Turkish investors look to expand further in Balkans

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published

Many Turkish investors have been recently investing in the Balkans to be closer to the European market. Seeing this trend, Turkey's state-run Halkbank is also conducting projects for Turkish investors to operate more comfortably in the Balkans.

Meeting with journalists at Halkbank Business Center in Macedonia's capital of Skopje under the auspices of the Macedonia-Turkey Chamber of Commerce (MATTO), Halkbank Macedonia General Manager Bilal Sucubaşı said the rate of exports meeting imports stood at 74 percent last year, while mining, automotive industry by-products, iron and steel products, textiles and apparel products, fresh fruits and vegetables, food products and wine led the way in Macedonia's exports.

Sucubaşı said their main foreign trade partners were Germany, Britain, Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, Italy, China and Turkey. Speaking of the investments of Turkish companies in the country, Sucubaşı said the national flag carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) has two flights a day, aiming to reach four next year, while Pegasus has three flights a day, adding that Turkish clothing store chain LC Waikiki has seven stores, planning to reach 10, followed by Collezione and Altınbaş with two stores and Burger King with five stores.

He noted that they have provided sector-based and retail banking services since 2011 and that Halkbank has a total of 40 branches in Macedonia, saying they are pleased to be the fastest growing bank in Macedonia with a more than 10 percent share of the market in the country's financial sector.

MATTO Chairman Aydoğan Ademovski noted that they continue to serve as a bridge between Macedonia and Turkey. "Considering our kinship with Turkey, we also think that Balkan countries have strategic priorities for Turkish investments," Ademovski said. "Our members' investments in Macedonia approached $2 billion. We are currently striving to raise the $400 million in commercial deals between Macedonia and Turkey to $1 billion in the first stage."

Speaking about the perks of investing in Macedonia, Sucubaşı explained that a Turkish company that wants to invest here is exempt from the 10-year corporate and personal income tax along with value-added tax (VAT) and customs duties exemptions for exports as well as municipal taxes. "Natural gas, electricity, water and sewer network connections are provided as infrastructure support, as well as 99 years of land privilege with a very low rental fees," Sucubaşı said, adding that in accordance with the employment, state subsidy is provided as an investment grant of up to 500,000 euros.

Çağatay Kablo started construction of a cable production facility for the automobile industry on an area of 4,000 square meters in Skopje 1 Technology Industry Free Investment Zone with an investment of 4 million euros in the first stage. The company will employ 100 people in the first phase, planning to invest an additional 3 million euros to expand the facility's capacity in the coming years. Murat Ticaret Kablo Sanayi A.Ş. initiated investments of a 7,000-square-meter and 5-million-euro production facility in Skopje 2 Free Trade Zone. The medium- and long-term target is 20,000 square meters and an investment of 15 million euros.

Adalı Holding, on the other hand, won an irrigation dam undertaking tender opened by the State Hydraulic Works near the border with Greece in the south of Macedonia at 45 million euros. Kaltun Madencilik AŞ, Girişim Elektrik AŞ and Defacto are among the companies planning to invest in the Balkans in the future.

In Macedonia, a total of 45 projects have been realized, including by TAV and Anadolu Group. Limak A.Ş. is designing a housing, office, shopping mall, hotel, residence complex project on 50 acres of land in Skopje with a planned investment of 200 million euros.

Currently, groundwork and construction of the first phase of the hotel have begun. Another ongoing project is being conducted by ASELSAN, which won the Macedonian Highways' tender for the modernization of tolls and the implementation of the electronic payment system on the motorways called Corridor 10, which extends from the Serbian border to the Greek border, at a total of 18.7 million euros. This ongoing project is scheduled to end in 2018.

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