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Original scientific paper

https://doi.org/10.15179/ces.21.2.1

Attracting FDI to the Western Balkans: Special Economic Zones and Smart Specialisation Strategies

Will Bartlett ; London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
Besnik Krasniqi orcid id orcid.org/0000-0003-2440-3974 ; University of Prishtina, Kosovo
Jasmina Ahmetbašić orcid id orcid.org/0000-0003-4065-6904 ; Sarajevo School of Science and Technology, Bosnia and Herzegovina


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Abstract

This paper investigates the role of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the Western Balkans in supporting industrial policy for economic development. It shows that Serbia and North Macedonia have both implemented policies to establish networks of SEZs that have attracted a relatively large amount of new foreign direct investment, mainly into the motorcar and components industries. Although many jobs have been created and some improvements in export competitiveness have occurred, there is no evidence of improvements in labour productivity or widespread technology spill-over to local economies. The import intensity of production is extremely high, implying little linkage to local economies. The qualitative interviews further reveal limited linkages between SEZ-based companies and local businesses, limited technology transfer, and a lack of appropriate skills among the workforce. In particular, there is insufficient capacity in the motorcar components supply chain. The paper concludes that governments have used SEZ policies as an alternative to regional and local development policies based on smart specialisation. In order to take advantage of the opportunity offered by SEZs, governments in the region should put more effort into developing local supply chains, aligning their policies towards SEZs and smart specialisation in order to leverage the advantages of an increased inflow of direct foreign investment for sustainable economic development in the future.

Keywords

special economic zones, smart specialisation, technology transfer, skills, supply chains

Hrčak ID:

228995

URI

https://hrcak.srce.hr/228995

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