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News 16 Sep 13

Kosovo and Macedonia End Trade War

The border between Kosovo and Macedonia reopened at midnight on Saturday as the  neighbours ended their week-long dispute by scrapping trade restrictions imposed on each other.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Macedonian vice-prime minister Vladimir Pesevski | Photo by gov.mk

All traffic and trade crossings at the main border points at Blace and Jazince returned to normal after the two sides simultaneously scrapped restrictions, the authorities in both Macedonia and Kosovo said on Sunday.

Pristina lifted its total trade embargo on Macedonian products, while Skopje stopped curbing flour imports from Kosovo and other countries and scrapped an entry fee it had imposed on Kosovo citizens and cargo.

“This ends the unpleasant episode of the past few days that started as a result of the Macedonian embargo on the import of certain products,” said Macedonia’s vice-prime minister in charge of the economy, Vladimir Pesevski.

The Kosovo government also welcomed the resolution of the dispute.

“Kosovo remains dedicated to increasing regional cooperation with all countries from the region based on reciprocity and respect. We strongly hope that situations like the one with Macedonia will not occur again,” the government said in a statement.

Both sides spent last week arguing who would make the first move and lift their own restrictive measures.

Kosovo imposed an embargo on Macedonian food imports in response to Macedonia’s imposition of protectionist measures on wheat and flour imports from Kosovo.

But despite Skopje lifting its wheat restrictions earlier this month and saying that it might do the same with flour, the dispute escalated again on September 8, when Macedonia started to impose charges on Kosovo citizens entering the country, demanding two euro per person, five per car and 20 per bus or truck.

As a result, Kosovo imposed a total embargo on the import of all Macedonian products.

Meanwhile, a week ago, the Macedonian association of transport companies, Makamtrans, blocked the border crossings in protest, halting all road traffic.

Kosovo is one of Macedonia’s main trading partners and is one of the few countries with which it has a trade surplus, especially in agricultural and oil products.

Last year, Macedonia exported products worth 392 million US dollars to Kosovo, while importing products worth only 28 million dollars.

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