The construction of "Van Hool" bus production facility begins in Skopje

A cornerstone laying ceremony in the Skopje Technological Industrial Development Zone marked Friday the start of construction works for a plant by Belgium bus manufacturer "Van Hool". The investment worth 20 million euros is expected to open 400 to 500 jobs.

The ceremony was attended by Premier Nikola Gruevski, who said that the production facility was the first large investment by a Belgian company in Macedonia. "With it, the investment cycle that has hit Macedonia resumes with accelerated dynamics."

The investment, according to him, is another successful story from the series of fresh foreign investments in Macedonia, which indicates that the country truly offers good conditions for investing.

"In less than a month, 'Kromberg and Schubert' - one of the leading companies in automotive industry - started to build a plant in Bitola. 'ArcelorMittal' revealed its new investment in the country and put an overhauled furnace in its production plants into service. Several days ago, an agreement was signed with the German company 'Dräxlmaier' for a construction of plant in Kavadarci, while Turkey's 'Cevahir Holding' has also started to build four skyscrapers in Skopje, an investment worth 300 million euros," said Gruevski.

The investment will have a positive impact over Macedonia, because the new plant is expected to employ 400-500 people, whereas several firms will have an indirect benefit by cooperating with "Van Hool", according to him.

Congratulating the 65th anniversary of "Van Hool", the PM stated that the investment would result in increasing the Macedonian export and improving the trade balance toward the United States and countries in Western Europe.

Company's CEO Philip Van Hool said the production facility in Macedonia was the company's biggest strategic investment outside Belgium. The process of reaching a decision to invest in Macedonia was neither quick, nor easy, however the support by the Macedonian government made it much easier for them.

"I've been asked why the company invests in Macedonia, instead in emerging countries such as India or China. Well, Macedonia is one of the emerging centers. It has a history of connecting various worlds - the east and the west and Europe and America nowadays. I'm convinced that this investment will be successful," said Van Hool.

Vice PM for economic affairs Vladimir Pesevski and minister for foreign investments Vele Samak established contacts with the Belgian company, which is a family business, five years ago. "This is a significant investment for Macedonia, because highly sophisticated products made in Macedonia will be exported," they stressed.

The Van Hool production facility will be built on a surface of 36.900 square meters. Production is expected to start in the first quarter of 2013. The Belgian investor aims to complete an order of 400 buses for the US market.