IBNA Special Report
Pristina, October 20, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Elton Tota
Although at the start of this year, the government of Kosovo and the government of Albania signed a draft agreement in order to stimulate cooperation and facilitate trade, such thing has not been respected.
Albania has once again imposed barriers on the entry of flour produced in Kosovo. This shows that barriers to do business with Albania continue to exist.
Experts of economic developments say that such problem doesn’t relate to the low quality of flour made in Kosovo, but other reasons.
Head of Kosovo Chamber of Commerce, Safet Gerxhalou says that the blockade of Kosovar flour in the Albanian market relates to the fact that the lobby which controls flour in Albania is very powerful and it has sent Kosovar flour in laboratories which have been well instructed and well paid.
According to him, there are fears that money has been paid in order for the result to show that flour products from Kosovo are contaminated.
The head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo, Arian Zeka, declared that representatives of businesses in Kosovo are not happy, because there have been constant obstacles for the import of Kosovo’s products imposed by Albanian authorities.
Meanwhile, minister of Agriculture, Blerand Stavileci said that this is the last chance to talk with the authorities of Albania, in order not to prevent the entry of Kosovar products.
Institute for Advanced Studies GAP says that the obstacles for the export of the flour made in Kosovo to Albania and misunderstandings between the two states, come as a result of the lack of good communication between the respective governments.
Through an analysis published on Sunday, GAP recommends an immediate creation of joint work groups for the domain of safety and quality of food which would work in order to harmonize legislation.
“On January 11, 2014, government of Kosovo and government of Albania signed a draft agreement in order to stimulate cooperation and facilitate trade. Nevertheless, according to article 2, section A, says that sides must cooperate in order to ‘gradually harmonize legislation and standards in the domain of the safety of food and non food products, the health of plants and cattle’ and such thing has not been done by the two countries. Although the export of flour was going well, the blockade showed that Albania and Kosovo had not harmonized legislation in the domain of food products”, reads the analysis published by GAP.
This analysis further mentions the chronological details that led to this blockade.
According to GAP, the Albanian side had breached that part of the agreement which related to notifying the other side.
According to article 2, section E of the agreement, parties must cooperate in “creating the necessary mechanisms of information and mutual notification in case of products which do not meet the safety criteria and intellectual property”.
Meanwhile, the Kosovo authorities had been notified about the blockade of the export of flour after the concern of Kosovo businesses and not by official authorities of the Albanian state.
Within two years, Albania has blocked the import of flour from Kosovo two times.
Harmonization of legislation in the domain of the quality and safety of food products is essential for commercial exchanges between the two countries. The application of the same standards is more important if we bear in mind the fact that plant and food products bear a significant weight in the commerce between the two countries.
Besides sharing joint historical and national aspects, Albania and Kosovo are two important commercial partners. For Albania, Kosovo is the third importer (7% of Albanian total exports), while for Kosovo, Albania is the second important (15% of total exports). /ibna/