Budva, Montenegro (22 October 2015) – Prime Minister of Montenegro Milo Đukanović opened the regional conference on business and competitiveness entitled EU Accession Efficiency and Boosting Regional Conference, taking place today and tomorrow in Budva, Montenegro.
Prime Minister Đukanović spoke about the Western Balkans’ place in the global economic developments and the obstacles to the region’s progress and how to overcome them. He noted that the key to reaching the Copenhagen Criteria, which are the EU requirements for economies and markets of aspiring members, is to establish closer business links across the region. He noted that key to improving the region’s competitiveness and attracting investment is to ensure structural reforms and improvements in the business environment, such as ensuring adequate access to finance, stable and predictable tax policy, and efficient state administration.
The Prime Minister stressed the issue of underdeveloped infrastructure as a hurdle to balanced growth in the region, and noted the overwhelming importance of the Berlin Process of regional co-operation and EU support to projects in this area. He also discussed Montenegro’s activities within this framework, such as constructing the section of the Adriatic-Ionian Corridor and the Bar-Boljare motorway, developing rail infrastructure, and setting up the electrical transmission underwater sea cable between Montenegro and Italy.
Mr Đukanović also mentioned the economic dialogue of the Western Balkan countries and Turkey with the EU within Economic Reforms Programme development as a key policy document of all the countries involved. The areas covered within the programme are in particular social policy, labour markets, education, health, and state administration. He underlined that to raise competitiveness the region needs to upgrade its business environment, absorb latest technology and innovation, and integrate trade.
As a NATO and EU aspirant, Montenegro bases its development path on the processing industry, energy, tourism, and agriculture, PM Đukanović explained. He noted that investment in these areas has led to economic recovery following the double recession in 2009 and 2012, underscoring the growth rates of 3.5% in 2013, 1.8% in 2014, and 3.3% in the first half of 2015, with a projected 2015 growth of 4.3%, up from originally projected 3.5%. He further elaborated that the real sector has sharply recovered and that industrial production grew 9.2% in the first three quarters of 2015 year-on-year.
The Prime Minister noted that SMEs are essential to further growth and boosting employment, adding that the number of SMEs in Montenegro has been growing for the past several years and that unemployment has been reduced to 17.7%.
Mr Đukanović announced that the Government will adopt the Industry Policy until 2020 strategy document by the end of the year, which will be aimed at removing structural and sector misbalances and overcoming the issue of low production basis. He noted that the main intention is to create larger added value in production, i.e. implementing new technologies and innovation as key factors to boosting competitiveness and reducing external trade imbalance.
Source: Government of Montenegro