Bernard Nikaj, Ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo in Brussels and former Minister of Trade and Industry discusses his country’s FDI appeal, highlighting new strategies designed to enhance Kosovo’s attractiveness as an investment base.

European Times: What is the government doing to appeal EU investments in Kosovo?

Bernard Nikaj: In the last two years FDI in Kosovo have grown significantly from about €250 million in 2013 to over €300 million in 2015. In this context the Government is focusing on ensuring quality FDI in the sense of targeting sectors that will create new jobs and strategic allies between companies in Kosovo, Europe and worldwide, while using the natural resources and skilled labor of the country.

Bernard Nikaj, Ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo in Brussels and former Minister of Trade and Industry
Bernard Nikaj, Ambassador of Kosovo

At the moment, our major investment partner is the EU as a whole, more particularly Germany, Italy and UK, but also Switzerland and Turkey. Last year we signed the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU, which provided tariff-free full access to European markets and we are working with the European Commission on an Economic Reform Platform to spearhead Kosovo’s development starting with issues like competitiveness, education, energy, agriculture etc.

European Times: What are Kosovo’s leading FDI sectors?

Bernard Nikaj: Kosovo welcomes investments in all sectors. Some priority sectors in Kosovo are IT, agriculture, tourism, food, wood and leather processing, energy, mines and minerals and textiles. In this context we have investments in textile industry such as factory producing covers for Volvo in Sweden, and in leather industry producing shoes and designer bags for Italian companies. In IT our dominant activity is outsourcing call centre services and one of our future goals is to develop the mountain and cultural tourism.

European Times: Why should foreign investors target Kosovo?

Bernard Nikaj: Kosovo is in the heart of the Balkans and we provide easy access to EU via air, road and railway. We built new state-of-the-art highway linking Kosovo to Port of Durres, and we are finishing the second one linked to Skopje and further to the Port of Thessaloniki. The recently built Prishtina International Airport offers frequent flights to economic hubs in Europe. Besides the infrastructure, our most important advantage is the competitive, well educated and young workforce extremely skilled in IT and languages. The country also provides enviable natural resources (mining, agriculture), low taxes and a transparent tax system, customs free access to the markets of CEFTA, EU and Turkey, and low operational costs. In 2014 Kosovo was the fifth most dynamic business reformer in the world according to Doing Business Index of the World Bank, and it has continued improving each year.