The Association of Balkan Chambers is a non-political and non-governmental organization aiming at assisting the business activities on the Balkans. Its founding members were the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Turkey and Serbia, later joined by Cyprus. Membership is open to all Balkan Chambers who accept its statute.
The main priorities of ABC are: development of co-operation among the business communities in the Balkan region, as well as with third parties; encouragement and support of activities aimed to structural changes in the economies of Balkan countries with the view of the accession to EU; initiation and implementation of global interest projects for the Balkan.
"How to do business with Germany” – seminar within the cooperation of the Project ABC-DIHK in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Within the cooperation of the Project ABC-DIHK, Foreign Trade Chamber of Bosnia and Herzegovina on October 21, organized one day seminar on the topic "How to do business with Germany" with the following subtopics:
Seminar was held by Mr. Hatto Brenner who by good selection of topics and practical advices gave to the present companies a complete picture of the possibility of doing business with Germany. Given his knowledge on Bosnia and Herzegovina, he pointed out existing resources and possibilities of cooperation in the field of wood and metal processing, wine production, organic food, etc. He invited companies to present their potentials to the German and international markets.
On behalf of the Project mr. Edward Schwartz, Liaison Officer, addressed to the present giving information about the activities and the role the Project has had till now.
Along with the representatives of the companies, the seminar was attended by Mrs. Milan Lovrić and Petar Milanović, vice-presidents of the Chamber.
International Investment Forum in Romania organized by CCIR
On the 27th-29th of October, the capital of Romania has hosted THE INTERNATIONAL INVESTMENT FORUM – an important event in the economic life of Romania and of other SEE countries. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania organized and hosted the event having as official partner the Romanian Agency for Foreign Investments and as partners the German Program for Economic and Labor Development in Romania, the American Chamber of Commerce in Romania, bilateral chambers of commerce and industry.
The event entitled “ The future of foreign direct investments – national or regional?” gave the guests – agencies of investment development and similar organizations from both countries with EU membership and south eastern countries – the opportunity to present the conditions they offer the potential investors in the areas of business in their countries. The forum aimed at some main objectives as: giving the foreign investors a clear message about the continuous development of the Romanian business environment in the effort of meeting the European standards in the field, attracting foreign investments in Romania; the comparative description of central European countries as a potential target for national and regional investments; supporting the Romanian investment projects; supporting the online commerce and payment tools; the introduction of new technologies; drawing the attention of the business environment on intellectual property and copy right; supporting investment partnerships and business development; supporting certain economical areas with development potential; presenting the development opportunities offered by the Romanian real estate market .
The program included plenary sessions, round tables on subjects like the experience of central and SEE countries in drawing foreign investments as UE members; environment protection; intellectual property and consumers protection – national and European regulations, competition and state aid, sources of credit/finance. The forum introduced a very important practical element - networking - a business mission and visits to investment objectives in the Ialomita County.
CCIR awards INVESTOR OF THE YEAR IN ROMANIA in 2004
The second edition of the “ INVESTOR OF THE YEAR-2004” Awards took place at the headquarters of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania (CCIR) on the 27th of October. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania in collaboration with the county Chambers of Commerce organized the event with a view to supporting remarkable investments made in 2004 at a national level. The competition aimed to support the success cases in the business community and to convince companies to introduce development strategies based on investments.
In the “Greenfield investment” category, the trophy was won by Saint Gobain Glass Romania; the award for “Investment in privatization” went to SC Distrigaz Sud s.a and SC Griro s.a. SC automobile Dacia s.a, SCR- Serviciile Comerciale Romane group and SN Nuclearelectrica s.a won the trophy for “Investment for development”. The award for “ The investment that created the largest number of jobs” was given to SC Romania Cable Systems s.a. The special awards given on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania went to the companies: SNP Petrom and Kaufland Romania SCS (excellence in investments in SEE and the diploma for excellence in business).
