8 June 2010 - Skopje
To attract more investment, increase trade and develop its full economic potential, the Western Balkans needs a regional sector specific approach. Such an approach will address sector specific investor requirements and policy barriers. The OECD Sector Competitiveness Project was initiated with the support of the European Union to tackle this challenge and complement existing initiatives at the national level. To do so, the Project investigated three sectors: the apparel manufacturing sector, the automotive components sector and the information communications and technology and business process outsourcing sector. The findings from the apparel manufacturing sector indicate that access to finance is a key constraint to growth.
Apparel manufacturing in the Western Balkans
Despite expectations to the contrary, the apparel manufacturing industry in the Western Balkans is attractive to foreign investors. It is also a growth opportunity for domestic enterprise. This is confirmed by the findings of the report Recommendation for a Regional Investment Strategy, which analysed the apparel manufacturing industry and identified barriers to its development. The main strengths of the region are: geographic proximity, close links with European markets, cost competitiveness and strong history and knowledge in the sector. However, to fully exploit these advantages, firms need to make upgrades in business processes and technology. One of the biggest barriers preventing firms from making these improvements is the difficulty they have in accessing finance.
Accessing finance for apparel manufactures and SMEs in general
To address the difficulty apparel manufacturing firms, and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in general, have accessing finance, the OECD is investigating good practice policies and institutions in OECD and non-OECD countries. This conference provided a forum to present some of the findings and an opportunity for policymakers to discuss issues related to access to finance.
Background papers for discussion
- Good practices in credit guarantee schemes: many OECD and SEE countries have implemented programmes to offer eligible companies insurance against credit default. What are the design features of the most successful programmes?
- Good practices in credit information sharing: a strong financial system relies on information exchange between creditors on the credit worthiness of potential borrowers. What are best practices in the operation of credit information bureaus?
- Programmes to improve investment readiness: demand side skills are often neglected. For example, evidence suggests that a lack of good projects limits venture capital expansion. What programmes exist in SEE and OECD countries relevant to improving the project design and presentation skills of SEE business owners?
Welcome and opening remarks
Session 1: access to finance in South East Europe
Session 2: good practices in credit guarantee schemes
Session 3: good practices in credit information sharing
Session 4: good practices in investment readiness programmes