Serbia, Energy will play a key role in future investments, News
Several factors attract foreign investors to Serbia, such as competitiveness on the labor market, infrastructure, but also energy in terms of prices and stability, said the executive director of the Council of Foreign Investors, Aleksandar Ljubić, and assessed that this will be a key factor in the future.
“Foreign investors like a predictable environment, that’s what they are looking for, to be familiar with the market, how to behave and therefore a predictable environment.” Political stability is also what they expect”, said Ljubić at the forum “Europe is returning home, is this an opportunity for Serbia?
He added that Serbia conducts all its business trade exclusively with the EU, as well as that there is no other way for Serbia, that is, there is no alternative.
“Business with the European Union and rapprochement is something that this country desperately needs at this moment, for the sake of stability,” Ljubić said.
Regarding Serbia’s alignment with the EU’s foreign policy, which would entail the introduction of sanctions against Russia, Helena Ivanov, a researcher at the “D Henry Society” analytical center, presented a public opinion survey that said such a decision would be unpopular in Serbia.
Regarding investments, she said that the EU is in a difficult position, because it gives money to a country that is not in line with the Union’s foreign policy, but also that the EU itself does not have much of a choice.
“Breaking off relations with Serbia in this geopolitical situation could very easily mean Serbia turning away from the EU towards Russia and China, and such a thing would be problematic from the perspective of the EU – because it destabilizes the entire Western Balkans.”
It’s no secret that Serbia has influence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Kosovo,” said Ivanov.
The director of the “Digital Serbia” Initiative, Nebojša Bjelotomić, said that, when talking about the IT sector, the key thing is that a certain critical mass of people has been created in Serbia, and that now there are approximately 100,000 people in the IT sector, from of which, as he said, there are about 50 thousand programmers.
“What is also very important is not only more permeability in the educational environment that is important for increasing the number of people in IT.” I went to a physiotherapist who is preparing to become a “Dev Op” – it is one of the more demanding courses and IT”, said Bjelotomić.
He added that it is very important that people recognize the opportunity for themselves, and that our education system provides a very good foundation.
In informal figures, said Bjelotomić, we are talking about between 7,000 and 8,000 people who enter I-T annually, and that trend has existed for the last four or five years. The future, he believes, is in product development through startups, and he sees the startup ecosystem in Serbia as favorable.
The director of the Center for Advanced Economic Studies (CEVES) Nemanja Šormaz said that they at CEVES developed the thesis that Serbia has several business environments – one is foreign, the second is for state-public enterprises, and the third business environment is for small and medium-sized enterprises.
“As for direct foreign investments, they undoubtedly have a favorable business environment in Serbia.” A decline is expected in 2023, and this is primarily due to the increase in interest rates, and in general, the volume of investment activity in Europe, including in Serbia, will be weaker this year,” Šormaz said.
As for attracting investors, he said that the assumption is that foreign investors come here because labor and energy are not only cheaper but also subsidized.
“However, there are a few more things – the word we often hear is political will, the political determination that exists here from the very top all the way down to the field, to the people who implement it.
“Foreign companies are satisfied with the cooperation with the implementation agency,” said Šormaz. He added that another important thing for foreign investors is the success of adapting to different systems, as is the case with dual education and that need of German companies in Serbia.
“We also heard from them that subsidies are important to them not only because of cost reduction, but also as a guarantee from the state that it will be a serious and reliable partner”, said Šormaz.
Professor of the Faculty of Economics in Belgrade, Predrag Bjelic, said that Serbia has the most trade cooperation with the EU and that most investments come from there, although, as he said, Chinese investments have been increasing lately.
“If we look only at investments, we cannot assess the impact of Chinese investments, because most of those investments come through Chinese government loans.”
The novelty is that the Chinese private sector begins to expand, and then we can talk about the new role of China in the world economy, but the majority still comes from European funds”, said Bjelic.
He added that Serbia has the most favorable regime with the EU, as well as that it is a member of the very important Agreement on the Euro-Mediterranean rules of origin of raw materials, which means that Serbian raw materials are equal to European ones.
“If we take raw materials from BiH or North Macedonia, we can present them as raw materials of domestic origin, which additionally opens the door to the EU market,” Bjelic concluded.
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