At a glance

Main competitive advantages

  • Skilled and competitive workforce: good technical skills, proficiency in languages (Moldovan and Russian, and often English and French) and lowest wages in Europe (average monthly salary for qualified, multilingual workforce: EUR 190)
  • Unique geographic position: bordered by the EU (Romania) and the CIS (Ukraine), Moldova is the only country with autonomous trade agreements with the EU and free trade agreements with the CIS
  • Regionally attractive fiscal and non-fiscal regime: 12% corporate tax rate in 2012
  • Favourable investment legislation and government’s availability to negotiate directly with potential foreign investors (full-time investment support team).

Economic outline

Key figures

GDP: MDL 82.3 billion/ EUR 5.0 billion (2011)                    Population 3.6 million. Area: 33,800 km²

Market access:

  • Free trade agreements: bilateral free-trade agreements with all CIS countries except for Tajikistan (265 million people), Central European Free-Trade Agreement - CEFTA (25 million people), membership in the Organisation of Black Sea Economic Cooperation (321 million people);
  • Autonomous Trade Preferences (ATP) agreement with the EU, extended until 2015: unlimited and duty free access to the EU market for all products originating in Moldova, except for certain agricultural products. Deep and Comprehensive Free-Trade Area (DCFTA) agreement under discussion;
  • Membership in the WTO (2001): MFN (Most-favoured-nation) regime with all WTO member countries.

So far among the poorest countries in Europe, Moldova took major steps to boost and diversify its economy. Structural -and ongoing- reforms have substantially improved the business climate and promoted competitiveness of Moldova over the past years. After a sharp drop of GDP in 2009 caused by the global economic crisis, Moldova managed to recover quickly: GDP growth topped 6% in 2010 and 2011. The National Development Strategy "Moldova 2020" (2012) aims at orientating the country towards a dynamic model based on local and foreign investments and development of export-oriented industries.

Foreign Investment

  • Open door policy for investors in any sector
  • FDI is still low but the FDI stock has increased over 7 times between 2000 and 2010
  • Privatization process set as a priority area in a recent agreement signed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
  • Reinforcement of Moldova’s attractiveness: reforms in the country's infrastructure and economy, harmonisation of legislation with EU norms, and human resource retention and education
  • Top investor countries: Netherlands, Cyprus,  Italy, Russia, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Romania, USA

Business environment

Ease of doing business

Doing business 2012 rank for Moldova: 81/ 183. Change in Rank: 18

Moldova came second in a list of top 10 reformers in Doing business 2012, and further plans to have the best regional business environment by 2020. Main improvements in:

  • Starting a Business 8: implementation of a one-stop shop;
  • Getting Credit 56: establishment of the first private credit bureau;
  • Resolving Insolvency 6: amendment of the insolvency law to grant priority to secured creditors.

Investment climate

Moldova investment climate is increasingly attractive, and further reforms are to be launched. Investing Across Borders (IAB) assessment for Moldova:

  • Investing Across Sectors: all sectors are fully open, except for medias;
  • Starting a Foreign Business: it takes 9 procedures and 10 days to establish a foreign-owned limited liability company (LLC) in Moldova (Chisinau);
  • Accessing Industrial Land: leasing and buying land from both private and public owners are possible. Most foreign companies prefer to buy private land;
  • Arbitrating Commercial Disputes: on average, it takes 13 weeks to enforce an arbitration award rendered in Moldova, and 21 weeks for a foreign award.

Tax system and incentives

Moldova offers a very competitive tax system:

  • Corporate income tax: 12%, incentives available for investors;
  • Income tax: 7 to 18%, possible exemptions for foreign personnel;
  • VAT rate: 20%, VAT reimbursement on export activities.

Preferential legal regimes of investment are available:

  • Free economic zones (FEZ): Expo-Business Chisinau, Ungheni-Business, Balti, Tvardita, Otaci-Business, Valkanes, Taraclia. Advantages include lower operating costs for infrastructure; exemption from VAT, customs and excise duties on goods imported and re-exported and corporate tax and 10-year protection against adverse changes in legislation.
  • Industrial parks: Floresti (near Ukraine), Ungheni (near Romania), Cainari, Tracom (Chisinau), Cimislia (near Ukraine), Bioenergagro, Raut (Balti). Fiscal benefits and other facilities for the IP residents are available. Feasibility studies for IP can be downloaded on Enterprises can obtain the title of IP on the basis of a Government decision, and thus become administrator and resident of the IP.
  • Income tax for residents obtained from the export of goods/ services originating from FEZ,
    outside the customs of Moldova, is 50% from the quota set in Moldova. In other cases the income tax is 75% from the quota set in Moldova.
  • The goods subject to excise, introduced in FEZ from outside Moldova and from other FEZ,
    as well as the goods originating from FEZ and exported outside Moldova are exempted from excise payment.
  • The goods/ services delivered to FEZ from outside Moldova, and those delivered from FEZ outside Moldova are exempted from VAT
  • The goods/ services delivered inside FEZ and among FEZ residents are exempted from excise and VAT

Referent organisations and useful resources

  • Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Moldova, a public organisation which main missions are the improvement of business environment, the promotion of export and investments and the support to small and medium enterprises (SME)
  • MIEPO, the Moldovan Investment and Export Promotion Agency, is a government institution working in coordination with the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Moldova. MIEPO is cooperating directly with foreign investors to promote investments in Moldova and with Moldovan companies to increase exports. MIEPO assists potential investors and foreign importers of Moldovan products in the identification & exploration of business opportunities.
  • ODIMM (Organisation for the Small and Medium Enterprise Sector Development) is in charge of implementing teh SME policy under the supervision of the Ministry of Economy. Its activities include entrepreneurship promotion, service provision to SMEs and support in access to financing.
  • European Business Association in Moldova, an independent, non-government organisation set up under the auspices of the EU Delegation. It promotes best business management practices in Moldova.
  • Republic of Moldova official website
  • Business Portal for SMEs in Moldova, providing SME-oriented materials to start a business, find a partner, etc.

This publication has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of EUROCHAMBRES and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.

© 2011 East Invest Support Office
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