BCCI Organizes Bulgarian-Turkish Business Forum
A session of the Bulgarian-Turkish Business Council was held on October 4th. The event was attended by the Bulgarian-Turkish Business Forum, organized by the Chamber on the occasion of the official visit of the State Minister of the Republic of Turkey Kursad Tuzmen to our country. Representatives of over 100 Bulgarian and Turkish companies operating in the fields of textile, building, tourism, wine-production, devices for oil and gas processing for the home and foreign market, white goods, etc., took part in the forum.
In his welcoming speech to the participants the Minister of Economy and Energy Rumen Ovcharov said that Bulgaria backed the European perspective of Turkey and is ready to share its experience on the difficult way, which the Turkish business has to go to the preparation for accession.
BCCI president, in his turn, appealed to both ministers to consider the problems related to the infrastructure and the Bulgarian-Turkish border control in their talks.
Yalcin Egemen – Chairman of the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey, presented forthcoming investment projects of Turkish entrepreneurs in our country such as the building of the third plant of Sisecam and the building of housing estates. He said that they are interested in Haskovo, as a developed agricultural region and situated near the neighbouring country.
Delegation of the Economic Chamber of Macedonia in business visit to USA
A business delegation from the Economic Chamber of Macedonia, led by President Branko Azeski, from 24th to 30th October, 2005 ralized a working visit to USA. In the first part of the visit the businessmen together with government delegation, led by Prime Minister Buckovski, participated at the opening ceremony of the Macedonian Embassy in Washington, and in New York business meetings scheduled for upgrading the economic cooperation and investments in the Republic of Macedonia including the talks in AmCham in Washington.
Central business meeting was presentation entitled "Investing in Macedonia" on October 27th, 2005 on which were presented the investment potentials in four key areas: electric power, ecology, telecommunications and infrastructure. Addresses in front of the government representatives and potential American partners had the Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, Mr. Vlado Buckovski, President of the Economic Chamber of Macedonia, Mr. Branko Azeski and the Minister of Economy of the Republic of Macedonia, Mr. Fatmir Besimi.
Macedonian - Swiss Business Forum
In organization of SIPPO (Swiss Import Promotion Programme) and in
collaboration with the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of
Macedonia, on October 19th, 2005 in Zurich was held the Macedonian
-Swiss Business Forum.
Source: Economic Chamber of Macedonia
Awarded the first Certificates for Patronage in Macedonia
The Economic Chamber of Macedonia in its efforts to expand the assortment of services offered to its members, similarly to the other chambers with voluntary membership in the developed West European countries, has elaborated a Project: " Economic Chamber of Macedonia Patronage". The President Branko Crvenkovski awarded the first certificates of patronage on the festive occasion of the promotion of the last year's most successful companies in Macedonia.
"According to the world's trends the chambers are organized and function as contemporary business centers. A great attention and numerous forms of actions are devoted to the members. The patronage is, certainly, among the firsts. It means care and attention, common interests and support in the walk towards the European economic courses and relevant chamber's organization" - said Branko Azeski, President of the Economic Chamber of Macedonia, on the ceremony of certificates awarding.
The objective of patronage is to offer the members, in package, various kinds of services that would be used for a longer period of time, in continuity. The package, among others, comprise placing of the company's logo in the weekly Chamber's Biznis Info, in the monthly magazine Biznis Medium, as well as in all the meeting rooms within the Chamber; establishing link on the Chamber's web portal; providing information through Eurochambres and the International Chamber of Commerce; lobbying for the company's needs; providing presence on business forums and business lunches or dinners of special interest for the company.
Romania moving closer to accession
Romania is on track to join the EU in January 2007, says the Commission's 2005 monitoring report. However, accession in 2007 remains conditional on further urgent progress in reforms.
According to the Commission's 2005 monitoring report on Romania that was presented by Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn in Strasbourg on 25 October, Bucharest "continues to meet the political criteria" for EU membership.
Regarding the political requirements, "Romania continues to meet them". In the field of public administration, Romania needs to improve the quality of legislation and improve impact assessment. "There has been little progress with regard to the concept, pace of implementation and effectiveness of the reform of the civil service", the report notes.
In the judiciary field, Romania has taken "decisive steps" to improve the situation on media freedom, property restitution, the rights of the minorities and child protection.
