The closure of the economy and restricted movement due to health measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus caused the deepest recession in the economy, as evidenced by the decline of 12.7 percent in gross domestic product. Although there is a decrease in almost all the main structural elements of GDP, the decline in exports of goods and services is still evident in nominal value of 32 percent and the decline in imports, where the decrease is 30.2 percent.

The World Bank reports note that with the pandemic in the Balkans, the problem of losses of over one billion US dollars per year due to delays at border crossings is more pronounced. Long border waiting times increase costs, reduce the competitiveness of participants in the international trade, import-export companies and transport companies.

The President of the Macedonian Chambers of Commerce, Danela Arsovska emphasized that in times of crisis the development of the country is limited and for faster recovery increase in exports can be beneficial, for which it is necessary to provide support for the Macedonian export-oriented companies.

“Retaining the placement of products and services of domestic export-oriented companies that have proven quality in their operations is of great importance to support the national economic growth that we expect to be stabilizing in the last quarter. Due to the pandemic, there is negative effect on the demand on the EU market, where our largest trading partners are. This also reflects on the operation of our production facilities. Despite the crisis and difficult operation, reduced sales and difficulties in production and logistics, many export-oriented facilities have not closed their plants and are operating continuously. What is needed at the moment is not to lose the placements and to keep the established positions. If the contracts are canceled, it is necessary to enable them to conclude new agreements with potential partners interested in working and cooperating with Macedonia. Signing free trade agreements should be considered, as well as the exemption from double taxation with countries where there is a potential for increased trade. It is important not to allow the foreign trade economic flow to stop,” Arsovska said.

In that regard, the Macedonian Chambers of Commerce appeals to overcome the barriers, facilitate the flow through the borders by simplifying customs formalities.

“Our focus should be on creating a good strategy for overcoming the difficulties in international economic co-operation, with a strategic approach, especially given that we are a small landlocked country with a large trade deficit. It is necessary to ensure a smooth flow during the export on border crossings,” said the president of the MCC.

According to the volume of trade, the top ten largest trade partners of Macedonia are Germany, Great Britain, Serbia, Greece, China, Bulgaria, Italy, Turkey, Hungary and Romania. Many of these countries recorded a historic decline in GDP in the last quarter. International economic relations are continuously important for the survival, growth and development of the national economy.