VMRO-DPMNE deputy leader Aleksandar Nikoloski called on the Government to take immediate measures to secure once more the free export of Macedonian steel to the European market, after the European Union refused to make an exemption for Macedonia nad slapped a 25 percent tariff on steel and aluminium imports.

– This is going to be a dramatic blow to the Macedonian economy and it lays bare the complete incompetence of the Zoran Zaev, Radmila Sekerinska, Nikola Dimitrov and Koco Angusev led Government. These four did nothing to make sure that Macedonia is exempt of the tariffs, said Nikoloski.

Macedonian metal companies export 200 million EUR in products each year to the European market, and had a solid growth rate of 15 percent in each of the past several years. It contributes directly to the Macedonian GDP with 1.6 to 1.8 percent.

– The Government tells us the damage will be around 100 million EUR but this is wishful thinking. Only the direct damage will amount to 200 million EUR, and we can expect to suffer more in losses as the cost spreads through the economy. We can see up to 5.000 people lose their jobs, said Nikoloski.
On top of the tariffs, the Macedonian economy will be hit by quotas on steel pipes, limiting exports to 110.000 tons from current levels of 180.000 tons, which is worth additional 45 million EUR in damages.

– Translated into annual wages, we face loss of income for 29.000 workers. A total of 29.000 people will not receive their salaries in the next year. We see that the results of the talks Zaev had with EC President Juncker is not zero, but net negative. This shows us how much European leaders respect and trust Zoran Zaev. They clearly resent him, a man who did something no-one else would do – change his own name under pressure. For the EU, our exports are insignificant, they amount to mere 2.5 percent of its annual imports, but the EU is not prepared to make even that small step to help Zaev out, warned Nikoloski.

VMRO-DPMNE calls for the creation of a crisis team at the top level, which will help Macedonian steel companies restore lost markets, and will push through a package of tax cuts to help them in the interim period. “The Prime Minister needs to go begin a tour of European capitals and work to have Macedonia exempt from the tarrifs, and return to the country only after the work is done”, Nikoloski added.