IBNA Special Report
Pristina, February 19, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Elton Tota
Aggravated relations between Kosovo and Serbia are not affecting in the drop of exports of Serb products toward Pristina. It seems that the economy doesn’t recognize nationalism.
According to the latest statistics, Serb imports amounted to 14%, while surprisingly, Albanian imports amounted to 6%.
The head of Albanian Customs, Elisa Spiropali expressed her surprise about this fact.
“We call each other brothers, but when it comes to commerce, we prefer Serbia over our countries. This is not right and we must do more in order to lift barriers and the mentality that exists between us”, said Spiropali.
Spiropali said that more work should be done in order to remove barriers in the trade between Albania and Kosovo.
“The Albanian-Kosovo joint market is not small and we must look into the possibility of opening these markets. Secondly, the issue of folkloric patriotism. This is not enough. We hear about brotherhood, collaboration, etc., but we must hear more about concrete achievements, attraction of foreign investments and we must make the two countries represent a competitive nation in the region and beyond”, declared Spiropali.
According to her, the trade balance between the two countries is worrying, because only 1,1% of products imported by Albania come from Kosovo.
“Our markets are physically close, but far as far as barriers are concerned. In all the meetings that I’ve conducted with businesses of Albania and Kosovo, I’ve heard from representatives that it’s easier to do business with Serbia than Albania. If we put aside artificial barriers, I believe that this is an issue of mentality. I don’t think that there exists a mutual trust beyond this brotherly spirit that has been announced”, said Spiropali.
Meanwhile, analyst Muhamer Pajaziti told IBNA that Albanians of Albania and Kosovo have been collaborating in the domain of culture, in education and other domains, but collaboration in economy is lacking.
According to him, the creation of a joint economic space or a joint market by lifting all physical, technical and fiscal barriers, would enable goods, services and capital to move freely.
“The lifting of barriers would create more opportunities and it would not allow for goods to be blocked on the border as a result of the lack of paperwork and whatnot. The joint market would be an excellent opportunity for the Albanian consumer on both sides of the border, to choose goods of a higher quality in a larger market of 6 or 7 million people, while companies would circulate their goods in both states, they would boost their activity, number of employees and their incomes”, he says.
Although billions of Euros have been invested in infrastructure, economic cooperation between Kosovo and Albania has not been at a pleasing level. Both countries do not seem to collaborate that much in an economical level and at a time when economic cooperation should grow, it has come to a gridlock.
During this month, Kosovo’s PM Isa Mustafa and the Albanian PM, Edi Rama inaugurated the new customs terminal of Vermica.
Mustafa said that economic cooperation between the two countries reflects the lack of borders between Kosovo and Albania.
“Our economic cooperation and cooperation in other areas, reflects our relations and the fact that borders between Kosovo and Albania do not exist. It also reflects our aim to be integrated in the European Union and to attain all our joint goals as part of the large European family”, Mustafa said.
On his part, PM Edi Rama said that as of today, Kosovo and Albania will have a customs office in Vermica and according to him, this marks the end of double procedures and costs.
But, analysts say that economic relations between the two countries are going through a stalemate. They say that more should be done on substance rather than on form. /ibna/