The Serbian Chamber of Commerce recently confirmed for KoSSev that it has been waiting for Pristina to sign the agreed version of the main veterinary certificates for meat and dairy products since November 2018 and that out of 52 veterinary and phytosanitary certificates needed – only 15 have been signed so far. The KoSSev portal later also contacted the Kosovo Food and Veterinary Agency about the issue. Without providing a specific answer, the Kosovo Food and Veterinary Agency indirectly confirmed that since November 2018, there has been no harmonization of certificates and meetings at the regional and central level. The agency also expressed hope that „harmonization of all certificate criteria“ will be done „when the negotiations start.“
After the new Kosovo government recently decided to repeal the reciprocity measure introduced by the previous, Albin Kurti-led, government, the movement of commercial goods in both directions has been functioning without major problems, although much smaller quantities of Kosovan goods are entering central Serbia than the other way around. Trade, however, is still hampered by the lack of harmonization of veterinary certificates, which mostly affects the meat and dairy industry.
The head of the Center for Regional Cooperation of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Aleksandar Radovanovic recently confirmed for KoSSev that, since the beginning of the Brussels talks, only 15 out of a total of 52 veterinary certificates have been harmonized between the Belgrade and Pristina chambers.
The harmonization, however, halted in 2018, after the taxes on goods from Serbia were introduced and the dialogue was interrupted.
Radovanovic revealed that this was the reason why the key certificates were not harmonized, noting that they refer to 80% of meat products, as well as for milk and dairy products, and eggs.
According to him, the certificates in question had already been agreed and the only thing left was for them to be verified by the Kosovo side – which did not happen to date.
In practice it means that Serbian milk and dairy products cannot be obtained in Kosovo in a regular and legal manner – Radovanovic confirmed.
KoSSev portal journalists contacted the Food and Veterinary Agency, seeking an explanation on what is currently happening with the harmonization of veterinary certificates for milk and meat products from Serbia, and a confirmation of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce’s allegations that it is waiting for the Pristina side to return the verified version of the harmonized veterinary certificate.
„When it comes to the recognition of veterinary certificates for meat and dairy products, there are no changes, because meetings at a regional and central level regarding the agreement on integrated border management (IBM) between Belgrade and Pristina have not been held since 2018.“ the Food and Veterinary Agency told KoSSev.
KoSSev failed to get concrete confirmation from this agency on how many certificates have been harmonized so far – despite several attempts to do so.
„The Kosovan and Serbian competent authorities have harmonized several veterinary certificates (raw beef, food, live cattle for slaughter and fattening) and the general phytosanitary certificate,“ they wrote in a subsequent reply to KoSSev’s inquiries.
They said that they have no information regarding the meetings on integrated management of border crossings.
The Food and Veterinary Agency added that all veterinary and phytosanitary certificates have been recognized at these meetings between the parties, pointing out that, until talks continue, they have no information on other recognition procedures.
„The Food and Veterinary Agency does not have any information on other certificate recognition procedures without meetings at a regional and central level,“ they said.
Instead of providing concrete answers to our inquiries, they sent an explanation on what veterinary and phytosanitary certificates are used for – as documents that „guarantee the quality of goods that prevent various types of perishability between countries,“ and that the competent authorities should harmonize certificates “depending on the disease which may exist in the country to which the goods are being delivered.”
„We believe that as soon as the negotiations start both sides will have the opportunity to discuss and harmonize all certificate criteria,“ the Kosovo Food and Veterinary Agency concluded.
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