Montenegro and Italy have formed a joint economic association in a bid to boost trade and expand economic cooperation, AKI reported.
Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic said that the volume of Italian investments in Montenegro was “far below expectations”, given the vicinity of the two countries, and the “quality of relations between states is measured by the volume and structure of economic cooperation”.
He added that Montenegro’s legislature provided “absolutely equal treatment for foreign and domestic capital”, adding that the possibilities for expanding cooperation were far from exhausted.
“A certain increase in Italian capital, heralded by today’s event, might be expected in the sphere of energy, finances, agriculture, transport, utilities and tourism,” he said.
Italian economy minister Adolfo Urso, who attended the founding ceremony along with 60 representatives of leading Italian companies, described the formation of the joint association as a “historic event, which will open a new phase in the relations of the two countries”.
Italy is the main market for Montenegro’s exports and the second trading partner in imports. Most of Montenegro’s trade is done with neighbouring Serbia and European Union countries.
In December, Montenegro formally applied to join the European Union, a year after it signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement for closer EU ties in October 2007.
The mountainous Balkan state with a population of only 650,000 accelerated its drive towards the EU after voting to dissolve its union with Serbia in 2006 and declaring its independence.
Montenegro has promised to undertake reforms, but has been dogged by past claims that it is a haven for organised crime.