Worker training, professionalism and up-to-date technology are key ingredients to improving the quality of products for export.
By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 05/10/12
Solid Shpk shoe manufacturer is one of small number of Kosovo firms that export to the EU and beyond. [Reuters]
The Solid Shpk shoe factory in Suva Reka near Prizren became the latest on the short list of Kosovo companies that export to the EU. Solid, which employs 150 workers, exported its first shipment of shoes to buyers in Italy at the end of last month.
"This is a big step," Shefqet Kuci, general director of Solid, told SETimes.
Kuci contrasted Kosovo's position with that of other regional countries that have advanced their presence in the EU markets, and concluded that Kosovo has a long way to go.
"The government must change the fiscal policy to encourage production and find ways to utilise the largely unemployed labour force," he said.
Kosovo companies must acquire the means to produce high quality products, which is why Solid will soon launch a new line of shoes manufactured with the latest technology, Kuci said.
"Kosovo businesses should improve the quality of their products to facilitate the penetration [of foreign markets]," Nora Siqeca, a communications officer for the US Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo, told SETimes.
Worker training, professionalism and obtaining up-to-date technology are key ingredients to success, according to experts.
"Solid focused [to improve] in these segments and managed to get into the foreign market with a 'Made in Kosovo' product, which is exported to Italy, to a prestigious company such as Dei Colli&GEOX," Kuci said.
Jehona Berisha has worked at Solid for 11 years and said the company is serious about achieving success.
"[A]ll production is high quality, whether the raw material or the work to manufacture the shoes. Also, I am happy with the working conditions," Berisha told SETimes.
Production is sorely needed to soothe the woes facing Kosovo's economy, including rectifying a huge trade deficit.
By July, Kosovo imported 235 million euros worth of goods and exported 25.5 million euros worth of goods.
Nearly half of the country's exports are metals and metal-products.
Ferronikel and Trepca remain the leading Kosovo exporters, with the former exporting 9,100 tonnes of metals last year.
New Co IMK, a company in Ferizaj, southern Kosovo, also exports steel tubes entirely to foreign markets.
Its manager, Arianit Vllahiu, said early last month that this year the company is working two shifts to satisfy demand and extend production to domestic markets.
Italy is the largest importer of Kosovo's exports with nearly 23 percent; Kosovo also exports to Germany, Albania, Macedonia and Serbia.