Prime Minister Edi Rama’s remarks at the joint business forum “Challenges and Opportunities”:
I would like to extend a warm welcome to all visiting friends from Montenegro!
I will try to make my address as shorter and as clear as possible, taking notice that whatever we had to say on our part were well-said by my dear friend Duško, with whom we discussed today the imperative for deepening the economic cooperation, mainly focusing on ways to reduce the non-tariff barriers.
The truth is that if we were to put the level of the people-to-people contacts and the political relations between the two countries on one side of the balance scales and the level of the trade relations on the other, we are good at affection, but very poor at trade exchanges. Turning such affection into trade is not an easy process, but I believe that such affection forms very good foundation for developing trade in the conditions of great mutual trust.
I think the first step taken by the heads of our Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the today’s forum that brings together the business communities of both countries represent a significant moment and I’ll invite Vlasimir and Ines that together with other representatives interested in taking part in this process draft and submit a report of concrete recommendations on what you think the two governments should do in order to facilitate the bilateral trade exchanges and what do you expect from each government in order to become more active and invest more in the economic relations.
I would like to affirm my readiness, just like Duško did, to welcome any Albanian potential investor to Montenegro. It is absolutely symmetric and reciprocal even for the Montenegrin businessmen seeking to invest in Albania. Certainly we have made and will continue to make efforts to improve economic situation and the business climate in the country. But I am confident that if we succeed in building a more interactive process between us, we will have the opportunity to learn from you, who live everyday in real life what we say and materialize through legislation in order to learn everything should be taught without wasting time and closely cooperate to address everything that should be tackled in order to boost economic relations which are very poor if compared to the very good human and political relations.
It would have been extremely difficult should the latter would have been complicated, but, fortunately, the political ties between the two countries and the two governments are excellent and they provide the absolutely favourable foundations to further enhance economic cooperation and advance a tradition among the communities on both sides of the border before we were separated during the post-World War II period, which for a long time interrupted this relationship and then the difficult democratic transition of both countries has long delayed the full revival of a history that has been a completely natural story between our two nations and the two communities in both sides of the border.
Concluding, because I believe that the visiting Montenegrin friends deserve enjoying Shkodra on this bright sunny day, I would like to appreciate each and every one of you for attending this forum and I will ask for your permission to invite the Prime Minister and members of your government for a lunch of same level we feasted on while visiting Montenegro.
Thank you very much!
Speech by Prime Minister of Montenegro, Duško Marković:
Honourable Prime Minister, Mr. Rama,
Honourable chairwoman of the Union of the Chambers of Commerce,
Honourable Head of the Chamber of Economy,
Ladies and gentlemen!
The today’s business forum takes place on the sidelines of the joint session of the governments of Montenegro and Albania. This is the first government session of Montenegro with another country. The Albanian government’s invitation to hold a joint cabinet meeting has been seen as an opportunity and excellent mechanism to discuss important issues of mutual interest of the two neighbouring and friendly countries, their citizens and business communities.
The joint session noted a high level of political bilateral relations, especially in the context of the membership of both countries in the NATO alliance, as well as in the process of integration of both countries into the European Union, with Montenegro having already opened 31 negotiating chapters, three of them temporarily closed, and expects to open two more remaining chapters by end of year. Montenegro can and is ready to provide concrete support to the institutions of the Republic of Albania by sharing experiences and best practices in the process of accession negotiations with the European Union.
We also discussed the possibilities of using the EU funding under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance for the implementation of the cross-border projects, especially projects related to the creation of better infrastructural, institutional, social and business relations between the two countries, which is at the core of the joint participation in the Berlin Process.
At the next week’s summit in London, due on July 9-10, Prime Minister Edi Rama and me, together with our counterparts from other Western Balkan countries and the European Union member states, will again be given the opportunity to advocate for the implementation of these measures, aware of the importance of these projects for the overall economy of our countries.
As for the economic cooperation, we have concluded that that its potentials are yet to be fully exploited and that we must do more and create prerequisites to ensure transit mobility and facilitate customs procedures to enable trade and goods exchange in the future.
On my part, I have I have begged with Prime Minister Rama for an urgent solution in the context of the two countries’ membership of the CEFTA Agreement and the World Trade Organization of a long-standing problem which has to do with the non-customs barriers, in particular when it comes to the export of Albanian beers and wines.
The heads of the chambers of economy have raised this issue. I would like to sum it up in one single sentence: Our excellent political and social ties surpass the level of economic relations. Our countries can further advance these relations should they advance the economic co-operation. The potential exists; it is there in front of us and we will make use of it.
Honourable businessmen, I am pretty sure you can explore and develop economic cooperation better than the politicians. We should convey your vision for the economic development of both countries. That’s why you are here in this business forum. What pleases me most is the fact that many of the representatives of the Montenegrin business community operate in the IT sector who have intensified the potential for cooperation with Albanian partners. I would remind you of the opportunity to participate in tenders launched by NATO, because you would be eligible for such tenders once you meet the standards. Montenegro is integrated into the NATO codification system after conducting the testing in the codification system. Since 2010, the Ministry of Defence has provided 160 codes and has codified over 100 products, 60 of them for military needs. For nautical service providers and software firms the codified companies in such sectors should establish cooperation by making use of partnership in the context of NATO membership.
I would like to encourage everyone to further advance the good political ties between the two countries and explore opportunities to achieve your business goals in complementary sectors in order to promote the two countries’ growth.
Montenegro, Albania and Kosovo are three economies in the Western Balkans which have registered a GDP growth in 2017. The Spring Report on Western Balkan countries notes that growth has slowed down for Serbia and Macedonia, while Bosnia and Herzegovina has grown at a similar rate as in previous years. In the first quarter Montenegro recorded a GDP growth of 4.5%, with a GDP of around 4.236 billion euros according to preliminary quarterly data, with a real increase of 3.4%. This growth is primarily attributed to the infrastructure projects, but also to other major tourism and energy projects.
To conclude, I would like to invite Albanian investors to take advantage of Montenegro’s favourable business environment. Your success is our success. At the today’s panel discussion you will be given the opportunity to learn more about the investment opportunities in Montenegro at a local and national level. I would invite you all to express your investment interest via the Montenegrin Embassy in Tirana, or via the economy department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or the Montenegrin Investment Promotion Agency (MIPA), or directly to my cabined. I want to assure that serious investment proposals will enjoy full support of the institutions and the government as a whole.
Dear businessmen, I hope you will identify your chances and develop your cooperation in a positive business climate. This is in the interest of both our countries and our citizens.