Global Ambassador's Journal Vol 3, Issue 2 June 2019

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Global Ambassador’s Journal is the premiere magazine for diplomats and the first online magazine of an international organization to be devoted solely to the publication of articles and comments by worldwide current or former state Ambassadors focusing on diplomacy and international relations.

Official Journal of International Union of Bilateral Chambers of Commerce and Industry

GLOBAL AMBASSADOR’S

JOURNAL

Volume III | Issue 2 | June 2019

Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019 1


02 Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019


GLOBAL

AMBASSADOR’S

JOURNAL

ISSN 2475-7233 (PRINT)

ISSN 2471-8815 (ONLINE)

JUNE 2019

VOL. III, ISSUE 2

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA

WWW.GLOBALAMBASSADORSJOURNAL.COM

WWW.IUBCCI.COM

© 2019 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. INTERNATIONAL UNION OF BILATERAL CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY


ABOUT THE

INTERNATIONAL UNION OF BILATERAL CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE

AND INDUSTRY

The International Union of Bilateral Chambers of Commerce and Industry (IUBCCI)

is the world’s largest non-profit organization of the bi-national (bilateral) chambers of

commerce and industry and all of their Unions, Federations or Joint Business Councils

dedicated to fostering the promotion of bilateral trade and commerce, and the exchange of

culture and humanity through means of economic diplomacy. IUBCCI interacts closely with

the diplomatic community to facilitate collaboration between other countries and the U.S.

public and private sector leaders to further a common economic interest and cooperate on

solutions for the global economy and security.

FOCUS AREAS

Creating a Secure

Business Environment

Policy change

Diplomatic Engagement

Economic Forums

Global Security and Peace

Advancing Research and

Development

International Trade

Human Rights

Education

“Attitude is the true diplomacy!”

PhD. Prof. Nasty Marian Vladoiu

Chairman of IUBCCI


Table of Contents

7

H.E. Salah Lebdioui

Ambassador of Algeria to Poland

22

H.E. Igor Pokojný

Ambassador of Slovak Republic to Ireland

9

H.E. Wolfgang A. Waldner

Ambassador of the Republic of Austria to the United States of America

24

H.E. Jorge Moragas Sánchez

Ambassador of Spain to Philippines

11

H.E. Dr. Vilayat M. Guliyev

Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to Hungary

27

H.E. Dawda Docka Fadera

Ambassador of the Republic of The Gambia to the

United States of America

13

H.E. Pavel Shidlovsky

Charge d’Affaires, a.i. of Belarus to the United States of America

29

H.E. Dr Merve Safa Kavakci

Ambassador of Turkey to Malaysia

15

H.E. Petr Kynštetr

Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Ireland

31

H.E. Dr. Hissa Abdullah Ahmad Alotaiba

Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the

Kingdom of Netherlands

17

H.E. George Sharvashidze

Ambassador of Georgia to the Kingdom of the Netherlands

33

H.E. Associate Prof. Nguyen Anh Tuan

Ambassador of SR Viet Nam to Ukraine

19

H.E. Goran Stevchevski

Ambassador of the Republic of North Macedonia to Hungary

* The views expressed in the articles contained therein are exactly as sent by

the authors and represent their views in the entirety. The order in which they

were inserted into the content of GAJ is random, without meeting any priority

order.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

ISABELLE VLADOIU

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US COMMERCIAL GATEWAY INC.

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06 Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019


Timgad ©Dan Sloan

Algerian and Polish relations

H.E. Salah Lebdioui,

Ambassador of Algeria to

Poland

Official relations between Algeria and

Poland date back to the independence

of the People’s Democratic Republic of

Algeria in 1962. In 2017, the two states

celebrated the 55th anniversary of the

establishment of diplomatic relations.

Nevertheless, interactions between the

peoples of the two countries go back to

the insurrection of El Emir Abdelkader

against the French colonizer in the 19th

century, when many poles sided with him

against the French invader.

The famous poet Cyprien Kamil

Norwid wrote a poem about the leader

El Emir Abdelkader and his first portrait

was made by another pole, Stanislaw

Chlebowski.

Ties between the two nations were

also strengthened by the edification, in

the center of Algiers, of the most famous

statue of the Emir by the great sculptor

Marian Konieczny. By this gesture, the

artist wished to express the sympathy and

respect of the Polish people to the Emir,

for his courage, and diplomatic skills while

saving the Christians during the pogrom

of Damascus in 1860. Later after the

independence and during the socialist

era in Poland, the economic bounds were

reinforced and Algeria hosted during the

seventies; more than 7000 polish citizens

working as technical cooperates.

The end of the Soviet era, the

accession of the Republic of Poland in

the EU and NATO and its success in

creating a growing economy in a former

communist country, has captivated many

states such as mine which was interested

in enhancing the bilateral cooperation in

various fields, in order to take advantage

of the tremendous opportunities afforded

by their geopolitical positions.

Since then, the two states engaged in

active cooperation translated in a large

exchange of visits and the signature of

multiple bilateral agreements.

The visit of the former Polish

Minister of Foreign Affairs M. Witold

Waszczykowski to Algeria, in 25 and 26

November 2017, has been marked by

the signature of the Agreement for the

establishment of a joint Commission of

cooperation in the economic, commercial,

scientific and technical fields, which shall

undoubtedly enhance the collaboration in

these matters, in order to reach the level of

the political relations.

Indeed, the two states, which are

influential in their respective regions and

share a broad convergence of views in

international affairs and good bilateral

relations, thrive for the consolidation of

economic cooperation.

Although the total trade between

Algeria and Poland witnessed and increase

in 2018 and reached 700 million USD, it

remains below the potentialities offered

by these two strategic markets in North

Africa and Central Europe.

Hence, the two governments engaged in

policies aiming at facilitating investments

in their respective countries.

While the Algerian market has been

selected by the Polish Government

among the 5 promising markets for polish

exporters, important incentives are also

offered by the Algerian Government to

foreign investors notably in the 5 priority

sectors to be developed in Algeria, in

order to achieve the diversification of

its economy: agriculture, industry (19

sectors), tourism, renewable energies

and information and communication

technologies.

The huge hydrocarbon assets that

Algeria enjoys (10th largest reserves of

natural gas in the world including the

3rd largest reserves of shale gas-16th in

Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019 07


in proven oil reserves) offer to the Polish

and other foreign investors important

opportunities in lowering the cost of

production.

Its strategic position in the

Mediterranean opens the door to the

commercialization of the production all

over 3 continents (Africa, Europe and

Asia), minimizing by this its costs.

On the other hand, the two states

are accelerating the conclusion of

agreements that are likely to facilitate

economic cooperation, in particular in

the Algerian agro-food industry.

Algeria, embarked in the

modernization of its agriculture, is

very interested in the know-how of the

Polish side in this matter.

It has to be noted that Poland is the

4th supplier of Algeria in milk products.

Many joint ventures are to be created

in this field, alongside with others

related to the automotive and medical

industries.

On the other hand, Algeria which

provides Poland with phosphate and

other chemical products (medicines),

is very interested in the Polish market

for agricultural and mechanical goods,

internationally acknowledged for their

quality.

As the Ambassador of the People’s

Democratic Republic of Algeria in

Poland, committed to the development

of the relations between these two

promising countries, I am convinced

that the two countries have many to

gain in the consolidation of the ties

between the two nations resolutely

turned towards the future.

A new concept of natural decorations suitable for any kind of indoor use: from exhibition and

private spaces, to big shopping centers and public areas.

Moss walls

Custom cut logos and designs

Preserved plants are not artificial. They are natural plants 100% treated in an ecological

way which is able to preserve their aspect, freshness and scent for many years, with no need

of soil, water or sunlight.

WWW.PRESERVEDPLANTSUSA.COM

08 Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019


Hofburg © MiGowa

“We have a tremendous relationship, long term, with Austria.” – U.S.

President Donald Trump

H.E. Wolfgang A. Waldner,

Ambassador of the

Republic of Austria to the

United States of America

The U.S. economy has been doing

great ever since I presented my credentials

as Ambassador of Austria to the

United States in January 2016: Austrian

businesses, entrepreneurs and investors

are continuing to seize the business

opportunities the thriving American

economy has to offer. Austria is a small

and export-oriented country within the

European Union, and the United States

became its second-largest trading partner

(after Germany) in 2015/2016. Americans

love Austrian quality products, which

is why Austrian sales to the U.S. have

more than doubled in the past decade,

reaching an all-time record of 10,6 billion

Euros in 2018. This result was also a

significant driver for the remarkable

growth of Austrian sales globally, which

grew by 5,5% last year, reaching the 150

billion Euro threshold for the first time.

As to Austrian foreign direct

investment (FDI), the United States

rank fourth. This major financial effort,

undertaken mainly by Austrian companies

and their U.S. subsidiaries, created over

40,000 American jobs predominantly in

the manufacturing sector. Lately, a high

number of skilled manufacturing jobs

were added in the states of Georgia,

Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, North

Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania

and Texas. Through apprenticeships and

training programs combining college

courses with employment and on-the-job

training, Austrian companies in the U.S.

have been investing in the development

of American workers’ skills, helping to

ensure inclusive growth and well-paying

jobs in times of technological disruption.

When I took up my duties in January

2016, the European Union and the

United States were engaged in trade

negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade

and Investment Partnership (TTIP) while

the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

was promoted as an integral part of

President Obama’s pivot to Asia strategy.

The trade policy landscape back then

obviously looked very different from now.

Since the election of President Trump

and his inauguration in January 2017,

the priorities and negotiating tactics

of American trade policy have shifted

quite a bit. TTIP is still very much in the

freezer. However, it is fair to say that the

negotiations already got stuck towards

the end of the Obama administration

due to challenges faced on both sides

of the Atlantic. Since, the United States

negotiators have been focused on the new

United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement

(USMCA) and the trade relationship

with China rather than on the European

Union, since U.S. President Trump has

frequently stated his preference for

bilateral deals as he pursues a more

transactional approach [and neither shies

away from the imposition of custom

duties and tariffs as a negotiating tool].

While Austria and the European Union

share many of the major U.S. concerns

regarding the global trading system (e.g.

overcapacity, state-owned enterprises,

subsidies, intellectual property, the

importance of reforming the World Trade

Organization), the remarkable shift in

U.S. trade policy and personal antics also

poses some challenges for Austria, the

European Union, and other champions

of a free, rules-based, global trade order.

Against this backdrop, Austria very

much appreciates the positive agenda

launched at the White House meeting

between U.S. President Trump and EU

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

in July 2018 and the commitment not to

impose any new tariffs while trade talks

Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019 09


are ongoing. We are very supportive of

the joint work within the framework of

the EU-U.S. Executive Working Group

on Trade. We hope to find common

ground soon in order to tackle global

trade policy challenges together to

minimize uncertainty for businesses

on both sides of the Atlantic. After all,

the EU is the United States’ closest and

most important ally.

