The implementation of the 100 percent tax on products from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina has begun to empty shop shelves in the Kosovo market from the items of these countries. While for some products imported from these two countries, which can still be found in Kosovo stores, there are some price changes and for some there are not.
Minister of Trade and Industry in the Government of Kosovo, Endrit Shala, told Radio Free Europe that according to market inspections, the presence of the quantity of goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina is significantly smaller.
He says goods from these two countries can only enter the Kosovo market if they pay the 100 percent custom duty.
“The Republic of Kosovo has not imposed a measure of total ban on imports from these two countries. In relation to the products of Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, we set a 100 percent tax. And every product that pays this measure decided by the Government of the Republic of Kosovo is allowed to enter the Kosovo market, “ said Shala.
Representatives of the Organization for the Protection of Consumers acknowledge that the amount of products from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina has decreased, but unlike the statements of state officials, this organization thinks that products from these countries enter Kosovo through alternative routes, escaping the tax obligation.
“Basic food items are finding ways to penetrate, and I can not say it’s just the way of smuggling from the northern part of Kosovo. But as citizens, consumers, taxpayers, we have doubt of legal contraband, ‘smuggling with papers’. Already there are articles that have found a place, address in North Macedonia and then in the Kosovo market as a product of this country [North Macedonia]. There are many products that are packed in other countries and are present in Kosovo, ” said Selatin Kaçaniku, leader of this organization.
The Kosovo government imposed a customs tax rate of 100 percent on goods originating from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in November of last year.
Prior to imposing the tax, for two decades in succession, Serbia has been the country with the largest quantity of goods in the Kosovo market. Within a day, this country has exported goods in Kosovo worth about 1.2 million euros.
The value of goods exported from Serbia to Kosovo in March, according to official data, was 535 thousand euros or over 17 thousand euros per day.
Minister of Trade and Industry Endrit Shala, meanwhile, sars that the tariff will remain in force until the state of Serbia changes its approach towards Kosovo’s independence.
The Kosovo Government’s reason for setting the tariff at the end of last year was in response to the Belgrade and Sarajevo policies in relation to the state of Kosovo.
Shala argues that the Kosovo government should also consider additional measures against Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, citing reciprocity.
Otherwise, the European Union and the United States have repeatedly asked the Government of Kosovo to suspend the customs tariff. Brussels and Washington have called on the Government of Kosovo to suspend the customs tariff so that the dialogue process with Serbia will continue until an agreement is reached on normalization of reciprocal relations.
Since Kosovo has imposed this tax, Serbia has withdrawn from talks on normalizing relations with Kosovo.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has said there will be no talks without the removal of the tax. In the meantime, Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj has said that the tax will remain in force until Serbia recognizes Kosovo.