Endrit Shala, Kosovo’s Trade and Industry Minister, ordered the trade inspection to prevent import and selling of products with tags which, he said, violated the Constitution and laws, the Beta news agency reported.
The prohibited labels read: "Kosovo and Metohija" (Serbia’s name for Kosovo), "Kosovo UNMIK" (UN administration) and "Kosovo Resolution 1244" (UN Resolution passed after the 1998-1999 war).
The move followed the November 6 Kosovo Government’s decision to introduce 10 percent tariffs on goods imported from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina violating the CEFTA agreement.
Kosovo’s Trade inspection later found out that some of the largest retail chains were selling the goods with the labels which they said were contrary to the Constitution and laws and Shala demanded from Kosovo Customs to stop the import of such labelled products.
He did not specify which countries exported the goods with such labels to Kosovo.
The November 6 decision triggered protest from Belgrade and Sarajevo, and the trade ministers of the two countries refused to take part in the CEFTA meetings in Pristina.
The European Union also reacted, demanding Pristina’s explanation and immediate abolishment of the import taxes, but without any success.
In the meantime, Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic said that Pristina imposed the higher tariffs to destroy the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and prevent a compromise solution. He said that “someone needs Serbs and Albanians to be in constant latent conflict which will turn into open conflict.”
Although the Pristina government has not explicitly explained the move, it is believed that the decision comes in response to Belgrade's diplomacy offensive to pressure countries into rescinding their recognition of Kosovo's unilaterally declared 2008 independence from Serbia.
Asked to comment on the decision, Kosovo's Deputy Prime Minister Enver Hoxhaj said last week that the decision was made "in order to prevent Belgrade from financing campaigns against Pristina," and added that "decisions like these protect the interests of Kosovo, its sovereignty, territorial integrity, and above all, it protects its businesses."
Serbia's Trade Minister Rasim Ljajic said Belgrade could not introduce any retaliating measure since Serbia’s import from Kosovo was insignificant.
Over the first ten months of 2018, Serbian exports to Kosovo were worth €360 million, mostly in processed food, cereals, and construction material. On the other hand, Kosovo exported €23 million worth of goods to Serbia - primarily fruits and vegetables, wine, and leather products.