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PRISTINA (Kosovo), December 4 (SeeNews) – The EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn called on Kosovo authorities to consider removing import tariffs on products from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Tariffs on imports from Serbia and Bosnia are unacceptable and against the principles of the Regional Economic Area (REA) and Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA), Hahn said in a video file posted on the website of the European Commission late on Monday, following his official visit to Serbia and Kosovo.
On November 21, Kosovo government said it has decided to increase the import tax on all goods produced in Serbia and Bosnia to 100% from 10% set earlier in November in order to protect Kosovo’s sovereignty and interests.
Hahn also said import tariffs imposed by Kosovo are a serious issue and they cannot stay.
"I am ready to facilitate a solution. I proposed to my interlocutors to focus on trade-related issues in a special forum to find concrete and quick solutions.”
The enlargement commissioner said that the EU perspective is open for the entire Western Balkans region.
“But, of course, linked with obligations. One key priority is regional cooperation and solving open conflicts with neighbours.”
“Therefore we are disappointed about introduction of tariffs on imports from Serbia and Bosnia by Kosovo,” Hahn noted, adding that the move undermines all the good work done and has a negative impact on the whole region.
Regarding the process of visa liberalization for Kosovo, Hahn said he hopes EU member states will decide in a couple of months to lift visa requirements for Kosovo citizens.
Serbia was the biggest importer into Kosovo with around 450 million euro ($511 million) of imports in 2017, whereas imports from Bosnia amounted to around 82 million euro, according to data from Kosovo’s statistical office.
Kosovo, considered to be a potential candidate for EU membership by the European Commission, unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and has so far has been recognised by more than half of the 193 UN member states. It is the only country in the Western Balkans whose citizens need visas to travel to EU member states.
($ = 0.88105 euro)