Jelisaveta Georgieva, Vice President and Executive Director of the Economic Chamber of Macedonia, discusses the Chamber’s main goals. She also outlines the services the Chamber offers to its members, both domestic and foreign.
European Times: Can you describe the Economic Chamber of Macedonia?
Jelisaveta Georgieva: The Economic Chamber represents around 15,000 individual members as well as 20 associations representing different sectors in the Macedonian economy. These include the banking, energy, mining, construction, agriculture and insurance sectors, which are the most prominent ones in the Macedonian economy and create the foundation for other sectors to develop and thrive. In fact, the Chamber unites the country’s biggest private employers and a substantial number of small and medium enterprises, creating a platform where companies can share experiences and learn from one another. Our motto – Membership is power! – reflects our view that only unity can give businesses a strong voice.
The Economic Chamber also cooperates with regional and local chambers, as well as with the Foreign Investors Council, a body representing the majority of foreign investors in Macedonia. The FIC is established within the Chamber, but it has its own management team and operates independently. The ECM is a member of the European Chambers of Commerce, the International Chambers of Commerce, and the Association of Balkan Chambers, of which we are serving as the president this year. The Chamber has signed more than 185 bilateral and multilateral agreements with local and international institutions.
European Times: How can the Economic Chamber help foreign investors?
Jelisaveta Georgieva: Our mission is to help all of our members, both domestic and foreign. We have developed a number of initiatives to connect domestic and foreign companies and have established programmes with several embassies. The Chamber also provides its members with up-to-date information – for example through our award-winning web site — about all issues affecting the business sector.
We are aware that launching a new business in a foreign country is a brave and complex decision, and are therefore always ready to provide companies with tailor-made services, be it in the form of training courses for their employees, analyses or topic-specific studies.
For example, the Foreign Investors Council has working groups formed to serve as bodies where companies with foreign capital discuss possible solutions to common and recurring issues. In January 2015, together with the FIC we published the first edition of the White Book, which puts the conclusions of each respective working group in a nutshell and gives recommendations for solutions to persisting problems.
European Times: What are some of the Chamber’s current projects?
Jelisaveta Georgieva: The Chamber is very involved in educational and training programmes for our members, our staff and local chambers. The Chamber established a department for projects last year and is currently coordinating a project titled “BUILD UP Skills – Builders’ Energy Efficiency Training” aimed at improving the energy efficiency skills of building sector workers. We also collaborate closely with CEFTA countries concerning the elimination of non-tariff barriers. In addition to this, we are working on projects with the Association of Balkan Chambers focused on improving the flow of goods on European corridors VIII and X. One of our key projects is EII: Export, Infrastructure and Investment. Another of the Chamber’s top priorities for the coming five years is to enhance the competitiveness of Macedonia’s economy. Foreign investors should know that Macedonia offers huge potential and the Economic Chamber is the ideal local partner.