On a more political front, the

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

(JCPOA) with the Islamic Republic

of Iran was once cherished on both

sides of the Atlantic as a diplomatic

breakthrough, imposing strict

limitations and oversights onto Iran’s

nuclear program while allowing for

some economic integration and opening

of Iran. Europe has not changed its

assessment in the matter.

On Russia, there was a joint

understanding that sanctions in

response to Russian aggression in

Ukraine including the annexation of

Crimea are most effective when the

European Union and the U.S. act in

unison to minimize collateral damages

for their respective economies. New

U.S. sanctions legislation (such as

the 2017 Countering America’s

Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) or

implementing measures have however

not been coordinated as closely with

the European Union as before, thus

affecting European companies in

violation of international law (U.S.

secondary sanctions however are not a

new “Trump phenomenon”).

This makes it harder to keep the

European Union united in efforts

towards the continuation of Russia

sanctions by the EU. Overall, I do not

consider the shift to a more unilateral

approach in U.S. sanctions policy and

the widening rift in the transatlantic

partnership helpful.

On the energy front, the United

States became the world’s largest oil

and gas producer last year, even lifting a

40-year ban on exporting oil. The rapid

transformation from a highly importdependent

country to a major exporter

contributed to the new American

“Energy Dominance” doctrine. It is

also one of the drivers for the fierce

opposition to the Nord Stream II

pipeline project, which Austria sees

as a mere commercial venture entered

into by firms solely on market-based

decisions.

As the U.S. wishes to open up

export markets for liquefied natural gas

abundantly available domestically, the

new boom for fossil fuel exploration

in the U.S. based on fracking may also

have contributed to the shifts in U.S.

climate and environmental policy.

In contrast to that, Austria and the

European Union remain committed to

the Paris Agreement, stepping up our

game and globally leading on climate

action - as there is only one air we all

breathe on one single planet. Climate

policy and transition to renewable

energies therefore ought not be seen as

trade-off between the economy and the

environment, but rather as a prerequisite

for the green jobs we create for the

future.

Last but not least, I am delighted

about the numerous meetings at the

highest political level between Austria

and the United States during my

tenure, continuing the long-standing

tradition of excellent ties between our

two countries also with the present

Administration. In 2018 alone, when

Austria held the rotating presidency of

the Council of the European Union in

the second half of the year, I had the

pleasure to welcome about half of the

cabinet-level members of the Austrian

government in the U.S. for meetings

with their counterparts.

In that vein, the meeting of the

Federal Chancellor of the Republic

Austria Sebastian Kurz with U.S.

President Donald Trump at the White

House in February 2019 clearly marked

the highlight in my tenure. Chancellor

Kurz, at age 32 the youngest world

leader, was the first Austrian chancellor

to be received at the Oval Office in 13

years. Before the meeting, U.S. President

Trump stated to the large press corps

presence: “We have a tremendous

relationship, long term, with Austria. (...)

We have a very big trade presence and a

very good relationship on trade.” Need

I say more as we aim at building even

stronger ties between our two nations?

www.austria.org

Follow the Austrian Ambassador on

Twitter: @WaldnerWolfgang

On February 20, 2019, U.S. President Donald J. Trump welcomed the Federal Chancellor of the Republic Austria Sebastian Kurz to the

White House to further strengthen bilateral relations, especially in the fields of trade and international cooperation © Dragan Tatic

10 Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019


Baku © Dan Lundberg

Azerbaijan during the transition period from centralized to market

economy

H.E. Dr. Vilayat M. Guliyev,

Ambassador

of the Republic of Azerbaijan

to Hungary

Azerbaijan as a post-Soviet country

started to be involved in the process of

globalization after the collapse of USSR.

“The contract of the century” signed in

1994, “Baku-Tbilisi-Jeyhan” oil pipeline,

and “Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum” gas pipeline,

and the participation of Azerbaijan in the

restoration process of ancient Silk Road,

show that Azerbaijan also takes part in the

integration process of national economies.

Especially, “the contract of the century”

signed between the oil industry company,

BP and Azerbaijan become the first

international agreement of the Azerbaijan

Republic.

According to an agreement, the

extraction of oil from the three deepwater

oil fields in the region of Azerbaijan,

named as Azeri-Chiraq-Guneshli, was

given to BP and 11 Consortium members

from Azerbaijan, the USA, Great Britain,

Turkey, Norway, Japan, and Saudi Arabia.

The “Steering Company”, Azerbaijan

International Operating Company

(AIOC) and the Consulting Council were

established as the operating structures of

a newly signed agreement.

The total capital expenditure was equal

to 7.4 billion dollars, and the amount for

the development of technologies in order

to extract the light oil was equal to 5.9

billion dollars. A large amount of money

invested in a new-developing country

was a great chance for the Azerbaijani

government to develop the non-oil sector

and allocation of cultural and social

needs of a population. The oil trade of

Azerbaijan and “The contract of the

century” are of great importance since

Azerbaijani oil plays a significant role

in the economic growth of the partner

countries. Azerbaijan began to be involved

in the global market, to develop its ties

with other economies, and to implement

foreign trade policies starting from 1993

when the great leader of Azerbaijan

Heydar Aliyev came to power.

The primary directions of these policies

were the recreation of an economic system

based on different property forms, the

transition to free trade, and the integration

into the world economy. The period of

economic development in Azerbaijan

after independence might be divided into

two stages. The first stage is the period

of economic chaos and recession during

1991-1996, and the second one is the

period of economic stability and dynamic

growth. In the short period after the

restoration of independence, Azerbaijan

attained great achievements in the

economic growth and integration into the

world economic system. The oil and gas

sector played an important role in these

achievements and helped other sectors of

the economy advance as well. The reforms

of the state resulted in economic and

political stability and improvement of the

wellbeing of citizens.

As a transition from the centralized

economy of USSR to free market

economy, Azerbaijan started to liberalize

and privatize the economy. Despite the

fact that the role of the private sector in the

GDP of Azerbaijan was less than 10% at

the beginning of the privatization process,

this figure is now 85%. After the end of

the recession, a new period characterized

by renewal and economic growth started

in 1995. Several achievements are worth

mentioning during 1995-2003, such as

90.1% increase in GDP, 25.2% increase

in the number of manufactured goods,

53.9% increase in the production of

agricultural goods, and up to 3% decrease

in inflation. The overall value of foreign

direct investment became more than 20

billion US dollars.

Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019 11


Azerbaijan achieved the maintenance

of economic stability, diversification

of the economy in order not to

be dependent on oil and gas, rapid

development of regions, appreciation

of the national currency in the foreign

currency exchange market, advancement

of the credibility of the national banks,

and enhancement in the level of living

standards of the citizens.

After the successful reforms inside

the country, Azerbaijan started to realize

great international projects. These

projects were particularly designed to

transport Azerbaijani oil to the world

market. The examples for these oil

export projects are Baku-Novorossiysk,

Baku-Supsa, and Baku-Tbilisi-Jeyhan

pipelines. After the discovery of

Shah Deniz field, the memorandum

of understanding of Trans-Anatolia

Pipeline (TANAP) project was signed

in 2011 to transport natural gas in

Shah Deniz from Azerbaijan to Europe

through Turkey. This project is very

significant for the energy supply security

of Turkey and Europe.

Additionally, the Trans-Adriatic

Pipeline (TAP) project will connect

TANAP to Italy through Greece and

Albania. Currently, Azerbaijan is the

only country in the region exporting

gas to the international markets (Turkey,

Russia, Georgia). For this reason, it is

seen as “the provider and participant”

of Southern Gas Corridor by EU.

In this direction, Azerbaijan aims

to be the country of an important

and strategic natural gas exporter.

This project will bring huge economic

gains in the export of the available

natural gas resources to new markets.

In the consortium created for TANAP,

SOCAR from Azerbaijan, BOTAS and

TPIC from Turkey take part as the first

partners. In the consortium, BOTAS

of Turkey owns a 20% share, while

SOCAR of Azerbaijan has 80% share.

In 2015, Azerbaijan sold 12% of its

share to BP making the environment

more multinational and adding the

world’s energy giant to this project.

These projects will serve the integration

of Azerbaijan to Europe and the

implementation of the European

Union’s neighborhood strategy.

Right after gaining independence,

Azerbaijan started to be a part of

international economic and financial

organizations. Azerbaijan joined

International Monetary Fund,

World Bank, International Bank for

Reconstruction and Development,

Islamic Development Bank in 1992, and

Asian Development Bank in 1999.

After the restoration of its

independence, Azerbaijan became a

sovereign member of international

affairs by joining prestigious

intergovernmental organizations, such

as being a member of the United

Nations in 1992. Azerbaijan also became

one of the non-permanent members of

the United Nations Security Council

(UNSC) for two years from 2011 to

2013. Energy strategy of Azerbaijan was

welcomed in the West, and Azerbaijan

began to establish strong partnerships

in the trade of energy.

Azerbaijan was declared the

most reformist country in the world

by “Doing Business 2009” report,

which is made by World Bank and

International Finance Corporation, and

the fundamental indicator of which is

the free and efficient environment for

businesses.

The economic situation in Azerbaijan

has been “positive” for recent years

according to the “Standard and Poor’s”

International Rating Agency. According

to the 2009-2010 issue of the Global

Competitiveness Report published by

the World Economic Forum, Azerbaijan

was in the 51st place among 133

countries, and the first place among the

Commonwealth of Independent States

(CIS). Azerbaijan was ranked in 38th

place in this competitiveness report later

on.

The main objectives of Azerbaijan in

the upcoming years are predominantly

maintaining economic stability and

positive trade balance, achieving much

stronger resilience in the economic

growth, increasing the quality of locally

produced goods and services, pursuing

diversification of the economy and

developing non-oil sector, ensuring the

transition to the innovative economy,

utilizing high technologies and

intensive methods in the agriculture,

attaining energy and food security in

the following years, improving free

business environment and business

incentives, decreasing potential risks for

foreign direct investments, establishing

particular non-restricted economic

territories, increasing the number of

industrial towns, reaching cybersecurity,

supporting private companies in

the national level, and extending

the economic relations with foreign

partners.

Shirvanshahs Palace © Francisco Anzola

12 Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019


Belarus – US: Forging New Partnerships

H.E. Pavel Shidlovsky,

Charge d’Affaires, a.i.

of Belarus to the

United States of America

During the last five years, Belarus and

the United States have been, slowly but

surely, improving their relationship. But

the 27 years of our diplomatic relations

have seen their ups and downs. No matter

what, Belarus has always been mindful of

the importance of maintaining good and

fruitful relations with Washington. The

United States became the second country

in the world to establish diplomatic ties with

Belarus, and back then it was a big deal for

the newly independent country of Belarus.

I believe that our Western partners, the

United States, in particular, understand

that Belarus has always been a net donor

of European and international security.

