Discusses key economic indicators and trade statistics, which countries are dominant in the market, the U.S. market share, the political situation if relevant, the top reasons why U.S. companies should consider exporting to this country, and other issues that affect trade, e.g., terrorism, currency devaluations, trade agreements.
Last Published: 6/16/2017
  • The Republic of Kosovo is Europe’s youngest country – and one of its poorest – but it has maintained positive economic growth rates, most recently 3.8 percent in 2016.  Kosovo is working to improve the investment climate by strengthening the legal environment necessary to attract and retain foreign investment. 

  • In 2016, the Central Bank of Kosovo estimated Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) at €234.8 million, down from €338 million in 2015.  The unemployment rate is estimated at 27.5 percent.  The difficult labor-market conditions affect youth and women disproportionately and risk undermining the country’s social fabric.  Despite these challenges, Kosovo’s relatively young population, low labor costs, and abundant natural resources have attracted foreign investment, with several international firms and franchises already present in the market.

  • Kosovo’s main trade partners are EU countries (approximately 43.1 percent of imports and 22.6 percent of exports) and its neighbors through the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA – approximately 27.0 percent of imports and 46.6 percent of exports).  Kosovo continues to run a large trade deficit, with exports covering only about 12 percent of imports. 

  • Switzerland was the largest investor in Kosovo in 2016 (€61.8 million).  U.S. investment reached €22.5 million in 2016.

  • Kosovo has much to offer U.S. investors and exporters:

    • Kosovo’s liberal trade regime enables duty-free exports for the majority of Kosovo goods to the EU market.  The Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU has further reinforced trade liberalization and removed many of the remaining trade and tariff barriers.

    • Kosovo’s location in the heart of the Balkans offers easy access to the Balkans and CEFTA members, which represent a market of approximately 28 million people.

    • Improving infrastructure evident by the completion of a modern highway to Albania and a second highway to Skopje, Macedonia currently under construction.  Kosovo’s international airport terminal hosts more than one million passengers a year.  Additional upgrades are under consideration to avoid flight cancellations in the winter months and accommodate larger planes.

    • Kosovo’s young workforce has an average age of 26; most are multilingual (often speaking English and German).

    • Kosovo has competitive labor costs and tax policies.  Kosovo’s average monthly salary of €360 is amongst the lowest in Europe, and the current tax regime is business-friendly with a flat, 10 percent corporate income tax.  VAT rates for basic food items and public utilities are 8 percent, while VAT for all other items is 18 percent. 

  • Kosovo is ranked 60 out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s Doing Business report.  The government is working to improve its ranking by pursuing new incentives for foreign investment, including tax breaks and additional legal protections. 

  • Major foreign investment projects in the near term include the ongoing construction of a €600M highway to Macedonia and the revitalization and the construction of a new 450MW coal-fired thermal power plant.  As a member of the EU-funded Western Balkans 6 core transportation network aimed at improving regional connectivity, Kosovo plans to revitalize key railway lines.

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.

Kosovo Trade Development and Promotion