Skopje, 1 March 2023
"The economies of the region of the Western Balkans are still at a lower level of real convergence and need faster growth rates and a model that will be based on a greater volume and quality of investments. In order to exit the vicious circle of slow growth and low convergence, investments should be directed towards the areas that increase the competitiveness and resilience of economies. To finance investments, and in conditions of tightening of the conditions in the financial markets, the international financial support is crucial. The new EU strategy Global Gateway can increase the investments in the region.” This was pointed out by the Governor of the National Bank, Anita Angelovska Bezhoska, who participated in the forum of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Adapting to a changing world, which is held in Luxembourg. The panel discussion, at which Lilyana Pavlova, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), delivered an opening speech, was also attended by Markus Berndt, Deputy Managing Director of EIB Global, Koen Doens, Director-General for International Partnerships in the European Commission, André Ahlert, Director at KfW, Papa Amadou Sarr, Executive Director at the French Development Agency and Rodrigo Madrazo, CEO of the EDFI Management Company.
The Governor spoke at the panel discussion Global Gateway: European Partners Fostering Sustainable Investments, dedicated to the EU strategy for supporting investments in infrastructure, energy, digitalization, health and education, in order to stimulate sustainable economic development of the non-EU member states. The aim of this strategy is to connect economies, financial institutions and the private sector, to reduce the global investment gap.
Angelovska Bezhoska emphasized that the gap of the volume of capital in the Western Balkans economies relative to the EU member states is large, as a result of the insufficient investments. Hence, there is still a need for increasing their volume and directing toward priority areas, which will help overcome structural obstacles, increase growth potential and accelerate convergence. In this context, she suggested that the more difficult access to financing is often pointed out as a factor that limits the faster growth of these economies, and domestic savings are still below the level considered optimal and cannot support higher investment rates. Hence, she said, providing external sources of financing is of great importance, which poses a challenge in the current tightened global financial conditions and the more encumbered debt profile of the countries.
Therefore, the Governor said, the international initiatives such as the EU Global Gateway are an important tool for providing stable and sustainable access to financing at favorable conditions. Such support in the form of combination of grants, loans at favorable conditions, guarantees, can significantly increase the role of the investments in the Western Balkans economies. Given that this framework focuses on physical and digital infrastructure, energy sector, climate changes, health and education, it is clear that such framework touches on the long-time structural weaknesses of the economies of the region, whose removal would contribute to faster growth and greater resilience to different shocks.