WASHINGTON, May 18, 2017 — The World Bank is helping to reduce costs for firms in acquiring internationally recognized certifications and product testing, through a new, $15.3 million loan to improve export competitiveness and productivity in Kosovo. The Kosovo Competitiveness and Export Readiness Project, approved today, will help both firms and consumers in the country by supporting product certification for export markets, such as the European Union, strengthening the capacity of export-oriented firms, and reducing the cost of business inspections. These firms, including some 1,500 exporters, will benefit from lower costs for these services, while an additional 150 firms will receive matching grants to assist them in acquiring product certifications and standards, as well as utilizing business development services. These initiatives are designed to directly benefit consumers in Kosovo, who will gain increased protection from low quality products. “Given its small domestic market, increased export competitiveness is essential for growth and job creation in Kosovo.” said Marco Mantovanelli, World Bank Country Manager for Kosovo. “The World Bank is pleased to support the strengthening of product quality certification services to firms and the simplification of the business inspection system.” Exports remain considerably lower than in all other countries in Southeastern Europe, as well as in comparable, small states. Only about 5 percent of Kosovo’s-small-and-medium enterprises are currently exporting and the survival rate of those exporters is low. “The project is designed to help gain international recognition for the quality of Kosovo’s products and support and emphasize the export-readiness of businesses in the country”, said Paulo Guilherme Correa, Practice Manager for Trade and Competitiveness in Europe and Central Asia region. The project will assist the Kosovo Metrology Agency and Kosovo Accreditation Directorate in becoming qualified to sign recognition agreements with the International Committee on Weights and Measures and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation/Accreditation Forum. This qualification can support the sustainability of the Kosovo’s National Quality Infrastructure system. These efforts will help both this system and the country’s laboratories be further recognized in high-value markets, such as the European Union – reducing costs for firms obtaining internationally-recognized testing reports and certificates. The project will also finance equipment, facilitate training, and introduce and improve IT systems to support the Government of Kosovo in reforming its business inspection systems. The loan is a Credit from the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank Group, which is the fund for the countries with greatest development needs. IDA credits are provided on concessional terms with zero or very low interest charge and long repayment periods. The loan has a maturity of 25 years, including a 5 year grace period. The project will be implemented over five years, by the Ministry of Trade and Industry of Kosovo.