Kosovo re-launches Serbia trade war

Photo: Albin Kurti

Pristina re-launched on Sunday a trade war with Belgrade by announcing a ban on all imports from Serbia that are not stamped “for the Republic of Kosovo”, AFP reported. The 100-percent tariff on Serbian imports, imposed in 2018 to protest Belgrade’s campaign to undermine global recognition of the former Serbian province, was only abolished on 1 April. The measure lasted mere two months.

Caretaker premier Albin Kurti had replaced the tariff with “reciprocity”, a policy which could see Kosovo match Serbia on import matters. The government issued a statement on Sunday banning all imported products that “deny the independence and the sovereignty of the Republic of Kosovo”. From now, all goods from Serbia will require a reference stating they are “destined for the Republic of Kosovo”.

Belgrade reacted immediately and strongly, declaring the decision “unacceptable”. “We have no intention of pursuing dialogue (to normalise relations) as long as the taxes and reciprocity are not lifted,” Serbian foreign minister Ivica Dacic told national RTS television. “This is unacceptable and goes against all the agreements,” he added. Serbia exported more than 400m of goods annually to Kosovo.

The political situation in Kosovo remains highly uncertain with the country’s top court on Thursday rejecting Kurti’s call for snap polls following the collapse of his coalition in March. The court instead backed a presidential decree asking the left-wing reformists’ rivals to form a new government.

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