The chambers of commerce of six western Balkans countries have come together to develop an online platform showcasing investment opportunities in the whole region.
Launched at the Western Balkans Summit organised in London by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on February 26, the platform provides a one-stop shop for foreign investors interested in the western Balkans, featuring information on the legal and regulatory frameworks in the six countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYR Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia), their macroeconomic performance and experience with domestic and foreign investment.
“We are working to put local champions together and make them visible,” said Marko Cadez, the chairman of the Chamber Investment Forum, the regional chamber of commerce that has developed the platform.
The platform aims at providing interested investors with all the right information, but also connections to make a move in the western Balkans.
“The communication between the private and public sector is very important, and it’s important to have someone that can facilitate the process. We have very close communication with all the six governments,” Mr Cadez said.
The EBRD itself endorsed the project, with president Suma Chakrabarti tellng the summit’s opening session that the platform “has the potential to become an indispensable tool for foreign investors and the region’s business community”. The bank has invested a total of more than $10bn in the six countries, which makes them as a whole the largest recipient of EBRD money on a per capita basis, and plans to add another $1bn per year moving forward, Mr Chakrabarti added.
The western Balkans remains a fragmented area both politically and economically, but governments across the region are increasing ties and efforts to develop a common hard and soft infrastructure able to unlock economic potential. The platform can also be seen as a step forward in the direction of closer regional co-operation.
“If we want to go regional, we need regional institutions. That’s why we are always pressuring local governments to commit to regional institutions politically, as well as with resources and talent,” Mr Cadez concluded.