Blerta Begisholli, Pristina, BIRN, January 24, 2019

The high import tax that Kosovo has imposed on goods from Serbia and Bosnia has been good news for exporters from Albania and Macedonia, data show.

After Kosovo imposed a tax of 100 per cent on Serbian and Bosnian imports, citing their attitude of hostility, Kosovo appears to be replacing imports from Serbia with those from other countries in the region.

Kosovo Customs says Albania and Macedonia have benefitted most since the tariff was imposed.

“Albania’s exports have increased by 39 per cent and those from Macedonia have increased by almost 10 per cent,” Adriatik Stavileci from Kosovo Customs told BIRN on Thursday.

Macedonian media outlet Nova Makedonja reported in December that the Kosovo Customs Administration had said that the volume of Albanian exports to Kosovo had risen by 33 thousand tons, worth 7 million US dollars, compared to the same period in the previous year.

As for Macedonia, according to the Customs Administration, the total value of exports to Kosovo in December/January amounted to almost 171 million euros, up from 156 million euros in the same months in 2017.

BIRN reported earlier that Macedonian businesses expected to make a small, short-term profit from Kosovo’s decision to impose a steep tariff on Serbian imports, especially from agricultural goods.

Kosovo imposed a 100-per-cent tariff on imports from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in late November, just one day after it failed to become a member of the global police body Interpol.

Kosovo blamed Serbian lobbying for this diplomatic failure.

Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj has since said he will remove the measures only when Serbia recognizes Kosovo as an independent state – which Serbia has vowed never to do.

Serbia has not announced any reciprocal measures, however, partly because it imports so little from its former province.

The EU and the US have called on Kosovo to withdraw the measure, partly because it is counter to its CEFTA regional free-trade obligations. They have called also on both sides to restrain from further provocations.