8 Nisan 2011 Cuma

Kosovo calls on Turks to invest in Balkans

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Kosovar minister of economy and finance calls on the Turkish government and businessmen to focus on trade in Balkans in cooperation with the young country. ‘The highest taxation applied to foreign investors is only 10 percent. We would like to see more Turkish investors coming and investing in Kosovo,’ Minister Shala says as he suggests the two countries work together toward creating a free-trade zone
Turkish President Abdullah Gül (3rd left) received a warm welcome during his Kosovo visit in February.
Kosovo is willing to host a free-trade zone incorporating Balkan countries including Turkey, according to the Kosovar minister of economy and finance.

“As a young country, Kosovo presents various investment opportunities in sectors such as agriculture, food processing, construction, textiles, IT, automotive components and energy and mining,” Minister Ahmet Shala told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review in an interview.
“We are interested in such an agreement and have already discussed it with Turkish authorities. We are ready to negotiate and make this happen,” he said.

Shala said a free-trade zone similar to the one established between Turkey, Jordan and Syria could trigger a rise in the region’s trade volume.

The minister said that if Turkey came up with such an offer they would like to negotiate the matter and take part in such an agreement in the future.

“Turkey always supported us before, during and after the war, and now we would like to integrate more and work collaboratively for a better future with Turkey,” he said.

Already a member of the Central European Free Trade Agreement, or CEFTA, with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, and Serbia, Kosovo also benefits from non-reciprocal, customs-free access to the European Union market based on the EU Autonomous Trade Preference, or ATP, regime.

Targets $10 billion FDI in 5 years

Talking to the Daily News on Thursday, Shala said: “We want to attract more foreign direct investment in the construction sector, to build roads and residential areas as well as energy projects. I assure all investors that Kosovo will be the land of lowest taxation in Europe it will enable them to grow and contribute the Kosovar economy.”

“The highest taxation applied to foreign investors is only 10 percent. We would like to see more Turkish investors coming and investing in Kosovo.”

Kosovo tries to maintain the best policies in order to attract foreign direct investment to build up the infrastructure that has been run down by many years of poor investment. “We expect to reach $10 billion [in foreign direct investment] in the next five years. For Turkey this amount is not a lot, but for Kosovo it is a great target for the upcoming years,” Shala said. “Related with foreign direct investment, our priorities are infrastructure, energy and schooling. We are ready to ease all the bureaucratic hurdles for potential investors in agriculture, tourism, and mining.”

Noting that a quarter of Kosovars speak Turkish and there is no visa requirement for Turkish citizens to enter the country, the minister said, “I believe the cultural and historical ties we have had for centuries will contribute greatly to expanding our trade volume with Turkey.”

In March, during the minister’s official visit to Turkey, Zeki Çalışkan, the chairman of the Turkish-Kosovar Business Council, which is a unit of Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board, or DEİK, said, “Kosovo recorded growth of 5.4 percent last year, even in the time of global crisis.

 “Kosovo has the potential to be the new Switzerland of Eastern Europe and Turkish investors should consider the rich opportunities of the country,” he said.

Projected Turkish exports to Kosovo are slightly down from last year’s total of $279.4 million, and 2008’s nearly $278 million. In the first six months of this year, Turkey has exported nearly $127 million worth of products to Kosovo.

Trade with other Balkan countries 

According to the Turkish Statistical Institute, Turkey’s total export volume to Balkan countries, including Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, was estimated at $10.8 billion for 2008.

With the effects of the global crisis, total exports to these countries dropped to $6.9 billion by last year. In the first half of the year, Turkey exported $3.4 billion worth of products to Balkan countries. As well, Turkey imported $3.4 billion worth of goods from Balkan countries last year, well down from $4.5 billion in 2008.

Last month, Turkey agreed to set up a free-trade zone with three Arab countries – Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. According to BBC News, trade between Turkey and all 22 members of the Arab League has more than doubled over the past five years, totaling just under $30 billion a year.

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