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Serbia: We have our doors wide open for foreign capital

What bothers our businessmen on the home field, so they have to increase their empires outside Serbia, asks Milorad Filipovic, professor at the Faculty of Economics.

The uncritical and unconditional acceptance of almost all EU requests for liberalization of various aspects of the movement of goods and capital flows has made Serbia today a country with the maximum open door for foreign investment inflows (which is further stimulated by the allocation of incentives), while in contrast there are no reciprocal measures on the part of the former Yugoslav republics, primarily Slovenia, Croatia and Montenegro, said Milorad Filipovic, professor at the Faculty of Economics in Belgrade.

“In many cases, the obstacles are not legal (“because we respect European regulations as an EU member state”), but administrative, bureaucratic and locally imposed (eg licenses and approvals – such as “we have accepted you as an investor, but you have to go with a local government to solve problems ”). It is a perfidious attempt to prevent the placement of Serbian capital, because it feels like an unfavorable competition. Some companies that skipped these obstacles and obstructions showed that “it doesn’t matter what color the cat is, but that it catches the mice,” and yet they successfully started business in Slovenia (hotels owned by MK Group and such)”, says Filipovic.

According to him, a special case is Croatia, which its businessmen, such as Emil Tedeski recently, criticize as being too closed society, which still behaves in many aspects today, as if the conflicts of the past are still ongoing or ended yesterday and not nearly 25 years ago.

“No surprise about fuss about “Kras”. We remember the panic over “Serbian chocolates in New Year’s packages for Croatian children” from a few years ago. Unfortunately, the leading state representatives are often at the forefront of encouraging such an atmosphere, so it is not surprising that ordinary citizens also fall under such an influence. However, as Croatia has become a highly emigrated area since joining the EU, it is quite certain that the engagement of workers from Serbia and BiH will be increased, and access to capital from these countries will be facilitated”, says Filipovic.

Our interlocutor believes that over time, positions and opinions on investments of business people from Serbia will certainly soften, but in his opinion, the key question is why our businessmen did not first exhaust the possibilities of profitable investments in Serbia, and then the surplus capital they have at their disposal invest in expansion into the regional market.

“What is it that bothers them at their homeland so they have to increase their empires outside Serbia? Is it just about the attractiveness of the market (no markets of the former republics are stronger than the Serbian ones) or are they some other obstacles that they face in the homeland? Are these obstacles of an economic nature and do they depend on the economic policy being pursued”, asks a professor at the Faculty of Economics.

Economist Sasa Djogovic, an associate at the Institute for Market Research, says that the ongoing political tensions between Zagreb and Belgrade are also reflected in business. According to him, there are certain quasi-administrative obstacles in Croatia as justification for someone who is not desirable.

“Mostly there are small Serbian investments, but bigger ones are on the radar of the public. We have seen these days that there are detours to enter the Croatian market, as Saranovic did through the stock market. Croatia, by the way, is not in the mood for the arrival of foreign companies, not only Serbian companies”, adds Djogovic.

“On the other hand”, he says, “it cannot be said that the Slovenian market is closed for investments by Serbian businessmen. Montenegro, North Macedonia and Bosnia, which operate “Telekom”, “Dunav osiguranje”, “Komercijalna Banka”, are also open to investments of our businessmen.”

The disparity between the investments of Slovenian and Croatian companies in Serbia and ours was explained by the fact that the privatization process in Slovenia and Croatia was completed when it started in our country.

“I see nothing wrong with having someone come here if they pay their taxes and do good business. That should no longer be a topic, be it Serb or Croat. So, if someone increases the value of the company, works for the benefit of the company, employees and the whole society, he is welcome”, says Djogovic.

Source: politika.rs