Friday, February 23, 2007

Macedonia seeks to woo investors to "business paradise"

In a bid to increase the amount of international business in Macedonia, the government of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski has launched a promotional campaign aimed at foreign investors. "Invest in Macedonia, a new business paradise in Europe" is the slogan.

Through paid commercials in 50 leading papers and magazines in 35 countries, including 21 EU members, the government hopes to make international investors aware of the business advantages in Macedonia. These include low tax rates, a one-stop shop system for business registration, access to a burgeoning consumer market, 3.1% inflation, and the promise of EU accession.

Gruevski cautions against unrealistic expectations. "We don't believe that after the promotion, investors will just pour into Macedonia," he said. "Our initial goal is to encourage investors to think about investing in Macedonia."

The government also has announced a tender for 20 consultants who will be tasked with placing information abroad concerning business in Macedonia, the prime minister noted. He said the Foreign Investment Agency, whose budget has been increased five times over the past year, would readily provide information for investors through a special phone line.

"I am convinced that this investment the government is making now to advertise Macedonia will only be 1% of the first investment that will come to Macedonia," Gruevski said.

Implementing cadastral reform and overhauling the country's judiciary will also help woo investors and draw more foreign capital to the country, he added.

The promotional efforts are already having an impact, according to the Foreign Investment Agency. "So far, the Agency has received up to 70 e-mails, mostly from US companies that are asking for more detailed investment information," agency head Viktor Mizo said, expressing optimism that the trend will continue.

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