Vele Samak: We work on projects which should create 1500 new jobs in 2014

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The Minister in charge of attracting investment, Vele Samak in an interview to ekonomski.mk explains the process of attracting investments, talks about plans for 2014.

According to him, two more companies are about to make a investment decision, the outcome should be known by mid-2014, it is about a projects which should create about 1500 new jobs. Samak was pleased with his involvement in the government in the recent years. He says that six of the largest and most visible projects are a result of his direct efforts: Johnson Matthey, Van Hool, Dräxlmaier, Kromberg & Schubert, Marquardt, Kofikab, and several smaller projects.

“It is an export of EUR one billion and nearly 10,000 new jobs, of which nearly 4000 are filled. Of course a little luck is needed despite the professional effort and commitment, to achieve success in attracting investment. We have had cases where many projects did not realize for various reasons. And it could happen again, that is why the luck is a factor, one must be committed to the professional process and consistency to have a greater chance of success”, Samak said in an interview to ekonomski.mk.

Ekonomski.mk: You signed an agreement yesterday with the German Marquardt to build a factory in Veles. What is the investment amount and what benefits are expected?

Vele Samak: Marquardt will invest EUR 35 million in the plant on 15000m2 for production of mechatronic car products. That means products that have a combination of electronics and mechanics. The plant will have three production lines: one for imprinted electronic circuits, one for plastic and molded containers and one for final assembling. The production requires them to employ 1/3 engineers and highly – skilled personnel, and 2/3 less skilled personnel. In this capacity 600 people will be employed in the first phase, the personnel will be trained on the new production of high technology. Marquardt is a leading manufacturer of products for luxury brands like Mercedes, Audi and BMW, and those buyers will have direct contact with Macedonia and Veles. Over time, we expect other local subcontractors in maintenance and servicing of machines and tools, and delivery of some of the components included in the product, to follow up. If you visit their website, you will see that there are many interesting pictures of the type of products that are planned to be produced in Veles. That means EUR 75 million annual exports, or EUR 150 million added value only in the first 5 years.

Ekonomski.mk: Negotiations with the company began five years ago. This means that the decision-making process is very long. What does the process look like from the first contact to the signing of the agreement?

Vele Samak: The first contact usually is informing about their business and industry, sharing experiences, and establishing credibility for future meetings. For them it represents an insight into the knowledge and commitment of government for their firm. Many meetings are required, and the first meeting is important in order to have a basis for the future. Every next meeting becomes deeper and more specific about their strategies, plans, industry moving, exchange of information etc. When they define a particular need for new capacity, as it was the case 2 years ago by Marquardt, these meetings ensure we can be one of the first countries from the start. Then we work on connecting their needs with Macedonia’s supply, so they can be comfortable that the company has a good future in Macedonia. In this case, when Marquardt came into Macedonia, they were very skeptical. But when they saw the experience of other companies, it became clear to them that the risk is much lower. Finally, the negotiations are focused on the detailed conditions that they need, what is offered by other countries, and how to defend the choice of Macedonia before their Supervisory Board.

 

Ekonomski.mk: You participate in the business forums organized by the government, what is the outcome of it?

Vele Samak: The Business forums are a link in the process of attracting investment and marketing of Macedonia.  We spread the message to more businessmen through them, and demonstrate a broad commitment by the presence of a Government team. The effect is seen in the growing awareness among many investors for Macedonia, also through the references and positive experiences that are presented. The reality is that our country is becoming more difficult to be ignored. And that is the effect of all previous efforts at many levels.

 

Ekonomski.mk: What are you working on now?

Vele Samak: Currently we prepare a new agenda for 2014 with direct business forums and meetings. We also have several active projects which should be resolved by mid- 2014. We stand as one of the top two destinations, but that last step of persuasion is the longest and most difficult. It is about projects for 1000-1500 jobs. Along with them, we encourage several communities to work on planning and construction of industrial sites, such as the Mayor of Bitola, Kavadarci, Veles, Kocani, where we had cooperation and investment. It is important for these locations to be prepared ahead because when the investor comes, it is usually too late.

 

Ekonomski.mk: Can 2013 be considered a successful year in investment plan?

Vele Samak: This is a quite successful year, not only for me personally but also for Macedonia. Only in the first three quarters we have over EUR 200 million inflow of foreign direct investment. Together with my cabinet, we realized two projects, Marquardt  and Kofikab. My colleagues also confirmed other projects in Kocani, Kicevo, Skopje, Stip, Demir Hisar etc. Also, we can see more interest in agricultural projects relating to new plantings, collection centers and processing of crops which means a much wider scope of foreign investment in the future.

 

Ekonomski.mk: What do you expect of 2014?

Vele Samak: I expect to continue with the work and to close additional projects throughout Macedonia. All efforts in promotion, persuasion, marketing, development zones, investment in education, innovation support, domestic firms help, improving regulation and administration, are aimed to attracting investment. So I am optimistic for 2014 in this regard.

 

Ekonomski.mk: Are you personally satisfied with your work in Macedonia so far ?

Vele Samak: I am personally very pleased to see that 6 of the largest and most visible projects are a direct result of my efforts: Johnson Matthey, Van Hool, Dräxlmaier, Kromberg & Schubert, Marquardt, Kofikab, and several smaller projects. It is an export of EUR one billion and nearly 10,000 new jobs, of which nearly 4000 are filled. Of course a little luck is needed despite the professional effort and commitment, to achieve success in attracting investment. We have had cases where many projects did not realize for various reasons. And it could happen again, that is why the luck is a factor, one must be committed to the professional process and consistency to have a greater chance of success.

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