Montenegro seeks more Turkish investments
Officials and analysts in Turkey and Montenegro welcome the recent boost in business co-operation between the two countries, viewing it as regionally positive and inspiring.
By Menekse Tokyay for SES Türkiye in Istanbul -- 10/05/12
Statistics show that more and more Turkish businessmen are interested in doing business and investing in Montenegro, while officials of both countries urged Turkish investors to expand their presence in the country, especially in the development of various sectors, such as infrastructure, energy, tourism, transportation, and maritime industry.
During the March visit by Montenegrin Prime Minister Igor Luksic (centre), five agreements were signed to boost economic co-operation, especially in civil aviation, social security and investment protections. [Reuters]
Analysts and officials view the future of Montenegrin-Turkish co-operation in trade and investment as positive and inspiring. At the end of 2011, bilateral trade was at 32m euros, up from 25m euros from the previous year. Both sides are eager to double that volume within a year.
There are encouraging signs that both have been trying to improve the legal basis for strengthening their economic co-operation and mutual investments.
During Montenegrin Prime Minister Igor Luksic's visit to Turkey in March, five agreements were signed to boost economic co-operation, especially in civil aviation, social security and investment protections.
"The agreements aim at deepening mutual co-operation, especially boost the goods exchange, which totalled 32m euros, to 76.2m euros," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during the visit.
Turkey has had a free trade agreement with Montenegro since 2010, opening a gateway for Turkish companies to introduce themselves in other markets in the region and reach a wider consumer range, experts said.
The increase of Turkish Airlines flights to Montenegro from three to four times a week is also considered an encouraging factor.
Attending the signing ceremony of the Turkish-Montenegrin Joint Economic Committee Meeting protocol -- designed to increase mutual trade, especially in energy, agriculture and transportation --in Ankara on April 18th, Montenegro's Deputy Prime Minister Vujica Lazovic also emphasised that co-operation in the energy sector should spread to the areas of science, health, and education.
Currently there are a significant number of Turkish companies in Montenegro operating mainly in infrastructure, energy, and construction sectors. One such firm, ENKA, has recently shown interest in investing in Montenegro infrastructure -- airport construction in the municipality of Berane, and hydro-energy projects. Just recently, Turkey's Tosyali Holding bought the ailing Montenegrin steel mill in Niksic for 15.1m euros.
The largest Turkish investor in Montenegro is Gintas Group, which has so far invested 50m euros in the country. This corporation owns the largest shopping mall and green bazaar in Podgorica, and in April, opened the first business hotel in Montenegro under the international brand Ramada.
Gintas Group is also providing a full spectrum of activities concerning land development and tourism.
"Montenegro is a fast growing economy and a country that has a beautiful, unspoiled nature, which provides an opportunity for investment in various sectors," Emilija Damjanovic, marketing manager of the Gintas Group in Montenegro, told SES Türkiye.
"The next project that we will work on in Montenegro will focus on the resolution of waste water problems in the municipality of Herceg Novi," she added.
Ismail Safi , head of the National Delegation of Turkey to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Co-operation and an AK Party deputy, discussed with SES Türkiye the greater importance of tapping such economic potential between these two countries.
Safi thinks that frequent co-operation between Montenegro and Turkey and ongoing communications at all levels are laying a strong basis for advancing economic co-operation.
"First, Turkish investors should focus on the potential of the country in hydro-energy and the aluminium. Then, tourism will also be favourable target for investors from Turkey, as just last year the country attracted almost 1.2 million tourists, opening a vast potential for outsourcing the service sector to some extent, in this Adriatic country of 600,000 people," he said.
He added that in order to diversify their areas of activity, Turkish companies should also be part of the privatisation process in Montenegro.
To benefit from the untapped trade and economic potential between the two countries, Turkey will organise two business forums this year, with the participation of all heads of state.
"One of these business forums will be held in Turkey on June 26th, while the other part will be in Montenegro sometime this year," Safi said.
"We are also planning to organise a big Balkan Forum in the upcoming months in Istanbul, and will invite several businesspeople and tourist agencies to establish contacts with their Turkish counterparts," he added.
In January, Akkan Suver, president of the Marmara Group Foundation and the honourary Consul General of Montenegro, wrote a book on Montenegro's past and present.
Suver is optimistic about the initiatives boosting mutual economic and commercial ties between the two countries.
"In May there will be a far-reaching meeting between the officials of Turkey and Montenegro to deepen the relations in free trade agreements. So, I'm expecting that the untapped potential between those two countries will be much clearer in the upcoming period," Suver told SES Türkiye.
According to Suver, in the near future the two countries will boost ties, especially in the energy sector. "There are some positive steps taken for a possible transfer of natural gas from Turkey to Montenegro, which will ... encourage relations," he said.
Southeast European Times correspondent Drazen Remikovic in Podgorica contributed to this report .