President Stevo Pendarovski and President Andrzej Duda, as part of the official visit of the Polish President to the Republic of North Macedonia, addressed today the opening of the Polish-Macedonian business forum, held at the Marriott Hotel in Skopje.
At the forum, in the presence of the two presidents, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Agency for Foreign Investments and Export Promotion of the Republic of North Macedonia and the Polish Agency for Investment and Trade.
The integral text of the address of President Pendarovski is below.
Distinguished President Duda,
Respected representatives of the Polish and Macedonian business community,
It is my honor to greet you on this business forum. We are here with President Duda with a single goal – to support economic cooperation between Macedonian and Polish companies.
We have traditionally good relations with Poland and the Polish people, dating back even before the independence of our countries. During the meetings with President Duda, we concluded that there are no open issues between our two countries, but only open opportunities. We have always had the support of our Polish friends, especially in the process of integration into NATO and the European Union. Good political relations give us an excellent basis to seriously enter the process of strengthening economic cooperation.
Like the rest of the world, we are going through an extremely difficult period. The Covid-19 pandemic has seriously threatened almost every branch of the world economy. The Macedonian economy suffered great losses. Global quarantine has drastically reduced trade between countries. Although this year the relevant institutions predict economic growth for our economy, we still face challenges and turbulence.
In such an environment of uncertainty, it is certain that the post-Covid recovery of national economies depends on three factors.
The first factor is indeed immunization. Both in Poland and in our country, the pandemic has introduced uncertainty in the private sector. Production, trade, transport and tourism were particularly hard hit. The more the population is vaccinated, the sooner the dynamics of economic activity can be restored.
The second factor is cooperation. Just as cooperation and solidarity between countries is crucial to tackling the pandemic, so cooperation between companies is essential to overcoming the economic crisis. Through your successful business results, you create the real value on which the economic recovery depends.
The third factor is investing in future development. Countries that invest in human capital overcome the pandemic much easier; mark faster economic growth and have higher degree of reduction in unemployment and poverty. In this regard, Poland is certainly a positive European example and is one of the few member states of the European Union that in 2020 did not have rising unemployment. As for North Macedonia, at the beginning of my term I initiated the drafting of a strategic framework for the development of the state called “MKD2030”.
The aim of the project is to determine the policies for the development of the country until 2030 and the goals that need to be achieved. The document will assess the country’s strengths in resources and human capital and identify weaknesses where more resources, labor and investment are needed in the underdeveloped sectors. We want “MKD2030” to define the long-term strategy and directions where North Macedonia should focus its efforts, in order to achieve progress and a better life for its citizens.
“MKD2030” focuses on several interdependent topics, such as investment in education, digitization and IT sector, agriculture, ecology and energy, especially the so-called clean energy. Those domestic and foreign companies that will timely invest in the development of these areas in our country will gain a competitive advantage on the Macedonian market in the coming decades. Therefore, I take this opportunity to invite Macedonian and Polish companies to consider possible cooperation in the areas that will be our strategic development priorities.
There are already conditions for increased cooperation. In addition to the agreement for avoidance of double taxation, we also have an agreement for mutual protection of investments. The Economic Chamber of North Macedonia and the Polish Chamber of Commerce have a long-standing formal cooperation. A regular airline between Skopje and Warsaw has been established since 2018, and there are charter flights from Warsaw and Katowice to Ohrid. I am glad that some important Polish companies are already breaking into the Macedonian market. Today we will take another important step in that direction. The Investment and Export Promotion Agency and the Polish Investment and Trade Agency will sign a Memorandum of Understanding that will enable increased dynamics in the cooperation. I expect the business communities of the two countries to use this opportunity and focus on achieving the goals of the Memorandum.
We have industries and companies with quality products and services in the field of agriculture and food industry. We are known for high quality wines that regularly win awards at world wine fairs. In the last few years, Poland is on the high fourth place according to the number of foreign tourists visiting North Macedonia. The cultural and spiritual center Ohrid is an attractive destination for many Poles.
Our cooperation may have a regional component because Poland is a member-state of the Visegrad Group and the “Three Seas” Initiative, while North Macedonia is part of the “Open Balkans”. Our two countries can be a channel for placing products and services on the markets that are part of these regional initiatives.
Our duty as politicians is to create conditions for businesses to cooperate more easily. I hope that this Forum will help for quality cooperation between the companies from both countries. I wish you a successful business meeting and I am sure that you will exchange many ideas and productive thoughts and you will be able to connect in a way that will be beneficial for improving the business climate between the two countries.
We must not wait for better times to start cooperating. Better times will come only if we start cooperating immediately.