In an interview for IBNA news agency, professor of Economy and Marketing, Hamez Rama talks about the problems and challenges that Kosovo businesses face. According to him, businesses in Kosovo have difficulties in penetrating regional and international markets, because they there’s a lack of the implementation of standards for quality products. Rama also talks about the most profitable sectors in the country and the strategy which must be implemented for the reduction of trade deficit in Kosovo
IBNA: What are the problems and challenges that Kosovo businesses face in their efforts to penetrate international markets?
I think that there are very few Kosovar businesses who have penetrated in foreign markets, because their competitive ability is very low when it comes to the chemical-physical structure of the products which are manufactured in Kosovo. There are many problems and the most specific ones are:
-The high cost of production (inputs from import),
-Lack of information from foreign markets (human and financial capacities for research are lacking),
– The external environment is very complex and unknown,
– The high cost and the inability to implement ISO, HCCAP, CE standards,
-Problems with barcodes during the launch of new products in these markets,
– The lack of support for experts by the government of Kosovo, etc.
IBNA: What is the most advanced production sector in Kosovo?
I think that Kosovo has very good sources in agriculture, especially vineyards, production of wine, fruits, etc. Kosovo also has other sectors: minerals, energy, construction, tourism, etc. Even before the war, Albanian population in Kosovo have constantly faced layoffs, arbitrary measures by state owned companies and their only way out was to open new businesses. This trend has continued even today, because commerce doesn’t need many investments. Agriculture is the most advanced sector in Kosovo, because it has the biggest potential of employment. The state has offered significant support, but at the same time it also requires a bigger support from this sector.
IBNA: How much are Kosovo manufacturers working in the domain of design and marketing?
Production and service companies from Kosovo are doing very little in implementing marketing concepts. Why? Because we’re lacking:
-low business awareness on the necessity to apply marketing concepts,
-lack of financial/budget means for marketing,
-lack of ideas and creativity for the development of marketing activities in design, promotion and sales.
IBNA: Have the EU funds for the Balkans yielded the necessary results for the development of agriculture?
During its transition period and after the proclamation of independence in 2008, Kosovo has been in need of direct foreign investments. Then, the launch of IPA1 and IPA2 funds have yielded results, but not as many as we would have wished for, because application procedures are complicated, while Kosovar businesses lack professional capacities to make these proposals and fill in the application forms. These funds have helped agriculture to improve technology and the quality of products and make them more competitive in international markets.
IBNA: Where must Kosovo’s economy focus in the future in order to make progress in the domain of exports and to reduce trade deficit?
-Increase investments in agriculture,
-Exploit every area of land which has not been worked,
-Offer more grants for agriculture,
-Promote the export of Kosovar products,
– Develop the best macro-economic policies for enterprises,
-Support marketing concepts and promote products outside of Kosovo,
-Fight informality and corruption, etc.