A meeting between business community representatives from Albania and Kosovo took place as part of the events in the framework of the seventh joint session of the Albanian and Kosovo governments in the central city of Elbasan today. In his remarks at the meeting, Prime Minister Edi Rama noted that the business meeting is aimed at becoming a tradition for the business communities of both countries to discuss the accords and the intergovernmental discussions.
Prime Minister Rama issued the following remarks:
PM Edi Rama: Good afternoon and welcome! It was my and the Kosovo Prime Minister’s wish to hold this joint business forum, which we are seeking to turn into a tradition with business community – whose role is irreplaceable and partnership with it needs always to be improved – being provided the opportunity to discuss the accords reached during the meeting the two governments and discuss the continued joint efforts.
I would briefly comment on the current panorama. It is worth highlighting the positive fact that the trade exchanges between our two countries have pursued a constantly upward trend, but we believe that there exists a much greater potential and in addition to what the business should do, it is our duty to ease trade exchanges, business activities and interaction between businesses in the two countries as much as possible.
A good part of the agreements we signed today are designed to tackle the need to further simplify and streamline the bilateral exchanges, the joint transit and customs clearing procedures.
It is a process between the customs administrations we have launched several years ago, but a joint action plan is now needed to implement the transit procedures in Kosovo’s Customs Administration office at Durres maritime port regarding the Kosovo-bound goods, a process already launched since January 2019. In the meantime, this process needs to further improve. What I can say – and I am glad to affirm it – is that since the very first contact and after the initial more structured meeting as part of my visit to Prishtina in September, together with the Prime Minister agreed to attach high priority to this issue as part of the work of the two governments, while the two administration will intensely work to screen all the problems concerning implementation of the agreements we have signed over the past few years, as well as the issue of the transit functionality of the Kosovo customs office in Durrës and these two joint acts between our two customs administrations ensure a 100% implementation of the entire transit regime, with a significant cost reduction for Kosovo businesses transiting their goods via Albania.
In the meantime, on the other hand, we believe that another agreement we signed today to ease trade between the two countries will also further streamline the entire customs clearing procedures for goods.
I will not take more of your time, but I would rather focus on the fact that carrying out the procedures and / or controls on goods bound for free circulation, final destination the use of the customs territory of this country by the customs staff of this country, will be located near the customs areas of the host country.
This is a long-standing demand forwarded by the business community and it will be finally tackled. In the meantime, customs export procedures on goods, fruits and vegetables will be drastically streamlines based on the mutual recognition of the phytosanitary certificates and we will actually fulfil the legitimate request of every exporter of these delicate goods from point A to point B, so that no double checks are conducted and the wait time is significantly reduced.
We have also agreed on the mutual recognition of the licenses of the customs agencies and their registration with the relevant customs authorities, so that conducting the declaration of transit operations in the territory of one republic or the other is a unified procedure and includes the recognition or providing necessary guarantees for potential debt generated under this regime.
We have agreed to establish the customs office of the Republic of Kosovo in the customs area of the port of Durres and Porto Romano and then, during the process, the establishment of offices and other agencies of the other party in the customs area, in the customs territory of the host country. I believe this is positive news.
We are aware that progress has been made regarding the non-tariff barriers, but problems are still encountered and there are actually ongoing problems emerging in the form of non-tariff barriers, significantly influencing cost of export-bound products and this discouraging maximum exploitation of the potential between the two countries.
We have discussed every issue, starting with the scanning, which is a serious problem, but a double scanning will be conducted in this case, representing another reason for concern for business, and finally, after having discussed this issue in Prishtina too, the reduction of scanning process from 100% to 10% only has been reflected on the customs administration’s electronic system and scanning is applied based on risk and indeed positive results have now begun to be yielded in cutting the goods processing time.
It might sound somehow ridiculous, but I will reveal it as it is one of the problems we need to tackle is the mutual recognition of the leaden seals. For years now, it has been a problem for us to recognize another country’s customs leaden seal and therefore tormenting wait time at the border is caused as businesses have to wait for authorities to imprint autochthonous leaden seals. So, this is another concrete measure and the customs agencies have been instructed to solve the declaration issue prior to the arrival of the simplified export declarations.
I am not going to take more of your time as there are actually a range of other aspects, but I am concluding by announcing the final mutual recognition of the veterinary and phytosanitary certificates. This has been really a serious problem, because in addition to the problem with the EU that refuses to integrate our sheep, we too have to integrate the sheep of each other and it is an exaggerated problem for us to face same problems when we transport sheep and other animals from Albania to Kosovo and vice-versa. This problem is ultimately solved through the mutual recognition of the veterinary and phytosanitary certificates for products of animal origin, as well as non-animal products and plants, but we are talking about those of animal origin that pose the biggest problem, and will be under a liberalized regime. So, if you obtain the certificate in Kosovo, that very certificate will be valid in Albania too and you will no longer be obliged to apply for an Albanian passport or vice versa for the animals.
These are all I had to say. I am giving the floor to the Prime Minister to provide a probably more conceptual panorama, because I went over the details, thinking that such details are after all part of your everyday activity and no matter how minor they may sound they are all part of the everyday activities we are seeking to further ease. If we make it easier for the enterprises and the flow of goods between the two countries, it would definitely be translated then into more trade exchanges, as well as more benefits for the citizens, the consumers of all these products.