Over 20 years ago Belarus, unilaterally

and unconditionally, relinquished

possession of nuclear weapons and

removed them all from its territory.

With our U.S. and European partners,

we seek to deliver input to managing global

and regional problems, to countering

modern challenges and threats. In 2011,

Belarus offered its rail network to transport

cargo to U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Belarus

and U.S. joined forces in combating

illicit trafficking in nuclear material. In

2014, Belarus proposed to conduct on

its territory negotiations on resolving

the situation in Eastern Ukraine, and

Minsk agreements have been universally

recognized as the only instrument that

can lead to sustainable peace in Ukraine.

Full normalization of Belarus – U.S.

relations has been one of the priorities of

Belarus’s foreign policy. Making progress

in our relations, we have avoided pitfalls

and mistakes as contacts between the

two countries become more intensive

and new opportunities are explored.

On the vast majority of international

issues, our values and viewpoints

are shared with the United States.

Recently, relevant agencies of

the Belarusian Government signed

memoranda with the U.S. Drug

Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The two countries support one another

in international bodies on such issued

as combating trafficking in persons and

interdicting illicit trafficking in drugs.

With the Trump Administration, we are

engaged in political and sectoral dialogues

on a number of issues of mutual interest and

concern. It is through honest and respectful

dialog that we forge understanding and

common ground on matters where we

may have some disagreements, like the

pace of human rights reforms in Belarus.

The areas of Belarus – U.S. engagement

which possesses significant potential are

trade and investment. This potential has

yet to be fully explored, but there are

factors where progress is already observed

and where we can demonstrate how

serious and promising a partner Belarus is.

Belarus is an export-oriented state

with a well-developed production sector,

services sector and agriculture. Belarus

is a global leader in the export of freight

vehicles, tractors, road construction and

municipal equipment, potash fertilizers,

flax fabric, dairy products, butter. Our

open pit dump trucks have 30 percent

of the global market. In 2013, Belarusian

Automobile Plant produced the world’s

biggest dump truck, its load capacity

is 450 tons and the monster is listed

in the Guinness Book of Records.

Belarus is 37th in the World Bank’s

Doing Business 2019 out of 190

economies covered in the study. The

Belarusian Government is following the

path of macroeconomic stabilization and

structural reforms using the expertise

of international financial institutions,

particularly IMF and World Bank.

Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019 13


Belarus trade with the U.S. is not

insignificant: about 1.5 billion dollars

annually both ways counting both

goods and services. Trade is balanced

– we import more goods from

the U.S. but we sell more services.

The U.S. is a significant investor

in the Belarusian economy. There

are about 400 enterprises with U.S.

capital active in Belarus. There is a

growing interest on the part of U.S.

corporations in Belarus, it being part

of the Eurasian Economic Union.

The last two years saw increased

contacts between business

communities, especially at the regional

level: Belarusian business delegations

visited Texas, Florida, California, New

York, New Jersey, North Dakota,

Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois,

Arkansas, Pennsylvania. In June 2017

the Belarusian National Exposition

featuring tech and IT sectors was

organized at eMerge Americas hightech

exhibition in Miami Beach,

Florida. That was the first ever Belarus

National Exposition in the U.S.

Belarus Pavilion at eMerge Americas, first line

Belarus is particularly proud of

the export of its computer services

to the U.S. and worldwide. In the

past several years Belarus has earned

the reputation of the leading “IT

country” in the Eastern European

region. This is naturally becoming

a new brand of Belarus. According

to the Global Services 100 rating,

the Republic of Belarus placed 13th

among the 20 leading countries in

the sphere of IT outsourcing and

high-tech services. Moreover, three

companies with Belarusian roots

entered the top-100 of the largest

world companies in this sphere: EPAM

Systems, IBA Group and Intetics Co.

EPAM Systems (NYSE: EPAM)

became the first IT services provider in

the history of the Central and Eastern

Europe region which floated its shares

on the New York Stock Exchange. The

company’s market cap has increased

more than fivefold since the IPO.

Providing a special business

environment for IT business, Belarus

Hi-Tech Park (HTP) is one of the

largest and fast-growing IT clusters in

Central and Eastern Europe. Currently,

504 IT companies with over 45,000

software engineers are registered as

HTP residents. More than 60 percent

of them are foreign companies and

joint ventures. About 3,000 new jobs

are created in HTP companies annually.

In 2018, the HTP exports exceeded

USD 1.4 billion. 92 percent of

the software produced in the Park

account for exports. 49 percent

account for the European countries,

44 percent – for the U.S. and Canada.

Today world leading corporations

from USA, such as EPAM Systems,

Exadel, Microsoft, HP, Google,

Oracle, IBM, Honeywell, Coca-Cola,

McDonald’s, Uber are among major

consumers of Belarusian software

developed in Belarus Hi-Tech

Park. Five out of 10 world’s largest

companies, according to Forbes

Lists, are among HTP customers.

EPAM IPO on NYSE

About 1 billion people in over

150 countries use mobile apps

developed by HTP residents.

Belarus is famous for its strong

computer programming school. There

are 51 universities in Belarus and

over 16 thousand graduates with ICT

and related technical skills annually.

If the current growth trend

continues, the volume of Belarus

computer services sold to the

U.S. will exceed $ 1 billion dollars

in the next few years. We take

pride in the fact that we sell such

volumes of products of the human

brain to the most technologically

advanced country in the world.

Web resources to further

explore opportunities of economic

and investment cooperation

with Belarus: www.belarus.by

www.investinbelarus.by

www.export.by

www.park.by.

Facebook workshop in HTP business-incubator

14 Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019


Economic diplomacy - A pivotal role in overcoming developmental

challenges in a globalized world

H.E. Petr Kynštetr,

Ambassador

of the Czech Republic

to Ireland

At the beginning of the 20th century,

the territory of today’s Czech Republic was

one of the most developed areas of Europe,

where the Austro-Hungarian industry was

concentrated. After the establishment of

Czechoslovakia, the independent state

of both Czechs and Slovaks in 1918,

within 20 years, the economy of the

Czechoslovakian Republic was a part

of the 10 most developed countries in

the world. Textiles, glassware and shoemaking

industries were world-renowned.

Engineering, electro-technical and

energy industries also developed strongly.

After the conclusion of the Second

World War, societal change was brought

about by the beginning of a socialist

establishment, which led to substantial

alterations in the Czechoslovakian

industry. All industrial businesses were

nationalized. Agriculture was forcefully

collectivized and agricultural co-operatives

were formed. The state’s economy

began to be centrally controlled through

the national industrial plan. The main

economic decisions were based on a 5-year

plan, which dictated the industrial progress

of the whole country. Czechoslovakian

industry turned towards the east and to

heavy industry, demanding substantial raw

resources and energy. The emphasis on

heavy industry and mining brought about

a considerable strain on the environment.

The fall of communism in 1989

allowed Czechoslovakia to re-establish

itself as a trading economy. The transition

from a centrally planned industry was

not straightforward and posed many

challenges. With the fall of the USSR,

Czechoslovakia, which previously focused

on the eastern bloc markets, lost its stable

trade partners. This led to a reduction in

coal mining and the manufacture of arms

and heavy machinery. This was followed

by an increase in unemployment in certain

regions (such as north Bohemia and

Moravia). Such structural changes within

Czechoslovakian industries presented a

shift in the country’s trade connections

with the rest of the world. Emphasis on

trade partners of the former eastern bloc

decreased and Czechoslovakia began to

pursue trade with other developed countries.

Due to deep economic and societal

changes, at the end of 1992, Czechoslovakia

peacefully split into two independent

states: The Czech Republic and The

Slovak Republic. From 1 January 1993,

the Czech economy began to function

independently and had to tackle not only

the changes in global markets but also

the challenges linked to the disintegration

of the Czechoslovakian state.

The newly formed Czech Republic

continued in the transformation of its

economy through privatization, which

proved to be quite difficult, with varying

impacts on individual areas of the

country. Privatization was divided into 3

main processes, known as restitution and

both small and large coupon privatization.

Some significant businesses were sold

directly to foreign investors (Skoda

Auto), through the restitution process

businesses were returned to their previous

owners. The coupon privatization saw

a large amount of state businesses

being transferred to private ownership

in the form of joint-stock companies.

On 1 May 2004, the Czech Republic

became a member of the European

Union. From an economic viewpoint, this

led to not only an overall improvement

of its international standing but

also to have the ability to further

accelerate the economy’s performance.

There was an influx of foreign

capital, access to resources from

Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019 15


EU structural funds for the

development of sectors and regions as

well as the possibility for Czech citizens

to move freely among other member

states of the EU. Trade barriers were

removed.

Today, the Czech Republic is one

of the most developed countries in

central and Eastern Europe. As a

member of the EU, the country plays

an active role in the single market and

EU economy. The Czech Republic uses

its own currency (the Czech Crown –

CZK) and meets all requirements for

transitioning to the Euro, for which a

date has not been set.

In 2018, GDP growth continued

with a 3% increase. The unemployment

rate in the Czech Republic is currently

(April 2019) the lowest in the EU at

1,9% and the level of poverty is the

third lowest amongst OECD countries

(behind Iceland and Denmark). The

Czech Republic is placed 24th in the

index of economic freedom and the

index of global innovation. It sits 29th

in the global competitiveness rankings

and 30th in the ease of doing business

ratings. The largest trade partner

for import and export is Germany,

followed by other EU countries.

The Czech Republic has a very

diverse economy, which placed 9th in

the economic complexity index in 2017.

Services form 60% of the economy,

industry 37.5% and agriculture

forms the remaining 2.5%. The main

industrial activities are in advanced

technologies, automotive industry,

engineering, steel manufacture,

transport equipment chemical

manufacture and pharmaceutics. In

the area of research and development,

nanotechnology and bio and medical

science, the Czech Republic is a strong

global leader.

Economic diplomacy plays a pivotal

role in overcoming developmental

challenges in a globalized world.

Its main task is to promote the

government’s trade policies with other

countries. The key tools for this are

various forms of support for exporting

and foreign direct investment as well as

fostering the investments of national

entities abroad. An integral part of this

is the promotion of a positive image of

the country worldwide, which aids the

realization of economic and business

interests.

The Czech Ministry of Foreign

Affairs and the Ministry of Industry

and Trade are both involved in

promoting economic diplomacy of

the Czech Republic. Amongst them, a

framework agreement of cooperation

was signed to ensure continued

support. It divides the competences

between the two ministries in the

field of economic relations with

foreign countries. In addition to the

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its

embassies, the Ministry of Industry

and Trade, along with CzechTrade

and CzechInvest, the Ministry of

Regional Development and its agency

CzechTourism also belong to the

network of institutions supporting

Czech export. Furthermore, the

Czech Development Agency and

Czech Centers Abroad also aid in their

endeavors. These institutions form

a global network whose joint efforts

carry out a wide range of economic

diplomacy activities.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and

the relevant section led by the Deputy

Minister plays an important role in

economic diplomacy. In cooperation

with the Czech Ministry of Industry

and Trade and the CzechTrade Agency,

the Client Center for Export has been

set up to offer Czech companies the

opportunity to access information

about country-specific export

opportunities. It also publishes a yearly

“Map of Industry Opportunities”,

bringing an overview of export and

investment opportunities around

the world. The key activities of

Czech economic diplomacy include

organization and participation in

professional presentations, business

forums, seminars, exhibitions and fairs,

round tables, and business missions

organized both to and from the Czech

Republic.