In the economic area, Romania "continues to comply" with the criterion of being a functioning market economy. The country has "broadly maintained macro-economic stability", notwithstanding that simultaneously macro-economic imbalances have widened.
According to the report, Romania should
Bulgaria to receive eur 33 m for cross-border cooperation with Greece, Romania and Turkey
At its session, the European Integration Council (EIC) approved projects under the PHARE programme for 2005 related to cross-border cooperation with Greece, Romania and Turkey. They amount to EUR 33 m.
EUR 20 m of the funds will be channelled into cross-border cooperation with Greece, EUR 8 m – with Romania, and EUR 5 m – with Turkey. Bulgaria’s financial participation consists of co-funding under the projects with investment component. For the cross-border cooperation with Greece it amounts to EUR 4,050 m, with Romania – EUR 2,05 m, and with Turkey – EUR 950 000.
The funds will be channelled into the improvement of transport infrastructure, employment, social policy and education, environmental protection, economic activity and cross-border relations on local level through a joint fund for small People-to-People projects.
The projects mainly aim to enable social and economic cohesion and the development of neighbouring countries, encouragement of employment in border areas, improvement of cooperation and contribution to stability and security, strengthening public and cultural relations.
Source: Bulgarian Government
Bulgaria to receive a EUR 7 m grant under the phare programme for cross-border cooperation with Macedonia and Serbia and Montenegro
A total of EUR 7m will be granted to Bulgaria under the PHARE programme for cross-border cooperation/ the Neighbourhood Progamme with Macedonia and Serbia and Montenegro. This is established by the two approved financial agreements between the government and the European Commission.
The programme is mainly intended to enable border efficiency and security, improve the sustainable socio-economic development, and enhance local cross-border cohesion. The EU’s Neighbourhood Programme was launched in 2004.
To improve its cross-border cooperation with Macedonia, Bulgaria will receive EUR 3m, and with Serbia and Montenegro – EUR 4m.
The funds will be channeled into encouraging sustainable regional development and enhancing economic activity and cross-border relations on a local level through people-to-people projects.
Bulgaria’s financial participation is expressed in national co-funding of Bulgarian projects with an investment component. For the projects with Macedonia – the funds amount to EUR 0,580m, and with Serbia and Montenegro – to EUR 0,827m.
Source: Bulgarian Government
Poll: Most Romanians wary of EU integration
The majority of the Romanian public believes that the country's European integration is bound to bring more drawbacks than advantages in the short run. According to 56% of the respondents to a fresh survey, in the short run Romania's EU integration will bring more drawbacks than advantages. However, in the longer term 68% of those asked believe that the advantages will prevail.
The researchers have found that while 39% of the Romanians are worried about their country's European integration, 33% are highly optimistic. EU accession is appealing primarily because it holds out the promise of a higher standard of living (39%) and free travel across the continent (30%). Only 2% said that European integration will improve the country's democratic standards.
In addition, 68% expect significant price hikes, 16% fear from a massive increase of unemployment, and 13% believe that EU integration would have a detrimental effect on their national identity.
Every other respondent expressed strong need for information about the EU accession process, and the researchers found that television had the highest potential for reaching the citizens.
The survey was commissioned by the Delegation of the European Commission in Romania and was conducted by the market research company IRSOP in late June 2005.
SAA talks to start with Serbia and Montenegro
The European Union is to start negotiations "at the earliest opportunity" with Serbia and Montenegro on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement. EU foreign affairs ministers unanimously decided on October 3 that the European Commission should now commence talks, in view of the "substantial progress made by Serbia and Montenegro" - and to coincide with the October anniversary of the democratic uprising in 2000.
The opening of these negotiations marks the first major step towards closer EU relations with Serbia and Montenegro, said EU ministers meeting in the General Affairs and External Relations Council in Luxembourg, and, they said, it demonstrates commitment to implementing the agenda that EU leaders set out at their Thessaloniki summit in June 2003, which emphasised that "the future of the Western Balkans lies in the EU". "A stable and prosperous Serbia and Montenegro is vital to the future of the region", they added.
