The result is that there are 60 trade and 23 production companies operating in the free zone regime today, employing about 6,500 workers, explains Dr Dragan Kostić, director of Free Zone Pirot.
Free Zone Pirot was this year declared the best such free zone in Europe and the third best in the world by the renowned fDi Magazine and The Financial Times. What ensured you were among the very best in the world for the sixth consecutive year?
This result was created through continuous progress, from the zone’s establishment in 1996 to the present days, using the latest know-how and operational methods.
We have developed an effective system which, apart from providing a free zone regime with customs and tax breaks, eases our users’ operations through a unified set of services. The result is that there are 60 trade and 23 production companies operating in the free zone regime today, employing about 6,500 workers. Users of the zone generated a total turnover of nearly a billion euros in 2017, more than half of which was realised through export. Investments in the previous period exceeded 500 million euros, and our biggest user, Tigar Tyres, which is a member of the Michelin Group, is Serbia’s third largest exporter. The City of Pirot has ranked 100th in Serbia in terms of salary levels ten years ago, while today it is ranked 14th.
Users of the zone generated total turnover of nearly a billion euros in 2017, more than half of which was realised through export. Investments in the previous period exceeded 500 million euros, and our biggest user, Tigar Tyres, which is a member of the Michelin Group, is Serbia’s third largest exporter
What additional incentives do you offer large users?
Our services are conceived with a view to the most modern free zones in the world. We enable our users to focus on their core business, while we take care of their needs in the areas of customs documentation, freight forwarding, organising international transport, providing warehouse space, cargo handling from railways and haulage vehicles, thereby providing them with a comprehensive service and easing their operations, which impacts on accelerating the development of companies operating within our regime and increasing interest among companies in doing business in the Zone.
The favourable position of Pirot, in close proximity to Bulgaria and Romania and situated along Corridor 10, forms just part of the benefits. What have you invested in and what processes have you developed in order to become the best in Europe?
The proximity of Bulgaria, Romania and Corridor 10 certainly represents an advantage, but there are also good logistical connections between Free Zone Pirot and the ports of Burgas and Thessaloniki, first and foremost, as well as other intermodal hubs in the Balkans. We monitor trends and rely on technological innovations, but we consider our people the key to the successes we achieve in the business world. We consider continuous investment in the development of employees and team building as the most successful investment in the quality of services and operations as a whole. In cooperation with users, we’ve developed modern software applications that ease the monitoring of goods imports and exports, thereby minimising users’ engagements with regard to logistics services. In that way, we enable companies to realise all the benefits in one place and focus on the development of their own businesses.