Germany has been one of Serbia’s largest investment partners for years, and this year has special importance – as it marks the 20th anniversary of the establishing of the German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce. Approximately 400 companies with German capital currently operate in Serbia. They have created more than 70,000 jobs and contribute to modernisation and the introduction of European norms and international standards on a daily basis
The German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce (AHK Serbia) is part of the system of German foreign trade and industrial chambers, which has 140 offices in 92 countries worldwide. AHK Serbia represents the interests of its member companies, providing them with informational support for their operations and striving to develop and improve German-Serbian trade and cooperation in all aspects of the economy.
JUBILEE OF THE GERMAN-SERBIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
With the long tradition of its presence and sustainable operations, the German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce is a stable partner of Serbia that has and will always focus on improving bilateral economic relations between Serbia and Germany, through the constant intensification of cooperation in the economic, cultural and educational-technical spheres.
Testifying to the quality of this cooperation is the fact that the volume of bilateral trade has increased by 250% over the last eight years, reaching a new maximum of more than five billion euros in 2019, and that level of €5 billion of bilateral trade was maintained in 2020, despite the year having been marked by the Coronavirus pandemic. In the aspects of educational and technical cooperation, the German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce has played a decisive role, together with other partners, in introducing a system of dual education to secondary schools in Serbia.
AHK Serbia identified three main strategic directions for this year that are already well into the process of being implemented: green business, digitalisation/innovation and vocational education – life-long learning.
AHK ROAD SHOW
To commemorate this year’s significant jubilee for the association, AHK Serbia has been working in cooperation with the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Belgrade and organisation Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI) to organise the special “AHK Road Show” event, which aims to further bilateral economic cooperation through promotions in four Serbian cities. Within the scope of the AHK Road Show project, gatherings of business leaders and institutional partners of the German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce were held in Subotica (14th May), Novi Sad (20th May), Čačak (1st June) and Niš (3rd June).
Representatives of these German organisations exchanged experiences on important topics and issues arising within the framework of bilateral economic cooperation, while presentations covered the work of the Chamber, types of support available, potential opportunities for cooperation and entry to the German market, leading trade fairs in Germany and many other significant projects. Comprising the German delegation were Frank Aletter, managing director of the German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Anne-Kristin Piplica, head of the Economic Department of the German Embassy in Belgrade, and Martin Gaber, Germany Trade and Invest correspondent for the Western Balkans. Business gatherings were attended by municipal presidents/mayors, local government representatives, representatives of regional and local chambers of commerce, representatives of AHK Serbia member companies and numerous local business leaders.
According to the accounts of participants, the events held within the scope of this AHK tour symbolise the very close relations between Serbia and Germany that lead to the opening of new topics and opportunities to further improve foreign trade cooperation to the benefit of both countries. Assistance in the organising of the event was provided by companies DHL Serbia, Jugo- Impex, Tehno-Coop, ComData, MerkurXTip, Siemens and the Stanković Law Office.
AHK CSR ACTION “TREE FOR BELGRADE”
Representatives of GSCC member companies, with Belgrade Mayor Zoran Radojičić in attendance, planted 329 trees on the right bank of the Sava beside the Belgrade Fair, as part of the “Tree for Belgrade” action. Thanks to the responses of 37 member companies, an area of 10,000 square metres of land situated alongside the Belgrade Fair has been greened. Within the framework of this action, the largest number of seedlings was planted through the “Tree for Belgrade” challenge.
The GSCC would like to thank the following member companies for their participation and donations in the “Tree for Belgrade” action: Lawyer Damir Petrović, B. Braun Adria RSRB d.o.o. Belgrade, Brose d.o.o., Delta Motors d.o.o., DHL, Health Centre “Vizim”, Eldisy Serbia d.o.o., Gebrüder Weiss d.o.o., GP Građevinar d.o.o., Hemofarm AD, Henkel Serbia, HÖDLMAYR Zastava d.o.o., Holleman, IB Interbilanz Consulting & Audit d.o.o. Belgrade, Klett publishing house d.o.o., Knauf Insulation d.o.o. Belgrade, LIDL Serbia KD, Linde Viljuškari d.o.o., Messer Tehnogas, Nes Communications, Phoenix Pharma, ProCredit Bank, Profine d.o.o., Quadra Graphic, Radisson Collection Hotel, Old Mill Belgrade, Unija Smart Accounting d.o.o. BG, Robert Bosch d.o.o., Schmitz Cargobull d.o.o., Siemens Serbia, Star Import (Mercedes Benz), Structura Concept d.o.o., TNation d.o.o., TPA Serbia d.o.o., Vorwerk Autotec Serbia d.o.o., Vorwerk Drivetec Serbia d.o.o., Vossloh – Schwabe Serbia d.o.o. and ZF Serbia d.o.o.
YOUNG ENERGY EUROPE 2.0 – ENERGY SCOUTS IN SERBIAN COMPANIES – THE BUSINESS SECTOR IN THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION MISSION
During the 2021-2024 period, the German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce – under the patronage of the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conversation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) – will implement the project Young Energy Europe 2.0, which will enable professionals in Serbia to make improvements in the areas of energy efficiency and the optimisation of resources, thereby providing a great contribution to advancing both the economy and the environment.
The project’s aim is for future energy scouts to recognise and utilise the potential to make energy savings and optimise the use of resources within their companies. Within the scope of training each year, participants will acquire basic knowledge on the topic of energy – from its production and importance to environmental protection, to its efficient use. They will apply their newly acquired knowledge within their companies, thereby providing a great contribution to both companies and environmental protection.
