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Macedonia, Great Britain boost economic cooperation through direct contacts

18. March 2011. | 14:32

Source: MIA

Great Britain for the first time this year is in the group of five countries with which Macedonia has achieved substantial trade exchange, however bilateral economic cooperation still lags behind real opportunities.

Great Britain for the first time this year is in the group of five countries with which Macedonia has achieved substantial trade exchange, however bilateral economic cooperation still lags behind real opportunities.

Macedonian economic chambers signed Thursday a memorandum of understanding with nine chambers of commerce from Great Britain in a bid to get to know each other, to improve relations, boost business contacts and realise as many investments as possible.

Tourism, agriculture, steel and food industry are the sectors having the biggest potential for cooperation. Macedonia is particularly attractive because it offers cheap, but highly qualified staff and has the potential to attract British investments.

"Today's meeting of businessmen encourages Macedonian companies to see the opportunities in Great Britain and British companies to learn more about Macedonia. It is not enough only governments to offer support. British chambers here learned about several excellent examples of investments. In Macedonia, there are many British investments and successful examples. This should be presented to our firms in order to speak about their experiences back in Great Britain," said UK Ambassador to Macedonia Christopher Yvon at a press conference held after the signing of the memo.

The goal is, Yvon added, investments opportunities in Macedonia to be presented to British businessmen in order to reach decision on possible investments. "Governments do not make investment decisions, which is why it is important companies to be given a platform and to be emphasised that Great Britain is opened for business," the Ambassador stressed.

Businessmen would like to have a sense of predictability, because investors in fact are taking risks.

"Predictability and stability are crucial - a key factor when companies make plans for the future. EU and NATO membership offers certain standards that boost confidence for investing. However, there are countries that are not members, but can offer a favourable climate for investments. It is true that EU and NATO stimulate investors, which doesn't mean that a country has no conditions for investments if it is not their member. Therefore, investors should visit Macedonia and examine the business climate," Yvon said.

The recent European Commission progress report included several positive messages on the macroeconomic stability and policy, which are an important factor for investments, according to him.

"Businessmen are interested in the judiciary and the effectiveness of administration. These are important areas which governments and the business community should work on. I would like to see that efforts are made in Macedonia as well," said the Ambassador.

Minister of Economy Fatmir Besimi said that only those who communicate can understand themselves and for a business cooperation to happen, interests should be voiced.

"With today's initiative, we're making a step forward. A higher level of communication between business communities is being established. It allows our economic perspectives to be improved, growth to be more dynamic, bigger competitiveness and more jobs to be opened as well as to improve living standards. In order this to be achieved, politics is not enough - communication and making business is needed and these processes can be led by the business community," he said.

Trade with Great Britain in 2010 stood at approximately 5%, compared to previous years when it reached only 1.5%. Nearly 3% of the total foreign investments in Macedonia are from Great Britain and only one percent of the total number of tourist visiting Macedonia are Britons.

"There is great potential for cooperation and an opportunity these figures in the middle term to be at least with two digits. In Macedonia there is potential to make a business and Macedonian product in Great Britain to be competitive," Minister Besimi said.


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