i vendimeve të Qeverisë së Kosovës

The government approves the initiative for the adoption of CEFTA Additional Protocol 5

03-04-2017 06:27:00

 At the 137th meeting, with the decision no. 04/137, the Government of Kosovo has approved in principle the initiative of the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) for the adoption of the CEFTA Additional Protocol 5. The Ministry of Trade and Industry is responsible for negotiating the provisions of this protocol for Kosovo, while the Kosovo Customs also participates in the negotiation team.

This protocol aims to expand cooperation between member states to facilitate trade as a result of business’ demands operating in all of the member countries to eliminate excessive bureaucratic procedures and to accelerate import and export. According to the WTO, trade facilitation means “the simplification and harmonisation of the activities, practices and formalities involved in collecting, presenting, communicating and processing data required for the movement of goods in international trade.” Accordingly, Additional Protocol 5 is based on the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement which was concluded at its ministerial conference in Bali in 2013.

The protocol does not apply only to customs, but to all other border agencies. Kosovo has taken some steps to initiate the ratification of this protocol by establishing the National Trade Facilitation Committee and by signing a Memorandum of Understanding among border agencies (Kosovo Customs, Agency of Food and Veterinary, Border Police, Kosovo Medicines Agency). The Additional Protocol 5 must be ratified by all CEFTA member countries.

The general provisions of Additional Protocol No 5 are:

-  Simplification of inspecting clearance procedures and the reduction of formalities to the highest extent possible

-  Exchange of data between customs authorities as far as domestic laws permit

- Mutual recognition of the National Authorized Economic Operator Program (OEA) programs of each CEFTA party harmonized with the relevant EU acquis

- Enhanced cooperation between the parties by harmonizing all aspects of customs procedures including the establishment of a single border checkpoint

The protocol provides that countries exchange data electronically and focus on high-risk shipments of high risk shipments while speeding up the procedures of low-risk shipments. Likewise, the parties should establish risk management systems no later than three years after the protocol enters into force. Controls, inspections and notices shall be published electronically on the websites of the competent authorities of each party in the national and English language, becoming part of the CEFTA Transparency Package.

Same as the publication of notices, import and export tariffs, charges and fines shall be published electronically in the national and English language. In addition, the parties must exempt from taxes those goods which are destined for re-exportation within a specified period, when those goods remain unchanged except depreciation.

Procedures related to import, export and transit should be simplified in order to hasten the release and clearance of goods and reduce costs. This is expected to be achieved through memorandums of understanding between all parties for the receipt of electronic copies of customs documents by the authority of that party that has the original.

In addition to these provisions, the protocol also provides the increase of transit freedoms by coordinating payments, legal requirements and their practical operation. However, for the exchange of data within the country or among member countries, the parties are obliged to use the infrastructure particularly built for this purpose, publish them in real time, and keep them confidential and to use them only for this protocol’s purposes.

The Protocol also foresees the possibility of disputes between the parties and provides alternatives for their resolution based on Article 42 of the CEFTA Agreement which provides that “If a Party considers that another Party has failed to fulfill an obligation under this Agreement, and bilateral consultations, mediation or the Joint Committee have failed to arrive at a commonly acceptable solution within 90 calendar days (...) the Party concerned may take re-balancing provisional measures (...)”.

According to an analysis of the GAP Institute on CEFTA, Kosovo is the most affected by the agreement, since Kosovos imports have been consistently higher than exports thus hindering local businesses competing with those in the region. In addition, for exports to Serbia, Kosovo producers should use a third country (transit) as Serbia does not accept Kosovo customs stamps. One of the recommendations of the GAP Institute was to undertake re-balancing provisional measures as provided for in Article 42 of the CEFTA agreement, since all mediation measures within CEFTA had been exhausted, but Kosovo has not undertaken such measures thus far. Meanwhile, after the ratification of this protocol, Kosovo may be harmed again if it shares its own data with the relevant Serbian authorities, but they do not do the same. It remains to be seen whether the CEFTA Joint Committee will take these potential results into account and be more serious in solving such problems.

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