God’s Diplomacy – International Trade and the Macedonian Economy

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     Macedonia is a small country with a population of only about 2 million people. It is located in Northern Greece, just south of the Balkans and the Danube River. In recent years, this nation has been struggling to bring itself out from under its long history as a part of Yugoslavia and find itself within the global economy. The Macedonian economy today, however, is struggling. The unemployment rate at 25% is one of the highest in Europe and among young people, it hovers around 50%. 

Even though many problems plague Macedonia’s economic development and modernization process there stands one element that should allow this small nation-state to improve its situation: international trade through God’s Diplomacy.

         God’s Diplomacy is a term coined by author and religious scholar Terry Michael, who wrote the book, God’s Diplomacy: A Foreign Policy for the 44th President. He describes God’s Diplomacy as “the use of international trade as an instrument for peace.” Basically, through good relations with other countries, it is possible to improve economic ties. These connections lead to mutual benefits through increased trade. Increased trade leads to more profitable business transactions that are then reinvested into the economy. That provides more jobs, which lowers unemployment rates. The whole process can be self-perpetuating if done correctly.

            Despite Macedonia’s geographical location between Greece and Serbia, there have not yet been any major conflicts over this land in recent history but that does not mean that the nation is devoid of strife. The country’s population is roughly 30% ethnic Albanian, who are mostly transplants from Kosovo and Albania proper. There have been minor uprisings in the past due to their relative disadvantage but for the most part, they have integrated well into Macedonian society. Another potential threat to peace within Macedonia comes from neighbouring Bulgaria. The two nations fought a war during the 90 s overland nearby Mt.          Rila. Since then relations between the two countries has improved dramatically so much so that an agreement was reached in 2006 where gas pipelines would be routed through Bulgaria into Serbia and onward into Western Europe rather than through Greece or Turkey directly. This pipeline carries about 80% of all-natural gas exports leaving the country.   

         The lack of energy resources within Macedonia is one of its greatest weaknesses in terms of economic development. It produces just enough electricity to meet domestic demand, but little else. Unfortunately, the only real potential for growth will come from oil or gas exploitation that is unlikely due to geographical obstacles and projected costs would be prohibitively high. Given these facts, further international trade is necessary if there is any hope for improvement in this nation’s current post-communist climate.

            “Macedonia’s export potential lies mostly in agricultural goods,” writes Tim Judah, a Balkans expert at Chatham House. Among them are tobacco products which are mainly used by Bosnians who favour Macedonian cigarettes over others. This would be a primary target for expansion, but given the country’s climate, it is limited to only a few months out of the year. Thus far Macedonian companies have not been very involved in this sector, but that may change if economic conditions improve. Other agricultural products such as fruit and vegetables are also popular among neighbouring countries however Macedonia has recently received pressure from within its own government to halt sales on some of these items due to their exorbitant prices on domestic markets. So far they have given in to these demands which means less potential foreign income for them under God’s Diplomacy.

              Developing further connections with other Balkan economies will be crucial for success. The most logical choice would be Serbia despite similar ethnic problems that plague Macedonia. Serbian companies tend to be more progressive than their Macedonian counterparts, which means better products and potential for growth. But the initial challenge is to overcome language barriers so there needs to be a concerted effort by both governments if this is to occur. Bulgaria would be another option but it has recently come under fire from Serbia for buying gas from Russia instead of Brussels. This may lead Sofia back into Moscow’s orbit, which will hinder future possibilities. Besides these two choices, Macedonia does not have many others that are worth pursuing due to geographic problems or lack of resources.       

            The United States can aid in this process through its New Market Development Fund. However, Macedonia must first meet certain criteria before any funds are made available. The Macedonian government needs to “reduce barriers to U.S. trade and investment, remove discriminatory obstacles to market access, combat corruption, improve the business environment for small enterprises, strengthen intellectual property protection, and respect internationally recognized worker rights.” If even one of these criteria is not met then funds will not be made available until that barrier is addressed.       

         Overall Macedonia’s main exports are tobacco products followed by clothing and foodstuffs similar to other Balkan nations under God’s Diplomacy. Macedonian companies have been slow in developing their capacity to export but ironically this has helped them avoid some of the pitfalls experienced by their neighbours under Communist rule. The best strategy would be pursuing economic ties with Serbia through various avenues such as agricultural exports which both nations can benefit from as long as they are made without political conditions.       

         Macedonia is the southernmost nation in the Balkans so its climate has major negative effects on agriculture, but there are some possibilities for development if current obstacles are addressed by the Macedonian government. While much of this will depend on what happens with Serbia, it will be necessary for continued growth to avoid falling back into economic depression. It will require God’s Diplomacy, but only time will tell how much success Macedonia has at obtaining foreign assistance under divine guidance in order to achieve these goals.

     Macedonia is a small country with a population of only about 2 million people. It is located in Northern Greece, just south of the Balkans and the Danube River. In recent years, this nation has been struggling to bring itself out from under its long history as a part of Yugoslavia and find itself within…

     Macedonia is a small country with a population of only about 2 million people. It is located in Northern Greece, just south of the Balkans and the Danube River. In recent years, this nation has been struggling to bring itself out from under its long history as a part of Yugoslavia and find itself within…

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