Kosovo is one of Europe's poorest countries,
with a great dependence on transfers from abroad.
Unemployment is high and the level of education is low.
B ehind poverty is also war, corruption and
Agriculture and mining have been the basis of the
economy and accounted for the majority of the country's
income and employment. The conditions for both are
really good (large areas with relatively fertile soil
and rich natural resources) but the lack of modern
equipment, money and knowledge has led to poor returns.
The domestic industry is weak and exports are modest.
Major imports by Kosovo, covering a full list of top products imported by the country and trade value for each product category.
The black economy is extensive, although there is no
precise data. In the wake of the war, activities such as
drug trafficking (the so-called Balkan route goes
through Kosovo), cigarette smuggling, prostitution and
human trafficking have flourished.
During the Yugoslav era, Kosovo received large
contributions from the richer parts of the country, but
the infrastructure remained undeveloped. With the
collapse of Yugoslavia, the grants disappeared, and the
war in the late 1990s worsened the economic situation.
Today, Kosovo's economy is completely dependent on the
outside world. The money emigrants send home accounts
for about 15 percent of GDP. International aid has
declined but still accounts for about 5 percent. Among
the countries in Europe, only Ukraine and Moldova are
considered even poorer.
Abbreviationfinder.org: Check this abbreviation website to find three letter ISO codes for all countries in the world, including RKS which represents the country of Kosovo.
Kosovo became a member of the World Bank and the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2009. The country
has received loans under two-year so-called standby
agreements from the IMF. When the corona pandemic broke
out in the spring of 2020, Kosovo also received
emergency loans as the economy was predicted to be hit
hard by reductions in tourism, trade, referrals and
The government says it will prioritize economic
reforms in order to stimulate industry and attract
business and investment. At the same time, the hopes
that an independent Kosovo could more easily attract new
capital have been partly to shame. Foreign investors are
hesitant, much because of widespread corruption (see
Democracy and Rights), whimsical energy supply (Natural
Resources, Energy and the Environment), extensive
bureaucracy and a shortage of educated staff (but at the
same time a low wage level).
Nevertheless, Kosovo has had some successes in its
path towards a market economy. Among other things, the
country, with international assistance, has been able to
privatize most of the state enterprises.
Kosovo is highly dependent on imports and has an
extremely large trade deficit. The value of exports is
only around 12 percent of imports. The most important
export goods are iron and steel. Alongside official
foreign trade, extensive trade and smuggling of drugs,
cigarettes and people continues.
Kosovo joined the Cefta (Central European Free Trade
Association) regional free trade organization in 2007.
As a result, Kosovo is formally bound to comply with
World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations, without
itself being a WTO member. But two of Cefta's members,
Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, do not recognize Kosovo's
independence (see Foreign Policy and Defense), which has
contributed to several "trade wars" with neighboring
When central authorities took control of two border
crossings in Serbian-dominated northern Kosovo in 2011,
Serbia imposed an import ban on Kosovo goods, prompting
immediate countermeasures. The crisis was dampened a few
months later when both parties reached a tariff
settlement. In the fall of 2013, Kosovo and the present
Northern Macedonia introduced trade embargoes against
each other, since the Macedonians imposed protection
duties on wheat from Kosovo.
At the end of 2018, Kosovo first introduced tariffs
of 10 percent on all goods from Serbia and Bosnia - and
then soon increased the tariff to 100 percent. This was
a reaction to Serbia's failure to prevent Kosovo from
joining the international police organization Interpol.
In the spring of 2020, the extreme tariff was lifted,
but not long after that new restrictions were expected,
which are expected to hinder trade exchange.
FACTS - FINANCE
GDP per person
US $ 4,281 (2018)
US $ 7,900 million (2018)
4.1 percent (2018)
Agriculture's share of GDP
8.3 percent (2018)
Manufacturing industry's share of GDP
10.9 percent (2017)
The service sector's share of GDP
53.4 percent (2018)
2.8 percent (2019)
Government debt's share of GDP
17.0 percent (2018)
US $ 2,439 million (2017)
US $ 443 million (2018)
US $ 3,659 million (2018)
- US $ 634 million (2018)
Main export goods
metals, minerals and food (2010)
Largest trading partner
Northern Macedonia, Italy, Albania, Switzerland,