Panel Discussion on Kosovo’s Accession to the WTO: An Assessment of Potential Costs and Benefits

May 4, 2016

On 3 May 2016, the Group for Legal and Political Studies (GLPS) hosted a Panel Discussion on the topic: “Kosovo’s Accession to the WTO: An Assessment of Potential Costs and Benefits”, held at EU Information and Cultural Centre. The aim of this event was to discuss the importance of Kosovo’s membership in the World Trade Organization, with special emphasis on the potential benefits, costs and challenges. At the beginning of the discussion, GLPS presented a Policy Analysis entitled ‘Kosovo’s Accession to the WTO: An Assessment of Potential Costs and Benefits’.  As such, the policy analysis reflects and discusses upon the possible effects of Kosovo’s accession to the World Trade Organization, elaborating in detail the potential benefits that WTO may entail for Kosovo and its trade regime. Among other issues, panelists had the chance to discuss the benefits and costs that Kosovo would face upon its accession to the WTO.  They also highlighted the fact that this is a challenging and time-consuming process, both in economic and political aspects, and there is a need for a full political consensus and a well-established cooperation among responsible institutions during the negotiation process.  Given this fact, the government of Kosovo should highly consider conducting a comprehensive feasibility study which would thoroughly analyze the current situation of the trade market, and which would further review the existing custom tariffs which is very important while negotiating the transition periods and protection of particular products.

“Given the fact that most of the trade volume, around more than 80%, is being covered by the Agreement for Free Trade ‘CEFTA” and the recently signed SAA, one should note that the trade benefits that Kosovo might obtain from the WTO accession will be minimal. However, it should be noted that Kosovo will benefit in other aspects, such as technical expertise, human resource and institutional development, representation in a renowned international organisation such as WTO, and access to more information with regards to technical and non-technical trade developments, in a global level”, stated Ms. Pula, Co-author of the Analysis.

Considering the current political and economic circumstances, the best option for Kosovo is to apply in the capacity of an Observer Country, which would enable the country to benefit in numerous ways, such as institutional and capacity building, access to training and working groups, technical assistance as well as guidance. On the contrary, if Kosovo considers applying for a full membership, such scenario would be followed by several challenges and problems such as: political difficulties from powerful countries such as Russia, China and India, and, among others,  lack of consensus from the WTO member countries.

Panelists:

Mr. Besnik Bislimi – Oversight Committee on Public Finance;

Ms.  Sytrime Dervisholli – Ministry of Trade and Industry;

Mr. Shpend Baliaj – European Investors Council;

Mr. Bernard Nikaj – Trade Expert;

Ms. Erëza Pula – Presenter of the Analysis, GLPS.

Venue:  EU Information and Cultural Centre – “Mother Theresa” Square, Prishtina

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