Skopje, 17 June: An attempt by Kosovo to hike customs tariffs on Macedonian products is causing anxiety in Skopje, reads the latest report of London Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR).
Macedonian exporters say they will be hard hit if Kosovo succeeds in its attempt to hike customs tariffs on more than a dozen of the country's products.
"Low transport costs and previously favourable customs rates have made Kosovo highly attractive for Macedonian business. The protectorate, Macedonia's second-biggest trading partner after Germany, is pushing for a tax of 10 per cent on around 15 of the country's main exports, lasting until at least 2010," reads the report.
"Macedonian goods are currently subject to tariffs of just 1 per cent under a free trade agreement signed in 1996 between Skopje and Belgrade. But that agreement expired in 2004 and Kosovo's United Nations administration, UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo], is now insisting the tax is increased," the document reads.
"Macedonia's Chamber of Commerce, which has a representative on the negotiating team working out the new tax regime, worries that higher export duties will make the country's products less competitive in the Kosovo market. Others agree that Kosovo, with its proximity to Macedonia, is too attractive to be abandoned by exporters despite the tax increase," reads the latest report of IWPR.
Source: MIA news agency, Skopje, in English 1220 gmt 17 Jun 05