By Linda Karadaku
Trade between Kosovo and Albania spiked after Kosovo authorities decided to apply reciprocity measures with Serbia this summer, but as soon as the trade embargo was lifted, Serbian goods filled the Kosovo market.
The reciprocity measures with Serbia, which went into effect July 21st, were removed on September 16th.
The daily Kosova Sot quoted Kosovo Customs spokesperson Adriatik Stavileci as saying that between January and September, Kosovo exported 21m euros to Albania and imported 65m euros from Albania.
“The increase of imports [from Albania] during the period of blockade [of Serbian goods] has been calculated to be about 30%. It is mainly in construction materials and vegetables,” Stavileci said.
Kosovo businessman Ramadan Kosumi, the owner of Agrovin company, said he has boosted exports to Albania, mainly local produce. In 2010, the company exported more than 9m kg of potatoes and cabbage to Albania. But this year Kosumi said his company exported about 10m kg.
Kosumi told Kosova Sot that it shows the impact of eliminating some tax barriers and opening the Albania-Kosovo highway.
But another Kosovo businessman who also does business with Albania seems less optimistic. Liridon Shala, from the Graniti Group in Pristina, imports various products from Albania.
“We saw an increase of imports by some 15% when reciprocity measures on Serbian goods were applied. It lasted for about 90 days, and as soon as the reciprocity measures were removed, imports went lower and we returned to the market we used to have before the reciprocity [measures] were applied,” Shala told SETimes.
He added that the Serbian goods have returned to the Kosovo market “even stronger than before”. “They returned with a cheaper price, 10 to 20 times cheaper. And plus, it’s much easier to import from Serbia than from Albania. Transport is cheaper and the Serbian government favours trade of goods to Kosovo, through a favourable VAT.”
“Kosovo exports virtually nothing anyway [to Serbia] beyond scrap metal and some minerals. By contrast, Serbia exports to Kosovo. Ever since Kosovo applied its own ban in July, Serbian exporters have lost 9m euros worth of business,” The Economist reported in September.
Kosovo Infoglobi reported at the beginning of December that Serbia continues to be the biggest exporter to Kosovo, with the value of goods flowing into Kosovo from September to November exceeding 50m euros. Meanwhile, Kosovo only exported 1m euros to Serbia.
“Right after the removal of reciprocity measures, our market was overflowed with goods from Serbia, which, according to experts, were much lower in price than other products,” the agency said.