Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK)’s demand to immediately lift tariffs on Serbian goods has forced Prime Minister Albin Kurti to abandon his plan to phase them out gradually. The lack of support by his coalition partner LDK has pushed Kurti to announce the suspension of his proposal and apologize to the public.
“Today, on 15 March 2020, the 100 percent tariff on raw materials imported from Serbia should have been lifted. This will not happen because my position expressed on 27 February 2020 could not turn into a decision. I am sorry for this. I haven’t been able yet to convince our governing coalition partner, LDK, on what I myself am convinced: the gradual replacement of the tariff with reciprocity is the best, most just and most useful way,” Kurti wrote on Facebook yesterday.
As a result, the tariffs will remain in place until coalition partners LVV and LDK reach an agreement or a broader consensus is found on other options.
Kurti proposed in February a two-step strategy to phase out the tariffs: lifting them on all raw materials from Serbia on March 15—accounting for about 65%-75% of all Serbian goods imported by Kosovo—and lifting the rest of tariffs after two weeks, provided in the meantime that Serbia reciprocates by stopping its derecognition campaign and scraps non-tariff barriers in trade against Kosovo. Kurti intended to implement reciprocity with Serbia in all areas in case the latter did not respond positively within 90 days to Kosovo’s measures.
However, the US administration refused his proposal immediately after, and pressured the government for an unconditional lifting of tariffs. The LDK has supported the US request, resulting in Kurti’s withdrawal from him plan.