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Business Forum Montenegro - Italy

15/02/2016

The Forum of Montenegrin and Italian entrepreneurs was organized on February 15, 2016 at the Chamber of Economy of Montenegro (CEM). The event, during which the opportunities of enhancing economic cooperation were discussed, was realized in cooperation with the Puglia-Montenegro Friendship Association. 

Vice President of the CEM Mr. Ivan Saveljic says that the new economic reality requires new business facilities, but a long history of economic cooperation and good mutual understanding can help to perceive and define priorities easier in joint development projects. 

He expresses gratitude towards the Puglia-Montenegro Friendship Association and its president Mr. Riccardo Di Mateo for the commitment on permanent dedication to fostering a common cultural and historical heritage and traditionally close relations between our country and the region of Puglia. The activity of the association and cooperation with it contribute to the preservation of the brightest pages in the history which was written by the Kingdom of Montenegro and a region of Puglia knew how to remember and preserve it.

- Through direct cooperation companies will get even more specific support in economic exchange, finding strategic partners, market analysis, and facilitated access to European funds and financing. The cooperation will enable progress in the transfer of technology and knowledge, and experience in the field of economy, which can help Montenegro on the road to EU membership. Montenegro can follow the Italian model of development in which small and medium-sized enterprises with quality products play a major role – Mr. Saveljic said.

According to him, the Montenegrin enterprises need flexibility and a strong entrepreneurial spirit, mutual association which encourages knowledge and creativity, different forms of learning and adaptation, with a focus on strengthening of competitiveness. Montenegro needs a new investment cycle on the path to self-sustaining and competitive economy. Both Italy and Montenegro, he says, need new projects in order to permanently secure growth since Italy emerge from the prolonged recession after the crisis which hit its economy in 2009, while Montenegro recorded growth of 3.5% in 2015. 

- A stronger engagement in the direction of economic capitalization of the strategic position of the Mediterranean region is to be expected. By building highway in Montenegro and fast railways, China paves a new Silk Road to Europe in whose routes are Montenegro and the Mediterranean. Italy is located in the center of the European Agenda for the Balkans, and Montenegro has become the center of the Italian energy strategy for South Eastern Europe. The Adriatic basin will be more connected by high voltage networks laid on the seabed. The Governments of Montenegro, Croatia, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina have created the legal framework for the project which will connect the trans-Adriatic and Ionian-Adriatic pipeline - he says.

Apart from the planned capital investments in the energy sector, he has added that projects of construction of biomass power plant, works on electricity transmission network and public lighting, micro power station which produce electricity using fermentation of landfill gas and wind farms are expected. 

He reminds that Italy is one of the most important foreign trade partners of Montenegro. In 2015 it occupied the second place in our exports, and it is the fourth partner in the total Montenegrin import. In 2015, total trade amounted to 157.7 million EUR, which is an increase of 4.5% in comparison to 2014. Even though it is limited by the volume, the Montenegrin market is complementary to the Italian, which means that the absorption and production opportunities of two markets are very favorable to each other.

By providing a number of incentives, Montenegro has become a desirable destination for industrial parks in which Italy has already invested in the region.

- There are several dozen of local companies which have products, competent employees, but they are financially exhausted, so they need recapitalization for new technologies and breakthrough in the world. Metal industry is such an example. Montenegro has key competence in metal processing and engineering industry and has the capacity to produce complex sub-components as well which require good engineering and design skills - says Vice President of the CEM. 

Education is another area with great potential for cooperation. Mr. Saveljic reminds that the CEM conducts intensive educational activities and trainings for the acquisition of knowledge and the introduction of quality systems which comply with European standards and the needs of the labor market. The CEM participates in a number of international projects aimed at strengthening the professional competence of small and medium-sized enterprises.

He also points out the potentials in the area of agriculture.

- Montenegro has excellent soil quality, as well as abundant and clean water springs which can be competitive in the production of organic food based on low-technological methods. Production and processing of fish is the investment potential thanks to lower manufacturing costs in comparison to competitors from EU countries. Joint ventures between local and foreign companies should be the main driver of new investments in this sub-sector - he says, adding that agriculture may benefit more from the Mediterranean fruit crops, olives, vines.

Apart from the mentioned sectors, intensive cooperation can be established in the wood processing industry, water treatment, waste disposal and the introduction of quality systems in construction, tourism and other areas. 

- The future of economic relations between Montenegro and Italy opens up many opportunities and requires a lot of strategic work and planning. The CEM will be a reliable partner in realization of your business ideas and projects – Mr. Saveljic says to the businessmen of the two countries.

Mr. Riccardo Di Mateo, president of the Puglia-Montenegro Friendship Association says this Association was established a year ago thanks to the great desire of the entrepreneurs of this Italian region for cooperation with Montenegro.

- The task of this association is to improve the cultural, economic, trade and other aspects of cooperation with Montenegro. In Puglia there are numerous companies which want to invest in this area. The presence of a large number of businessmen at this forum convinces us of the justification for the project of strengthening ties between the two countries – says Mr. Di Matteo.

President of the Chamber of Commerce of Foggia Mr. Fabio Porecca has presented this association which brings together businessmen of northern Puglia and is committed to the internationalization of their business. 

- Puglia is a region with the highest growth in Italy, especially in tourism and agriculture, and in these areas I see opportunities for synergy action with Montenegro. We can transfer the innovation, cooperate in the production of organic food, real estate, as well as in the construction of renewable energy sources. There are plenty of potentials for cooperation. Among the businessmen who are attending the Forum there are those who are interested in developing their own production in Montenegro, since you offer tax advantages for it – Mr. Porrecca says. 

He points out that Puglia can provide support to Montenegro in European integration and help it use pre-accession funds through various projects. Foggia Chamber of Commerce is interested in membership in the Forum of Chambers of Commerce of the Adriatic-Ionian region, and will strive that the Chamber of Commerce of Italy opens a representative office in our country. He invited the delegation of the Montenegrin businessmen to visit this area.

During the meeting Mr. Boris Rebic from the Ministry of Economy and Ms. Jovana Vukcevic from the Capital City Podgorica presented the economic potentials of Montenegro and Podgorica. Possibilities of company cooperation between our country and the Italian regions were presented by Mr. Masimo Mezina, director of the Association of Companies of Foggia, while Mr. Vincenzo Kaldarone, financial expert spoke about the potential of joint activities in the IPA project. 

After that, bilateral meetings of businessmen were held.

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