The official delegation of the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia, led by the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of economic affairs, coordination of economic departments and investments, Fatmir Bytyqi, who is on a two-day visit to the United Arab Emirates, after yesterday’s National Day at Expo Dubai 2020, today, in the morning, participated in a business conference held at the Expo itself, which presented the investment opportunities in our country.
The business conference is divided into two panels, and the first panel was addressed by the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, Fatmir Bytyqi, the Minister of Environment and Physical Planning, Naser Nuredini, the Director of the Fund for Innovation and Technology Development, Festim Halili and the Director of the Agency for promotion and support of tourism Ljupcho Janevski, who each in their part presented the opportunities for investing and doing business in our country.
Deputy Prime Minister Bytyqi opened the business conference with a message that the Government sees partners in the business sector and investors to support the development of the economy. Through open and continuous dialogue with the business community in the past few years, strong and honest public-private partnerships have been built that bring results.
“Several years ago, we erased the differences for state support that existed between domestic and foreign companies; all companies operating in North Macedonia are ours and have the same conditions and opportunities for obtaining support from the state. Applying for and receiving state aid is a process that is fully open and transparent. Every company, every stakeholder is aware from the beginning of the support they can expect when investing. This creates predictability and stability for operations in our country and most importantly, creates a good business climate for investors, which erases the borders and puts North Macedonia on the map of countries with the most attractive environment for investors” said Deputy Prime Minister Bytyqi.
“With the concept of establishing Technology Industrial Development Zones, we have attracted more than 35 multinational manufacturing companies with global influence. The main advantage of free economic zones is the combination of fiscal benefits and cash support, although we offer a similar support package outside the zones, which makes us very competitive in the regional market. Based on our Law on State Aid Control and the Law on Financial Support of Investments, we support companies in the manufacturing sector and the information technology sector with various measures that together can reach a maximum of 50% of total investment costs for a minimum period of five years after the investment. In addition, we are focused on reshaping our economy by bringing in better paid jobs and producing more value-added products, supporting 50% of the total investment cost for the company’s research and development centers in addition to the 50% in their general investment in the production line, which means that 50% of the total investment is refunded by the Government. Support packages include 10 years of income tax exemption and personal income tax. On the side of cash grants, we offer 20% repayment of capital investments, as well as a grant for each job created”, the Deputy Prime Minister presented the measures to support investments in production within the FEZs and outside them, adding that the Government makes an effort to make the measures and the process of receiving state aid even more transparent, simplified and more efficient and that is why the creation of the first digital assistant based on artificial intelligence for state aid is in progress.
Referring to the Government’s expectations for the post-covid period, Deputy Prime Minister Bytyqi pointed out that the lessons learned from the crisis period should be used and the Republic of North Macedonia, as well as the entire Western Balkans region to focus on the “near shoring” process.
“The countries of Southeast Europe, especially the six from the Western Balkans, should work to bring the supply chain closer to the borders of the European Union. As remote supply markets have proven to be unsustainable, we need to look at regional competitiveness rather than creating regional competition in order to create a market that compensates for and improves value added due to the proximity of supply chains” said Bytyqi and emphasized the advantages of our country and the region for attracting new investments, which refer to the good geographical location and proximity to the European markets, but also the compliance of the Customs Tariff with that of the EU and the standards that are applied, which are close to the standards of the member states.
The Minister of Environment and Physical Planning, Naser Nuredini, pointed out that the Government stands for its appropriate role as an involved and active participant in encouraging economic productivity, prosperity and growth, while preserving and enhancing our natural environment.
“The Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning of the Republic of North Macedonia will leave the plans for the Government to be responsible and to give a voice to the environment. And our work will be supported by a wide range of environmental regulations. Let me begin with a clear statement that we see the climate crisis as an opportunity for the country to grow and develop, which must go hand in hand with the recovery from COVID 19” said Minister Nuredini and continued “The Government of the Republic of North Macedonia, at the proposal of the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning, has adopted the following goal: in 2030, a 51% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 1990 levels.”
The long-term vision of the Republic of North Macedonia is, added Nuredini, to achieve a prosperous economy with low carbon emissions by 2050, which will follow sustainable development directions resistant to climate change, improve competitiveness and promote social cohesion through actions to combat climate changes and their effects.
“Climate change is largely a challenge to create clean energy and that is why our ambition is divided into sectors and represents a 66% reduction in harmful emissions in the energy sector. This can be achieved mainly through the closure of thermal power plants in Oslomej and Bitola. On the other hand, we invest in renewable energy sources – solar and wind energy, in order to attract private investment. We are working on the realization of a large project for hydropower plants; Namely, Cebren should produce up to 333-458 megawatts (investment of 600 million EUR), and at the same time, we are investing in the gasification of our country, as a transitional solution for faster release of coal. Conversion to gas is planned in Bitola (200 megawatts, EUR 100 million) and in Negotino (600 MW, EUR 300 million), construction of a gas interconnector with Greece and consideration of possibilities for using hydrogen as energy. “The total estimate of investments in the energy sector in the Intervention Investment Plan is 2 billion 644 million euros,” underlined the Minister of Environment and Physical Planning Nuredini.
The Director of the Fund for Innovation and Technology Development Festim Halili, presented the Fund as a leading government institution to support micro, small and medium-sized innovative companies, and the main priorities are to improve access to financial support for innovation, technology development, promotion and encouragement of innovation activity in North Macedonia.
“Currently, FITD, through its financial instruments, has supported over 702 projects with a total investment value of over 87 million euros, with the support of FITD amounting to 50 million euros while companies participate with 37 million euros. As much as 56% of the FITD portfolio, ie 392 supported companies are startup companies, mostly founded by young people,” said Halili and announced that the next challenge for the Fund is to open the first hybrid investment fund of 27 million euros in which the state will invest 10 million euros.
The last to speak at the Government panel was the director of the Agency for Promotion and Support of Tourism, Ljupco Janevski, who presented the potentials for tourism in North Macedonia.
“The Republic of North Macedonia, although a small country in area, has many beautiful natural, historical and archeological sites, UNESCO heritage, the most delicious food and wine and the most hospitable people. We have 43 lakes, 3 of which are tectonic: Ohrid, Prespa and Dojran, 4 national parks (Mavrovo, Pelister, Galicica and Shar Planina), 15 mountains higher than 2,000 meters (the highest peak is Golem Korab with a height of 2,764 meters), 3 waterfalls “higher than 100 meters and the Kokino Megalithic Observatory (from 1800 BC) recognized by NASA” said Janevski, emphasizing that for potential investors there are several tourist development zones available for building hotels, restaurants and camps. In such zones there are numerous benefits for foreign investors: reduced VAT from 18% to 5%, zero VAT on construction materials and construction services. Personal income tax for the first ten years is 0%.
In the second part of the Business Conference, in front of the present businessmen from the United Arab Emirates and other countries exhibiting at Expo Dubai 2020, the representatives of the four largest chambers of commerce presented their work: Victor Mizo (Vice President of the Economic Chamber of North Macedonia), Trajan Angeloski (President of the Association of Chambers of Commerce), Nebi Hoxha (President of the Chamber of Commerce of Northwest Macedonia) and Aneta Antova Pesheva (President of MASIT).