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PRISTINA (Kosovo), November 22 (SeeNews) – 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 this month in order to protect Kosovo’s sovereignty and interests.
The decision also bans imports of all products which do not refer to the official and constitutional name of the Republic of Kosovo in their labels, the government said in a press release on Wednesday.
The increased import tax comes into force immediately. It will not be applied to products of international brands made in Serbia and Bosnia.
Serbia has blocked Kosovo from enjoying its rights in the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) for a long time, Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj said in the press release.
“CEFTA has not worked between Kosovo and Serbia, and that's a proof,” Haradinaj said, adding that Serbia is also violating Kosovo’s national security.
Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia, Albania, Montenegro and Moldova are part of the CEFTA set up to align their economic and legal systems with the European Union.
Serbia and Bosnia both do not recognise the independence of Kosovo.
“Serbia is continuing its aggressive campaign against Kosovo in the international stage. It is also undermining the normalisation process. To defend our vital interest, the government of Kosovo has decided today to increase the customs tariff to 100%. Further measures to be announced soon,” deputy prime minister Enver Hoxhaj said in a Twitter post.
The decision was not welcomed by the EU.
It is "a clear violation of the CEFTA and of the spirit of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the European Union and Kosovo,” the EU's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini said in a press release on Wednesday.
“It further exacerbates the situation following the initial imposition of 10% tax increase last week. The Kosovo government has to immediately revoke these decisions,” she added.
Serbia is the biggest importer in Kosovo with around 450 million euro ($512 million) of imports in 2017, whereas Kosovo's imports from Bosnia amount to around 82 million euro, according to data from country’s statistical office. Foodstuffs and beverages made up the bulk of Kosovo's imports from both countries.
On Tuesday, Kosovo failed to secure the necessary support for its bid to join Interpol.
Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj expressed “deep disappointment” on Facebook and accused Serbia of fighting a “vicious campaign” against Kosovo’s membership in the international criminal police organisation.
Kosovo, considered to be a potential candidate for EU membership by the European Commission, unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and has so far has been recognised by more than half of the 193 UN member states. It is the only country in the Western Balkans whose citizens need visas to travel to EU member states.
($ = 0.87803 euro)