Macedonia violates Free Trade Agreement with Kosovo

Prishtinë, 17 July 2007 – Under the pretext of “suspicions surrounding the origin of raw material,” 8 trucks of flour, production of Flour Company “M&Sillosi” intended for export purposes, have been kept blocked at the Macedonian border since 29th of June, Kosovar daily “Koha Ditore” reports.

The daily reads that as the flour was kept over two weeks at the border, company representatives, in an attempt to preserve the flour, were forced to respect the request of Macedonian customs and pay €20 thousand.

According to “M&Sillosi” Executive Director, Adnan Merovci, Macedonian customs officials stated that the regulation foresees the payment of €20 thousand as deposit until the origin is verified. The payment was conducted, but Merovci is convinced that the request for the payment was politically motivated. Furthermore, he fears that his company will encounter such problems in the future as well.

According to economic experts and company representatives, this clearly presents a violation of the Free Trade Agreement. Minister of Trade and Industry (MTI), Bujar Dugolli said he has not yet received any reply from the Macedonian Ministry of Trade or the Macedonian Office in Pristina regarding the issue. Minister Dugolli stated that until there is an official reply, it can be said that the Free Trade Agreement has been violated and if he does not receive a reply soon, he will pursue other ways such as complaining in Brussels.

UNMIK Customs Service Spokesperson, Adriatik Stavileci repeated that UNMIK Customs did respond to the request for the rule of origin and verified that everything is in order.

According to unofficial information the trucks were blocked due to a direct order of the Macedonian Government, brought on by the request of the Macedonian Association of Flour Mills due to the competition on the market.

Head of Kosovo Chamber of Commerce, Safet Gerxhaliu believes this matter should be analyzed explicitly and treated as a very problematic issue that Kosovo will continue to encounter with the beginning of the CEFTA implementation as indeed, this is a big blow to the Free Trade Agreement, reported Koha Ditore.