Speech by Montenegro’s Prime Minister Milo Đukanović at the 3rd meeting of heads of government of China and countries of Cental and East Europe, which took place in Belgrade on 15-16 December 2014
It is my great honour and pleasure to greet you on behalf of the Government of Montenegro and wish you successful work of the important meeting dedicated to cooperation between the countries of Central and East Europe and China. I especially want to thank the Prime Minister of Serbia for excellent organisation of today’s meeting and his traditional hospitality.
Montenegro’s relations with People’s Republic of China and all the countries of Central and Southeast Europe are charactised by high quality cooperation.
Annual meetings of heads of government of the “16 + 1” frmat have already become recognised as transparent ones concentrated on selected, current and business-oriented topics and projects. The initiative was formally established a few years ago, and I am satisfied as we today can talk about concrete and visible results of the cooperation between China and the countries of Central and East Europe.
Since restoring independence, Montenegro has been moving thoughtfully and dynamically towards EU and NATO objectives, fully dedicated to the priorityies of its economic development. By pursuing our policies, together with partners from the international community, we want to transform Montenegro into a fast-growing economy, attractive to investors and entrepreneurs, and to offer our citizens new and better jobs and more secure existence.
Over the last ten years, we have tripled the GDP per capita, and had the foreign direct investment inflow of around EUR 5 billion. The amount of foreign direct investment in our country, measured in relation to the population as a share of GDP, is among the highest in Europe. Having signed free trade agreements, we have become part of the market of over 800 million people. Our tax rates are among the lowest in Europe – the VAT is 19% and the tax on capital gain and income is 9%. According to global competitiveness reports issued by the World Economic Forums, the World Bank and the Fraser Institute, Montenegro has experienced continuous improvements.
Although being the smallest member of this club, Montenegro is one of its most active participants. We have used up nearly 10% of the total amount of preferential loans allocated to the region. We were present and took part in almost all the meetings that were organised on this occasion. Furthermore, we encouraged Chinese companies to invest in Montenegro, as well as our companies to export products to China.
National development plan, in accordance with natural resources, investors’ interest and long-term goals, have set energy, tourism and food production as priority development areas.
Tourism development is an area for which Montenegro has been best recognised in the modern world. According to the World Council for Travel and Tourism, Montenegro is ranked first as to total share of travel and tourism in the GDP ( 8.8% annually over the next ten-year period (2014-2024). Our choice is a high quality and sustainable tourism industry. Planned investments in tourism in the next period amount to nearly EUR 3 billion, which is close to the level of our GDP. This is particularly important given that the year of 2015, within the “16 + 1” format, has been proclaimed as the year of tourism.
Infrastructure is a necessary prerequisite not only for tourism, but also for the development of our country and the entire region. Two days ago, I had the pleasure, together with our Chinese partners, to promote the project of the construction of the Bar-Boljare highway and announce the start of construction of its first section. We are implementing the project with leading Chinese companies – the CCCC (China Communications Construction Company) and CRBC (China Road and Bridge Corporation), with the support of the Chinese Government and the Exim Bank, which has offered favourable loan terms. This is undoubtedly the most valuable Montenegro’s infrastructure project and one of the most important prerequisites for Montenegro new perspective and its dynamic economic progress.
The highway’s construction does not put an end to our efforts related to the transport connection with the region; on the contrary, it is only a beginning. In that context, we are highly interested in the reconstruction of the Belgrade-Bar railway, which will fully valorise potential of the Port of Bar. Reconstruction of the railway is seen as part of a broader concept that continues to the already planned project of reconstruction of the Belgrade – Budapest railway. This will better link Montenegro and the region with European corridors and our Chinese partners will deliver their products much easier.
All energy studies show Montenegro as an energy exporter. Our own production already covers 100% of consumption. We have started implementing several major projects that are set to support our medium-term growth. They include the underwater power cable between Montenegro and Italy, a project being implemented by the Italian Terna and Montenegrin Electric Power System, worth EUR 800 million, which is expected to be completed by 2017, and the construction of the Block II of the Thermal Power Plant Pljevlja worth around EUR 350 million, which will increase production capacity by 30%.The companies shortlisted for the construction of the Block II of the Thermal Power Plant Pljevlja come from member countries of this club.
I believe the result of the summit and recommendations that we have agreed on today will give significant incentive to the improvement of concrete cooperation between People’s Republic of China and the countries of Central and East Europe.
Thank you for your attention!
Source: Government of Montenegro