A 15-strong business delegation from Montenegro took part in a Business Forum organised by Malta Enterprise during which they were given details of Malta's business environment and the opportunities the country offers particularly to enterprises from the Balkan State.
The delegation, which was accompanying the President of Montenegro H.E. Filip Vujanović on his State Visit to Malta, comprised representatives of Montenegro's business institutions as well as companies operating in sectors such as maritime transport services and logistics, tourism and hospitality, educational services, event organisation as well as construction.
This visit to Malta comes at a momentous time for Montenegro in view of the anticipated decision which will be taken by the EU General Affairs Council at the end of June 2012 on the launching of the EU accession talks with Montenegro.
Around 45 Maltese businesses were present for the Business Forum which was opened by Malta Enterprise CEO Dr Sue Vella, who welcomed the Commission's recommendation that accession negotiations be opened with Montenegro. Dr Vella stated that Malta has been consistently supportive to Montenegro's EU perspective and views favourably Montenegro's potential as a future EU Member State.
Mr Tancred Tabone, President of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry and Mr Velimir Mijušković, President of the Chamber of the Economy of Montenegro also addressed the Business Forum.
The President of Malta H.E. Dr George Abela then shared his views of how the businesses of Malta and Montenegro could successfully work together rather than act as competitors as the two countries can complement each other in that they both can provide a foothold for market access in neighbouring regions which are otherwise more difficult to penetrate. On a bilateral level, he mentioned that both countries are laying cables to connect to the European electricity grid and thus there could be prospects of cooperation, since Malta will be buying its electricity from the grid while Montenegro will be actually selling it.
The first part of the Forum was closed by the President of Montenegro H.E. Filip Vujanović, who cited tourism, maritime transport and logistics as potential areas for enhanced commercial relations between the two countries.
Presentations about the economic climate of both countries highlighting business opportunities were then given. Higher education and how this could contribute towards the development of the economy, as well as Malta's experience with the EU accession process and the impact that membership had on business – with particular emphasis on how Malta could assist Montenegro in its accession process – were also discussed during the presentations.
A networking lunch and a series of one-to-one meetings between institutions and entrepreneurs from Malta and Montenegro followed the business forum.
While in Malta, the Montenegrin businesses also had the opportunity to visit a number of local companies with whom they could discuss the benefits of operating in Malta.
The business events sought to strengthen the commercial ties between the two countries and followed up on the institutional State Visit by H.E. the President of Malta George Abela to Montenegro in July 2010 and the incoming business delegation from Montenegro in December 2010.
With total trade exchanges between the two countries amounting to only around €3 million in 2011, there is scope for increased cooperation as both countries present good opportunities for growth that can be exploited.