Good afternoon, thank you for inviting me to speak with you today.
I am pleased to have this opportunity to engage directly with members and prospective members of the American Chamber of Commerce.
I understand how busy you all are and greatly appreciate the time you dedicated to attending this luncheon, so I will keep my remarks short to allow more time for discussion.
I arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina as U.S. Ambassador around the same time that AmCham BiH began the process of revitalization under the leadership of its new Board.
I know how far you all have come this year and am excited to hear that membership is growing.
Increasing membership is important, because the stronger AmCham is, the greater its ability to lobby for economic reforms that are necessary to improve the business climate throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has significant growth potential in many industries, from energy to IT to tourism and other sectors. Improving the business climate can unleash the growth of the economy and bring in much needed foreign direct investment.
The companies assembled here represent these important economic sectors, each tied to the country’s future growth. As business leaders, I ask you to leverage AmCham to amplify your voices and call for positive change.
AmCham could become an unrivaled and powerful advocate in encouraging the government at all levels to finally get serious about creating a better business environment, something that will benefit all companies, both foreign and domestic, and unleash Bosnia and Herzegovina’s economic potential.
Through AmCham’s sector-specific committees you should develop strategic plans and benchmarks on how to address major business obstacles. In this room are the leaders in every sector of the economy and I am confident that by working together you will find solutions to some of the most challenging issues you face.
You of course are not alone. The international community, including the U.S. Embassy, is actively pursuing many of the same goals, such as greater transparency, but there is only so much we can do from the outside.
While the international community can help advocate for economic and commercial reforms, it is up to those most affected – businesses in Bosnia and Herzegovina – to push political leadership to enact reforms.
You should establish regular lobbying activities and other engagements with local government institutions to emphasize and articulate your suggestions for improving the business climate in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Despite the political complications which make economic reforms slow and arduous in BiH, I believe you can make AmCham a difference-maker in improving the business climate in BiH.
Thank you again for inviting me to speak to you this afternoon and I wish you continued success.