REG and USAID/ Washington, USAID Albania and USAID Kosovo organized a “Joint Trade Facilitation Self-Assessment Workshop” in Tirana. More than 50 Albanian and Kosovar public and private sector representatives spent one week in Tirana to discuss both countries’ trade facilitation environments.
USAID facilitated the discussions in order to promote strengthened ties, particularly related to their respective trade environments. As a result of these workshops, each country will produce an individual country report utilizing methodology developed by the World Trade Organization. The self-assessments are intended to help Albania and Kosovo improve the efficiency of moving goods across their respective borders. For Albania, which is a WTO member, the self assessment will also assist with its implementation of the recently concluded WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.
Although there has been significant growth in intra-regional trade among the Western Balkans, the scope of that trade remains limited; regionally, trade as a percent of GDP remains comparatively small. This deficiency represents a significant impediment to growth in the very small Southeastern European economies, where it can be difficult to achieve economies of scale within a single country. Improvements in regional trade would contribute to coordination among these countries in order to achieve the economies of scale necessary to compete in a global market. Trade facilitation issues constitute a major barrier to that desired regional integration. For example, in Kosovo, the cost to export a container is twice that of the EU average; also, countries in the region typically physically inspect between 15-20% of all goods, while the EU average is 5%. These barriers make trade more expensive.