Skopje, 17th February 2014 (MIA) – Domestic companies should intensify cooperation with foreign investors. The benefit will be mutual and enormous, lowers costs for production, transport and import, time saving, exchange of technologies, know-how and skills, greater competitiveness, conquering of new markets, reinvesting, etc.,- Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski told the business community on Monday.

One of the main interests of the country, as Gruevski pointed out, is for the companies to operate more successfully and with higher profits, which will mean an invitation for other companies to invest in Macedonia.

– As a result of our polices for intensive improvement of business conditions, the number of foreign direct investments and companies started to increase, however the level of their business cooperation with Macedonian companies is unsatisfactory and there is room for improvement, Gruevski said at the Forum “Business Networking of Foreign Investors in the Republic of Macedonia with Domestic Companies- Potential Suppliers”.

According to him, there are many reasons for establishment of closer relations and business partnerships between foreign and domestic companies. First step is establishing communication, listening to the needs and requirements of foreign companies, as well as presenting the possibilities and offers of domestic companies.

– Macedonia will be host and will support such process. We remain consistent to the commitments to openness to the business community. Our mission remains the same – doing business in Macedonia should be an easy, fast-growing and profitable process. These circumstances will result in progress and development of each company operating here, Gruevski stressed, adding that working in this country is very beneficial, which should be maximally used.

Referring to the benefits from the greater cooperation, Prime Minister mentioned that the use of services and intermediate goods from Macedonia companies compared to the imported ones means direct reduction of costs for production and increase of value added. – Accordingly, the costs for transport from the more distant countries will be reduced and the costs for customs duties will be avoided, Gruevski said, underlining that Macedonia quality is not worse, however the prices are lower.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Zoran Stavreski urged active involvement of banks and financial institutions in the communication between domestic and foreign companies to end of providing favourable loans.

– What is key is the issue how Macedonian companies can integrate in the chain of foreign companies in a better way, how to turn macroeconomic effects into micro-level, by increasing the value added as a result of the foreign investments, Stavreski said, adding that the GDP growth over 3% in the previous years, including 2013 as well, showed that the effect from the operations of foreign companies in the zones and outside them was evident.

Foreign and domestic companies, as he pointed out, should be compatible rather than rivals to each other. – We should also break the barrier about the foreign and domestic investments, they should be compatible rather than rivals to each other. Foreign companies may help domestic ones to realize higher technological potential, increase the level of technological potential, i.e. to increase the general level of the technological potential in the Republic of Macedonia, the capacity of labour force, the knowledge of employees through spillover effects, starting from the initial process and than through the marketing and sale, Stavreski said.

By pointing out successful examples from the so-far cooperation, Deputy Prime Minister said that last year, EUR 50 million has been generated from the services of Macedonian companies to foreign ones, which is, as he said, significant and encouraging figure. Belgian company Van Hool uses parts and materials produced in Macedonia for the preparation of their buses.

Forecasts are, as he said, that by 2015, the number of employees in foreign companies operating in the free zones, will experience two-fold increase, i.e. the present 6,500 will reach around 13,000.

– Effect on export, which last year increased by 6.6% rate, and the trade deficit reduction is mainly a result of the operations of global companies. They have contributed to creating larger number of new jobs, Stavreski said.

Vice Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Vladimir Pesevski said that the cooperation of domestic and foreign companies should be one of the crucial segments, rather than being of secondary importance. Domestic companies should upgrade the technologies, management, research and development at the required level. This will probably happen in the coming 20 years, however the path must be trodden and the first step must be taken.

– You should use the possibility for cooperation, aggressively approach the companies in the zones, which came and were attracted as fresh foreign investments. Total of 95% their operations is oriented at export. If you manage to become their suppliers and fulfill these standards, it is as if you managed to fulfill 80%-90% of the work on the way to becoming a global company. If you are suppliers of these global companies, you obtain a reference for export to other markets. Salvation of Macedonian industries lies in the export. This is a step in the right direction, Peseveski underlined.

Minister of Economy Valjon Saraquini pointed out that the economic growth does not mean anything if the citizens do not feel the benefits, which is the exact purpose of the Government.

The business event was attended by representatives of foreign companies in Macedonia and the companies – members of the three chambers of commerce.

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