www.investinmacedonia.com This week's The Economist features full page color ad (probably expensive) "Invest in Macedonia - New Business Heaven in Europe", all with the graph of (growing, of course) MBI-10 Macedonian Stock Exchange Index.
All post-communist countries today proudly flout their stock exchanges, trading dozen or so stocks, like some sort of tropheys. I found myself chuckling at claims about "excellent infrastructure", because I travelled through Macedonia a couple of times during 1980- s, and I think it is slightly preposterous to advertise free access to large market of 650 million customers, that includes 27 EU an d 13 other European countries with which Macedonia has Free Trade Agreements: you can open a business in Austria and be closer to that market, with advantages of even more excellent infrastructure. Also, with probably a decade before it is accepted in the EU, Macedonia is presented as EU & NATO candidate country (the official name of FYROM is mentioned nowhere in the ad): but Europe is full of countries that already are NATO and EU countries, so being a candidate can obviously not be sold as an advantage. But there are things about Macedonia that can: 10% flat tax, lure of laissez fair corporate pundits, both corporate and personal income flat tax, and 10 years FREE of corporate tax if your business is in one of the two designated Free Economic Zones & Technology Parks (Skopje and Stip). Besides liberal approach to taxation, the other advantage, shamelessly advetised both in The Economist and on the website, is CHEAP LABOR: "abundant and competitive labour with 370 euros a month average gross salary." That's $480/month - average, so politicians, lawyers and doctors included - real laborers salary is perhaps much lower. That sure is an incentive for multi-national corporations to move in. But this is the first time I see a country so openly advertising that its primary advantage is having tons of people willing to work for peanuts! The "abundance of labour" is clearly defined by the highest unemployment rate in CEE (over 40% - http://www.stat.fi/isi99/proceedings/arkisto/varasto/naum0031.pdf), and this could be the last ditch effort to draw some foreign investment to the place among former Yugoslavs best remembered for failed factories (Femi). Worldbank's country brief on Macedonia in 2006 puts the unemployment rate at 37.2%, and foreign direct investment at 1.7% - this initiative surely aims to lower the first by raising the later percentage rate. More importantly, the ad promises "fast company registration - 2 days"; Worldbank assessed the time required to start a business at - 48 days.. (cutting red tape follows the Croatian example - hitro.hr). Good luck, Macedonia. http://www.worldbank.org.mk/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/ECAEXT/MACEDONIA EXTN/0,,contentMDK:20630587~menuPK:304480~pagePK:141137~piPK:141127~th eSitePK:304473,00.html?gclid=CPeW7vbz_owCFQZiOAod7wu0Dg ivo # distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission # <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism, # collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets # more info: [EMAIL PROTECTED] and "info nettime-l" in the msg body # archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: [EMAIL PROTECTED]