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Vegetables, wheat and oils are among the most popular products being imported to Kosovo from other countries following the country’s ban on imports from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Kosovo customs officials have revealed a shift in the origin of goods entering the country since the government imposed its trade embargo on 20 July.
Until the embargo was enforced, Serbia had been the dominant importer of many goods, including crops, starches, fats and fertilizer. In the wake of the trade ban, neighbouring countries and those from further afield are filling the void.
In the first week of the embargo, Kosovo imported 78 tonnes of crops from Bulgaria, 49 tonnes from Albania, 25 tonnes from Austria and 4 tonnes from Macedonia.
Croatia led the way with products used in the milling industry, exporting 100 tonnes to Kosovo, followed by Hungary and Austria which both exported 72 tonnes.
The dominant exporters of oils and fats from animals were Bulgaria, which exported 255 tonnes, Greece with 23 tonnes and Turkey with 18 tonnes.
Countries from as far away as Western Europe, Africa and Asia were also exporting. China supplied 400 tonnes of plastic to the country, followed by Germany with 229 tonnes and Macedonia with 224 tonnes. Egypt exported 40 tonnes of fertiliser and Greece exported 864 tonnes.
Meanwhile, local producers have been increasing production capacities to handle increased demand.
Erdin Fusha, who owns ABI Company in the town of Prizren in southern Kosovo, told Balkan Insight he had increased production capacities by 30 per cent following the ban on goods from Serbia and Bosnia.
As well as producing tomato ketchup, mayonnaise and milk products, Fusha’s company also owns a large mall in Prizren, which is also called ABI. The mall used to import between 60 and 70 per cent of its goods from Serbia, Fusha explained, but said now he was importing from Turkey, Macedonia and Albania.
Elsewhere in Prizren, LIRI, a company which produces biscuits and sweets told Balkan Insight it was sourcing honey from more local apiarists.
“The local beekeeper was very happy when I asked him for more honey. We are using 300 to 400 kilograms of honey per month for our products,” manager Liridon Kalenderi told Balkan Insight.
However not all products have been so easy to resource. FATI Company, which sells construction materials in the Dukagjini valley in southern Kosovo, said 90 per cent of goods it uses are produced locally. But some products, are harder to find.
Owner Zeqe Bajrami told Balkan Insight that the only problem construction companies faced since the ban was a lack of bricks, which he said were used for building chimneys on residential properties.
“Construction companies building houses are facing these problems nowadays. Those bricks were imported from Serbia, and for the time being some works have stopped,” Bajrami said.
The trade ban came after Serbia and Bosnia refused to recognise Kosovo’s customs stamps during a dialogue process in Brussels in July.
Serbia banned imports from Kosovo in 2008 after it declared independence.
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