Jerry Naumoff: Macedonia is the most competitive and pro-business country in Europe

Minister Jerry Naumoff talks about attracting foreign investment, negotiating with companies and his work and life in Macedonia in an interview with Ekonomski.mk.



- My vision is to bring many new fast-growing companies, from different industries in Macedonia, which will offer well-paid jobs and transfer know – how knowledge and technology, said Naumoff in an interview with Ekonomski.mk.



What is the reason of you becoming part of the government?

Naumoff: Initially I was contacted by a senior government official, who told me that the Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski is interested to talk to me about placing me as a minister of foreign investment. This happened one Friday, on my way home from work, while I was stuck in traffic jam in Chicago. After the talks with the Prime Minister and members of the government team, I was formally offered the position, which I accepted. Soon after this, I was back in Macedonia, to be presented to the Parliament for the election of my nomination. I happened to arrive in Skopje on the day of my anniversary of 30 years of marriage. At first I was surprised, and then excited, followed by stress of making two important decisions – what will happen to my family and my business, issues that I needed to solve. The Prime Minister gave me time to sell my business to my partner, and to resettle my family in a temporary home until they join me in Skopje this spring. During this period, my emotions went on to complete anticipation and brainstorming on how to accomplish the challenge that was set to me by the Prime Minister. I literally could not sleep until I defined the details in Chicago. While I became aware of the situation, I was already in Skopje, performing my duties with full capacity.



What companies / industries are in your focus ?

Naumof: ICT and CAD outsourcing are areas that offer excellent investment opportunities and this is one of the activities which are in my main focus in attracting foreign investment. Labor costs and regulations for these sectors are very high in North America and Western Europe. On the other hand, the young generation in Macedonia is highly skilled, talented and has the ambition to work in highly developed technological and creative industries. With a focus on developing and investing in new technologies, we also influence on preventing the outflow of young people and the quality of the transfer of new knowledge in the country. It is important to mention that this is about above average paid jobs.

Another target is export-oriented manufacturing industries, especially “Smart” technology. “Smart” technology is a new trend of highly developed technology and highly automated production that creates a double indirect jobs, mostly professional compared to the standard production. While traveling in America, Italy and France, through contact with many people representatives of the business community owners, managers, I concluded that governments stifle business sector with tax increases, tightening regulations and aggressive unions, creating an unfavorable environment for further growth and profitability. I had observed this last year to my corporate clients in Chicago. These arguments are in favor of Macedonia and that is why we must persuade these companies to start their business here. Manufacturers can take investment benefits offered by Macedonia, such as the lowest operating costs in Europe, highly skilled work force, logistical advantage that allows free trade with all of Europe, including Turkey. This is a market of 700 million consumers, accessible to a maximum of two to three days by rail or truck. The process of deciding to invest is long, especially when dealing with large companies. So I have a parallel strategy that places emphasis on small and medium-sized businesses that offer high quality services. I applied this strategy to my business in Chicago. I also learned that many of the small and medium sized companies can be really profitable and their desire for global development is developed. This strategy is unique because we are the only country, apart from other countries’ teams, which gives equal importance and value to these emerging businesses that bring faster decisions. Small companies also feel lost when it comes to outsourcing from countries like China, India and Mexico. They are highly valued and feel welcome in Macedonia. My vision is to bring many new, fast-growing companies, from different industries in Macedonia, which will offer well-paid jobs and transfer know – how knowledge and technology.



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