By Miki Trajkovski
The Macedonian government’s campaign to attract foreign investment is paying off as investments begin to materialise and big-name investors continue to visit the country to examine venture opportunities.
“We [hope to] bring [to Macedonia] as many foreign investments as possible, show professionalism, readiness and flexibility to co-operate,” Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Peshevski said.
On Wednesday (July 25th), the government signed a 415m-euro deal with Canada’s EurOmax Resources to build and work the Ilovica gold and copper mine. Last week, the Turkish Cevahir Holding initiated a 300m-euro investment for a luxury residential complex in Skopje’s Aerodrom municipality.
Similarly, Germany’s Lisa Draxlmaier GmbH will join a local partner in a 35m-euro project to produce car parts in a new facility in Kavadarci, which will employ 4,000 people in the first five years.
Within a year, Draxlmaier will build another factory in Kavadarci, which will supply car manufacturer Mercedes.
Officials said Draxlmaier’s choice of Macedonia validates Macedonia’s efforts to create attractive investment conditions — including attractive locations with support infrastructure and amenities — often government-supplied — in the seven technological-industrial development zones as well as expeditious electronic paperwork.
“We are practically giving investors land for free,” Victor Mizo, director of Macedonia’s Foreign Investments Agency, told SETimes.
Analysts said another attractive feature is Macedonia having the lowest taxes in Europe; capital gains and personal income are taxed at a flat rate of 10%. Foreign investors who re-invest the gains are freed from paying taxes.
World-renowned brand companies like Kemet Electronics, Tehnohose and Protek are finishing their factories in the industrial-development zone Skopje 1 — popularly known as Bunardzik — and will begin production this autumn.
Others, like the Belgian bus and industrial vehicles producer Van Hool as well as India’s Montherson and the US’s N to N Fiber, have bought land parcels or are already building facilities in the Skopje 1 zone.
Another aspect of the government’s efforts is bringing in some of the world’s wealthiest investors — including Mexico’s billionaire Carlos Slim, the Emir of Qatar Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and Subrata Roy who heads India’s biggest employer, the Sahara Group — to Macedonia to examine the investment opportunities.
“Their presence has a calming effect on troubled regional economies,” Atanas Dzurovski, professor of public finance at St Kliment Ohridski University in Bitola, told SETimes.
The investors’ visits are followed by company specialists for a closer examination of opportunities which range from developing tourist zones in Macedonia’s primary lakeside destinations — Ohrid, Struga, Prespa and Dojran — to locations for shooting movies.
“The region should view these forays as opportunities because the world’s big players seek to cut costs and seek inexpensive destinations as well as favorable business conditions,” Dzurovski said.
He explained that companies from the Middle and Far East and beyond increasingly value Macedonia for having signed agreements on free trade and market access to the EU.
“It is important to put the region on the map for the global investors. The big-name investors tend to look to invest in the whole region once they have established a beachhead,” Ljube Trpeski, former governor of Macedonia’s national bank, told SETimes.