Macedonia is not on the FATF List of Countries that have been identified as having strategic AML deficiencies
Compliance with FATF Recommendations
The last Mutual Evaluation Report relating to the implementation of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing standards in Macedonia was undertaken by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in 2014. According to that Evaluation, Macedonia was deemed Compliant for 3 and Largely Compliant for 22 of the FATF 40 + 9 Recommendations.
US Department of State Money Laundering assessment (INCSR)
Macedonia was deemed a ‘Monitored’ Jurisdiction by the US Department of State 2016 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR). Key Findings from the report are as follows: -
Macedonia is a middle income country with a fairly developed financial system. It is not a regional financial center. While most financial transactions are done through the well regulated and supervised banking system, cash transactions of considerable amounts occasionally take place outside the banking system. Money laundering in Macedonia is most often linked to financial crimes such as tax evasion, smuggling, financial fraud, insurance fraud, and corruption. Most of the laundered proceeds come from domestic criminal activities. A small portion of money laundering activity is connected to narcotics trafficking. There is no evidence that narcotics trafficking organizations or terrorist groups control money laundering. Also, there is no evidence that human or weapons traffickers have been involved in money laundering activities using banking or non-banking financial institutions. Money transfers, structuring cash deposits, the purchase of real estate and goods, and the use of legal entities in offshore jurisdictions are frequent money laundering techniques.
Macedonia is not an offshore financial center, and the Law on Banks does not allow the existence of shell banks in Macedonia. Anonymous bank accounts and bearer shares are not permitted. There is no evidence that alternative remittance systems exist in Macedonia. However, exchange offices and non-bank money transfer agents need more prudent supervision.
There are 14 free trade zones (FTZs) in Macedonia, operating as industrial zones. The production facilities enjoying the FTZ benefits are exclusively owned by foreign investors. The Government of Macedonia established the zones to attract more foreign investment. Business operations in the zones are adequately regulated, and there is no evidence of money laundering or terrorism financing activities in the zones. The Government screens companies to determine their eligibility to operate in the FTZs, and companies are subject to standard disclosure rules and criminal laws.
There are no international sanctions currently in force against this country.
BRIBERY & CORRUPTION
Rating (100-Good / 0-Bad)
Transparency International Corruption Index 37
World Governance Indicator – Control of Corruption 45
Corruption and inefficient bureaucracy are challenges companies may face when doing business in Macedonia. Many cumbersome regulatory procedures have been eliminated over the past decade, but bureaucratic red tape remains a problem throughout the public administration. Private businesses frequently complain about burdensome administrative processes that create operational delays and opportunities for corruption. Public procurement, the customs administration, and the building and construction sectors are areas where corruption and bribery are most prevalent. The primary legal framework regulating corruption and bribery in Macedonia is contained in the Law on Prevention of Corruption and the Criminal Code, which make individuals and companies criminally liable for corrupt practices. Facilitation payments are prohibited, and gifts may be considered illegal depending on their value or intent. Progress has been made in law enforcement and corruption-prevention initiatives, yet public officials continue to act with impunity. Insufficient implementation of legislation and ineffective law enforcement continue to impede the fight against corruption. For further information - GAN Integrity Business Anti-Corruption Portal
Since its independence in 1991, Macedonia has made progress in liberalizing its economy and improving its business environment, but has lagged the Balkan region in attracting foreign investment. Corruption and weak rule of law remain significant problems. Some businesses complain of opaque regulations and unequal enforcement of the law.
Macedonia’s economy is closely linked to Europe as a customer for exports and source of investment, and has suffered as a result of prolonged weakness in the euro zone. Unemployment has remained consistently high at about 30% since 2008, but may be overstated based on the existence of an extensive grey market, estimated to be between 20% and 45% of GDP, which is not captured by official statistics.
Macedonia maintained macroeconomic stability through the global financial crisis by conducting prudent monetary policy, which keeps the domestic currency pegged against the euro, and by limiting fiscal deficits. The government has been loosening fiscal policy, however, and the budget deficit was 4.2% of GDP in both 2013 and 2014, gradually falling to 3.7% in 2015. By yearend 2015, public debt was 40.3%, which although low by regional comparison, is significant for a small economy.
Agriculture - products:
grapes, tobacco, vegetables, fruits; milk, eggs
food processing, beverages, textiles, chemicals, iron, steel, cement, energy, pharmaceuticals, automotive parts
Exports - commodities:
foodstuffs, beverages, tobacco; textiles, miscellaneous manufactures, iron, steel; automotive parts
Exports - partners:
Germany 33.2%, Kosovo 11.5%, Bulgaria 5.1%, Greece 4.5% (2015)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, automobiles, chemicals, fuels, food products
Imports - partners:
Germany 15.9%, UK 13.6%, Greece 10.9%, Serbia 8.7%, Bulgaria 6.7%, Turkey 5.5%, Italy 4.7% (2015)
Investment Climate - US State Department
Macedonia’s government welcomes and seeks out foreign investors. Multiple ministers and agencies lead investment roadshows and promote Macedonia as an investment destination. New investments include auto parts companies attracted by Macedonia’s relatively inexpensive labor and proximity to European car manufacturers. In February 2016, the stock exchanges of Slovenia and Serbia joined a regional platform, increasing the number of listed companies to 387. This SEE Link platform is expected to become operational in spring of 2016.
Macedonia’s legal framework for foreign investors is generally in line with international standards. However, companies complain of selective law enforcement, punitive inspections, and draconian fines. Laws governing business activity are frequently changed, often without consultation with the business community, and the legal changes retroactively applied. The judicial system is slow; many investors believe it to be politicized. Corruption is widespread and largely goes unpunished.
Large foreign investors operating in the Technological Industrial Development Zones (TIDZ) generally report good access to government officials. However, bureaucracy and lack of communication and capacity within the government frustrate smaller investors.
Foreign investors also report that it can be challenging to secure visas and work permits for foreign managers, employees, and their family members.
Macedonia generally has been free from political violence for the past decade. However, inter-ethnic and inter-religious tensions remain and are often aggravated by political rhetoric.
Foreign investment has continued despite a protracted political dispute between the ruling party and opposition since February 2015, which involved anti-western statements in government-aligned media.
The 2016 World Bank’s Doing Business Report ranked Macedonia the 12th best place in the world for doing business – particularly due to the ease of starting a new business – ahead of Australia, Canada and Germany. Fitch reaffirmed Macedonia’s BB+ credit rating, and S&P reaffirmed its credit rating of the country at BB- with stable outlook. Transparency International has ranked Macedonia 66th out of 175 countries in its perceptions of corruption index.
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