Government of Kosovo and European Union discuss trade, industry, customs and taxation, within SAA framework
Prishtina, 6 April 2017 - Developments in trade, customs and taxation, industry, and free movement of goods over the past year were discussed in Pristina today by representatives of Kosovo and the European Commission. The discussion was held in the framework of the 1st meeting of relevant Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) Sub-Committee, which entered into force in April 2016. In all areas, the Commission and Kosovo agreed on the importance of implementing the relevant European Reform Agenda and Economic Reform Programme priorities as well as the recommendations from the Commission’s 2016 Report on Kosovo. As regards trade the parties discussed trade integration and trade balance with Kosovo's main trade partners. Kosovo presented the state of play in negotiations within CEFTA, in particular problems encountered during the negotiations and the agreement implementation. In this context, the Commission welcomed the commitment of December 2016 by the Ministers of the CEFTA parties to deepen regional economic integration as well as that by the Prime Ministers of the Western Balkans in Sarajevo on 16 March 2017 to start working on a proposal for a joint approach to furthering economic cooperation in Western Balkans. The sides agreed to regularly exchange information on the WTO observer status application. The Commission stressed the importance for Kosovo to adopt the laws on Safeguards Measures on Imports and on Trade in Petroleum Products and Renewable Fuels. On customs and taxation the European Commission stressed the importance to complete the organizational structure of the Tax and Customs agency taking into account the cost-efficiency of tax collection processes and to ensure merit based appointment of personnel, and management. Kosovo agreed to regularly publish the implementation report of the National Strategy on Prevention of Informal Economy, Money Laundering, Terrorism Financing and Financial Crimes. On industry and SME policy the European Commission recalled the need to carry out the restructuring of KIESA and further develop its capacities to improve its performance for promotion and support to investment, private sector and SME development. Kosovo committed to prepare an overview of business support services in Kosovo and a needs assessment for their development, to prepare an assessment of the implementation of the Kosovo Credit Guarantee Fund and to develop a concept document for the law on tourism. Finally, on free movement of goods Kosovo committed to increase the capacity of institutions and adopt the laws and administrative instructions, improving quality infrastructure in the areas of standardization, accreditation, conformity assessment, metrology and market surveillance. The European Commission encouraged Kosovo to provide adequate support to the National Council of Market Surveillance Supervision in order to ensure the consistent application of the relevant regulations across Kosovo. Background information • The Stabilisation and Association Agreement is the framework for the EU and the Kosovo administration to regularly discuss technical and policy issues in relation to the European agenda. • The Stabilisation and Association Committee and Sub-Committee meetings are co-chaired by the European Commission and Kosovo. Each meeting results in jointly agreed follow-up actions to be taken by the Kosovo authorities. The conclusions from the meetings will be available soon on the website of the EU Office/EUSR in Kosovo https://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/kosovo_en. There are seven areas covered through sectorial meetings of sub-Committees, on Justice, Freedom and Security; Innovation, Information Society, Social Policy, Education and Culture; Trade, Industry, Customs and Taxation; Internal Market, Competition, Consumer and Health Protection; Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, Food Safety; Transport, Environment, Energy, Regional Development; Economic and Financial Issues, Statistics. Two Special Groups cover the reform of the public administration and normalisation of relations with Serbia. • Each Sub-Committee meeting monitors and accompanies Kosovo's delivery on reforms and identifies how the EU can assist in this process. The meetings also provide direct input into the European Commission's annual reports.