Pristina's import tariffs did not only harm the trade in the region but also its stability, Bosnia's Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Mirko Sarovic told ministers of the south-east European countries in charge of trade and agriculture who met in Berlin on Monday.
“The customs barriers that Pristina introduced for the goods from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia did not harm only the trade but also the stability of the region because such rash political moves of the Pristina authorities lead to disintegrative processes and overall decline,” said the minister.
Sarovic met German Minister of Food and Agriculture Julia Kloeckner and European Commissioner Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis to discuss the import tariffs that Kosovo authorities introduced for the goods from Bosnia and Serbia.
These barriers in mutual trade of the countries of the CEFTA customs-free zone (Central European Free Trade Agreement) must be immediately revoked in order not to jeopardise the progress, integration and development that the region achieved, the officials concluded.
Free and fair trade, Sarovic said, is essential for the region.
“Lifting the barriers in trade and promoting the cooperation and stronger relations in the Western Balkans incites and speeds up economic growth and development of societies in general,” he said adding that this process has no alternative.
Pristina authorities introduced 100 percent import tariffs for the goods from Bosnia and Serbia in late November last year in response to what Kosovo officials said was Serbia's “aggressive campaign against Kosovo in the international stage.”
The decision came a day after Bosnia and Serbia failed to support Kosovo's membership in the Interpol but this was never cited as an official reason to introduce the taxes.
Last week Sarovic announced an expert meeting of Bosnia and Kosovo representatives, which is hoped to result in the abolition of import tariffs.