The global network of Czech

Embassies is greatly utilized in these

activities. Each Embassy has at least

one diplomat, who responsible for

economic diplomacy activities in the

given country. Their activities further

the trade policies set out by the

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with room

for creative solutions in all areas of

activity aiming to effectively promote

the economic interests of the Czech

Republic.

The Embassy of the Czech Republic

in Dublin is one of the smaller offices,

nevertheless, economic diplomacy is

a key role in its activities. The office

is in contact with business entities in

both the Czech Republic and Ireland,

trying to respond to their demands and

provide them with an appropriate level

of service to help establish contact or

organize meetings of representatives

of both countries. The Embassy

organizes seminars, workshops and

conferences both independently

and in cooperation with the London

offices of CzechTrade, CzechInvest

and CzechTourism. Possibilities of

cooperation between the two countries

in joint market entry to 3rd markets are

also sought.

The Embassy has recently organized

a number of events highlighting

Irish investment opportunities in the

Czech Republic. Also important is the

introduction of the country as a tourist

destination and the provision of spa

and health services for the treatment

of Irish patients. The organization of

cultural and social events also helps to

promote the Czech Republic to the

public and the media.

One of the most successful

economic diplomacy events organized

by the Dublin Embassy was the Water

and Energy Conference, organized

in partnership with Trinity College

Dublin and Irish Water. At the event,

many Czech and Irish companies

have established contacts which have

already resulted in the implementation

of specific projects on the Irish market.

Several seminars were dedicated to

tourist destinations, such as Alternative

Cities in the Czech Republic or Czech

Spas and Health Tourism. An event

with great impact on the Irish public

was last year’s Škoda Czech Fashion

Show - a show of leading Czech

designers and accompanying events,

where both economic and cultural

activities were combined. As the event

raised considerable interest, it is set

for a reiteration later this year. Other

upcoming events include the Czech -

Irish Smart Building Summit, where

Czech environmental companies will

present themselves to the Irish market

for the first time, promoting their

cutting edge technologies.

The methods, forms and tools

of the Czech Republic’s economic

diplomacy are constantly improving

and deepening. An important role is

played by individual embassies in their

relevant countries as they seek new

opportunities in promoting Czech

interests across the world.

16 Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019


© georgiantravelguide.com

Georgia – Promising Market for Investments

H.E. George Sharvashidze,

Ambassador of Georgia

to the

Kingdom of the Netherlands

Georgia is a small but incredibly vibrant

country, strategically located at the junction

of East and West, in the center of a vast

network of trade deals and flows. It should

be emphasized that Georgia has always

belonged to the European civilization

and its European integration (as well as

Euro-Atlantic aspiration) is irreversible.

Georgia, which in recent years became

extremely attractive to foreign investors,

plays an important role in the economic

development of the wider region. The

geographic location of Georgia, being a

Black Sea country, a bridge between Europe

and Asia and an emerging transportation

and logistics hub in the region, provides

a wide range of opportunities to business

communities to engage in various projects.

Our business environment and

engagement, especially, in energy,

infrastructural and transport projects

complement the goals of the family

of European Nations. We do believe

that increased connectivity would

bring us even closer to the EU

and contribute to overall stability,

security and prosperity in the region.

What makes Georgia an important

and interesting player for its European

partners? First: as we are talking about

strengthening the energy security of the

European countries, I should mention

an increasing role of Georgia in this

process. Georgia as a reliable partner for

energy transit and one of the key actors

of transport axis is actively participating

in the major strategic projects like the

Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and Baku-Supsa oil

pipelines and is an integral part of the

Southern Gas Corridor. We have already

expanded South Caucasus Pipeline and

this is a good precondition for expanding

Southern Gas Corridor even further

to deliver natural gas of Turkmenistan

westward. For that reason, I consider it

appropriate to stress the significance of

the energy projects such as the Trans-

Caspian Pipeline and the White Stream.

These projects could enable to transit

large gas volumes to the different parts

of Europe in a competitive and costeffective

manner and this diversification

of supplies could further enhance the

energy security of the European countries.

Second: as we are talking about

transportation and connectivity, I should

emphasize that Georgia has always

drawn attention for its strategic location

at the crossroads of Europe and Asia.

Our region has always been a place for

intensive socio-economic relations and we

believe that its significance in global affairs

is likely to rise in the decades to come.

Georgia with its strategic positioning

capitalizes to become a transportation and

logistics hub in the region. Government

of Georgia is focused on strengthening

the transit function of the country that

will ensure additional cargo streams from

Europe to Asia and vice versa. Georgia

is an active member and a contributor to

the development of new transit routes

and corridors including Lapis Lazuli,

Persian Gulf-Black Sea Route, South-West

Corridor, Black Sea-Caspian Sea Freight

Transport Corridor, Trans-Caspian

International Transport Route (so-called

Middle Corridor) and more. Thus, the

acceleration of the development of key

transport infrastructure is one of our

main priorities at this moment. Currently,

we are carrying out major infrastructural

projects, such as the construction and

development of the East-West Highway,

modernization of railway infrastructure,

building modern logistics centers and

much more. Together with Azerbaijan and

Turkey, we have finalized the construction

Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019 17


of the new Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway

Line significantly reducing transit time

for goods coming from Europe to

China and vice versa through Turkey,

Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan -

to 12-14 days comparing to traditional

sea route taking more than 45 days.

In December 2017, we started

construction of the Anaklia Deep

Sea Port, which will also facilitate the

development of Anaklia City - a new

city-scale Special Economic Zone

next to the port. The first phase of the

construction of the port is projected

to be finalized by 2021.

Third: as we are talking about trade

and investments, I should mention

the important transformation that

Georgia has undergone during the

past years. We went through significant

reforms and introduced one of the

most liberal foreign trade policies in

the world that imply facilitated foreign

trade regime and customs procedures,

low import tariffs and minimal nontariff

regulations, open competition

on the market and proper protection

of property rights. We have already

proved to be a reliable partner and an

attractive destination for the investors

with an efficient legislative and

regulatory base.

As a result of implemented broad

and comprehensive economic and

institutional reforms, presently Georgia

has one of the most business-friendly

and corruption-free environments in

the world, highlighted by a number of

respectable international institutions.

The World Bank ranks Georgia as 3rd

least tax burden countries and 6th in

the world by ease of doing business.

According to the Fraser Institute,

Georgia is ranked 7th by Index of

Economic Freedom. Transparency

International placed Georgia at 41st

place in the Corruption Perceptions

Index at 6th position in Safety and

Crime index. Moreover, we have

dramatically improved our positions

in indices such as Macroeconomic

Environment Category, Extent

of Market Dominance, Property

Rights Category and many more.

Our economic policy is oriented on

free, fair, inclusive and sustainable

development.

The Government of Georgia puts

a lot of efforts to position the country

as the best investment destination

in various fields but especially in

manufacturing. Georgia is a relatively

small market to fully utilize economies

of scale and increase competitiveness

from a global market standpoint.

However, we are an opening window

to a number of markets, among them

to the economies of Central Asia

and the Far East. In this respect,

we provide physical access through

modern transport infrastructure and

normative access in terms of free

trade agreements. Specifically, besides

EU and EFTA countries, we also have

in place Free Trade Agreements with

China, including Hong Kong, with

Turkey, with all post-soviet countries,

and GSP regimes with the United

States, Canada and Japan. FTAs are

under negotiation also with some

other nations. Thus, producing in

Georgia means not only having access

to local, but also to more than 2.3

billion consumer markets.

Transforming Georgia into one of

the most attractive tourist destinations

in the world is the last but not

least in the list of strategies of the

Government of Georgia. Today

tourism is one of the most dynamically

developing sectors of Georgian

economy with significant potential

for further growth. It should be noted

with satisfaction that Georgia has

set a new record, hosting 8,7 million

international visitors in 2018, showing

an increase of 9.8% compared to

2017. Government of Georgia has

developed ten-year Development Plan

2015-2025, which aims to increase

tourist flow to 11 million travelers

by 2025 meaning that the high

demand on tourism infrastructure

will further increase in the years to

come. Therefore, the Government

of Georgia offers potential investors

to develop hotels and other types of

commercial real estate in summer, spa

and wellness, and winter resorts, which

are gaining popularity on a daily basis.

In closing, I would like to announce

for business circles that investment

opportunities will be discussed on

10-11 July 2019 in Batumi, Georgia

at the 1st Eastern Partnership (EaP)

Investment Forum “Ten Years After

Prague”, a side-event of the 16th

Batumi International Conference.

The forum is dedicated to the 10th

Anniversary of EaP and is co-organized

by the Government of Georgia

and the European Commission.

The 1st EaP Investment Forum

will discuss the impact of the EaP

Program of the EU on the investment

environment of Georgia and other

EaP countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan,

Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine) after

ten years of its implementation. The

primary focus of the Forum is to

promote investment projects, including

JV opportunities, in the EaP countries

in the key sectors: infrastructure

(including tourism and logistics),

energy, manufacturing and agriculture.

The Forum will provide the

opportunity to meet with the

government and private sector

representatives of the EaP countries

as well as the leaders of financial

institutions and to discuss investment

opportunities in the priority sectors

in G2B and B2B formats organized

in the margins of the Forum. The

business leaders from all over the

world are more than welcome to

attend the event and explore what

Georgia and its partners have to offer.

18 Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019


North Macedonia - investing in its future

H.E. Goran Stevchevski,

Ambassador of the

Republic of North Macedonia

to Hungary

North Macedonia nowadays stands

at a turning point in its history as an

independent nation. After signing in 2017 a

treaty on friendship, good-neighbourliness

and cooperation with neighbouring

Bulgaria, in 2018 it took decisive steps to

resolve its long-standing bilateral dispute

with Greece over the name of the country.

The entry into force, in February 2019, of

the historic Prespa Agreement with Greece

opened new opportunities to promote the

development of a dynamic economy well

integrated into the European economy.

It is well known that sustainable

economic development goes hand in hand

with security and stability. In July 2018

the country was invited to join NATO

and is expected to become a member of

the Alliance by the end of 2019. As a

candidate country for EU membership,

it is also expected to start accession

talks as early as at the end of 2019. We

believe that the EU accession process will

irreversibly transform our society into

a fully functional European democracy.

