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Iosif Vangelatos, General Manager, Inos Balkan

Proud of Tripling Trade Volume

Inos Balkan already possessed extensive expertise in the recycling sector, with its collection and processing centres, while it has today transformed itself successfully to become Serbia’s premier metal recycling company

This company remains committed to sustaining its momentum and further solidifying its position as a leading force in the metal recycling industry, in the belief that advances in digital technologies can contribute to better compliance with waste management laws by improving the trackability of waste.

Was the acquisition of Inos Balkan part of your group’s strategic plan for expansion into the Balkan region and has it proven successful? Is this region proving to be the right market for you?

— Viohalco has a rich history spanning more than 85 years, having originated as a family business and evolved to become a prominent holding company overseeing some of the leading metal processing firms throughout Europe. Most of our production facilities are situated in the Balkans, a region that we consider as being our home market for both product distribution and the procurement of secondary raw materials.

Our strategic entry into Serbia, including the acquisition of Inos Balkan, was part of a broader investment plan and emphasises the pivotal importance of the Serbian market to our operations.

Inos Balkan already possessed extensive expertise in the recycling sector, with its collection and processing centres strategically encompassing a large part of Serbia’s territory

Inos Balkan already possessed extensive expertise in the recycling sector, with its collection and processing centres strategically encompassing a large part of Serbia’s territory. Despite encountering diverse challenges, we transformed successfully to become the country’s premier metal recycling company. Over the past decade, our unwavering commitment to continuous investments in equipment and the development of our human capital, coupled with a robust commercial strategy and an extensive network of partners, has enabled us to achieve an impressive feat: tripling our trade volumes. This accomplishment stands out even amid the supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and amid the high interest rates fiscal environment.

Our resilience and strategic foresight allowed us not only to overcome these obstacles, but also to thrive in the face of adversity. As we look ahead, we remain committed to sustaining this momentum and to further solidifying our position as a leading force in the metal recycling industry, while adapting to the dynamic economic landscape.

According to the World Bank’s assessments, Serbia has been improving its ranking in the Ease of Doing Business Index year on year. Based on your practical experience, what additional improvements do you see as being necessary?

— Serbia’s business environment, as assessed by the Doing Business rankings, has experienced significant improvements. In contrast to the 91st position that it occupied in 2015, the 2020 Doing Business Report revealed that Serbia had achieved an overall ranking of 44th among 190 economies. Renewed efforts to enhance the business environment were launched in 2015, with the attracting of foreign investments emerging as a key priority for the Serbian government. Remarkable advancements have been observed in safeguarding the rights of minority investors and addressing insolvency issues, particularly in the domain of construction permits.

Despite Serbia’s strides in advancing its business environment, significant challenges persist in governance, institutions and regulations. Notably, there are substantial concerns regarding property rights and regulations, with perceived risks remaining high in Serbia. Furthermore, while Serbian companies show confidence in the legal system and existing laws, the judiciary is perceived as lacking efficiency. The corporate tax system, as well as labour legislation, require further simplification, and the streamlined processes implemented with regard to construction permits should be extended to various other regulated sectors in order to achieve more comprehensive improvements.

How is the secondary raw materials industry impacted by Industry 4.0, digitalisation, robotics and other scientific and technological advancements?

— Industry 4.0, or the fourth industrial revolution, is marked by the integration of advanced digital technologies into manufacturing and industry. It involves the use of things like automation, data exchange, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) to make industries smarter, more efficient and adaptable. The objective is to enhance productivity, product quality and overall operational efficiency within the manufacturing and industrial sectors.

Despite Serbia’s strides in advancing its business environment, significant challenges persist in terms of governance, institutions and regulations

Specifically, within the secondary raw materials industry, digital technologies can play a pivotal role in enhancing the sorting and preparation of raw materials, energy efficiency, predictive maintenance and improving supply chain efficiency. Furthermore, advancements in digital technologies can contribute to better compliance with waste management laws by augmenting the traceability of waste.

Serbia’s total FDI from Greece is estimated to stand at around 1.5 billion euros, while direct and indirect investments made over the last 20 years exceed 2.5 billion euros. To what extent is the Hellenic Business Association responsible for this?

— Last year marked a momentous occasion, as we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the establishing of the Hellenic Business Association (HBA) of Serbia. During an outstanding evening gala, we seized the opportunity to pay tribute to our esteemed founding board of directors. It was a touching moment that also served as a reminder of the pivotal role played by the Greek business community, which ranked among the pioneers of investing in Serbia in the aftermath of the tumultuous 1990s.

Over the course of the past two decades, the HBA has operated diligently, serving as a vital bridge and fostering collaboration between the Greek and Serbian business communities. Our commitment to facilitating this connection has been instrumental in ensuring a robust business environment in Serbia. We have advocated tirelessly for fairness and equity, striving to amplify the voices of Greek companies and guaranteeing that the business landscape in Serbia remains conducive and just for all investors.

Our visionary founding members envisaged a brighter future for Serbia and its people – one marked by both financial and social progress, as well as enduring peace and security for all. We take immense pride in witnessing the transformation of this vision into a tangible reality day by day.

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