EU and NATO integration and the accompanying reforms, in turn, provide a favourable business environment.
By Miki Trajkovski for Southeast European Times in Ohrid -- 23/10/13
The Global Investment Summit in Ohrid featured potential investors from Australia, Canada and the US. [Miki Trajkovski/SETimes]
Balkan countries are excellent investment destinations and any investments will spur economic growth as well as enhance EU and NATO accession efforts by the aspiring member states, experts said.
Macedonia organised the second Global Investment Summit in Ohrid earlier this month that featured potential investors from Australia, Canada and the US.
Participating companies were presented investment opportunities and the specific business climate in the region.
Such gatherings are an excellent opportunity to analyse the investment conditions in each country and at the same time to promote the region, said Viktor Mizo, director of the technological-industrial development zone in Macedonia, one of several created to attract and accommodate investors.
Mizo said an investment in one country has a positive effect on the others and then, in turn, on the country where the investment was made, prompting Macedonia to make significant efforts to attract investments via "road shows" throughout the world.
"All these companies [in the region that invested] are not isolated from one another and must co-operate," Mizo said.
The EU prefers that aspiring candidate member states are as economically developed as possible because they will strengthen the Union economically, said Sinisa Pekevski, a consultant of the Skopje-based firm SI Communications.
"Investments will also reduce the disparity among certain EU countries in the region that have fed the Union's economic crisis," Pekevski told SETimes.
Indicators from independent financial institutions show Macedonia is offering solutions that are in many instances better than some EU member states, said Vladimir Pesevski, deputy prime minister of Macedonia in charge of economic affairs.
"That way we are strengthening the case that Macedonia deserves to be an EU and NATO member," Pesevski said.
The competitiveness achieved by EU members Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania show the Balkans can achieve their levels of growth fairly quickly if it properly directs investors and resources, said Zoran Martinovski, representative of the International Financial Corporation.
"But that [outcome] requires that we maximally dedicate ourselves to use the opportunities for co-operation and jointly appear on third markets," Martinovski told SETimes.
Kosovo's huge coal reserves that are not fully utilised are a case in point, said Beluq Beqaj, a political science professor at Pristina University.
"[EU aspirant] countries through joint investments can affect the improvement of the energy system that is under development," Begaj told SETimes, referring to a critically vulnerable sector both in the EU and the Balkans.
EU accession will have a positive effect on the regional economies because it will improve competitiveness and reduce costs for entering the Eurozone, investors said.
"Besides information technology and the automotive industries, we should increase the textile, pharmaceuticals and agriculture," Vera Stavroff, board member of Macedonia 2025, an investment fund and one of the summit organisers, told SETimes.
The fund said pledged to invest next year in yet unspecified sectors.
"Investors perceive the EU aspirant countries as one region and that is why we need to think of it as a regional market," said Anastas Duroski, economics professor at the State University in Bitola.
"The states are obligated to such an approach because of the CEFTA regional trade agreement and the agreements they have signed with the EU. But we should take into consideration the differences that exist between countries such as their market size and the achieved progress toward the EU," Durovski told SETimes.
What should Balkan countries do to increase investment in the region? Share your thoughts in the comments section.