13th November 2014 (MIA) – Presence of European companies in Macedonia contributes to improving the quality of the overall operations by introducing new technologies and know-how, as well as new management practices and more efficient corporate structure, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said during the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the European Business Association (EBA).
He invited the EBA member companies, as well as all others to invest their potential for successful connection and use of the business opportunities for cooperation enabled by the presence of a growing number of foreign companies in the Republic of Macedonia.
– Government, as so far, will continue to work on meeting the standards in all areas, applying the EU acquis in practice. Our continuous efforts for Macedonia’s accession to the EU and NATO provide assurance to the foreign investors as regards political stability, quality of institutions and development of democratic processes, as well as economic growth. Macedonia continuously preserves macroeconomic stability with low inflation rate, balanced public finances, sustainable level of budge deficit and law to moderate public debt, which speaks in favour of the fact that the economic policies are adequately set, Gruevski said.
This, as he pointed out, contributed for the country to successfully cope with the challenges arising from the global economic and European debt crisis.
– In crisis situation, Macedonia has managed to realize relatively high growth rates compared to both the EU countries and the region, except for 2009 and 2012, as years when the crisis reached its peak, when the domestic economy slightly dropped. Government’s policy has significantly contributed to achieving positive growth, by supporting the economy through capital infrastructure projects and attracting foreign direct investments, Gruevski said, stressing that Macedonia recorded the second biggest growth in Europe in the first half of this year.
He said that it is worth mentioning that all sectors observed growth, in particular industry and export, surging by 16.2%, adding that export from TIDZ reached up to EUR 950 million, comprising more than 30% of the total export from the country.
He pointed out that key contribution to achieving positive growth are the comprehensive reforms aimed at improving the business climate in Macedonia, which has contributed for the country, with total tax rate of 7.4% to be ranked at the 1st place in the world according to the Paying taxes indicator, with the lowest tax burden on the businesses (Doing Business Report 2015).
– EU is the largest trading partner of Macedonia and in 2013, 66.6% of the external total trade was carried out with EU Member States, while in the period January-September 2014, this percentage increased to 69.4%, whereby export to the EU Member States accounted for 77.2% of the total export. In addition, even 85% of the total foreign investments in the Republic of Macedonia come from the EU countries. We expect for this trend to continue in the coming period as well, through the presence of the growing number of European countries in the country, Gruevski said.
He pointed out that one of the key goals in the coming period will be providing support for including larger number of domestic companies in the chain of suppliers of foreign companies investing in TIDZ, in the industrial zones or out of them.
– Thus, the potentials these companies have will be used and jobs will be created, Gruevski said, stressing that the Government provided support to that end by implementing several measures.
He stressed that the favourable business climate in Macedonia was recognized by several European investors opening factories, while some of them decided to invest in additional facilities as well.
– Government will provide all necessary conditions to the interested domestic and foreign investors in open and transparent manner, by which, they will be able to smoothly realize their investment projects. Thus, we remain to be open for cooperating with the business community, Gruevski said.
Chairman of EBA Grigor Bisev said that their Association represents the companies founded by the parent companies in the EU with long-standing tradition and long-term economic interests in Macedonia.
– Investors and companies coming from the EU play significant role in the Republic of Macedonia. We are one of the best ambassadors in promoting Macedonia abroad and in attracting investors and promoting valuable systems and standards in the operations that will contribute to faster economic integration of Macedonia in the EU, Bisev said.
He said that EBA has excellent cooperation with the trade unions and government bodies perceiving EBA as a positive partner, pointing out that Ministers has been always open to listen to the EBA demands.
– Since most of the services and products are marketed abroad, stable economic environment to manage the businesses and fast access to markets are in the interest of all of us.
We also need efficient and stable institutions. This is of common interest for EBA members, as well as all companies in Macedonia and economic policy creators. We, as companies require this so as to perform our functions, and by realizing our functions we create jobs, increase production and thus contribute to improving the living standard and the economic growth of the national economy, Bisev said.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Zoran Stavreski said the growth slowed down in the European economy, this certainly being challenge for Macedonia, since we are highly integrated into the European economy.
– Macedonian economy has yet proved to be resilient and we achieved solid growth this year. Two major pillars of growth are the fiscal stimulus, implementation of various infrastructure projects and export driven by companies in the free economic zones and, to some extent, by domestic companies. The major question is how sustainable this model of growth is and what could expected in terms of next medium-term period, Stavreski said.
The answer, as he pointed out, is that the model is sustainable, but the balance between infrastructure, fiscal stimulus and private sector participation should gradually shift to more role for the private sector and less for the public sector.
– We can make Macedonia more competitive by investments in both human and infrastructure capital. We will continue in the next period as a Government to invest in new roads, railroad tracks, energy infrastructure, completion of the gasification of the national gas network and similar projects. On the other hand, we also need to continue with significant investment in human capital since we want to improve the skills of the labour force and make it more attractive for companies, Stavreski said.
EU Ambassador Aivo Ovar said that EBA has grown into a respectable organization that protects the interests of investors and local companies maintaining at the same time close business ties with the EU countries.
– EBA continuously aims at, now and in the past, on attracting attention to the specific needs of European businessmen, Orav said, adding that it is obvious that the Government of the Republic of Macedonia remains committed to achieving growth and developing the private sector.
He said that what was noted in the latest Progress Report of the European Commission for Macedonia was that the country has a steady progress in the field of economy.
– I am convinced that the Government, in the next period, will do its best to remove these comments in the report. By doing so, more foreign investments will be attracted, additional jobs will be created and export opportunities of local companies will be increased, being important for both you and us, Orav said.