June 20. 2024. 1:31

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Kosovo boycott of Serbian products picks up steam but imports remain high

A campaign for Kosovo businesses to stop buying and selling Serbian products is picking up; however, the amounts of goods imported by Pristina from its neighbour totalled almost €18 million in 2022 and are not dropping- yet.

Kosovo was a province of Serbia before the bloody 1998-1999 war, which was ended by the NATO bombing against Belgrade, with Pristina declaring independence in 2008. While Serbia does not recognise this independence, the EU facilitates ongoing dialogue to normalise relations.

The ‘Don’t Buy Serbian Products-Besa, Besa’ campaign calls on Kosovo citizens not to empower Serbia and to buy locally instead, ensuring money remains in the Kosovo economy. Some companies have even stepped up to offer free transport of goods to Kosovom, including Eurokoha and Kosovo Airlines, which said it would transport medicines from Germany and Switzerland to Kosovo for free.

“For this purpose, Eurokoha and Kosovo Airlines are ready to cooperate with the relevant state institutions to carry out the free transport of basic medicines to Kosovo. This will be done to supply the citizens of Kosovo with safe medicines from these EU countries. This initiative is implemented as a support to the campaign of the group Besa Bese “Don’t buy Serbian products,” the announcement from January states.

According to Monitor, 13 retail outlets in Kosovo and seven restaurants do not sell Serbian products. The Besa Besa group behind the campaign said that before it was launched in September 2022, only one retailer boycotted Serbian-made goods.

Data from Kosovo authorities noted a trade deficit in January 2023 compared to 2022, to the tune of €291.5 million, but this is not due to a decrease in Serbian imports. it still has the highest import share of 5.1% compared to Albania with 4.6% and North Macedonia with 4.4%.

Furthermore, in January of this year, the number of imports increased compared to the previous year. Total Serbian imports for January were €17,8 million, some €1.5 million more than last year.

In 2022, Kosovo imported goods worth €371.6 million from Serbia. In 2021, Kosovo imported goods worth €305.4 million from Serbia.

(Alice Taylor | Exit.al)