The speed at which Serbia and Montenegro moves closer to the EU "will depend on how quickly it adopts and implements the necessary reforms and conforms to the Copenhagen criteria [the EU's conditions for EU accession] and requirements of the Stabilisation and Association process", said the Council, highlighting the development of a legislative framework, adequate administrative capacity, the effective implementation of the constitutional charter, and full co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The Council and Commission intend to jointly review Serbia and Montenegro’s performance in these areas before negotiations conclude.
Olli Rehn, European Commissioner for Enlargement, welcomed the Council's go-ahead for talks on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement. "This agreement will deepen our economic and political relations, and forge a contractual bond between the EU and Serbia and Montenegro. It is the result of major reforms in the country. This move forward proves that together we can make tangible progress", he said. He will go to Belgrade on October 10 to
Brussels – The European Union’s enlargement process is clearly back on track following yesterday’s historic decisions regarding Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro and Turkey.
Beyond that, this is also an important signal to the whole of the Western Balkans, that the entire region will be part of the European Union, Special Co-ordinator of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe Erhard Busek said a day after the Foreign Ministers meeting in Luxembourg (4 October).
Decisions by the EU to open the delayed negotiations on Croatia’s membership of the EU and to start negotiating the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Serbia and Montenegro next week are historic in every sense. The European Commission’s opinion on the membership application of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will add to this new dynamism in the region.
“The prospect of EU membership is the driving force behind the much needed reform process in the region. Now that this perspective has been clearly reiterated by the EU, the countries in the region must demonstrate their commitment to the EU enlargement process by intensifying their efforts to meet the membership criteria,” Special Co-ordinator Busek said.
He added that “regional co-operation is the fundamental basis of the EU and therefore one of the key elements that must be addressed in the run-up to future EU integration.” The EU has stressed this on a number of occasions, as regional co-operation among the countries of the South Eastern Europe will prepare them for the much larger regional co-operation network that they will join.
The Stability Pact will continue to assist the countries to meet this important membership criteria and thereby expedite their progress in this complex enlargement process.
European financial institutions to place new investments in Serbia
Belgrade, Oct 10, 2005 – Head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s Western Balkans Office Claudio Viecoli said today that, by 2006, this institution will invest nearly €450 million in the Balkans, €250 million of which will go for the development of Serbian infrastructure.
Speaking at a seminar on infrastructure and logistics as part of a
two-day conference themed “Days of Italy in Belgrade”, Viecoli said
that, in the last five years, the European Bank for Reconstruction
and Development (EBRD) has invested approximately €3 billion in the
countries of the Western Balkans region and around €750 million in
source www.serbia. sr.gov.yu
Bulgaria Joins SEE Common Energy Market
The biggest energy market in the world has now been established with the signing of the agreement. There would be more than 500 million consumers in that community.
In the words of the Minister Ovcharov the liberalization of the market will influence the prices and would also result in improvement of the services.
As of 2015 all consumers will be able to pick their suppliers from each country from Southeastern Europe.
The Energy Community of South Eastern Europe (ECSEE) has brought together ten countries of South Eastern Europe (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and the United Nations interim administration mission in Kosovo.
By forming an energy community, the countries of South Eastern Europe will be adopting for themselves the community acquis in terms of energy, and community provisions in terms of the environment and competition.
At this stage, the ECSEE will concern gas and electricity, but the Treaty contains provisions allowing it to be extended to other sectors and energy sources (particularly oil) and other infrastructures (telecommunications and transport).
The member countries of the ECSEE will, therefore, apply the basic rules of market opening, as adopted by the Council of the EU in its second package of liberalisation measures of 2003, for gas and electricity (all citizens will have free access to suppliers, no later than 2008 for industrial consumption, and in 2015 at the latest for householders).
Тhe ECSEE will have a standing high-level group, a Secretariat in Vienna and regulatory bodies in Athens.
