Indeed, issue with the landscape of Montenegro is that, whether talking about sea or mountains, everything is equally ’’contagious’’, Watson said.
The representatives of super powerful American agency OPIC are in Montenegro these days.
What is this agency actually, what are its goals, what may this visit bring to our economy….we talked about these issues with Peter Watson, who was the head of OPIC 2001-2005.
However, prior to this exclusive interview that Watson gave to our portal, we will briefly present him and OPIC.
What is OPIC
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is a self-sustaining U.S. Government agency that helps American businesses invest in emerging markets.
Established in 1971, OPIC provides businesses with the tools to manage the risks associated with foreign direct investment, fosters economic development in emerging market countries, and advances U.S. foreign policy and national security priorities.
OPIC helps American businesses gain footholds in new markets, catalyzes new revenues and contributes to jobs and growth opportunities both at home and abroad.
Peter Watson was the head of this agency for 44 months and during this period he achieved a lot – he modernized OPIC and achieved great international objectives.
Who is Peter Watson?
Peter Watson, born in New Zealand with American citizenship, has many interesting facts in his impressive resume, apart from OPIC.
- Peter Watson earned his PhD in international economics and is one of leading experts in the field of investments and managing the critical financial situations.
-He worked in three administrations of the White House (George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush),
-The President of OPIC from 2001-2005,
-Current President of the Dwight Group,
-He wrote over 100 books in the field of economics/investments/finances,
-He is a winner of Woodrow Wilson award for public service...
Below you may find the interview with Peter Watson which we release in entirety.
You were the President and Chief Executive Officer of OPIC from 2001 to 2005. As Montenegrins are not familiar with this organization, please tell us what is its purpose, its goal and what opportunities may OPIC provide?
WATSON: The best way for Montenegrins to understand the role and function of this corporation is to take it as a sort of American version of entity such as the International Finance Corporation (IFC) or the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
These entities have two different understandings ever since the Second World War:
- Private investments are more powerful generator of economic development helpful to countries that wish to diverge from the model of centrally controlled economies.
- The Government should encourage private investments in these countries as social welfare would be generated in this manner.
As a result, since its foundation in 1971, OPIC has provided support to development of private sector abroad through insurance against political risk, loans (or loan guarantees) or financing to investment funds in the amount over 20 billion dollar in over 130 countries.
OPIC came to Montenegro. Is it a coincidence that it has arrived in less than a month since we officially became a NATO member? What does it mean, based on your opinion and experience, for Montenegro and USA? May we hope that there will be more American investors in our country? Will there be more investment opportunities?
WATSON: Although the OPIC financing programs have been available to investment partners in the USA and Montenegro since 2001, interest and information about your country surely increased among American investors simultaneously with the growth of international, political and economic profile of Montenegro.
Your NATO membership is the most recent recognition by international community of continually growing importance of Montenegro. This extraordinary success was obviously noted by American investors, particularly taking into account the fact that OPIC will strongly support the increase in their investments with partners in Montenegro.
Growing presence of American investors is also a sign that they all realize how essential parts of your economy are very open for participation of private sector. For instance, some countries with closed economies would not quite allow useful expansion of metal industry across the borders of their country. Instead of that, we see that growing international importance of Uniprom is welcomed and supported.
You earned your PhD in international economics. How would you assess investments in Montenegro? What rate would you give us? Is there room for more investments here?
WATSON: A man does not need a special diploma in any field to notice the reality of a very significant growing interest in investing in your country. Moreover, this growing trend of investment interest is maybe the best evaluation by itself, particularly because it being confirmed again and again by growth of new investments.
Of course, this growing trend of investors who invest is accompanied by expansion of financial services, such as Zapad Bank providing global support to new investors.
Surely, there is room for new investments, particularly because the state policy, that primarily secured investors, is constantly being improved and it provides better conditions, and thereby better interest and investment growth.
The only areas where you cannot achieve growth in investments are those that the public naturally considers excluding and belonging to the competence of not a private, but a public sector.
Do you have any piece of advice, firstly for our government, on which area it should focus so as to lure more investments? Secondly, what would you advise to Montenegrins, what should they focus on in order to earn more money?
WATSON: There is a universal law on advises (no matter if advice is given to an individual or a Government) how to lure any investment: '' Capital is a coward, it goes where it is welcomed or well treated. ''
(With regard to an individual, we all know that our time is our capital as well.)
You worked in three administration of the White House (Bush Snr, Bush Jnr, Clinton). Can you give us a comparison between that period and the Trump’s current period? Does the USA and the world in general advance or do we go backwards?
WATSON: Being a positivist - and constitutionally/truly not capable of viewing the present or the future through a rear view mirror – the only answer I can give to this question is to quote the answer of one of former presidents – Eisenhower that he gave when asked the same question:
''Things are more like they are now than they have ever been before.''
I apologize to all who may find this answer unusual, easy or even unconvincing. For those, here’s an alternative by Paul Valéry:
“The trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be.”
(I am sorry for both.)
This is your second visit to Montenegro. Does it mean you liked it here so much that you would recommend Montenegro to the Americans?
WATSON: Indeed, issue with the landscape of Montenegro is that, whether talking about sea or mountains, everything is equally ’’contagious’’ and makes you return again. And Montenegrins who completely got used to it would not withhold this experience from you. Well, Americans…and all others…be aware of this…Really. .