Sahini: Due to the ban on imports from Serbia, the greatest harm is to Serbian citizens, and Albanians were also buying these goods

Source: Kosovo Online

The President of the Kosovo Business Alliance, Agim Sahini, says that trade between Kosovo and Serbia has decreased by 50 percent. Goods that used to come from Serbia before the import ban now come from other countries, and the ban, which has been in effect for a year, needs to be resolved at a political level because its implementation was also a political decision.

"During the year of the import ban on Serbian goods in Kosovo, both Kosovo and Serbia have incurred significant losses. Statistically, in 2022, we had mutual trade worth more than 443 million euros, and last year it was around 256 million euros, meaning trade has decreased by about 50 percent. In percentage terms, if we previously imported more than 6.7 percent of goods from Serbia, last year we imported around 3.4 percent, and Kosovo's exports to Serbia have also fallen. Last year, we had about 5.9 percent in exports, compared to more than 7 percent the previous year, in 2022," Sahini told Kosovo Online.

Goods that used to come from Serbia now arrive from other countries, and some food items in Kosovo have become more expensive than when imports from Serbia were allowed, says Agim Sahini.

"The greatest harm has been suffered by Serbian producers and Serbian citizens living in Kosovo, who are used to using products from Serbia. However, Albanians were also consumers of these goods. In 2022 alone, we imported goods from Serbia worth 372 million euros, and these went into wider consumption across Kosovo. The people of Kosovo buy goods from Serbia, Albania, or North Macedonia, depending on whether they are of good quality and competitively priced. In our opinion, this ban no longer makes sense; it complicates the movement of goods, capital, and people. Each consumer should choose the goods they want to consume," says Sahini.

He adds that Kosovo businesses were also affected, especially at the beginning, until the Kosovo government changed part of the decision so that the ban does not apply to the import of raw materials from Serbia.

"The greatest losses were incurred by traders who imported goods solely from Serbia. Several companies closed down because they were representatives of Serbian goods in Kosovo and now have nothing to do. Additionally, in Serbian areas, several businesses that operated only with Serbian goods had to switch to Kosovo production or import goods from other countries."

He notes that traders in Kosovo have found other countries to import goods from, and last year Kosovo had a trade exchange with Albania exceeding 440 million euros, which, he says, means that the level reached is equivalent to that with Serbia in 2022.

"That means a lot of goods are coming from Albania. After Serbia, Albania is the first country from which many goods come, and we also import a lot from North Macedonia. When it comes to exports, our biggest partner is North Macedonia, followed by other CEFTA countries and the EU, with Germany being the largest partner, followed by Turkey. Kosovo still has a large deficit of about 90 percent. Last year, we had imports exceeding 5.7 billion euros and exports of around 820 million. This means we have a trend of a large deficit. The economy of Kosovo is supported by private businesses and the diaspora, from which we have the largest inflow. The Kosovo government does not have a strategy to increase domestic production and find solutions to reduce this deficit," says Sahini.