Montenegro views Turkey as prime source of investment
Montenegro believes Turkey has the potential to be among the top five investors in the country, its economic development minister said recently.
Jakov Milatovic said he believes economic links between Turkey and Montenegro can become even stronger.
"Turkey is already among the top 10 investors in Montenegro. However, we believe the potential is there for Turkey to be among the top five investors in the country. Trade between the two countries is at the level of about $150 million, and we believe that this amount could be doubled in the next period."
In an interview with Anadolu Agency, Milatovic evaluated the talks he had with officials in Turkey last week in which economic relations between the two countries were discussed.
Milatovic said that during the high-level visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Montenegro in August, steps to be taken to enhance economic ties alongside very good political relations between the two countries were discussed.
"So as a follow up of the meeting, it is very natural for my side to come here."
Milatovic said it was his first official visit to Turkey and that he met with Turkey's Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, Trade Minister Mehmet Muş, and Youth and Sports Minister Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoğlu, who is also a co-head of the economic commission between Turkey and Montenegro.
The minister said he visited Turkey's Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK) and Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) and met with Turkish businesspeople, as well as members of the Montenegrin diaspora that live in Istanbul and throughout Turkey.
“So (it was) a very fruitful visit, I must say, which is really kind of helpful in our continuous push for pitching Montenegro as a good investment destination for Turkish investors and to try to enhance in any way possible economic links between our friendly countries," he said.
Turkish citizens identify Montenegro as good investment destination
On bilateral relations, Milatovic highlighted that Montenegro and Turkey "are two friendly countries with excellent political links. We are NATO allies."
"Montenegro's main goal now when it comes to foreign policy is EU accession as well as maintaining friendly relations with countries that are part of our wider neighborhood, and Turkey is for sure there."
He pointed out that economic links between the two countries have been increasing over the past few years, although they still have the potential to increase further.
"Almost one third of all foreign companies that are present in Montenegro originate from Turkey. And their number has increasingly been rising, which means that the Turkish business community, Turkish citizens have already identified Montenegro as a good investment destination.”
He added that bilateral trade has been increasing in the past few years, underlining they aim to double this figure in the coming period.
Economic commission between Turkey, Montenegro
Milatovic noted that increasing flights between Montenegro and Turkey and adding flights to other cities besides Istanbul will have a positive impact on trade.
He noted that he was co-heading the economic commission on behalf of the government of Montenegro and that Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoglu was the co-head on behalf of the government of Turkey.
The commission provides a good platform to discuss and promote a number of practical points important for enhancing economic links between the two countries, he said.
He noted that its next session in February is expected to be held in Turkey.
"There's going to be a very good opportunity to promote all the topics even further," he said.
Milatovic said more than 3,000 companies in Montenegro were established with Turkish capital and that some sectors, such as real estate, tourism, logistics, energy, and information technology, are seen as good investment opportunities by Turkish investors.
He gave examples of the investments of leading Turkish companies in the port management, banking, steel, tourism, and real estate sectors and noted that Turkish Airlines was already flying two times per day to Montenegro.
The Montenegrin economy is expected to rise strongly in the next periods of 2021 and this is why it makes economic sense for those investors to be present in Montenegro, he said, underlining his country's goal of becoming a member of the EU by 2025.
He went on to say that the country has very good, acceptable tax rates which is also a very good reason for investors to come to Montenegro.
Milatovic emphasized that Montenegro is very grateful for everything that the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) has done for the country.
"TIKA, as well as the Turkish government, have shown a strong commitment to financially support not only the Montenegrin economy but general society, and we are very grateful for that. We are really looking forward to all the future projects that TIKA is now planning," he said.
He also pointed to activities for the promotion of Turkish culture and teaching the Turkish language in the country.
"There is an increasing number of students from Montenegro getting scholarships, studying at Turkish universities, which is also a good link for the future economic relationship. Because you know when you understand and speak the language, it's a good basis for those people to work for the Turkish companies to help the companies understand even better the Montenegrin economy and all the opportunities."