The country is well-positioned to

seize the opportunities created by this

renewed outlook. Its early marketoriented

reforms, openness to trade, and

prudent macroeconomic management

have created an environment of

economic stability that has attracted

private investment and boosted exports,

particularly in manufacturing. The country

has maintained inflation at a low level,

and public debt is stabilized at a relatively

low level of about 47 % of GDP. In the

past two decades, its economic growth

was among the most stable in the Western

Balkans, income per capita doubled, and

the country moved from low-middle- to

upper-middle-income status. Its strategic

geographic location is also a major asset,

given the largely untapped export potential

of its agriculture and services sectors.

The country’s economy is closely

linked to EU countries and to the region

for trade and investments. Germany,

UK, Greece, Italy, Bulgaria, Serbia,

Slovenia but also China and Turkey

remain its main trading partners.

Being located centrally in South-Eastern

Europe, the country provides easy access

for entrepreneurs to new markets and new

customers. It continuously upgrades its

regional interconnectivity, being also at

the crossroad of some of Europe’s main

transport corridors. Three multilateral and

two bilateral free-trade agreements give

North Macedonia duty free access to more

than 650 million consumers from the EU

member-states, the EFTA and CEFTA

countries, as well as Turkey and Ukraine. A

company can also benefit from lower costs

and competitive operating environment.

The country has adopted a

comprehensive strategy to attract foreign

investments. It offers one of the most

favourable tax packages in Europe, with a

10% tax rate for corporate and personal

income and 0% tax on reinvested earnings.

North Macedonia can competitively

meet the needs of companies seeking to

enhance profitability, due to competitive

labor costs and an abundant supply of

skilled workers. Universities and technical

schools are open to cooperate with

individual investors and create tailor-made

programs to satisfy labor needs. Educated,

highly-qualified, and ethical workforce is

available to foreign investors at an average

gross monthly salary of €580 (2019).

North Macedonia offers additional

incentives for manufacturing companies

located in the Technological Industrial

Development Zones (TIDZs), including

0% corporate and personal income tax

for the first ten years, and 10% thereafter.

Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019 19


Investors are exempt from payment

of value added tax and customs duties

for equipment and machines. Land in a

TIDZ in North Macedonia is available

under long-term lease for a period of

up to 99 years at very favorable prices

of 0,10 EUR per square meter per year.

Investors are also exempt from paying

utility taxes to the local municipality

and fees for land building permits. The

Zones entail access to an international

airport, and a main international

road network. Free connection

to natural gas, water and sewage

network as well as Green Customs

Channel for goods is also available.

The country makes strong efforts

to diversify its energy supply and to

increase the use of clean energy by

providing solutions to lower its costs.

It builds a country-wide natural gas

pipeline and distribution network

and, in line with the signed MoU

with Greece, an interconnector to

the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP)

or to an LNG import terminal.

The reform agenda, outlined in the

Government’s Program 2017–2020,

focuses on economic growth, job

creation, fair taxation, support to small

and medium enterprises, and reform

of social protections for the most

vulnerable. Plan for economic growth

of North Macedonia is based on tree

pillars; first one focuses on creation

of new jobs, increase of capital

investment and income, technology

development and research department,

cooperation with suppliers, acquisition

of companies that are facing

difficulties, and investment projects

of significant economic interest

for the Republic North Macedonia;

second pillar is aimed at increasing

in sales and winning new markets

through increased competitiveness

of companies; and the third pillar is

about young high-growth enterprises

(gazelles), support of micro and

small enterprises, innovativeness,

professional upgrade and practice

for newly employed young people.

North Macedonia also invests much

in alternative tourism development.

Ancient lakes, green forests, canyons

and many other unique natural

beauties and cultural heritage sites are

all there to be discovered by visitors.

Team with North Macedonia.

Create shared opportunities.

20 Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019


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Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019 21


Slovakia, an attractive investment destination for high value-added

investments, R&D and innovations

H.E. Igor Pokojný,

Ambassador

of Slovak Republic

to Ireland

During the past two decades, foreign

direct investments (FDI) became a

backbone of the Slovak economy.

Thanks to the combination of favorable

investment conditions and quality of

the business environment, Slovakia is

an increasingly attractive destination for

large-scale foreign investments as well as

high value-added investments still today.

First, please let me briefly introduce

you to my country. Perhaps small in

size, it is grand in terms of countless

natural beauties and opportunities for a

time well-spent. The land of the Tatras,

the gem of the West Carpathian Arch

offers an attractive ski destination and

unique fauna and flora. The Tatras are

also home to roughly 100 castles and

caves of world significance inscribed

in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Slovakia is a member of more than

60 of the most important international

organizations such as the European

Union (EU), NATO, the United Nations

(UN), the Organization for Economic

Cooperation and Development (OECD),

the World Trade Organization (WTO),

the Organization for Security and

Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the

Council of Europe. According to the

latest Human Development Index (HDI)

Ranking, Slovakia holds the 38th position

out of 189 countries. Slovakia entered

the EU on 1st May 2004, joined the

Schengen Zone in 2007 and the Eurozone

in 2009. This year Slovakia marked the

15th anniversary since EU and NATO

accession and the 10th anniversary

since joining the exclusive euro club.

My country is currently holding its fifth

Presidency of the Visegrad Group (V4),

putting emphasis on the strengthening

of internal dynamics, competitiveness,

security, interconnectivity and cohesion

of the V4 region within the EU. The

motto of the Slovak Presidency Dynamic

Visegrad for Europe expresses the

fulfillment of these ambitions. The V4

countries have made full use of their EU

and NATO membership potential and

established themselves in the European

and transatlantic environment. Despite

the EU’s multiple crises (gas, economic,

migration), this period has represented a

dynamic development and stable progress

for the whole V4. Economic growth in the

V4 has actually exceeded the EU average.

Slovakia is holding the Chairmanship of

the OSCE in 2019. It aims to be ambitious

in promoting dialogue, trust and stability

in the OSCE area as well as realistic.

The Slovak Chairmanship is focusing

on three areas: Preventing, mediating

and mitigating conflict and focusing

on the people it affects; providing for a

safer future and effective multilateralism.

Economic Forecast

Slovakia is experiencing an ongoing

economic expansion, driven by continually

increasing domestic demand, as well as

booming investment – both local and

foreign. The real GDP growth has more

than doubled since 2013 and reached 4.2%

in 2018. According to the 2019 Winter

Economic Forecast of the European

Commission, the Slovak economy is

projected to keep this pace and continue

to grow by 4.1% in 2019. The labor market

conditions are expected to continuously

improve and according to the Central

Office of Labor, Social Affairs and Family

of the Slovak Republic, the unemployment

rate for February 2019 was only 5.16%.

This period of economic expansion

is primarily reflected in wage increases.

It is anticipated that both the

22 Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019


unemployment rate and gross public

debt to be decreased in the years

ahead. According to the World Bank

Worldwide Governance Indicator

(WGI), Slovakia is one of the most

politically stable countries in the

CEE region, and hence the country

has been perceived as a regional

FDI champion for many years.

For example, investment of Jaguar

Land Rover (announced in 2016) is

projected to have a positive impact

on the stimulation of economic

growth in the years to come. First

cars have been produced in 2018 and

full capacity will be reached soon.

Structure of the Slovak Economy

The Slovak economy is built upon

three major sectors: services (61.5%),

industry (34.8%), agriculture (3.8%),

with the highest share of the Slovak

GDP growth seen in the services

and industrial production sectors.

The most represented industries

within the services sector are the

Information and Communications

Technologies (ICTs), and the Business

Services Centers (BSCs). The

automotive, mechanical engineering

and electronics are the leading

sectors within industrial production.

With one of the most advanced ICT

infrastructures in the CEE region,

Slovakia is an ideal location for new

software houses or IT outsourcing

centers. When it comes to shared

services, to date, more than 65

BSCs are present. The reason why

representatives of global companies

decided to locate these centers in

Slovakia are mainly the reputation,

multilingual competencies and

quality of the Slovak labor force.

The electronics sector makes 11%

share on total industrial production,

while the share of the automotive

industry is 47%. Slovakia is the world’s

biggest car producer per capita,

so it goes without saying that the

automotive industry has a special place

in the Slovak economic structure. 4

large car makers operate in Slovakia and

produce specific premium car models

that are not made anywhere else in the

World – Volkswagen, PSA Peugeot

and Citroën, Kia Motors, Jaguar

Land Rover. As a result, the OECD

considers Slovakia as the worldwide

leader with the highest growth

of added value in manufacturing

among all of its member states.

This indicates the Slovak

economy has the potential of

quantitative and qualitative growth.

Skilled labor force

The Slovak labor force is highlyqualified

and hardworking. 92% of

the population acquired at a minimum

an upper education, and thus Slovakia

has one of the highest proportions

of secondarily educated people

among OECD countries. According

to the latest Eurostat data, the labor

productivity in Slovakia has been

constantly growing and continually

reaches the highest rate in the CEE

region. Slovakia holds the 16th place

out of 137 countries worldwide in

the ability to adopt new technology

brought to the country by foreign

investors. This makes Slovakia an

attractive investment destination for

the implementation of R&D and

innovations in production. According

to the latest data by International

Federation of Robotics, the global

average of newly installed robots

in manufacturing was 85 robots

for 10,000 employees, whereas in

Slovakia there was an average of

151 robots for the same number of

working people. Slovakia has been

proactive in taking steps towards

automation and digitalization of

production systems by increasing

the number of robots in production.

Slovakia’s human potential, a proinnovative

approach, together with a

strategic central European location

reaching up to 600 million potential

clients in a radius of 2,000 km

create the best conditions possible

for investing and doing business.

The Slovaks have a high command

of the English language. 99% of young

people in Slovakia learn two foreign

languages simultaneously; the most

commonly spoken ones being English,

German, Russian, and Spanish.

With one of the most advanced

ICT infrastructures in the CEE region,

Slovakia is an ideal location for new

software houses or IT outsourcing

centers. The reason why representatives

of global companies decided to locate

these centers in Slovakia is mainly the

reputation, multilingual competencies

and quality of the Slovak labor force.

To summarize, Slovakia affords

its investors a rare combination of

reasons why to choose the country as

the investment destination. As a stable,

well-positioned country in the heart of

Europe, it offers a suitable investment

environment with its low corporate

tax and highly qualified, hard-working

labor force. The possibility to receive

attractive investment incentives,

proximity to the key European

markets, as well as the gradually

evolving research and innovation

network of Slovak companies and

researchers are another reasons

Slovakia is one of the most attractive

emerging markets in the world.

