In the 24 years since Macedonia and the United States established full diplomatic ties, Macedonia-U.S. commercial relations are growing on a slow, but steady pace. Last year, bilateral trade in goods hit $394.8 million, which indicates a slow rise since diplomatic relations were forged. In comparison, Greece managed to secure economic trade of $2.65 billion with the United States in the same period. Even though economic trade is a single indicator, it is a strong reflection of the slow integration of Macedonia’s economy in the world economy.
As Macedonia’s path to NATO is inevitable, we can utilize the stability to explore options that will bring a greater amount of U.S. business to Macedonia and vice versa. A comprehensive free trade agreement between the two countries secures the progression of business endeavors that will yield economic results and progress.
Macedonia has a great deal to offer to the U.S.: low taxes of 10% on personal and corporate income, competitive wages, stable currency pegged to the euro, open economy that welcomes foreign direct investment and trade, EU and NATO candidate country, low inflation, and a young workforce fluent in English.
As a result of the transition period of the 1990s, countless large factories and facilities were abandoned, providing opportunities for the construction and building materials sector. Some of these abandoned factories can be reorganized and rebuilt to use robotics, which would lead to well-paid jobs for a number of highly educated people. Cooperation in the agricultural sector with American companies and the introduction of advanced agricultural techniques will help to convert raw materials into finished products in order to obtain higher market prices. The textile industry can be used to create clothing for many well-known American brands. Call centers and freelancers are among the main working roles that can be used to intensify Macedonian-American commercial interests. As the economy moves towards digitization, creating opportunities that will adapt to these factors will further develop relationships.
The goal of Macedonia in terms of trade relations with the United States should be deep and broad cooperation that will transform it into a country with a modern and prosperous economy. Approaching individual companies and municipalities in the United States must be a priority to convey know-how and diverse opportunities for the country. In addition, undertaking further activities for engaging communities where Macedonians are present will lead to new partnerships and commercial opportunities.
Engaging with energy entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and his company Tesla to turn Macedonia into a 100% energy independent country (through the same concept as Hawaii), would position Macedonia in a marketing sense, opening new opportunities in an underdeveloped sector. Having a single call center that would work for US technology giants such as Amazon and eBay will create a stable income for many families working in the technology and communication sectors.
The vision of a modern, prosperous and stable Macedonia may seem overly optimistic in the short term as there are several setbacks that must be addressed including: rule of law and corruption, slow judicial processes, complex bureaucracy, lack of infrastructure, political interference, contradicting legislation and regulation. These setbacks require immediate action by both the legislative and judicial branches.
Overall, the benefits of the above proposed cooperation between the two countries can be observed in the next decade, with potential bilateral trade and investments that would reach up to $2 billion, as Macedonian-American cooperation has wide and still unexplored perspectives.
Any opinions or views expressed in articles or other pieces appearing in UMD Voice are those of the author or interviewees alone and are not necessarily those of the United Macedonian Diaspora and its young leaders’ program Generation M; the appearance of any such opinions or views in UMD Voice is not and should not be considered to be an endorsement by or approval of the same by UMD and Generation M.