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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
Millions of US $ 4,705 3,712 3,400 118
GNI per capita
 US $ 1,980 1,700 1,690 111
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Branko Crvenkovski

Private sector 
% of GDP 

Update No: 105 (30/01/06)

PM Buckovski's interview with MIA; Macedonia to get out of transition in 2006
In the West incumbent politicians boast that they have been in the process of boosting growth. In the Balkans right now one is grateful enough for getting back to the pre-bellum past. 
Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski said in an interview with the Macedonian Information Agency (MIA) that Macedonia's transition period will come to an end in 2006, as the GDP is going to reach the level of the one in 1990, which, according to official criteria, means that the economy has completed its transition, entering a phase of intensive development.
Citizens have already felt the benefits of the positive trends in the country, such as GDP growth of 3.8-4.0%: an increase of industrial production by 7.6%, an increase of exports by 26% in comparison to that of imports by15.2%, and a reduction of the unemployment rate to 6.3%. 
The country's credit rating has been improved according to the international Standard & Poor's agency, the deficit reduced by a record five percentage points, and Macedonia has a three-year stand-by arrangement with the International Monetary Fund. "These are facts that cannot be denied by blanket statements. The Government is ready to face opposition parties at the Parliament. We will request a special session to present a report on putting the Government's economic programme into effect," Buckovski says.
Asked about corruption and crime, which are high on the list of Macedonia's problems, Buckovski said serious steps forward have been taken in this respect. "Finance, Interior Ministers Nikola Popovski and Ljubomir Mihajlovski, who enjoy my full support, have been working actively, along with all relevant institutions, on these problems. Their efforts and results are a proof of the Government's commitment to deal with all violations of the law, particularly in regard to corruption and crime. Let's not forget that now the Anti-Corruption Commission is established as an independent controlling centre, while the Government has a constructive relations with all civic organizations that treat these matters," Buckovski says.
In regard to possible early elections, Buckovski says a fair and democratic process is Macedonia's top priority. Opposition parties have been insisting on early elections for a long period, presenting weekly arguments.
"I understand the wish of VMRO-DPMNE and its leader Nikola Gruevski for early elections now when this Government is receiving rather positive signals from the European Union. But I don't understand the lack of ability for interpreting the EU recommendations and the country's real needs," Buckovski says, pointing out that, not the timing, but the legitimacy of elections is the key issue, which is one of the conditions for launching the EU entry talk. 
"Therefore, it is more important, as relevant and serious political parties, to focus on amending the electoral legislation and organizing a legitimate election process. Naturally we are ready to lock horns at elections, but the country's activities on the road to EU are top priorities," Buckovski says.

Macedonia: Wobbling toward Europe 
The latest briefing from the International Crisis Group, examines Macedonia's evolution from the brink of conflict to candidacy for membership in the European Union. It warns that the country's future, as a full European partner, will only be secure if it implements key reforms. Inadequate police and judicial reform are two key obstacles, along with the repatriation of war crimes cases from the Hague tribunal and ambiguity surrounding the amnesty law. Meanwhile, tensions within the Islamic community are feeding exaggerated rumours of a Wahhabi threat.
"The EU's decision at the end of last year to grant Macedonia candidacy status was an important boost to its prestige and self-confidence," says Jennifer Leonard, Crisis Group analyst. "But it still has a long way to go before it can be considered functional enough to enter into membership negotiations."
The international community should keep pressure on the government to deliver on its rhetoric and move more quickly and seriously to reform the police and judiciary sectors. While the government has made notable progress in the police sector by recruiting a more multi-ethnic force, assuming responsibility for the borders and establishing a police academy and organised crime unit, it has yet to tackle fundamental management issues such as creating a merit-based personnel system, decentralising authority and increasing transparency and accountability.
The crippled judicial system faces a serious backlog of cases and suffers from excessive political influence. The government must take immediate steps to root out corruption and train capable judges. This is especially crucial in light of the imminent return of four war crimes cases from the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which poses serious political and procedural questions for Macedonia and the international community.
"Macedonia is still a maturing democracy, and vulnerable to spoilers who want to hijack an imperfect reform process," says Nicholas Whyte, Crisis Group's Europe Program Director. "It's now up to the political leadership to decide if Macedonia will limp awkwardly or stride confidently toward European integration."



Japanese delegation in Skopje for talks 

The representatives of the Michibushi Corporation, Masahiko Yamamoto, from the London Research Centre, and Hiroharu Okamoto, from Istanbul Branch Office, visited the Economic Chamber of Macedonia, New Europe reported. 
They discussed the country's business climate, particularly investment in sectors like infrastructure, electric power industry, ecology, selling of cars, chemical industry, etc.



Industrial production increases by 23.1 % 

The National Statistics Office data showed that industrial production in Macedonia in December 2005 increased by 23.1 per cent as compared with the average production in 2003. This increased production is due to the increased production in energy by 21.3 per cent, Intermediate goods industries, except energy by 21.4 per cent, Durable consumer goods industries by 20.3 per cent and Non-Durable consumer goods industries by 30.1 per cent, but is lower in Capital goods industries by 11.5 per cent. The industrial production in manufacturing industry in December 2005 increased by 22.8 per cent. Manufacture of food products and beverages; Manufacture of wearing apparel; dressing and dyeing of fur; Publishing, printing and reproduction of recorded media; Manufacture of coke, refined petroleum products and nuclear fuel; Manufacture of chemicals and chemical products; Manufacture of other non-metallic mineral products; Manufacture of basic metals; Manufacture of electrical machinery and apparatus n.e.c. with 58.7 per cent in total production of Macedonia. The industrial production in the section Mining and quarrying in December 2005 in comparison with average production in 2003 was increased by 97 per cent as a result of the increased production in the divisions Mining of metal ores and other mining and quarrying, New Europe reported.



Buckovski in Portugal, meets Gates 

Prime Minister, Vlado Buckovski, met recently in Lisbon with representatives of the Portuguese company "Somag," which is interested in investing in Macedonia's road infrastructure and specialised tourism, New Europe reported.
The company is interested in constructing, developing, and maintaining the Axes No. eight and 10 as part of the European Road Network. "Somag" has already been engaged in Greece and Bulgaria, being among the five top companies in Europe for road infrastructure, water, and waste treatment. Buckovski attended the Microsoft Europe Government Leaders Forum in Portugal, where he met with Microsoft founder Bill Gates to discuss Macedonia's economy regarding its candidate status for the European Union membership and possible cooperation.




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