Israel believes in Serbia and in its capability to realize the economic potential it holds. We, at the Embassy in Belgrade, will do our best in order to support the needed steps, by any Serbian government, intended to bring the Serbian economy back to where it really belongs.
I think that there should be a continuation in the direction of reducing ‘red tape’, creating favorable investment climate in the branches of the Government and focusing on fields in which Serbia holds an added value - such as agriculture, energy and IT sector.
I think more can be mutually done, in order to expose the Serbian potential to Israeli investors and encourage joint venture projects. I certainly see a substantial realm for cooperation in the IT industry - especially with the Government’s announced program of supporting this industry, as well as advanced agriculture, clean-tech and green energy. But as I have mentioned, a good acquaintance with Serbian potentials is a sine qua non for a good investment.
Coming from Israel, which is known as the “Start-Up Nation”, I recognize a need to develop and nurture entrepreneurial culture in Serbia, and to support it through the Government. The Serbian Innovation Fund is a good example, and we are proud that we had the possibility to contribute – by sharing the Israeli experience.
As a candidate country for joining the European Union, Serbia has access to funds, credits and tenders - and this will be even more disposable as the procedure advances.
Joining the EU would contribute to stability, predictability and the ability for long-term planning, strengthen legal protection of investment – and raising the interest of foreign investors in the Serbian market.
As Serbia advances in the European Integration process, transparency and effectiveness of the economy will be desired, thus hopefully leading to greater competitiveness, fewer complicated procedures and less burden of bureaucracy.
Naturally, this will raise the issue of competitiveness of the Serbian economy and its producers at European market; the period of negotiations could be wisely used to adjust and meet the standards - in order to be able to compete, export and equally participate at EU market as active player. Personally, I believe that Serbia can achieve all of that.
Criticism about slow procedures, endless bureaucracy and lack of long term planning in Serbia is familiar to us, but after visiting every region in this country, conducting many visits and business meeting – my impression is that the needed change is now understood and desired in all levels of the economy. To me, as a believer in Serbia, that is an encouraging sign.
Alongside vision, entrepreneurship and business dedication – the main concerns of the potential investor is to be able to meet his objectives as soon as possible, pay back his investment and become profitable. In cases where the investment turns out to be a success story – a “magic circle” is created, and a positive “Buzz” spreads around the international business community. These outcomes upgrade the investment destination’s reputation, making it more visible and intriguing for other players; help to reinforce a better ‘Branding’ for the investment’s destination.
Israeli investors, in different fields, did not pull their businesses out of Serbia – but rather enlarged their engagements in recent years – despite of the world economic crisis. Israeli companies invested more than 1 billion Euros in Serbia, during the last 10 years.
I am convinced that by further understanding the investors’ needs, removing bureaucratic barriers and providing the necessary atmosphere – Serbia can expect bigger Israeli investments which will in the long run create more jobs, greater revenues for local and foreign registered companies - and a great contribution to the recuperation of the Serbian economy.