No-one (i.e. no CEFTA member) has informed the organization about the ongoing trade war between Pristina and Belgrade, namely Pristina introducing a 100% higher import tariff. CEFTA also confirms that no complaints regarding this measure have arrived at the organization’s address – says the head of the CEFTA Secretariat, Emir Djikic.
Due to this, Djikic says that this is due to the fact that Pristina views the tariff measures as political, rather than economic. When asked what CEFTA can do in this case, Djikic said: “It would be best for the parties involved to sit down and try to talk to each other in order to solve the existing problems and progress with the implementation of CEFTA and the Multi-Year Action Plan adopted in Trieste.”
The head of the CEFTA Secretariat, headquartered in Brussels, says that what the Secretariat can do and what it does is to urge the parties to “pacify the situation, and act within the framework of the Agreement and through the mechanisms of the agreement to try to overcome the new situation.”
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“The parties have the opportunity to start consultations on these measures within the Joint Committee, they can use mediation or go to arbitration before a court in The Hague if they consider their rights are violated “, explains Djikic.
The CEFTA Secretariat says that so far, in the history of CEFTA, it has never happened that one member country introduced framework measures for the entire customs tariff, as Kosovo has done for goods coming from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In the past, the problems arose mainly due to specific areas of the customs tariff or as a result of the misunderstanding regarding harmonizing a country’s legislation with the EU’s.
They are said to be, in particular, they were specific areas or misunderstandings about harmonizing legislation with the one from the EU.
“Pristina should notify this measure providing it is related to the CEFTA agreement at all, and the other two parties may also seek assistance from us. We will provide, or explain to them, how they can claim their rights under the Agreement and the existing mechanisms for settlement of disputes within the CEFTA. No party involved has done this yet, “Djikic said.
He adds that the next regular CEFTA meeting will be held in Pristina at the beginning of December, which could be an opportunity to resolve this dispute within the CEFTA instruments. However, Serbia and Bosnia have already announced that they will not participate in meetings within the framework of the Free Trade Agreement until Kosovo withdraws its measures.
The Director of the CEFTA Secretariat also states that it is regrettable that the progress achieved within CEFTA in the past has been diminished due to a negative connotation in which the CEFTA is now being mentioned because of the measures introduced by the Kosovo government.
Asked by Tanjug to comment on Albania’s Prime Minister Rama’s recent announcement of a “customs union”, mentioned at a joint session of the Kosovo and Albania governments, the head of the CEFTA Secretariat says he did not understand exactly what does Rama’s idea of “deeper integration” entailed.
“CEFTA is an international agreement that regulates such relations. We have already announced the establishment of different customs unions. The only thing that is valid at this time is the agreement signed by prime ministers in Trieste in 2017 which stipulates the creation of the Regional Economic Zone and that is what we all strive for. This is possible to implement in the region, and then, after that is done, we can enter into a customs union with the EU, which, I hope, is a common goal for everyone,” Djikic concluded.
This post is also available in: Italiano