Kosovo warns to set off second trade war

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 10, 2019 13:41

Kosovo warns to set off second trade war

Story Highlights

  • “[...] all agreements are underway. From the last coordinating meeting of respective departments for the implementation of the agreements, both sides have pledged that by the end of June all agreements will be implemented,” said Limaj's press office.

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TIRANA, June 10- A seemingly trade war has been warned by Kosovo against Albanian products exported to Kosovo. More specifically Kosovo has decided that if by July 1, 2019 the Albania government hasn’t abolished the provisional tariff measures on imports from Kosovo products such as potatoes, beer, onions, and also to facilitate fees from the scanning tariff and the Nation’s Road, and some phytosanitary certification, then Kosovo will increase costs to Albania’s exports to Kosovo.

Deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo Fatmir Limaj has expressed an agitation against Albania, as his country has always implemented all requests in help to Albanian businesses, whereas the neighbour country has been postponing actions for more than five years. A resistance from the Albanian side for Kosovo products has been admitted by the Chief of the Kosovo Chamber of Economy Berat Rukiqi, and the Chief of the Albanian Chamber of Commerce Nikolin Jaka.

Kosovo has made six requests for trade facilitations that Albania should implement until July 1 in order to avoid added barriers and customs fees. First, it is required to remove barriers to excise imports for Kosovo beer, requiring the same excise price of 15.12 lek on the amount of 200 hectoliters. Secondly, the Albanian government must abolish the temporary trade barriers to potatoes and onions coming to Kosovo’s markets. Thirdly, Albania needs to remove the barriers in quantity limitations in the importing Kosovo flour, as well as for the recognition of associated certificates. Fourtly, the unification of phytosanitary certificates for products manufactured in Kosovo that tend to be exported to Albania. Fifthly, lifting the scanning fee for Kosovo businesses. And lastly, to ease the National Road’s toll fee for Kosovo trucks by 22.5 euros.

For January-April 2019, Kosovo imported goods worth about 66 million euros from Albania, with a 66 percent increase compared to the same period of the previous year. While Kosovo exported almost three times less goods to Albania, worthing only 17 million euros, or 8 percent less than the same period last year. Nevertheless, for the period January 2018-May 2019, Albania has imported from Kosovo 1.3 million euros worth of beer and potatoes, while it has exported only 113 thousand euros from its beer to Kosovo, and 189 percent less potatoes towards the neighbouring country. On the other hand, during the same period Albania has exported to Kosovo 132 thousand euros worth of onions or 97 percent more than imported. The most valuable product imported from Kosovo is the flour. For the period January 2018- May 2019 Albania has imported 2.3 million euros of Kosovo flour, while it has exported only 111 thousand euros.

The requests should be solved within June, otherwise the government of Kosovo has foreseen to impose additional measures in procedures and tariffs for the most exported Albanian products to Kosovo, such as iron, oil and cement, while a special tax will be reviewed on the Nation’s Road in Kosovo for Albanian trucks.

“[…] all agreements are underway. From the last coordinating meeting of respective departments for the implementation of the agreements, both sides have pledged that by the end of June all agreements will be implemented,” said Limaj’s press office.

However, Berat Rukiqi is concerned that facilitating fees won’t change the mentality of Albanian consumers for Kosovo products having poor quality. This has affected a discrimination in customs controls from the Albanian side, when trade should have been incouraged instead. He also added that a will to increase trade exchanges between the two counties lacks, as his Chamber has been talking about lifting the barriers for about 10 years now. And for many reasons such as geographical aspect, political connection, infrastructure, ports, Kosovo seeks to expand its trade within the Albanian market, but according to the Kosovo Club of Producers, Albania is second after Serbia, with regard to the barriers Kosovo faces.

Nevertheless, the Albanian government has promised to resolve the dissatisfactions of Kosovo businesses, including scanning tariffs and the Nation’s Roads, as the concession companies could accept any settlement if compensated by the state budget. For this Prime Minister of Kosovo Ramush Haradinaj has said “we have good relations with Albania, but there are some trade-related disagreements for the market and I hope we will solve them.”

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 10, 2019 13:41