By Marina Stojanovska for Southeast European Times in Skopje
The Macedonian government and representatives of the US company, Johnson Controls, signed a memorandum for co-operation and investment earlier this month, allowing the corporation to begin building a plant at the Bunardzik free economic zone near Skopje. In the first phase, Johnson Controls plans to construct a 6,000 square metre plant to produce automotive interior electronics by 2010.
Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski and General Manager for Electronics and Vice President of Johnson Controls for Europe Thomas Patcelt signed the memorandum on 11 May. They said that the first phase of the investment, to be launched on 5 September, would provide 500 new jobs.
“With this project Macedonia shows its competitiveness and opens opportunity to be a desirable destination for investment,” Buckovski said. “It is now left to us to fulfil the commitments we have undertaken by 1 September. This means we should complete in a short time all the administrative procedures and construct the infrastructure.”
Patzelt said the company will meet the commitments it made within the memorandum. “We plan to produce electronic products in Macedonia, and they will be first sold in France, Italy and Germany and later throughout the world.”
Bob Venyanovich, former vice president of the board of the US company, announced that a line for production of automotive plastic parts will be constructed in the second phase of the investment at Bunardzik, followed by a plant for brake parts in the third phase.
Investment in the infrastructure leading to the zone will amount to about 6m euros. “This is not a huge investment, since that part has already been built. We believe with this we can realise what we have been expecting for so long — that the Bunardzik zone actually comes alive,” said Minister of Economy Fatmir Besimi.
Johnson Controls is a global leader in production of seats, batteries and other automotive interiors. Its partners are General Motors, Daimler Chrysler, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Renault, Peugeot, Volkswagen and Toyota. The company employs 123,000 people and has 275 branches and plants throughout the world. The company’s annual turnover (for 2004) was $26.6m.
The Macedonian government has tried on a few occasions to breathe life into the free economic zone of Bunardzik, a few kilometers from Skopje. The zone covers 140 hectares and only an unused hall has been built so far. In 2003, an international tender for the zone was announced and won by Welsh Glendor Estates Ltd., to manage the zone. The contract failed because the Welsh company did not fulfil its obligations.
Taken from Southeast European Times.