At the very end, please let me

introduce you The Slovak Investment

and Trade Development Agency

(SARIO), which is a governmentfunded

allowance organization that

works under the supervision of the

Ministry of Economy of the Slovak

Republic. SARIO offers potential

investors a vast range of services such

as investment environment overview,

assistance with investment project

implementation, starting a business

and investment aid consultancy as

well as site location and real estate

consultancy. It also supports activities

for development and popularization

of Slovak innovations and R&D

development, ecosystem analysis of

local investment opportunities as well

as domestic and foreign investors

in order to support acquisitions

and joint ventures projects and it

supports the interconnection of

Slovak R&D capacities with industrial

production and investors’ needs.

Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019 23


The Philippines: meeting the East from the West

H.E. Jorge Moragas Sánchez,

Ambassador of Spain to

Philippines

1521 marks the beginning of a story

that is still being written. The arrival of

the Magallanes-Elcano circumnavigation

expedition, sponsored by the Kingdom

of Spain, to the islands that later would

be called Las Filipinas (after the then

Crown Prince Felipe), was the overture of

a flourishing relationship that has bound

both nations through five centuries.

In these 500 years of shared history,

the way our nations traded with each

other mutated in parallel to political

events. For 250 years, the Philippines

and Spain held the leading role in the

first globalization that connected East

and West: the Manila Galleon. The

longest maritime route ever, it became

an extraordinary economic, gastronomic

and artistic bridge across the Pacific, and

ultimately between Asia and Europe.

The Philippines, and particularly

Manila, remained a significant trading

hub to the rest of Asia for Spain after the

galleon route faded. The economic relation

with Spain was boosted by the foundation

in 1891 of the Compañía General de

Tabacos de Filipinas, the first Spanish

multinational. This powerful tobacco and

agro-commodities company remained as

a trading and social connection between

both nations well beyond independence

(1898) and the American period.

This amazing story is still being written

today. The Spanish-Philippine commercial

and economic relationship has strengthened

substantially in the last decades and is

set to continue to do so in the future.

Spanish exports to the Philippines

reached, in 2018, the record amount

of 479.2 M€, achieving an increase of

14% from the previous year. This is part

of a larger trend: in the past decade,

this figure has grown an outstanding

370%, based, mostly, on exports of

drinks (such as wine and brandy), meat,

machines and mechanical appliances,

plastics and pharmaceutical products.

As a result, the Philippines has become,

since 2018, the fourth largest ASEAN

market for Spanish exports. Meanwhile,

Philippine exports to Spain have also

increased strongly, albeit at a slower pace;

nevertheless, 2018 has also been a record

year for Philippine products to Spain.

The Philippines is quickly regaining its

place as one of Spain’s key trade partners

in the ASEAN region. The fact that, since

2018, the Philippines is only topped by

Singapore in terms of trade surplus comes

to show just how valuable the Philippine

market is for Spanish companies.

As for Philippine investments in Spain,

historically they had been rather modest

but in the last five years, they have rocketed.

From vertical integration operations

in the alcoholic drinks sector (brandy),

they have expanded into large real estate

investments (Madrid and Barcelona),

and even to operational activity of major

Filipino companies in different sectors.

Spanish companies have also shown

a remarkable and renewed interest in

the Philippines since the beginning

of the current century. Apart from

INDRA (then Soluziona) and Mapfre’s

establishment in the market in the 1990s,

no other major Spanish companies had

settled down in the Philippines until a

wave of mostly engineering, consulting,

IT, energy and construction firms

arrived in the country in the past decade.

Working closely with Philippine

companies, as well as the Philippines’

public sector and multilateral institutions

present in the country such as the

Asian Development Bank, Spanish

companies are taking part in a wide

array of projects across the country,

24 Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019


in sectors such as infrastructure,

water management, railway, or power

generation.

The success they have achieved is

undisputable and a source of great pride

for Spain, and in large part due to the

abundant opportunities the Philippines

has to offer. Its burgeoning economy has

grown unstopped for two decades and is

forecasted to carry on likewise, and its

young population is the twelfth largest

in the world, and second among ASEAN

countries.

In addition, the government plans to

boost infrastructure development and

early signs of a new era of economic

openness will surely bring major

opportunities to seize. The “Build, Build,

Build” program launched by the current

Administration, which aims to reach 7%

of GDP of infrastructure spending in

2022, is gaining traction and delivering

the first results. One of the goals of

this ambitious agenda is to substantially

expand the current railway network,

which partially dates back to the Spanish

era. Besides the historic link, Spanish

railway companies are renowned for their

capabilities and they are being actively

involved in this endeavor.

In the midst of a whole new

geopolitical world game, Spain remains

for the Philippines a reliable trade and

development partner.

The Spanish International

Development Cooperation Agency

(AECID) has been present in the country

for the last three decades, working with

the Filipino institutions in addressing

problems and finding solutions in

different fields such as peace and security,

good governance, the justice system and

disaster relief and preparedness, among

others.

In addition, in 2019, Spain has set

aside 300 M€ to finance infrastructure

projects in the Philippines in the coming

4 years. This institutional stimulus,

together with the increasing presence

of Spanish companies in this country,

will surely contribute to reaching higher

levels of economic cooperation.

Back in 1521, and for many centuries,

Las Filipinas was the connecting point

for Spain in Asia. Today, the Philippines

remains our closest partner in

socioeconomic terms in the region, and

an exceptional watchtower to understand

this part of the world. These reasons,

together with its booming economy and

its fast-growing population, make the

Philippines the place to be for Spanish

companies. In the Philippines, the East

meets the West.

Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019 25


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26 Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019


Kololi Beach © Thomas Cook

The Gambia’s long and difficult journey and why the international

community should stay engaged

H.E. Dawda Docka Fadera,

Ambassador of the

Republic of The Gambia to the

United States of America

When The Gambia attained

Independence on 18th February 1965,

many political pundits dubbed it as “the

birth of an improbable nation” due to its

size, a population of under one million

and the paucity of resources, the country’s

survival as a fully fledged sovereign nation

was in doubt. Against this backdrop

and with a mono-crop economy, the

founding fathers inspired by the “wind of

change” that was blowing across Africa

at the time proceeded to lead and shape

the destiny of the Gambian people. The

first Head of Government, Sir Dawda

Jawara was quick to warn Gambians that

“Independence will not transform our

groundnuts into diamonds “and that

only hard work would ensure the survival

of the nation. He, therefore, galvanized

Gambians through a political philosophy

popularly known as “TESITO”, whose

central thesis was self–reliance and

investment in qualitative human capital. It

can be argued that The Gambia triumphed

from 1965 to 1994 because of pragmatic

development policies and wise leadership

that was committed to democracy,

the rule of law and human rights.

The peace, stability, social cohesion,

visionary leadership and democratic

credentials that made The Gambia a

beacon of hope and earned the country

international respect, recognition and

viable partnerships were all shattered on

22nd July 1994, when a group of soldiers

overthrew the constitutionally elected

government. The coupists described

themselves as “soldiers with a difference”

and vowed to bring development to the

country and return it to civilian rule within

a short period of time. What followed

was twenty-two years of dictatorship and

misrule. This period has been described

as the darkest days in the history of

The Gambia with arbitrary arrests, the

disappearance of journalists, extra-judicial

killings of opponents, the looting of

the Treasury and unbridled impunity in

trampling the human rights of Gambians.

Gambians with their characteristic

patience and faith, endured this brutal rule

but as campaigns for electoral reforms

and the fight for the very soul of the

country intensified in the run up to the

2016 Presidential election, seven Gambian

political parties under the leadership of

His Excellency Adama Barrow, formed

a coalition and in December 2016

successfully challenged Mr. Yahya Jammeh,

who had vowed to rule The Gambia

for one billion years. The coalition was

bolstered by the civil society both at home

and abroad, who formed pressure groups

like the “Enough is Enough”, “Gambia

has Decided” campaigns and the infatigable

Gambian diaspora among others.

Following the verdict of the people

to change the Government, Mr. Jammeh

initially accepted the results but quickly

made a U-turn accusing the Independent

Electoral Commission (IEC) of fraud. Mr.

Jammeh dug in and was adamant that he

would not relinquish power. The coalition

was determined that this time, Jammeh

would not be allowed to hijack the

electoral process and perpetuate himself in

power. As tension escalated, the coalition

supported by the civil society groups and

Gambians in the Diaspora, piled pressure

on Mr. Jammeh. The regional body, the

Economic Community of West African

States (ECOWAS) joined the campaign

to mediate for Jammeh’s peaceful exit

from office. It took five ECOWAS

Heads of State and two missions to

Banjul and of an intervention force for

Jammeh to agree to vacate State House

and go into exile in Equatorial Guinea.

Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019 27


The political impasse of 2016

marked an important milestone in the

political evolution of The Gambia.

Firstly, it showed that Gambians are

fully matured and can take their destiny

into their own hands when the need

arises. Gambians through the impasse

showed and demonstrated resilience,

discipline and fortitude until support

from the international community

came to complement its efforts to

uproot a brutal and vicious dictator.

Today, after celebrating victory

over tyranny and impunity, the Barrow

administration is grappling with the

task of rebuilding national cohesion,

healing deep wounds that were

inflicted on innocent people, repairing

a broken economy and rebranding

the country to restore it to its former

glory as a democratic nation where

human rights and the dignity of the

people are upheld and respected.

The gains registered in The Gambia

are a victory for democracy and lay

a solid foundation for sustainable

and inclusive national development

Although much has been achieved,

much more needs to be done as

President Barrow confronts the

challenges of rebuilding a battered and

bruised nation which for twenty-two

years was looted and its people abused.

It is in this regard that President

Barrow has launched a transformative

National Development Plan (NDP)

2018-2021, which is a medium-term

development blueprint that provides

a roadmap for the implementation

of key priority programs in line with

the high expectations of the people

as dividends of democracy. The NDP,

which was fully costed with timelines,

had a funding gap of about $1.6 billion;

however, following a successful donor’s

conference in May 2018 in Brussels

where the plan was shared with both

regional and international partners,

the Government was able to secure $

1.7 billion in pledges from partners.

The pledges have since started to

increasingly trickle in. It is important

and in fact a moral responsibility for

the pledges to be honored. History

has shown that in many instances

when cameras roll back on seemingly

stabilized but fragile scenarios, the

attention of partners to carry out their

commitment gets shifted away. This

should be avoided in Gambia’s case,

given that the country is on a clear

flight path and that the NDP is an allinclusive

document agreed by all the

stakeholders and substantial evidence

of progress has already been made

on the ground. With major flagship

programmes, the NDP is generally

among other things addressing the

critical issues of poor governance, the

huge infrastructural gap which is a result

of two decades of mismanagement

and poor policy choices, unlocking

the full potential of the tourism

sector, improving the investment

environment in the country and

tackling the perennial energy debacles.

Recognizing the huge youth population

and its potential impactful dividends

for growth, the Government of The

Gambia has given prominence to

its youth in the NDP by aspiring to

improve their livelihood through

skills development, decent work

and excellence in sports. Since the

implementation of the NDP begins in

earnest, the investment environment

of the country has drastically improved

The private sector is making

significant contributions to the country’s

economic growth and employment.

