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BELGRADE (Serbia), January 3 (SeeNews) - Serbia's exports to Kosovo were completely suspended as of December 31, following a decision by the government in Pristina to increase import tariffs on all goods produced in Serbia and Bosnia to 100%, Serbian trade minister Rasim Ljajic said on Thursday.
Kosovo's decision has resulted in direct damages estimated at 46.1 million euro ($52.3 million) for the Serbian economy between November 21 and December 31, Ljajic said, as quoted in a statement by Serbia's trade ministry.
"Now we can say that trade has been completely halted. There were many appeals from the international community to abolish the taxes, but the Kosovo authorities only radicalised the situation and adopted new measures," Ljajic said.
On November 21, Kosovo government decided to increase the import tax on all goods produced in Serbia and Bosnia to 100% from 10% set earlier that month in order to protect Kosovo’s sovereignty and interests. The scope of the tax was expanded on December 29 to include products manufactured under international brands in the two neighbouring countries.
The decision drew fire from the EU. Johannes Hahn, the EU enlargement commissioner, said the new 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).
Serbia was the biggest importer into Kosovo with around 450 million euro ($511 million) of imports in 2017, whereas imports from Bosnia amounted to around 82 million euro, according to data from Kosovo’s statistical office.
Kosovo, considered to be a potential candidate for EU membership by the European Commission, unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and has so far has been recognised by more than half of the 193 UN member states. It is the only country in the Western Balkans whose citizens need visas to travel to EU member states.
($ = 0.880838 euro)