Kosovo imposes 100-percent tariff on Serbian goods

Pristina (AFP) –


Kosovo imposed a 100-percent tariff on Serbian imports Wednesday, a day after its failed bid to join the international police organisation Interpol.

The massive tariff increase was a response to the "aggressiveness of Serbia against Kosovo by all means", Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj told reporters after the measure was approved in government.

The new tariffs also apply to Bosnian imports -- but not to international brands.

Kosovo's attempt on Tuesday to join Interpol failed to garner enough votes from its members -- a blow to its efforts to boost global recognition of its statehood.

Kosovo's foreign ministry blamed the lack of votes on Belgrade's "abusive" lobbying inside the international police organisation.

On Twitter, Deputy Prime Minister Enver Hoxhaj denounced what he called Serbia's "aggressive campaign against Kosovo". In addition to the tariff hike, other measures would be announced "soon!", he added.

The new tariff is likely to further inflame tensions between the two neighbours, who are under pressure from Brussels to strike an accord if they want to progress towards EU membership.

Kosovo is a former province of Serbia that officially seceded in 2008 after a guerilla war, though Belgrade has never accepted the split.

Earlier on Wednesday, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic had said he would not resume the dialogue until Pristina removed a 10-percent import tariff increase it levied on Serbian goods two weeks ago.

That initial tariff hike has already drawn criticism from the European Union.

So far, it has cut the flow of Serbian exports by half, according to Kosovo Customs.

Serbia is Kosovo's biggest trade partner in the region, with its exports totalling more than 400 million euros ($454 million) annually.

Kosovo says it is recognised by about 115 countries, although it is barred from joining the UN because of vetoes from Serbia's allies, Russia and China.