President Jahjaga’s address at the Invest in Kosovo Session of the 9th World Islamic Economic Forum

President of the Republic of Kosovo, Mrs. Atifete Jahjaga, took part today at the “Invest in Kosovo” session, organised under the auspices of the 9th World Islamic Economic Forum, which is being held in London.

In front of many participants, Mr. Valdrin Lluka, the Chief Executive of the Investment Promotion Agency of Kosovo and Mr. Kujtim Dobruna, Chairman of the Kosovo Economic Initiative, presented the opportunities for foreign investment in Kosovo.

Below is President Jahjaga’s address to the participants:

I would like to thank you all for joining this session aimed at presenting Kosovo as a new opportunity and prospective destination. I thank you for the interest you are showing and I look forward to the potential partnership we can initiate together for Kosovo to become your next investment destination.

The recent global downturn has made us realize that we remain more than ever interdependent on each other’s resources to ensure sustainable development of our economies and respond to the ever growing needs and demands of our societies. In our globalized world, the distances have shrunk and new frontiers of possibilities have opened.

Today, I would like to share with you the investment potential that Kosovo offers.

Kosovo has gained its independence five years ago as an expression of the free will of its citizens, recovering from the war which left it in ruins; it has built a secular, democratic state based on civic principles where the rights of all citizens are guaranteed by the constitution of the country regardless of ethnic or religious background. A multi-ethnic state recognized internationally by more than one hundred states.

Kosovo has gone through the path of transition, through what I call the three transformations: from war to peace, from a dictatorship to democracy and from a centrally planned economy into a free market one. In many regards we are still undergoing through the consolidation of some of these processes, facing the difficulties of a country in transition, similar to many others worldwide.

We remain committed to tackle the challenges and push forward the necessary reforms. We have established the legal and structural framework that makes Kosovo an attractive destination, competing with the regional countries and beyond, for foreign and local investments.

The development strategy of the government of Kosovo is based on ensuring steady economic growth, promoting and supporting the private sector, boosting education to develop the human capital, and orienting public spending on major projects such as infrastructure connecting Kosovo to major routes.

Since the end of the war in 1999, Kosovo has experienced a steady economic growth. In fact, Kosovo is one of the few countries in Europe which did not face a recession during the global financial crisis rather it experienced a positive growth. A major part of this success has been accomplished due to government policies which have helped maintain a sound macroeconomic system.

Kosovo’s strategic location serves as a bridge between the MENA region and Western Europe. This is supported by the regional free trade agreements and customs-free agreements with EU, US and Turkey which open prospective investors’ opportunities to enter a growing market of consumers.

Kosovo has adopted Euro as its official currency; it offers EU-compatible legislation and a very favourable legislation for local and foreign investors. It has a simple tax system with very low taxes and it has built a sound banking system reflecting financial sustainability. Most importantly, Kosovo has the youngest population in Europe, a well-educated and flexible labour force, one of the major national assets.

One of our strongest potential for investment are the natural resources. Kosovo has the world’s fifth-largest proven reserves of coal.  It offers major opportunities in Business Process Outsourcing, in mining and energy, wood and metal processing, textile, information technology, food processing, agriculture and many other fields.

We have created a special agency, the Investment Promotion Agency of Kosovo, which aims to promote investments in Kosovo making the case for the possibilities that Kosovo offers to potential investors. The agency is chaired by Mr. Lluka, who together with Mr. Dobruna, who comes to us from the Vienna-based Economic Initiative for Kosovo, is going to share with you in more details the potential of Kosovo.

Kosovo has made significant progress in setting up institutions and is steadily strengthening law enforcement mechanisms.

We have also committed to structural reforms through the privatization process which it is still an ongoing process offering very attractive opportunities to business sectors. We have made significant progress in improving the business climate by legislative guarantees and other administrative procedures for doing business for local and international investors. The latest World Bank Doing Business Report ranks Kosovo among the 10 top reformers for the last two years.

Despite challenges, we remain determined to eliminate red tape, encourage competitive market, production, facilitate exports, while enforcing the rule of law and implementing anti-corruption measures.

I have created the National Council on Anti-Corruption and the government has established the National Council on Economic Development, a forum for stakeholders to contribute to the improvement of business and legal environment.

We have started the negotiation on the Stabilization and Association Agreement with European Union, which brings Kosovo on a clear integration path toward the EU.

Dear Participants,

I invite you to invest in Kosovo. We come from countries which share similar traditions and value work similarly. Let us find ways of cooperation which will contribute to the welfare of our countries.

I assure you that the institutions of Kosovo will offer their full support.

Now I turn the floor to Mr. Lluka and Mr. Dobruna to offer their perspectives on the concrete investment opportunities.

Thank you for your participation today and I look forward to welcoming you to Kosovo!