The training courses will help companies become more energy efficient and reduce their CO2 emissions. Adapted to suit companies, the YEE programme serves to strengthen climate protection and reduce companies’ climate costs, thus showing that economic activities and climate protection can go hand-in-hand. The Young Energy Europe project is being implemented in Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Croatia, Poland, Slovakia, Czechia and Hungary.
The project is funded under the auspices of the European Climate Initiative (EUKI) of the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). Participation in training courses is free. The German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce invites all interested companies to participate in the project and thus receive numerous benefits for their operations while contributing to the strengthening of environmental awareness and environmental protection.
2021 BUSINESS CONDITIONS IN SERBIA SURVEY
The German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce conducted its 16th annual survey of the economic environment in Serbia among AHK Serbia member companies. The results of the survey were presented at a press conference by GSCC President Udo Eichlinger and Managing Director Frank Aletter, but were also analysed by State Secretary at the Serbian Ministry of Economy Milan Ljušić, German Ambassador Thomas Schieb and Director of Strategic Analysis, Services and Internationalisation of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce & Industry Mihailo Vesović.
GSCC members companies gave a positive assessment of the economic climate in Serbia and expressed positive expectations within the scope of their own operations. Moreover, despite the year of the pandemic, 90 per cent of participating companies said that they would invest in Serbia again. Pointing out the greatest threats and risks to the development of their companies over the next twelve months, respondent business leaders cited falling demand, the economic framework and legal security, as well as the labour shortage. The GSCC worked in cooperation with member companies to prepare a Position paper with proposals for eliminating these threats, which it submitted to the competent institutions.
The GSCC provides its member companies with an opportunity to join the group for dual vocational education, dual studies and professional qualifications, and to play an active role in working to improving related topics. The first meeting of the AHK Serbia “Dual Education” working group was held in June 2021.
The aim of the first meeting was to identify the main challenges confronting companies in dual vocational education, dual studies and qualifications, as well as to provide tangible suggestions for their improvement. Discussions among participants and representatives of various economic activities led to the identifying of three topics for which a real need for further discussion exists. These include the lack of a skilled workforce for industry, insufficient interest among students in dual education and increasing the number of hours they spend learning through practical working engagements in companies. In accordance with this, AHK Serbia will thematically adapt the upcoming meetings of the “Dual Education” working group.
WESTERN BALKAN PURCHASING INITIATIVE
As the seventh consecutive event co-organised by the German Federal Association of Materials Management, Purchasing and Logistics (BME e.V.) and representative offices of the German economy in the Western Balkans (AHK), under the patronage of Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), the Western Balkan Purchasing Initiative will take place from 28th September to 15th October 2021. The goal of the event is to promote the Reverse-Procurement concept (B2B matchmaking), enabling German customers to meet with selected suppliers from the Western Balkan region: Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania. This event will focus on the metals industry, cast and forged parts and other direct groups of materials.
ONLINE CONFERENCE “ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN BUILDINGS INCLUDING GEOTHERMAL”
The GSCC, under the patronage of Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, and in partnership with German consulting and service company energiewaechter GmbH, held an online conference on the topic “Energy efficiency in buildings including geothermal”. Conference participants received relevant information on the financing of projects in the field of energy efficiency for buildings in Serbia and Montenegro, the potential and use of geothermal energy and energy efficient buildings in Germany and Eastern Europe. The event was also attended by representatives of German companies, who presented their range of products and services in the area of energy efficiency.
AHK BOARD TALKS
The AHK Board Talks represent a new format of online AHK Serbia events at which participants discuss current topics with experts from the Management Board of the German- Serbian Chamber of Commerce. Two panel discussions have so far been held on the topics of digitalisation and transport & logistics. The panel on the topic of digitalisation was hosted by GSCC President Udo Eichlinger, while the host of the event addressing the topic of transport & logistics was GSCC Management Board member Dragan Simović.
SPEED BUSINESS MEETING
The Radisson Collection Old Mill Belgrade hotel provided the venue for a meeting that included more than 60 representatives of the member companies of three bilateral chambers: the German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, the French-Serbian Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Italian-Serbian Businessmen. After a break of more than a year, and with all applicable epidemiological measures respected, the participants had a opportunity to meet in-person and initiate potential business cooperation. The event was held under the patronage of the Radisson Collection Old Mill Belgrade and companies Messer Tehnogas, Sky Express, Gebrüder Weiss and Rhenus Logistics.
The sixth consecutive Serbian Visions Multicongress, this year held in an online format, took place from 1st to 5th February 2021. Under the new format, the multicongress ran for five days and included six manifestations per day. Help in the organising of the event was provided by companies Tahograf and Messer Tehnogas.
– 30 online events within the scope of the multicongress – 30 participants and event organisers: NGOs, institutes, guilds, associations, universities, faculties, professional associations, companies etc. – 30 different forms of presentation: discussions, forums, presentations, online workshops, webinars, film screenings etc. – 30 interesting topics covering the fields of human rights, economics, education, culture, innovation, healthcare, security, environmental protection and animal welfare, EU integration etc.
WEBINARS, DIALOGUES AND ONLINE PANEL DISCUSSIONS
The German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with its member companies and partners, organises numerous online events that address current topics. AHK Serbia has closely monitored developments and the changing needs of members since last year, organising a large number of webinars in cooperation with member companies, experts, GSCC partners, competent institutions and other bilateral chambers both in the country and abroad.