Bypassing the manufacturing sector hinders the country’s economic development

Prishtina, January 29, 2021 – As a sector that ensures job creation and meeting of local demand, manufacturing is one of the most influential pillars of the economy, however, it is facing many challenges. Due to the nature of their activities that cannot be carried out remotely, the measures that restricted free movement during 2020, have not allowed the development of this sector.

During the virtual forum, organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo, representatives of manufacturing companies shared their experiences on how they have handled the declining market demand, delays in approving state financial aid, and the political instability during the pandemic period. They also discussed the measures and policies that must be implemented by the incoming Government to ensure the recovery of this sector and of Kosovo’s economy.

Lorik Fejzullahu, Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Birra Peja, and also a member of AmChams Board of Governors, spoke about the need to improve trade relations with the region and Custom processes. Fejzullahu also addressed the issue of dumping, which continues to harm local producers, while strongly recommended and called on the Government, and other relevant state institutions, to increase the promotion of local products in creating and implementing clear policies to protect local producers. Fejzullahu also stressed that in order to ensure economic empowerment and the proper interaction between businesses and politics, a fiscal economic council comprised of business representatives must be established.

Arbnore Musliu-Kunushefci, Finance Manager at Eurometal, stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has deepened the impact of already existing issues they face in their production activities, especially on Value Added Tax (VAT), which negatively affects the attraction of, both, local and foreign investors. She further stressed that despite these challenges, exports to other countries have been the main source of revenues during this period and that local lawmakers must also take into consideration small companies, in identifying their needs and provide the necessary support.

The owner of Elsa Group, Brahim Selimaj, underlined the impact of the production sector on the state coffers, as well as, the need to further strengthen cooperation within the manufacturing community. He also stressed that bureaucratic procedures and barriers should be addressed by representatives of relevant sectors and return state focus on the economy and its development. He added that the cooperation between Kosovo and Albania on trade relations should be strengthened further.

Teuta Kurshumlija, Exports Manager at Stone Castle, and also the moderator of the forum, stated that the incoming Government must prioritize the production sector and address unfair competition and low prices of foreign products in the Albanian market, which makes local products less appealing.