The branding of the state - the key to more foreign investments

The promotion of North Macedonia as a country with favorable conditions for investment is one of the initial ways to interest potential investors in it. Experts in this field say that the country as a small and dependent economy must be promoted much more than other countries that are larger, more developed and established as alternative locations for investment and expansion. If direct contacts with companies are not promoted and proactively worked on, as they point out, the state cannot find itself in the focus of interest among foreign investors. What is missing, they say, is branding of the state - unified country branding.

The Directorate for Technological Industrial Development Zones, on the other hand, is satisfied with the new practice and approach to operations introduced two years ago, which, they point out, is confirmed by the numbers, that is, the contracts of over 650 million euros of investments in the last two years.

- Undoubtedly, promotion is important and it should be done. But what is important to me is that all further activities related to promotion must have a clear target group and a clear economic justification, says TIRZ director Jovan Despotovski.

The President of the Association of Foreign Companies with Technologically Advanced Production and Vice President for Government Relations of the "KOSTAL" group, Victor Mizo, points out that we do not actively promote the state internationally and that many countries better known than us are advertised as investment business destinations.

- Even South Korea advertises itself, although everyone in the world knows what their technological and technical knowledge and achievements are. Egypt, Morocco, Serbia, Indonesia, Turkey - some of these countries have more than 100 million people and a gross domestic product of more than a trillion dollars, but they still consider that in one way or another that promotion is necessary to position themselves on the world map. for conducting business and attracting investments. But I claim that north of Vienna and south of Istanbul, very few people know about Macedonia, especially related to business and potential investments, says Mizo.

A similar view is shared by former promoter Dejan Velichkov, who is now part of the team of the Canadian Investment Promotion and Attraction Agency Invest Canada, noting that no organized efforts are made through direct contacts in targeted foreign companies to position the country as an option for possible expansion. .

- Macedonia as a small and unknown country needs to be promoted much more than other countries that are bigger, more developed and that are already established as alternative markets for expansion. For example, here in North America, nobody knows Macedonia and if you don't work proactively with direct contacts in companies where there is potential for new investment projects, Macedonia simply won't be found in their analyzes as an option, according to Velichkov.

He notes that in recent years the state has not been working on proactively promoting the country in terms of attracting foreign investments.

- This can be easily checked if you just look at the number of organized visits of foreign companies to Macedonia for investment projects in the past few years compared to the period when foreign investments were a higher priority for the institutions in the country, Velichkov points out.

The director of TIRZ agrees that the promotion is important and should be done, but he points out that now the Directorate, with considerably less financial resources than before, continues with a targeted campaign in foreign media. Now, the emphasis is on companies talking about their experience with the state.

- The money that was spent then and now for this type of promotion cannot even be compared. Perhaps some economic justification can be found for part of the funds spent during that period, primarily through the companies that signed contracts. Undoubtedly, promotion is important and should be done. But what is important to me is that all further activities related to promotion must have a clear target group and a clear economic justification. The economic justification should first of all be reflected in what the state receives for every euro it spent for that purpose, says Despotovski.

According to Mizo, the world needs to hear about our business potential. Going back to the period about 15 years ago when the process of attracting investments began, Mizo points out that some of the companies that decided to invest with us understood the investment opportunities from advertisements.

- Everything that meant promotion of the state created a kind of recognition and presentation of Macedonia. We also had direct comments from companies how they found out about us. "Kemet" confirmed that their CEO saw the advertisement for Macedonia on CNN, while he was in a hotel room in London. The owner of "Technical Textiles" saw the advertisement for Macedonia in a business magazine on a flight to Dubai. These are direct comments about how a company found out about us, Mizo points out.

He believes that the value of their investments and the jobs created are many times greater than the costs of branding the state. Branding, he emphasizes, should not be seen as an expense, but as an investment. As an example, he points to the "Coca Cola" brand, which is advertised continuously, although everyone knows about it.

- When the state actively worked to attract investments, a critical mass of investors was created, and a good part of them are reinvesting now (a 10-year cycle from the original decision to invest here) and/or are still creating a positive image for the state. Without that before, there would be very little now, Mizo points out.

Taken from MIA


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