The successful implementation of the

Gambian experiment and experience

can serve as a blueprint anywhere in

the world where people are yearning

for freedom. The Gambian experience

can be the proof that democracy

pays and it can pay big dividends for

that matter. It is therefore crucial for

the international community to stay

engaged with Barrow’s administration

through at least investment and trade

in such critical areas as education,

agriculture, health and investing in the

productive sectors of the economy

While these collaborations will

help improve the lives and livelihood

of Gambians, it is also important

to point out that Gambia being the

gateway to the ECOWAS market with

a population of about 335 Million

provides huge incentives for investors

Therefore, investing in the Gambia

supports and strengthens our young

democracy, while at the same time

the conducive environment provides

potentially huge returns on investment.

28 Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019


A Brief ‘Turkey’ Overview

H.E. Dr Merve Safa Kavakci,

Ambassador of Turkey

to Malaysia

As the world closes in on to the end

of the second decade of a new millennial

experience, one country with its vibrancy

that caught the eye of students of

international politics has been Turkey.

At the crossroads of two worlds, West

and the rest per se, a historical passage

between the ancient and the modern, the

old and the new, Christianity and Islam

and more so between the secular and

religious, Turkish Republic stands tall as in

many ways, due to its unique positioning.

Since the outset of the century, Turkey’s

efforts to rise from a developing country

stage to a well-on-its way to become the

‘developed’ did not go unnoticed in the

international arena.

In that, both the political and

economic indicators of democratization

served as catapults for one another.

To set the chicken or the egg question

aside, in the Turkish case the reformative

packages introduced in the political

machinery were accompanied by the

fiscal policies of neoliberal agenda

almost contemporaneously in order to

make use of the structural adjustments

needed to gear up towards a more stable,

balanced and equity-based free market

economy. Cognizant of the romanticized

immaculacy of the capitalist system,

Turkey stroke a balance between free

market economy via the power vested

through the ‘invisible hand’ on one hand

and the protectionist policies, on the other

hand, aimed at thwarting the possibility

of growing wedges between the victors

and the losers within the economic

system. On the political end of things,

the disenfranchised strata of the society,

amounting to large pockets of widening

groups in strife for identity recognition and

rights demand, be the religious, the Kurds

or minorities as the Christian and Jewish

denominations, attested to the openings/

expansions towards their social, political

and cultural aspirations in a top-down

model initiated by the state. Again, on the

front of economics, the opening involved

more and rapid privatization to level the

playing field for a formidable financial

base in order to bring in foreign direct

investment. The immediate by-product of

such proactive economic standing was to

zoom in on the chasm between the haves

and have-nots with the hope of tapering

it off so that reification of a conspicuous

middle class could ensue. So it did. As a

result, in the sociopolitical conjecture, the

emerging bourgeoisie reverberated itself

in a vibrant civil society.

On pure fiscal terms, Turkey has

demonstrated strong performance by

increasing its GDP from $ 236 billion in

2002 to $ 784 billion in 2018 while GDP

per capita has tripled. Exports soared

nearly six folds. As we close the decade,

Turkish economy ranks 18th among the

largest economies of the globe and 7th

among European countries. The average

annual growth rate has been 5.7 % up until

last year. Probably one of the significant

results of the economic achievements

played itself out in Turkey’s relationship

with the IMF. When Erdogan’s

government assumed office in late 2002, it

bequeathed a debt of $ 23.5 billion to be

paid to the International Monetary Fund.

By 2013 the entirety of this debt

was paid off transforming the country

from a position of the borrower to

the lender. Along those lines, when

IMF approached Turkey in efforts of

rekindling the relationship between the

two, the government, upon IMF’s asking,

suggested to lend it $ 5 billion. The

Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey’s

(CBRT) official reserves soared up from

Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019 29


$ 27.5 billion to $ 93 billion by the end

of 2018.

As far as the economic freedoms are

concerned Turkey falls within the better

half of the 180 countries with a ranking

of 68th. In The World Bank’s Doing

Business 2019 report Turkey has leaped

17 points resulting in a ranking of 43rd

among 190 in total.

Thriving economically also purported

to an augmentation in a variety of fields

in the production line. One specific

area where many, among observers of

Turkey, were taken aback was its zeal

and exceeding success to build up a

homegrown defense industry inside out.

The motto introduced by the President

himself ‘indigenous and national’ put the

foundation for a burgeoning production

line during a period of a decade bringing

Turkish-made products in the sector to

75 % in total. The success in building

state of the art unmanned air and ground

vehicles that can compete with actors

who have long been in the scene sealed

the deal as far as proving its stature was

concerned. Moreover, Turkey joined the

group of the mere 4 capable nation-states

of producing fifth generation jet fighters

which included the United States, Russia

and China. In its defense endeavor, the

road to success came from Turkey’s

ability to alter what was originally a

challenge into –maybe- a blessing in

disguise namely, its dependency. This

became an incentive to be wielded as a

springboard in making strides. To be

more specific, Turkey exploited, in a good

way, the sense of being cornered which

was foisted upon by the international

counterparts who clearly stooped to

resort quite often to the carrot and the

stick model. In an attempt to turn things

around and break away from the vicious

circle of dependency, Turkey shifted

towards probing the untapped resources

within that can be brought to the front to

become self-reliant. In short, the Turkish

innovative technologies produced by

Turkish scientists, engineers, thinkers

concomitant with political will gave way

to the concept of self-sufficiency in the

defense industry and annexes thereof.

Turkey has also made noteworthy progress

in civilian sectors, such as healthcare and

medical services. In 2017, Turkey hosted

over 765.000 international patients from

144 countries which contributed with a

direct income of USD 7.2 billion to the

Turkish economy. Having become one

of the top 3 destinations in the world for

healthcare travel, Turkey invested no less

than USD 50 billion in new hospitals and

technology in the last 15 years. Turkey

also has more than 15000 US-graduate

doctors with expertise in various fields

including organ transplantations, stem

cell technology and cancer treatment.

In conclusion, despite of some grave

challenges over the years, threatening

its political sovereignty and economic

stability, among which was the recent

coup d’etat attempt that was carried

out by the cultish entity FETO, a terror

organization, resulting in the murder of

251 people and wounding of some 3000

civilians, Turkey developed a knack to

rise above the day to day difficulties, and

raised the standards of living to improve

the quality of life for all its inhabitants.

It stands out as a place of crossroads,

profound culture, deep history and

sundry opportunities to say the least.

30 Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019


Strengthening the national economy in the United Arab Emirates

H.E. Dr. Hissa Abdullah Ahmad

Alotaiba,

Ambassador

of the United Arab Emirates

to the Kingdom of Netherlands

Little was known to the global

economic community less than half a

century ago when it came to the United

Arab Emirates. Over the decades, the

country has relied mainly on pearl trade,

maritime trade, agricultural activities

and livestock, and traditional industry

to maintain a subsistence economy.

The first real period of development

in the United Arab Emirates began

in the early 1970s with the formation

of a federation and the flourishing oil

production and subsequent export, which

coincided with a period of significant

rise in world oil prices. While the world

faced volatile rates peaking at $ 35 per

barrel (equivalent to $ 104 a barrel in

2017 when adjusting for inflation).

In 1980, the state took advantage of

that opportunity to achieve huge economic

development within a short period of

time that has spanned from 1973 to 1982.

Thanks to the large oil revenues it

gained rapidly, the UAE was able to

overcome the obstacle of accumulating

sufficient capital to advance major

economic development. Building on the

oil and gas sector as the cornerstone of

the economy, the state has invested heavily

in physical and social infrastructure. The

development activities have led to the

influx of high numbers of supporting

expatriates. The UAE has finally

attracted world attention to its enormous

commercial and economic potential.

However, the abundance of

international oil that began in the early

1980s reduced the pace of rapid growth

in the UAE. Prices have fallen below $

10, ( or $ 60 per barrel as of 2017 prices).

The decline in oil prices proved to be

a positive event for the UAE, prompting

the country to focus more on economic

diversification. The founding father,

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, God

rest his soul, who was a supporter of the

policy of diversifying the economic base

despite the oil wealth in the country, took

advantage of the opportunity to enhance

the role of economic diversification

in the comprehensive development

strategy adopted by the State.

The transformation of the UAE into

one of the largest oil producers in the world,

combined with its success in nurturing

its non-oil sectors, under its ambitious

leadership, made the Emirates second

largest economy in the Middle East and one

of the most open economies in the world.

Although the structure of the UAE

economy still depends heavily on oil

income, it has the largest diversified

economy in the GCC region. The

non-oil sector currently accounts for

about 70% of the national GDP and

is expected to rise to 80% by 2021.

In 2017, KPMG’s Leading Change

Index ranked the UAE in the top

position in the Middle East and North

Africa in terms of its readiness for

change, and third within 136 countries

after Switzerland and Sweden.

The UAE also topped the world

ranking in terms of institutional capacity,

which is measured by the labor market,

economic diversification, openness,

innovation, R & D, business environment,

financial sector, transport infrastructure,

facilities, enterprise sustainability, informal

sector and technology infrastructure.

Each of the seven emirates in the UAE

has different economic conditions and

priorities, although they all adhere to the

overall development strategy of the 2021

Vision. While Abu Dhabi maintains most

of the country’s oil and gas reserves and

manages most of its national savings, Dubai

is the commercial hub of the country.

Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019 31


The emirate of Dubai and Abu Dhabi

continue to drive local economic growth

to a large extent as Dubai attracts huge

foreign investment as it prepares to host

Expo 2020, while Abu Dhabi spends

more money on infrastructure work, and

has surpassed other Gulf states.

We are a country of realistic dreamers;

our vivid imagination is best only to our

ability to turn ideas into edifices. A few

years ago, people thought projects such

as The Palm, Khalifah Tower and the

complex built on the Saadiyat Island are

something out of a science fiction movie,

yet here we are turning the desert into not

only an oasis but a haven of cultural, safe

and diverse for our citizens and guests.

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- Legitimacy. The company will be recognized as an official

strategic partner of IUBCCI and acknowledged publicly.

TRUST MARK RECOMMENDED BY IUBCCI IS

ISSUED ONLY FOR THOSE COMPANIES WHOSE

SERVICES/PRODUCTS ARE WORTH TO BE

APPRECIATED AND RECOMMENDED BY

INTERNATIONAL UNION OF BILATERAL

CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY AT

INTERNATIONAL LEVEL.

32 Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019


Viet nam – An attractive destination for foreign investors

H.E. Associate Prof.

Nguyen Anh Tuan,

Ambassador of

SR Viet Nam to Ukraine

Today Viet Nam is recognized as

a business-friendly environment in

ASEAN and the world, thanks to her

rapid GDP growth 1 , a stable society

and the government’s effort to become

a trustworthy partner. The country has

received a considerable inflow of Foreign

Direct Investment (FDI) despite its

modest size. This article shall provide

an overview of FDI in Viet Nam, as

well as the advantages and disadvantages

of doing business; thus providing a

panorama of this promising market.

