Germany has for years held the position of one of Serbia’s leading partners in all sectors of the economy. Hard work, and with that a significant role in fostering German-Serbian economic cooperation, can also certainly be attributed to the institution that is considered one of the largest and most important bilateral organisations in Serbia: the German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce (AHK Serbia)
Although officially founded as the first bilateral chamber on 14th April this year, since the establishment of the then German Business Delegation to Serbia and the German-Serbian Business Association (DSW) in 2001, which comprise the German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, it has functioned as a representative of the interests of its network of member companies and advocates for the promotion of German-Serbian trade exchange and cooperation in all economic fields.
Apart from the fact that the activities of AHK Serbia enable interaction between member companies and institutions, they also contribute to building a broad platform for contacts, training, exchange of experiences and ideas, discussion of current issues in the context of the many informative events, workshops and seminars, events which have for many years been carefully conceived and constructed, among other things, according to the model of other German chambers of commerce around the world, of which there are over 130 in 90 countries, and whose network AHK Serbia belongs to. It currently has over 310 members, with growth tendencies.
EVENTS & ACTIVITIES OF AHK SERBIA
Establishment of the German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce
At a formal ceremony in the presence of numerous guests and members, on 14th April this year, the three existing pillars of the German economy in Serbia that comprised the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce, its sister company DEinternational, and the German-Serbian Business Association (DSW), officially formed the first bilateral chamber in accordance with the new Law on Chambers of Commerce in Serbia: the German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce (AHK Serbia).
Attendant honorary speakers, among them Serbia Minister of the Economy Željko Sertić, German Ambassador Axel Dittmann, AHK Serbia President Ronald Seeliger, Serbian Chamber of Commerce President Marko Čadež and the head of the sector for international markets at the German Industry and Commerce Chamber (DIHK) Julia Arnold, welcomed the assembled members of AHK Serbia and assessed the establishment of the new chamber as a great gesture of trust and a contribution to the development of new ideas on the improvement of bilateral relations between the two countries, with a focus on improving the climate for doing business, investing and trading in both countries, together with their members and partners in Serbia and Germany. After the founding assembly, formal ceremonies and honorary speeches, a cocktail reception followed in honour of the newly founded German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce.
Expert Conferences – Connecting German and Serbian Experts
The German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce (AHK Serbia) has for many years organised professional conferences with the participation of delegations of German companies, mostly in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. The goal of these conferences is for Serbian companies and institutions to obtain information on the latest technologies from German experts and companies, as well as information on the situation in the market from renowned experts in Serbia. One of the goals is certainly also the establishment of cooperation between German entrepreneurs and potential business partners in Serbia, because in the days following the conferences, AHK Serbia organises numerous B2B meetings for the delegations of German entrepreneurs with Serbian state institutions and local companies, with the aim of introducing them to the Serbian market, achieving cooperation and the exchange of experience and know-how.
In 2016 the chamber organised two professional conferences that attracted great interest: the “Biomass and Biogas in Serbia” Conference, held on 5th April, and the conference “Energy Efficiency in Construction with Regard to the Use of Geothermal Energy for Heating and Cooling”, held on 24th May. These conferences are organised under the patronage of the German Federal Ministry of the Economy and Energy.
Serbian Visions – first multi-congress in Serbia
The first and only multi-congress in Serbia, “Serbian Visions”, represents a specific concept of bringing together civil society organisations and businesses in one place, with the aim of strengthening the role of civil society in the country and creating a more favourable business environment. This weekend event, with as many as 60 two-hour events, was first organised in May 2015 and attracted over 3,000 visitors.
It included numerous themes: human rights, the economy, education, culture, health, environmental protection, EU integration, security, innovation and other segments that make up the vision of a better future for Serbia.
The second “Serbian Visions” is scheduled for 26th and 27th November 2016 at the Radisson Blu Old Mill, with a tendency for it to be more thematically orientated towards the economy than last year, and to be especially suitable for expert organisations and associations, as the holders of the economic development of the country. Entrance to all events for interested citizens will again be free of charge this year.
AHK Members Dinner – Regular Gathering of Members With a Current Topic
The business dinner for representatives of member companies is one of the most popular events among the membership. An honorary speaker from the domestic economic-political scene opens the event with a short presentation on a current topic, which is followed by discussion and cocktail reception in a relaxed atmosphere, in order for the exchange of experiences and opinions among members to be more intensive.
As of the beginning of 2016, AHK Serbia has had the honour of hosting honorary speakers that include the CEO of Komercijalna Banka AD, Alexander Picker; EU Ambassador to Serbia Michael Davenport and representatives of the Hemofarm Foundation and the national campaign “The Most Important Call”. Each of them has contributed in their own way to better informing the Chamber members on current topics important to business and society in general.
Seminars And Workshops – Education And Information
Throughout the year, AHK Serbia, in cooperation with members, organises numerous seminars and workshops with the aim of educating and informing participants – employees of member companies. Current issues from the economy or useful topics for improving operations are selected. The co-organiser member thereby engages the audience and potential clients, while participants gain new insights and useful information.
AHK Working Groups – Additional Support For Industries
HR working group is certainly a favourite event among the HR managers of member companies, which is organised four times a year. The group engages in interesting interactive lectures in the field of human resources, starting with legal regulations, such as the Labour Law and workers’ rights, to developing talent and HR management in general. In addition to lectures, participants discuss all issues that have been the topics of lectures and exchange experiences in an informal atmosphere, which greatly eases and improves their daily work processes.
