March 24, 2016 | Thursday

EU Talks: What is the impact of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) on the country’s local economy?

The EU Information and Cultural Centre in Pristina organized a panel discussion on the topic “What is the impact of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement ( SAA) on the country’s local economy?”

In this edition of EU Talks, part of the two-month EUICC campaign EU is about Rule of Law and Economic Empowerment, the following panelists participated: Thomas Gnocchi, Head of the Economic and European Integration Section, Bernard Nikaj, former Minister of Trade and Industry and lecturer at the University of Prishtina, Naim Huruglica, expert on the European market and former manager of Kosovo Customs and Besian Mustafa, Director of the Kosovo Investment and Enterprise Support Agency (KIESA).

The discussion addressed many aspects of the Stabilization and Association Agreement ranging from economic to legal issues.

“It is important to note that the SAA is just a tool”, said panelist Thomas Gnocchi. He noted that the impact of this agreement will depend on how Kosovo uses it during implementation. Additionally, Kosovo must fight for the establishment of a stable, efficient institutions. A dysfunctional administration will make it difficult for Kosovo to benefit from the agreement, continued Gnocchi.

Former Minister of Trade and Industry, Bernard Nikaj, stated in his remarks that the SAA will have a deep impact on consumer’s life. Therefore, this agreement must be fully implemented by everyone, both by society as well as by state institutions. In the discussion that followed, many important points defined by the SAA were reviewed, such as trade liberalization, regulatory issues impacting competitiveness, promotion of investments and approximation of legislation.

Naim Huruglica, expert on the European Market, spoke about the impact of the SAA on small and medium sized businesses. Huruglica stated that due to this agreement, enterprises from Kosovo can import raw materials, process products, and then return products to the European market without an additional export tax. Director of KIESA, Besian Mustafa, spoke about increasing opportunities for foreign investments. On behalf of the Agency, he also promoted activities to implement standards for SMEs, which have been established as a result of this agreement.

Kosovo’s SAA is expected to enter into force on 1st of April 2016.