the first half of year, in the second half there was stabilization and improvement of production in the sectors of mining and electric energy.

Labor market
In December of 2016 the number of employed persons has increased by 3% compared to the 2015 and it amounted 737,954. By this the registered unemployment rate in B&H decreased and it amounted 40.9%. In December of 2016 the number of registered unemployed persons decreased by 5.1% compared to the same period last year and it amounted 510,002 of unemployed persons. The average net salary in B&H gradually increased and in December of 2016 amounted to 853 BAM, with a nominal increase of 2.7% compared to the average net salary in 2015.

Prices
As in previous months in December of 2016 it was registered deflation of 0.2% compared to the same period of last year. It is noted that the level of deflation in December of 2016 was significantly lower in cooperation to the previous months of 2016. The average deflation of 2016 amounted -1.1% compared to the 2015.

Foreign trade
Key determinants of movement of BH foreign trade in 2016 were the strengthening of business activity in main trading partners (export demand), growth of domestic demand and low level of world’s prices for certain BH export products. During 2016 B&H achieved export of goods worth 9.416 billion BAM which represents a nominal increase of 4.8% in computation to the previous year, while real growth was higher due to a lower price level than in the previous year. Growth of export was enabled by the increase in production of the manufacturing industry whose movement largely depend to the export demand. Import of goods in B&H in 2016 amounted 16.139 billion BAM which represents a nominal increase of 1.8%, while real growth was likely somewhat higher due to the lower import prices. Registered increase of import of goods is the result of a higher level of economic activity and growth in domestic demand that is largely supplied from the outside. BH foreign trade deficit in 2016 amounted 6.723 billion BAM and compared to the previous year decreased by 2.1%. The total coverage of imports by exports of goods in BH in relation to the previous year improved by 1.6 percentage points and stood at 58.3%. If the coverage of imports by exports of goods is observed by trending blocks it can be seen that B&H in 2016 realized the coverage of imports by exports of goods to EU countries by 67.9%, while coverage within CEFTA amounted to 67.7%.

4. Can you tell us something about your cooperation with Eurostat?
Velimir Jukić: Agency has regular communication and cooperation with various international organizations and institutions and conducts international representation throughout BH statistics. However, a particularly important partner of BH statistics is Eurostat. Apart from our obligation to submit statistical data on a level of B&H through various forms and questionnaires, cooperation with Eurostat takes place in other ways, too. For many years Eurostat finances the multiregional projects that involve participation of all counties in the region who want to become member of EU (or in short: the enlargement countries). In this project activities, from the very beginning, participates BH statistics, respectively three statistical institutions and CBBH that is responsible for production of macroeconomic statistics part (e.g. Government finance statistic, balance of payment, etc.). As part of these projects there are implemented various statistical activities and trainings. Through these projects BH statisticians are enabled to participate in relevant working meetings organized by Eurostat for EU member states, and in which statisticians from enlargement countries participate as observers and thus learn and become familiar with European standards and legislation in force in the statistics. Eurostat also organizes dedicated meetings for the enlargement countries that attend directors of national statistical institutions (in case of B&H that is Agency), on which are considered policies of regional cooperation, it is discussed about all relevant issues in the field of statistics related to the EU accession process, information are exchanged and it is negotiated about future activities. Cooperation with Eurostat resulted in the successful implementation of the Census of population in B&H. Eurostat through their representatives in the IMO (International monitoring operations for Census) team followed Census form preparation to the dissemination of results. In this way, we ensured that Census in B&H was conducted in accordance with the EU and other International standard. The most credit for this certainly has Eurostat who provided us with all the necessary technical assistance. So cooperation with Eurostat is continuous, very good and necessary for further development of B&H statistics, i.e. harmonization with EU standards in statistics.

5. What like is your current regional cooperation?
Velimir Jukić: B&H has an active and very good cooperation with all countries in the region. This cooperation for us was especially important in a time of Census of population when we through technical assistance projects use the best practices of countries that have successfully conducted Census before us: Serbian, Croatian, Montenegro and experts from other countries, Macedonia, Turkey, were involved in our preparations. Our statisticians in the framework of regional cooperation projects financed by Eurostat and the Government of Sweden have regular communication, meetings, together training and study visits. In this way they learn not only from EU experts but also from each other. Also bilateral cooperation for B&H is a very important and active.

6. How important is regional cooperation for a better future of B&H?
Velimir Jukić: Regional cooperation in the statistics is very important and this is emphasized in all program and strategic documents of the EU, countries in the region, including B&H. Through regional cooperation best practice and experiences are exchanged and in the easiest and quickest way are obtained all relevant information that may contribute to the improvement of statistics, and thus the image of the country itself.

7. Speaking about Agency, what will be special focus in the coming period?
Velimir Jukić: All our future activities are set out in our strategic document ‘Strategy for Development of Statistics of Bosnia and Herzegovina 2020’, and also in our program document ‘Statistical Program of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the period 2017 -2020’, as well as in the Report of the Commission for Bosnia and Herzegovina for 2016. These are the following priority activities: implementation of the European system of national and regional accounts (ESA) from 2010, particularly in terms of the national accounts and government finance statistics, extension of promotion of cooperation, coordination and decision-making processes for the development of national statistics in key statistical areas, finalization of classification of statistical region according to the nomenclature of territorial statistical units (NUTS) and insurance that the data of GDP per capita are harmonized at level of NUTS II, in accordance with the obligations from Agreement on Stabilization and Association nd the preparation and execution of the Census of Agriculture in B&H.

8. What are your expectations from the project MIS?
Velimir Jukić: We expect that this project will, through better exchange of information and experience, contribute to the improvement of regional cooperation of statistical institutions in order to all users, primarily institutional, entrepreneurs, academia and non-governmental sector, provide high-quality statistical data for analysis and planning.

(Source: MIS)