© 2002 Friends of Bosnia  

The New Economy
One of the bigger challenges to postwar reconstruction in Kosovo is developing an open economy. The war caused major disruption in trade, transport and tourism, with the added challenge of the switch from a communist structure to a global market economy. Kosovo had always been the least developed part of the former Yugoslavia and since 1989, Kosovars were excluded from economic life. The one exception was the valuable Trepca mines. With the mines currently inoperable and under UNMIK control, Kosovo does not have any major industrial employers.

Many Kosovars work as translators or drivers for the staff of UNMIK. There are 15,000 officially registered businesses in Kosovo. The economy is primarily based on agriculture, small shops, cafés, kiosks, restaurants, and street vendors. Many sell black or gray market goods smuggled in to avoid paying import duties. UNMIK has not yet developed an effective anti-corruption unit. Similar to other parts of the former Yugoslavia, the shops are filled with the latest fashions or cheap imitations from Turkey, both being out of reach of ordinary people who have little or no steady income.

Unemployment is still high at 65 percent. Many people we talked to, Serb and Albanian alike, said that if they had a job, the political situation would be better and they might be more tolerant.

Most of the larger factories were publicly owned and run and now their ownership is unclear. Until the future political status of Kosovo is determined, UNMIK is reluctant, however, to privatize industries. What is needed in order for Kosovo to survive is confident foreign investors who are willing to take risks in an unstable environment.





Above: Typical kiosk in Pristina selling cigarettes, soda, and other household goods.
1) Car wash in Pristina. Since there is a water curfew, special licenses are required to use drinking water.
2) Petrol tanks await installation. Tons of petrol has been smuggled into Kosovo.
3) Bootleg CDs sold for 5 DM ($2.50) each are displayed on car hoods and windshields.