By Linda Karadaku
At a meeting discussing economic co-operation between Kosovo and Albania, Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister Mimoza Kusari Lila and Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha decided to remove customs fees that are frustrating Kosovo exporters. Building the 34km of road from Fierza to Koman in northern Albania was also discussed.
Berisha said that the current customs fee will stop being applied, which the Albanian Customs Director Flamur Gjymishka confirmed.
Kosovo Customs Service Director Naim Huruglica spoke to SETimes about the problem between the two governments, affirming that a solution is at hand and statistics show an increase in bilateral trade.
SETimes: At what stage now is the customs and taxes issue between Kosovo and Albania?
Huruglica: There is no big problem, except for the fact that in some cases the customs administration of the Republic of Albania does not accept the declared value of Kosovo exporters, and has increased the export value, forcing the Albanian import companies to pay more for VAT tax. As a result, Kosovo products have become more expensive on the Albanian market.
SETimes: Did you contact official authorities in Tirana? What future steps are expected?
Huruglica: Meetings were held. The last one was between the two customs chiefs. A tentative agreement was reached to work out practical difficulties, which could be realised through post-import verification in case the undeclared real value is suspicious.
SETimes: Can we expect customs tax removal between Kosovo and Albania altogether? Would the elimination of the fees serve the economic development of both countries?
Huruglica: Kosovo and Albania do not apply a customs tax on each other’s products. Both countries are CEFTA members and the only tax charge is VAT, or excise, on certain goods. The co-operation serves the economic development of both countries and statistics show trade increased. In 2010, Kosovo imported goods worth 61m euros from Albania, or 52.33% more than in 2009, and it exported goods worth 23m euros, or 33.19% more than in 2009.
SETimes: What is the position of the business community in Kosovo on this issue?
Huruglica: The business community expressed its discontent over the difficulties they encountered and has been working to remove them.
SETimes: Would the reciprocity principle work between the two countries, and would Kosovo ask for it?
Huruglica: There is no need for reciprocity on issues that can be solved between the two governments.