Kosovo is one of the poorest regions in Europe, with Kosovo having a per capita income estimated at 1500 euro (2006).Despite substantial development subsidies Kosovo was the poorest province of the former Yugoslavia.Over the course of the 1990s, poor economic policies, international sanctions, weak access to external trade and finance, and ethnic conflict severely damaged the already weak economy.
Kosovo's economy remains weak. After increases in 2000 and 2001, growth in GDP was negative in 2002 and 2003 and is expected to be around 3 percent 2004–2005, with domestic sources of growth unable to compensate for the declining foreign assistance. Inflation is low, while the budget posted a deficit for the first time in 2004. Kosovo has high external deficits. In 2004, the deficit of the balance of goods and services was close to 70 percent of GDP. Remittances from persons living abroad account for an estimated 13 percent of GDP, and foreign assistance for around 34 percent of GDP.
Most economic development since 1999 has taken place in the trade, retail and construction sectors. The private sector that has emerged since 1999 is mainly small-scale. The industrial sector remains weak and the electric power supply remains unreliable, acting as a key constraint. Unemployment remains pervasive, at around 40-50% of the labour force.
The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) introduced an external trade regime and customs administration on September 3, 1999 when it set customs border controls in Kosovo. All goods imported in Kosovo face a flat 10% customs duty fee. These taxes are collected from all Tax Collection Points installed at the borders of Kosovo, including those between Kosovo and Serbia. UNMIK and Kosovo institutions have signed Free Trade Agreements with Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Republic of Macedonia.
The Republic of Macedonia is Kosovo's largest import and export market (averaging €220 million and €9 million respectively), followed by Serbia (€111 million and €5 million), Germany and Turkey.
The euro is the main currency of Kosovo and used by UNMIK and the government bodies.Initially, Kosovo adopted the German mark in 1999 to replace the Serbian Dinar,and consequently switched to the euro when the German mark was replaced by it. The Serbian Dinar is still used in the Serbian populated parts, mostly in the north.
The economy has been seriously weakened by Kosovo's still-unresolved international status, which has made it difficult to attract investment and loans. The province's economic weakness has produced a thriving black economy in which smuggled petrol, cigarettes and cement are major commodities. The prevalence of official corruption and the pervasive influence of organised crime gangs has caused serious concern internationally. The United Nations has made the fight against corruption and organised crime a high priority, pledging a "zero tolerance" approach.
Kosovo became a member of the World Bank and the Inernational Monetary Fund in July 2009. Membership with the World Bank, an initiative led by Ranjit Nayak, the World Bank Representative in Kosovo since February 2007, has resulted in Kosovo being part of the international financial system and the global market economy. Economic integration is minimal but this will change in the future as it will prepare itself seriously for the European integration.
Porsche Austria has opened a sales branch in Kosovo. Besides Porsche automobiles, other brands such as Volkswagen, Audi and Seat will be sold in Kosovo by the same distributor, due to recognition by Austrin