Skopje, October 20, 2017– The sixth annual meeting of the SUMMIT100 business leaders of Southeast Europe whose focus was Connectivity in region as the basis for strengthening cooperation, through economic and transport connectivity, as well as political coordination and stability, concluded that large infrastructure projects are needed to enable free and faster flow of people and goods, as well as the digitization that drives the change.
The largest business gathering in the region – the 6th annual SAMIT100 for Business Leaders from Southeast Europe, took place in Skopje on 16 and 17 October in attendance of more than 150 eminent representatives from the business sector from the SEE region, Prime ministers of 4 countries and their delegations, EU delegations, ministers, international financial institutions and more than 120 accredited journalists from 8 countries from the region.
“On the third day after SUMMIT100 has finished and after we have summed our impressions from this important regional event, I can surely say that as a region we truly have a big potential – from food production, which only needs to rise on a higher level of manufacturing, the standards, to energetic potentials of the region which are still not used enough especially in terms of the renewable sources of energy, to the tourism and what we have to offer on the global market, but is still on its basic level. There is truly a lot what is connecting us in this region, starting from the history, the language and the geography, all the way to the economy and I have no doubt that the only way to reach the maximum effect of these potentials is the regional cooperation. In addition, it is extremely important to stop the ‘brain drain’ and use the advantages of the digitalization, in order to make a change”, said Jelena Radulovich, Program Director of SUMMIT100.
The EU Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc, in her address at the SUMMIT100, highlighted the importance of this business initiative, stressing out that year after year,shegetsmore convinced that SUMMIT100 is becoming an extremely important platform for regional integration. She noted that of outmost importance of the region is its EU integration, and that the Western Balkan countries should exploit EU’s exiting from the crisis and the opportunities it offers for the region.
SUMMIT100 also discussed very important initiative of Free cargo Balkanica to allow free movement of goods throughout the region without border delays and lines of trucks on each border crossing. Montenegrin Prime Minister Mr. Dushko Markovich said that the time trucks spent on the borders throughout the region is estimated at 26 million hours per year, which equivalent of 1% of regional GDP.
Within the SUMMIT100 2017, the regional platform SUMMIT100 and the Chamber Investment Forum of six Western Balkan Countries (WB6 CIF) – a regional cooperation body of chambers from Macedonia, Serbia, Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, signed a Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation, which aims to synergize the private sector strengthsin further regional cooperation, that would result in improved competitiveness of the whole region and better living standards for all people living in the area.
At the SUMMIT100, also the start of the project “e-Skopje” was announced, as a continuation of the project “EDISON” – a regional project for electrification of the highways in the region. The aim of this project is to provide massively acceptable electric mobility in the region, through regionally developed solutions and to act as an innovation hub for EU.
The landmark of the SUMMIT100 were the five creative workshops during which business leaders from throughout the region brainstormed on ideas and projects within specific sectors or topics through which we can further improve regional cooperation and secure improved competitiveness of goods and services from the region. This year’s workshops were dedicated to energy, the knowledge-based economy, the branding of products from the food and beverage sector, as well as the digital economy and tourism.
The ideas and conclusions at the very end were presented to the Prime Ministers of the Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, who jointly concluded that if a favorable business environment is provided through overcoming customs barriers, improving the work of the public administration, reforming the education system, building the infrastructure that will connect them, the Western Balkan countries – the economies of the region, will become more competitive with an expected growth of 5 percentand provide faster entry into the European Union.
At SUMMIT100 a total of 249 participants from 12 countries were registered. Out of those, 153 were from the business sector and 96 were representatives from the international or the government sector. For the first time at SUMMIT100, nearly 130 journalists from the local and regional media were accredited. In the organization of the event, 5 contractor companies with over 40 people were engaged.
Considering the scope of SUMMIT100 in terms of organization, coordination, communication and protocol, the organizer of SUMMIT100 would like to use the opportunity to express its gratitude to the entire public. We would like to express a special gratitude to the citizens of the City of Skopje for their patience and understanding of the security protocols which are mandatory for an event of this kind. We are proud that the City of Skopje showed its capacity and readiness to be a host of the highest business and political elite of the region.