Opportunities for American Businesses
Long-term and sustainable economic development cannot be attained in the Western Balkans without highly efficient transport networks. The Western Balkans has a key competitive advantage in this regard - its location. The region is home to six of the pan-European transport corridors that have been specifically designated as such by the European Union, linking northern and Western Europe to the rest of the Balkans, the Middle East, Central Asia, Russia and Ukraine. Also, the region is currently undergoing a long process of transition and reform in view of eventual accession to the European Union.
The core transportation network of the Western Balkans is a multimodal network, which includes road, rail and inland waterway links connecting the region, together with a number of designated seaports, river ports and airports. The road sector is the dominant one and receives the largest overall allocated funding. There is, however, a tremendous need to improve road quality throughout the region in order to reduce delays, congestion and pollution, and to improve safety. Railways are the weakest mode of transportation throughout the region. Inland waterways present the greenest and least expensive mode of transport; however, their disadvantage is the slowness of transport. Air travel is one of the most reliable mode of transport, with a number of strategically placed airports throughout the region. In the next few years “open skies” agreements will be in effect throughout almost the entire region, opening it up for very dense air traffic.
The aim of the U.S. – Balkans Business summit is to introduce summit participants to the current state of transport and supporting infrastructure development in the Western Balkans, and the business opportunities associated therewith. American businesses can play a vital role in developing these networks.