EU calls for Kosovo to remove 100 per cent tariffs

Legislation | | MIC Customs Solutions |

Johannes Hahn from the European Union wants Kosovo to remove tariffs it has issued on some of its fellow Balkan states.

European Union enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn has called upon Kosovo to reverse the 100 per cent tariffs it recently imposed on Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, warning they go against the rules of the bloc.

In a video file posted on the European Commission website this week, Hahn said the tariffs are unacceptable and defy the principles of the Regional Economic Area, as well as the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA).

"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," he commented.

Kosovo imposed a 100 per cent tariff on all goods produced in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia on November 21st, increasing the ten per cent levy that had already been applied earlier in the month.

This is despite the fact that this goes against CEFTA, of which all three territories remain signatories.

Kosovo has recently been unable to win enough votes to join Interpol's General Assembly and blamed this on Serbia lobbying against its membership.

Kosovo's ministry of trade and industry said the sanctions were retaliation for Bosnia's refusal to recognise Kosovo-issued documents, which prevented Kosovar countries from exporting to Bosnian markets.

Indeed, neither Bosnia and Herzegovina nor Serbia recognise Kosovo as the independent state it became in 2008, with Serbia holding that it remains Serbian territory.

This has caused issues for Kosovo before, with some multilateral financial treaties and instruments unavailable to it because it is not a UN member.

Kosovo-issued import and export documents are also invalid in some countries, which makes bilateral trade difficult.

The territory has issued similar tariffs before, with the economic reasoning being that they aim to protect local goods and producers.

Meanwhile, Serbia is able to maintain high barriers on trade with businesses in Kosovo because it has technically imposed non-tariff barriers not tariffs, meaning it cannot be sanctioned by CEFTA.

Previously, tariffs issued by Kosovo have been quickly rescinded following pressure from the EU, so it is hoped that this latest round will follow suit soon in the wake of Hahn's comments.