Source: Bulgarian Government
Established the Group for oil derivatives, natural gas and lubricants usage in Macedonia
In the scope of the activities of the Macedonian Energy Association
- MEA, in the Economic Chamber of Macedonia on October 13th, 2005 is
constituted the Group for oil derivatives, natural gas and
Source: Economic Chamber of Macedonia
Standard&Poor’s Upgraded Bulgaria’s Credit Rating
Standard&Poor’s credit agency raised Bulgaria’s credit rating of June 2004. The Agency announced that it raised its long-term foreign currency sovereign credit rating to 'BBB' from 'BBB-'. At the same time, the long-term and short-term local currency sovereign ratings of Bulgaria were raised to 'BBB+/A-2'.The foreign currency outlook is positive. The local currency outlook is stable.
The upgrade reflects the ongoing reduction in the general government debt burden, underpinned by the maintenance of prudent fiscal policy. The upward rating momentum is also supported by Bulgaria's impending EU accession, which will help to lock in structural reforms and pave the way to Eurozone membership, Standard&Poor’s credit analysts explained.
Despite the June 2005 general elections and the costs of recent floods, the government is expected to post a fiscal surplus in the region of 1.5% of GDP in 2005. Another small surplus is expected next year, reducing the debt burden to 30% of GDP. The burden is expected to continue declining in medium-term perspective, despite the additional spending demands triggered by EU accession. Thus the current account deficit will probably rise to an estimated 10% of GDP in 2005, and will decline only moderately next year, weighing on Bulgaria's already weak external liquidity indicators, the analysis of Standard&Poor’s reads.
Net foreign direct investment will cover the bulk of Bulgaria's current account deficit in 2005 and is expected to stick to this trend in coming years due to dynamic greenfield investment.
The economic growth trend of about 5% a year is supported by the improvement in the competitiveness and the increased local demand. The Central Bank introduced measures aimed to slow down crediting rise, which for the last three years has been 45%.
The funding of current account deficit will be more difficult if capital flow decrease, but this is highly improbable in the context of Bulgaria’s reasonable macroeconomic policy, the history of reforms and the forthcoming EU membership, says the analysis of Standard&Poor’s.
Source: Bulgarian Government
Bulgarian Cosmetics Market Grows by 5.0% Annually
In 2004, the Bulgarian cosmetics market registered stable growth of just over 5.0% in current value terms to reach BGN 287 million, following an equally strong performance in 2003, a survey carried out by Euromonitor showed. Demand for cosmetics is increasing. The country turns out to be the only one in CEE where the leaders on the market are local companies instead of large multinational companies.
In the last several years, however, foreign companies become more and more aggressive and it will become increasingly difficult for the Bulgarian firms to maintain their market shares.
Bulgarian producers hold between 40% and 50% share in the different categories of products. The stake that local firms control in the sales of such products is even higher and reaches up to 80% in the segment for hair dyes and shaving products. Some 65% of the toothpaste sales in Bulgaria are still being generated by local producers.
According to Euromonitor, the increased sales in the sector came as a result of the fact that consumer purchasing power has risen in recent years, with cosmetics and toiletries increasingly considered as everyday necessities.
The undisputed leader on the local market is Aroma. Rubella, Rosa Impex, Alen Mak and Fikosota hold top positions in various categories of products.
On the other hand, constant exposure to advertising and information, and thus global trends, has resulted in growing awareness among consumers of the possible uses for cosmetics and toiletries. As a result many complementary offerings, such as facial masks, tonics and men's skin care products, have entered or been launched in the Bulgarian market, creating possibilities for further growth in future.
Source: Bulgarian Ministry of Economy and Energy, www.mi.government.bg
Sisecam receives First Class Investor Certificate for
the largest green-field investment project in Bulgaria
“Realizing of that important for the Bulgarian economy project is an exemplary one for the successful cooperation and harmony in efforts of investor, state and municipal administration. All of us can congratulate ourselves on it, Rumen Ovcharov, the Minister of Economy and Energy said during the award of the official document to Mr. Dogan Arikan, Sisecam’s President.
After the initial intentions to build two plants – for flat glass and for glassware, the Turkish investor developed their investment plans and decided to build two more facilities near Targovishte – for processed glass and for mirrors. These investment intentions of Sisecam were certified by the InvestBulgaria Agency for first class investment.
The first plant in Targovishte for glassware production has been completed in 12 months and has been operating since July 2005. According to the company’s investment plan, the flat glass plant of Sisecam will be completed and launched by end-March 2006, while the processed glass and mirrors plants will be opened in the second half of 2006.