Current FDI to Viet Nam

At the end of 2018, there were more

than 27,350 FDI projects in operation in

Viet Nam with a total registered capital of

US$340 billion. Over half of this committed

capital had been disbursed. Statistics

show that foreign-invested enterprises

enjoyed a trade surplus. Manufacturing

and processing continued to be the main

contributor to overall FDI, accounting

for 44.2% of the total FDI. Power

production and distribution were second

with 23.3%, followed by real estate, 8.5%.

Thus far, foreign investments have been

present in all of Viet Nam’s 63 municipalities

and localities. Ho Chi Minh City remains

the destination of choice for investors,

accounting for 13.7% of total FDI value,

followed by Ha Noi and Binh Duong with

9.9% and 9.3% respectively. However,

during 2018 alone, Ha Noi was the most

attractive destination with US$7.5 billion 2 .

Among the 130 countries and territories

having investments in Viet Nam, the

Republic of Korea was the leading

source of FDI inflow into Viet Nam

with US$62.5 billion, followed by Japan

with US$57 billion, and several other

notable investors, including Singapore,

Chinese Taipei, British Virgin Islands and

Hong Kong. Among the countries in the

European Union (EU), the Netherlands is

the largest investor into Vietnam, followed

by France, Luxembourg and Germany.

According to EuroCham, more than 50%

of its members intend to raise their capital

investment in Viet Nam, while 36% wished

to keep their investment at the current

level 3 . The business model in vogue for the

year favored investment into technology

firms: this has seen a number of major

foreign corporations, such as Ericsson,

Siemens, ABB, Volvo Buses, Roxtec, and

Axis, venturing further into Viet Nam.

The current favorable investment

environment in Viet Nam

There are several factors

lending themselves to the favorable

investment climate in Viet Nam.

First, Viet Nam has maintained

1 Viet Nam’s nominal GDP in 2017 was US$221 billion; per-capita GDP has increased by US$170 to US$2,385 compared to the previous year. By sector, services

contributed the most to the GDP, accounting for 41%, followed by industry and construction at 33%, and agriculture, forestry and fishery at 16%. In 2018, Viet Nam’s GDP

grew to US$240 billion and per-capita GDP to US$2,587, or by US$202 from 2017. Total factor productivity (TFP), which measures the contribution of supply-side production

factors to economic growth, contributed 43.5% of GDP growth and averaged 43.29% for the 2016-18 period, much higher than the average of 33.58% for the 2011-15 period.

Labor productivity was estimated at US$4,522, up by US$346 over the previous year. The incremental capital-output ratio (ICOR) fell from 6.11 in 2017 to 5.95 in 2018,

reflecting an improvement in capital efficiency (Viet Nam News: Improved business climate helps the economy, 28 December 2018)

2 So far Ha Noi has attracted $36.55 billion in FDI with the majority of this capital pouring into the real estate industry (Viet Nam News: Viet Nam’s actual FDI

surges 9% in 2018, 26 December 2018; D’Andrea and Partners: FDI In Vietnam 2018: Statistics And Main Challenges, 25 July 2018).

3 D’Andrea and Partners: FDI In Vietnam 2018: Statistics And Main Challenges, 25 July 2018.

Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019 33


fast economic growth and political

stability for the last decades. Other

governments, economists and investors

alike are optimistic about the prospects

of the Vietnamese economy, and

generally, laud its sustained growth rate in

comparison with the region. Viet Nam’s

economic growth in 2018 was higher than

expected: 7.08%, higher than the 6.81%

figure of 2017. This growth was driven

by the agricultural, industrial and service

sectors; foreign trade reached an all-time

high of more than US$400 billion.

Second, Viet Nam will continue to

remain a priority for foreign investors in

the future. Opportunities exist not only in

the traditional sectors such as garments,

footwear and electronics but also in

renewable energy, high-tech agribusiness,

and other high-tech industries. Foreign

entrepreneurs will continue to find

traditional export-oriented sectors such

as electronics, garments, and footwear

an attractive channel for investment.

In addition, the domestic market also

provides an opportunity for investors.

Given the growing urbanization and

rising incomes, such businesses as

education, real estate, retail, food &

beverages, e-commerce, and fast-moving

consumer goods (FMCG) will continue

to flourish in the near future 1 .

Third, in recent years, the Vietnamese

government has issued and implemented

various policies to create an open and

favorable market. These policies include

tax incentives, including the exemption

or reduction of land rent, fees and levies;

preferential tax rates and exemptions

in particular circumstances; and plan to

remove entry barriers 2 .

Fourth, Viet Nam’s growth in the

last decade has largely been attributed

to its numerous bilateral and multilateral

free trade agreements (FTAs). This

network has expanded her market access

and bolstered its exports 3 . This is also

a critical factor for foreign investors:

businesses are quite interested in the

huge markets of the FTAs to which Viet

Nam is a party.

Fifth, being a member of these FTAs

will not merely contribute to economic

and trade growth. It will also lead to

numerous policy reforms favorable

to foreign investors. Administrative

procedures have been simplified:

registration may now be done online, thus

reducing processing time considerably.

Sixth, Viet Nam has a young, cheap

and abundant workforce, compared to

her neighbors. The average age of Viet

Nam is 31, with 69.3% of the population

between 15 and 64. This is an impressive

and promising figure for employers in the

FDI sector.

Given these conditions, according to

the World Bank’s Doing Business 2018

report, Viet Nam ranked 68th out of

190 economies, jumping 14 places since

2017 and 30 places since 2012. Similarly,

the World Economic Forum’s (WEF)

Global Competitiveness Report 2017-

2018 ranked Viet Nam 55th out of 137

economies, a jump of 5 places from

2017. In the recent Global Innovation

Index 2017, Viet Nam jumped 12 places

to 47th out of 127 economies, the highest

ranking in the last 10 years. Viet Nam

is also leading the group of 27 lowermiddle-income

economies.

Further economic reforms towards

a better investment environment for

foreign investors

Despite its promising future, Viet

Nam’s investment environment has been

faced with many challenges that require

further reforms, namely:

First of all, to better attract and

harness FDI resources, it is necessary to

implement a consistent mix of policies

for foreign investment. Streamlining

legal institutions and policies as well

as improving the business investment

environment in line with market standards

and international rules are important

prerequisites to muster and make good

use of foreign investment.

Secondly, administrative procedures

(even after recent reforms) are still

unnecessarily complicated. Failure to

undertake further reforms may lead

to work falling behind schedule, the

waste of money and time and the loss

of potential opportunity. Therefore,

professional consultation is strongly

recommended during the implementation

of administrative reforms.

Thirdly, the quality of the Vietnamese

is still behind international standards.

A shortage of skilled labor is possibly

the result of a serious mismatch between

economic and social development

and education, resulting in difficulties

in recruiting workers. Therefore, it is

important for Viet Nam to develop

skilled human resource to reposition

Viet Nam’s competitiveness. This would

help to attract foreign investment while

encouraging and supporting joint

venture, cooperation and technology

transfer between domestic and foreigninvested

firms.

Fourthly, the infrastructure in Viet

Nam also poses a problem to the

attraction of foreign investment. Many

potential investors would need to spend

a significant amount of capital on

infrastructure improvement. However,

recently Viet Nam is receiving optimistic

signals in this regard, with a number of

million-dollar projects.

Last but not least, the business may

also grow slower than investors may

expect due to cultural differences. These

differences are also noticeable obstacles

especially in some restricted fields, where

foreign enterprises have to co-operate

with local partners, including logistics,

real estate and education. This seems to

be an inevitable challenge for all globallyminded

enterprises. However, businesses

will grow once investors, after having

regulated their cooperation with a proper

contract, find a rhythm with their local

employees and partners.

In sum, the overall outlook for Viet

Nam’s economy continues to remain

positive and attractive for foreign investors.

With the focus on improving its business

climate, streamlining administrative

procedures to create favorable conditions

for businesses and reviewing the legal

system to make adjustments pursuant

to the new-generation FTAs, all foreign

investors, particularly investors with

advanced technologies will find it easier

doing business in Viet Nam - a promising

developing market in the world.

1 The aforementioned industries will continue to be a priority for the government in the short term. In the long run, the government is shifting its focus to high-tech and environmentally friendly investments and projects such as renewable

energy and high-tech agriculture. Recently, with the assistance from the World Bank, Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment has drafted their FDI strategy for 2018-2023, focusing on priority sectors and the quality, rather than quantity, of

investments. The draft aims to incentivize and enable high-tech investors. The initial focus is on four major sectors: manufacturing, services, agriculture, and tourism.

2 For example, on May 4th, Decree No. 63/2018/ND-CP was approved to replace the previous Decree 15/2015/ND-CP. This new Decree came into effect on June 19th, 2018 and addressed various issues regarding the Public-Private Partnership

(PPP) investment. According to the relevant law, the following types of contracts are all considered PPP contracts: (i) Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) contracts; (ii) Build-Transfer-Operate (BTO) contracts; (iii) Build-Own-Operate (BOO) contracts;

(iv) Build-Transfer-Lease (BTL) contracts; (v) Build-Lease-Transfer (BLT) contracts; (vi) Operate-Manage (O&M) contracts; (vii) Build-Transfer (BT) contracts. Parties also have the option to combine the above-mentioned contracts into a “Mixed Contract”.

3 Viet Nam is making a great effort in her participation in important international organizations and treaties, including WTO, CPTPP (the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership), AFTA (ASEAN Free Trade Agreement),

and many FTAs. Recently, Viet Nam and the EU have finalized the legal review process for the EVFTA, which is currently under ratification. In addition to CPTPP, Viet Nam - as an ASEAN member - already enjoys FTAs with ASEAN members, China,

Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong. In addition, Viet Nam also has bilateral FTAs with several other partners such as Chile, Japan, South Korea, and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

34 Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019


Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019 35


THE COMMERCIAL

DIPLOMATS CLUB

The launching of the Commercial Diplomats Club took place on February 27, 2019 in

Washington, DC.

The Commercial Diplomats Club (CDC) is an elitist entity, non-profit,

non-governmental, apolitical, and with no legal personality established with the

aim of creating a community of interests and ideals. The club was formed at the

initiative of the International Union of Bilateral Chambers of Commerce and Industry,

the U.S. Institute for Commercial Diplomacy and the economic and commercial

diplomats of the foreign embassies accredited to Washington, DC.

Members of the diplomatic corps in Washington, DC and representatives of the

business community gathered for the inauguration and official opening of the

Commercial Diplomats Club, where they also signed the Charter document.

CDC sets the framework necessary for dialogue between all the commercial and

economic diplomats in the area.

Global Ambassador’s Journal | Vol. III, Issue 2, June 2019

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