Albania to renegotiate free trade agreement with Kosovo

Prishtina, 27 January 2004 – The Kosovar daily Koha Ditore reports that last Tuesday the Albanian business community informed the Ministry of Economy of Albania about the problems relating to the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Kosovo and Albania. In a meeting aimed at analysing the effects of free trade, Albanian businessmen requested renegotiation of some items of the FTA. They claim the agreement does not take into consideration the real needs of Albanian producers.

Albanian Minister of Economy, Anastas Angjeli, told Koha Ditore that, ‘The FTA between Kosovo and Albania started successful implementation in October and it has its effects. But at the same time we are witnesses of problems which should be avoided, so that both parties have a greater benefit.’

Luan Bergasi, president of Albania’s Trade and Industry Chamber told Koha Ditore that renegotiation of conditions would be requested for 12 products.

Koha Ditore further reports that the possibility to renegotiate the agreement was acknowledged by the EU Pillar, but added that this could be done only after one year of implementation.

‘It is possible to change the annexes of the agreement by the two signatories, i.e. UNMIK and the Council of Ministers of Albania. The usual way to do this is through discussions in the Joint Commission foreseen under the FTA. Of course exploratory talks can take place beforehand, but they are of unofficial nature. UNMIK Pillar IV would need to be involved for a change of the agreement, as this is part of foreign relations,’ Andreas Wittkowsky, a Pillar IV official was quoted as saying.

In closing, Koha Ditore reported that Angjeli and Bergasi, together with a delegation of 40 businessmen would be visiting Kosovo Monday and Tuesday. They would meet with Minister of Trade and Industry Ali Jakupi, PM Rexhepi and Pillar IV Head Nikolaus Lambsdorff.