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CEFTA ‘suffocates’ Kosovo

Prishtinë, August 1, 2007 – The Kosovar daily Koha Ditore reports that Kosovo businessmen do not perceive the CEFTA agreement as favourable for Kosovo businesses.

The owner of the company for production of tubes, Intersteel, Bujar Reka, was quoted to say that his company can not export goods to Macedonia, as Macedonia Customs Service does not accept the document EUR1 - the verification of the product’s origin. “The justification given from Macedonia Customs is that the raw material is not produced in Kosovo. There is no foundry in Kosovo, so we have to import the raw material. Bosnia also imports this raw material, but does not have any problem in exporting the goods produced,” said Reka. According to him Macedonia is not respecting the free trade agreement with Kosovo, and consequently Intersteel, with a production capacity of 100 tons per day, now produces only at 25 per cent of its capacity.

The paper reports that the Tubes Factory in Ferizaj/Urosevac and “M&Sillosi” are facing the same difficulties. Few days ago trucks of “M&Silosi” loaded with flour were blocked for the second time at the custom point in Macedonia. The Macedonian authorities are justifying the blockage by stressing that the origin of the product needs to be verified. The first time the company was obliged to pay €20,000 whereas this time the Macedonian Customs request €3,400 per truck. UNMIK considers that the local and international institutions in Kosovo cannot react because Macedonia is a sovereign state.

The Executive Director of “M&Silosi”, Adnan Merovci, says that Pillar IV and the Ministry of Trade and Industry were informed on the matter. “As you know, last week a letter was sent by the head of Pillar IV and the Minister of Trade and Industry to the Macedonian Ministry of Economy and we are still waiting for their response. Almost all local and international institutions are informed about the matter, but taking into consideration that Macedonia is a sovereign state our actions are limited,” reads an email sent by a Pillar IV official to Merovci.

Officials of UNMIK Customs Service told Koha Ditore that Macedonia is continuously violating the free trade agreement with Kosovo. “If upon Macedonia’s request, we issue the verification of the goods’ origin (EUR1) and they still do not accept it, this means there is a breach of the free trade agreement,” said Adritatik Stavileci, UNMIK Customs Spokesperson.

Economic experts of the Riinvest Institute say that CEFTA is favourable to exporting countries but not to the importing ones. Muhamet Sadiku, a representative of this institute said that the small markets have to pay a high cost on the free market. “The countries from the region entered CEFTA with subsidized products, while Kosovo has zero subsidies for its products,” said Sadiku.

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