In the period from August 2005 to the complex full realization by end-2006, Sisecam's estimated investment in additional facilities will stand at BGN 157 mln. The overall investment in Sisecam's project in Bulgaria will reach the record volume of BGN 367 mln. (USD 220 mln.).
Flat glass plant capacity will exceed 200,000 tons per year, while the daily output will reach 725 tons of flat glass to serve the purposes of the construction, automobile, machinery, furniture and other industries. The processed glass plant will have an annual capacity of 2.3 million sq m of tempered glass and it will be used in ovens, fridges, furniture, doors etc. The mirrors plant will have an annual capacity of 2.5 million sq m of mirrors.
After the completion of the glass complex in Targovishte, Sisecam will employ a total of 1065 people, while the related activities (packaging, logistics, raw materials, delivery etc.) will double the number of jobs and will curb the jobless rate in the region.
The first plant of Sisecam in Targovishte, for glassware was officially opened on 27 July, 2005 with the firing of the largest glass furnace worldwide. Currently Trakya Glass Bulgaria employs 672 people. The capacity of the furnace stands at 53,000 tons per year and the plant will be the largest in Central Europe. The eight production lines will produce 235 million pieces of various household glass articles of Pasabahce brand.
The state of Bulgaria has invested a total of BGN 13.5 mln. in infrastructure so as to support the Sisecam's project. The land plot of over 850 decares for the complex has been provided by the state as well.
Expected annual revenue of Sisecam's complex in Bulgaria is seen at USD 147 mln., and some 85-90% of the output will be for export for the countries from Central and Southeast Europe, USA, Western Europe, Russia, former Soviet states and for North Africa.
Sisecam Group, to which Trakya Glass Bulgaria EAD belongs, employs a total of 13,700 people and generates annual sales of USD 1.6 bln. year, of which some 50% are generated from exports. The group is the third largest glassware producer worldwide and is expected to rank second after the launch of Targovishte glass complex.
Source: InvestBulgaria Agency, http://investbg.government.bg/
Short business news from Serbia
8-12.10.2005 Ten Serbian companies from agriculture sector participated at the International fair ANUGA, Keln
The second meeting of the Romania-Serbia Mixed Committee took place
12-13.10.2005 At the Days of Serbia in Munich 60 Serbian business people from 28 companies have participated, led by Mr. Boris Tadic, the President of R. Serbia.
19.-20.10.2005 German business delegation – Board of German Economy for East visited Belgrade.
About 20 German business people was participating. The visit was organized by Ministry of Economy and German embassy in Belgrade
19.10.2005 Meeting of the presidents of SCC, Mr. Slobodan Milosavljevic and Mr. Branko Azeski, Macedonia CCI was held to discuss questions related to improvement of business cooperation and exchange of delegations.
20.10.2005 Serbian Chamber of Commerce, UNECE, AITS and Ministry for FER organized coference on trade and transit facilitation in the region in Belgrade.
21.10.2005 Bilateral meeting of SCG PRO Committee and ROMPRO Committee was held in SCC in Belgrade.
The following topics were examined:
- consequences of the EU accession of Romania
- problems of visa issuing
- corruption, bureaucracy, cross border exchange
- prospective and view of the new TTFSE 2 program
24-28.10.2005 Serbian companies participated at the International IT fair SISTEMS in Munich
24.10.2005 Meeting of the Section for Bulgaria was held in Serbian Chamber of Commerce in Belgrade. About 50 Serbian companies, Bulgarian companies represented in Serbia and the counselor of Embassy of Bulgaria in Belgrade participated at the meeting.
25.10.2005 Presentation of SES (Senior Expert Services) – experience of German experts in economy (for members of the Section for Germany) was held in SCC.
Preparations for realization of the project “Serbian Business Trade Center in Bosnia and Herzegovina” in Sarajevo are on the way.
The main aim is to enlarge trade and overall cooperation between two countries. The object will have combined function: office and selling space, warehouse, hotel, service/ marketing services.
Source: The Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Industry