In 1998, Macedonia faced a slightly negative balance of trade . In that year the country exported $1.317 billion in goods and services while importing $1.715 billion. However, several issues promised to ease this trade imbalance in the future. In late 2000, EU markets were opened to Macedonian industrial and agricultural goods (but not beef and wine) as part of a new EU policy towards the region. Macedonia shipped almost 50 percent of its exports to the EU in 2000. Wine, one of the more successful export categories, was excluded from the liberalization in response to active lobbying from EU domestic winegrowers.
The greatest current rise is in exports to Yugoslavia (Serbia-Montenegro), with which Macedonia has a free-trade agreement. It is the largest single-state Macedonian export market, taking 23.7 percent of total exports in 2000. This state of affairs is likely to be reinforced by the political changes in Belgrade in 2000. In 2000, the head of the UN Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) agreed to assist in opening Kosovo further to Macedonian products. Macedonian firms secured construction contracts in Kosovo to rebuild the road between Pristina and Kosovska Mitrovica, and to a bus and truck terminal in Pristina. The contracts are worth $172 million. With the lifting of trade sanctions, Macedonia could expect to win similar contracts in Serbia proper, and to see a revival of traditional Serbian demand for their exports.
Principal Macedonian exports in 1998 included manufactured goods (34.2 percent); iron and steel (19.3 percent); drinks and tobacco (11 percent); machinery and equipment (7.5 percent); and food and livestock (5 percent). Imports in 1998 included machinery and transport equipment (19.1 percent); miscellaneous manufactured goods (14.5 percent); food products (13.4 percent); chemicals (10.6 percent); and fuels and lubricants (8.5 percent). Principal trade partners included Germany with 19.0 percent of all exports and 12.3 percent of all imports; Yugoslavia, with 23.7 percent and 8.8 percent, respectively; the United States with 15.2 percent and 3.0 percent; Greece with 5.9 percent and 7.9 percent; and Italy with 8.1 percent and 5.4 percent. Ukraine accounts for 11.7 percent of imports, and there is some trade with Russia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, and Croatia.