While relatively slow on certain fronts, the North Macedonian Government seems focused on economic growth according to Aleksandar Kchev, Partner at Bona Fide Law Firm, with the country's IT industry and renewables sector seeing some notable movement.
“Business in North Macedonia in many ways depends on the political atmosphere in the country and having a stable government, considering that the most substantial projects in areas such as infrastructure, sustainable energy, etc., need constant the follow-up from different authorities,” begins Kchev. “Considering the tight majority of seats in the Parliament, the Government seems to have many delays in adopting new, and changing current, legislation to facilitate and run its economic agenda, but also in adopting certain laws that could have sped up the process of immunization of citizens against COVID-19.”
Kchev says that now, with the pandemic weakening, the Government plans to focus on economic growth and development, mainly via public and private investments in sectors such as energy, environment, waste management, public health, and the like. “The economy will also be influenced by what the Government does in lieu of aiding businesses, especially with pandemic shell-shock being present.”
Turning to legislative updates, Kchev reports that “several changes have been adopted in terms of environmental law and waste treatment law that straightened the legal framework to be considered by anyone entering a process of licensing and that, in general, will provide clearer interpretations for any future foreign investors.” At the same time, he says that the government has adopted special legislation that allows for obtaining North Macedonian citizenship quickly via an investment program. “This is a program with which the Fund for Innovation and Technology Development determines the economic interest for citizenship. It makes foreigners that have invested capital in the amount of at least EUR 200,000 in a private investment fund eligible to apply for citizenship.”
Finally, turning more to the economic reality itself, Kchev says that the North Macedonian economy was in a ‘stand-by’ mode due to the pandemic. “However, a more aggressive approach was noticeable by companies coming from stronger economies within the broader region that entered into acquisitions of Macedonian companies, especially those placed within the IT industry,” he says. As an example, Kchev points Payten, belonging to Asseco South Eastern Europe acquiring Grouper, a local e-commerce startup.
However, Kchev underlines the sustainable energy sector as the one with “the most crucial developments planned with several projects to be completed or in their final stages. For example, Germany-based WPD struck a deal to construct a 400 megawatt wind power plan plant," with Kchev also mentioning a procedure that has recently been completed for a 30 megawatt wind farm in Bogdanci – a project by Energo Systems Slovenia and Austria, worth EUR 50 million.