This year’s great hosts and co-organisers of HR meetings have been Chamber members Doba Faculty and company Dr Oetker Serbia. The next meeting is scheduled for 26th October, to be hosted by the Law Office TSG – Tomić Sinđelić Groza. The great success of the HR working group encouraged the Chamber to establish another working group that will deal in the future with current issues of energy efficiency. The first meeting of the EE working group was held on 21st September this year on the premises of Siemens, the host of the first gathering.
Speed Business Meeting – 10 Quick Meetings in 100 Minutes
This is an interesting event that the German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce organises for its members, in cooperation with other chambers and business associations in Serbia. The concept of multiple fast, ten-minute, meetings between representatives of companies from various sectors is a kind of innovation in the way of expanding the network of contacts towards other chambers and associations, as well as initiating future cooperation between member companies. At a Speed Business Meeting, each participant gets a chance to become acquainted with representatives of ten companies, mostly from other chambers, in individual B2B meetings, where they represent potential business partners, share information and establish the first communication essential for possible future cooperation.
AHK Welcome – Everything Begins With a Welcome Breakfast
For all new members, AHK Serbia organises a welcome breakfast with the aim of familiarising them more with the institution itself, its activities, events, services, opportunities for promotion and support in doing business. Following presentations by representatives of companies, new member companies have the opportunity to present their company, which is followed by an informal breakfast in a pleasant atmosphere and mutual introductions in a relaxed atmosphere. During this year, over thirty representatives of new member companies have been hosted.
AHK Sommerfest and Christmas Party – Celebrations Before a Short Break
Every year sees AHK Serbia organise its Sommerfest in June and Christmas party in December. At Sommerfest, a networking event with relaxed summer sounds, members come together in a relaxed atmosphere before a short summer break. Dinner, music, contests and cocktails are an integral part of this popular event among members. The Christmas party, also a very popular event, brings together members prior to the Christmas and New Year holidays, and in a festive atmosphere, with the presence of an honorary speaker – a senior representative of political and economic life in Serbia, summarise their impressions and round off the one-year work cycle. The Christmas reception represents a gathering of members in an elegant ambience and a festive atmosphere, and it is always followed by a humanitarian campaign.
AHK Football Tournament – Team Spirit in The Ranks of Membership
For the eighth consecutive year, AHK Serbia is nurturing the sporting spirit and organising this event of fun and sporting character, bringing together football teams of member companies for a full day of competing in football and cheering. This is also a nice opportunity for family gatherings among employees because a programme for children is organised, as well as team-building, with mutual introductions among employees of member companies and socialising with AHK in a slightly different way. This year’s tournament brought together 24 teams and 288 players, with 68 games played. Even the changeable weather could not dampen the spirits of the competing teams, and victory in the first AHK football tournament went to the team from DAD Dräxlmaier.
Representation at Trade Fairs in Germany
German trade fairs are famous throughout the world, as they attract a large number of visitors and exhibitors from all regions. They represent one of the most important instruments of international trade, a place where contacts and exchanges of experience are established and fostered. A large number of trade fairs, know-how and many years of experience in trade guarantee the desired success. The Chamber enables companies from Serbia to present their business at the biggest German fairs, offering a range of advisory services, and is a representative of the international trade fairs in Munich, Cologne and Nuremberg (Toy Fair).
The Chamber’s support for Serbian companies starts from detailed information on fair events, registration and the reserving of stands, design and construction of stands, to logistics, customs clearance and travel organisation, and it rounds off its service with the organising of B2B meetings with potential business partners at the fair.
AHK Oktoberfest – Window to The Munich Oktoberfest
The German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce provides its members with a special treat every year by recreating a tradition dating back almost 200 years at the unique AHK Oktoberfest in Belgrade, which is organised in mid-October in the style of the famous Munich Oktoberfest. With close to 1,500 guests from sponsor companies, members and guests from economic and cultural life, it represents the largest and most authentic business event in Serbia. It is held under the patronage of the German Ambassador in Serbia and with the support of a member-partner, as well as other members as sponsors. Members and their guests have the opportunity to enjoy traditional Bavarian fare, original German beer, with good music and a positive atmosphere, all in a tent decorated in the Oktoberfest manner for the occasion.
With this AHK Serbia offers the possibility for members of the German business community in Serbia and their partners, fans of Oktoberfest, to gather and socialise in a different and special way, slightly adapted to our environment. The AHK Oktoberfest is also supported by numerous sponsors, who are able to utilise this exclusive event for promotions and to host their business partners in a special way. All those who have the opportunity to attend say that this is the best social networking event of the year. This year, the first AHK Oktoberfest is scheduled for 14th and 15th October, at the Belgrade Fair, with the support of partner-member company Stihl, which this year celebrates the special anniversary of 90 years of its existence.
Senior Expert Service
Aware that many Serbian businesspeople have limited funds to hire consultancy companies in the framework of their own operations, the Chamber has since 2005 been represented by its Senior Expert Service (SES), with the desire to help our businesses adapt their operations to the requirements of the modern market. SES is a non-profit organisation with more than 9,000 senior experts, which is subsidised by the German state and which has the main task of mediating of sending senior experts and their involvement in small and medium-sized enterprises and institutions in Serbia.
The basic costs of engagement are covered by SES central, with the principal bearing only the costs of accommodation, food, local transportation and per diem expenses. In the past two years, nearly 50 German experts have been engaged in Serbia.